ICT REPS TRAINED AT IKEJI
In-Service Training for Secretariat Staff
OBA AKINYELE MEMORIAL LECTURE
Dedication/Launching of Centenary Bible
Testimony Galore at Odo Owa
Revival Looms in Ivory Coast
Work Resumes in the Office
2013 Carol of Nine Lessons
PASTOR J. OLU ALOKAN'S BURIAL
CAC Youth Corpers Change of Leadership
CAC Faith Home Affiliated with VMCBAAN
ADIEU! PASTOR JACOB OLUWATUBERU ALOKAN
BSN Decorates Finance Director as Special Member
New Vehicles Dedicated
Mama Olusheye's 70th Birthday
JABU RATED THE BEST IN NIGERIA
CAC OYO STATE CORPERS FELLOWSHIP INAUGURATED
GEC CONFERENCE COMMITTEES INAUGURATED
Cross River Royal Shepherds Inaugurated
Prophet Obadare's Glorious Exit - Pastor Akinosun's statement
CAC Authority Splits Lagos State into three
Testimony Galore at all Nations' Holy Pilgrimage
G. E. C. Dissolved
Duty Commencement Service - Flash Back
CAC ENDS YEAR 2012 WITH XMAS CAROL
Akinosun charges Nigerian Youths to eschew immorality
PASTOR J. A. ADELEKE CLOCKS 70
TESTIMONIES GALORE AT IKEJI II YOUTH CONFERENCE
SPECIAL PRAYER FOR CAC AND THE NATION
19th Youth Conference and Thanksgiving
Annual Youth Delegates' Prayer/Vigil
Youth Delegates' Annual Prayer Vigil
Presentation of the new Officers to the General Council
Celebrating a Spiritual Titan
Agbaje Stunned with the GEC's appointment
2012 Pilgrimage to Odo-Owa
Prophet of Reform Steps Aside
Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo and Delta Send EHL Olusheye Off
EHL Olusheye's Send-Off Continues at Abuja
Press Interview - EHL Olusheye


H e a d l i n e   N e w s


SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS' MANUAL

Published by
CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH
Sunday School Department
P. O. Box 303, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria.
034-242770,08033521556
cac_sundayschool@yahoo.co.uk
www.cacworldwide.net

c Copyright – Christ Apostolic Church, Jaly 2011.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may
be reproduced through any process without written
permission from the Christ Apostolic Church Authority
ISSN 1117 – 3408

The Text is available at:
Christ Apostolic Church
Sunday School Department
12a, Irekari Street, Off Oyemekun Road,
P. O. Box 303, Akure, Ondo State.

Tel: 0803 431 7035
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Oba I.B Akinyele Memorial Complex
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P R E F A C E

May the God of heaven be forever praised who graciously took us through powerful, revealing and life-transforming lessons on The Church Of The Living God through which we should by now have better understood what the Church of God is and what it is destined to do here on earth for the living God of heaven. Twelve full months have been purposefully devoted to this study. It is believed that every one of us would have found our levels through God's own eyeglasses, and would have made the necessary amends towards becoming God's best.
 Here, the Lord of the Church is directing our attention to another equally very important issue in the body of Christ. Through-out the first half of the year 2011, we would be focussing on The Christian Home. For a proper understanding of this central theme, this Sunday School series has been divided into three units, Foundations Of The Christian Home, Following The Right Structures, and Fulfilling The Lord'S Purpose. Several Bible characters are going to be discussed in the course of the series. Honestly, we should begin to bask in the euphoria of the prospect of the great and good things God has in store for us in advance. May we not remain the same.
 As in the past, the Devotional Thoughts, Daily Bible Readings and ReAding Assignments For The Second Week are aimed at helping us to study deeper. Please endeavour never to take these with levity. With the exception of the one-week lessons, the Work To Do divides each lesson into two at the point where the teaching for the first week is expected to be concluded.

Key To The Sunday School Teacher's Manual
1. This Teachers' Manual is the Fourteenth in the series. It is aimed at helping the Sunday   School teachers to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. It is also expected that it   would provoke the users to enter into further studies in raising their levels of preparation   and operation (cf. Ezra 7:10).
2. The additions to the Readers' Manual are indicated with different characters and by asterisks in case of topical sections of the Teachers' Manual. These additional materials are designed to make the teachers better equipped in teaching these Sunday School lessons.
Relevant Abbreviations:
*Amp.  Indicates The Amplified Bible
*C.E.V.  Indicates Contemporary English Version
*K.J.V.  Indicates King James Version
*M.S.G.  Indicates The Message Bible
*N.A.S.B.  Indicates New American Standard Bible
*N.C.V.  Indicates New Century Version
*N.K.J.V.  Indicates New King James Version
*N.I.V.  Indicates New International Version
*N.L.T.  Indicates New Living Translation
*N.R.S.V.  Indicates New Revised Standard Version

* The Decentralised National Sunday School Examination comes up on Saturday, 21st January 2012 at the various designated centres.
* The Sunday School Day 2012 shall hold on Saturday & Sunday, 18th & 19th February, 2012 in our various Assemblies, Districts and DCCs/Zones.
* All Sunday School Day Donations are to be collected on Sunday, 19th February, 2012 for remittance at the venues of the 2012 Decentralised Sunday School Rally.

CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH
Sunday School Department
P. O. Box 303, Akure, Ondo State.
034-242770;    08033521556 
cac_sundayschool@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.cacworldwide.net

SUNDAY SCHOOL DIRECTOR
Akure
July 2011


CONTENTS

UNIT I:  STRENGTHENING FAMILY BONDS
1. July 17 & 24, 2011:    Love Cements The Family......................................
2. July 31 & Aug. 7, 2011: Proper Relationship Enhances Love.....................
3. August 14 & 21, 2011:  Sexual Relationship Is God-Ordained.................
4. Aug. 28 & Sept. 4, 2011:   Money Matters In The Christian Home..............

UNIT II:  DEALING WITH FAMILY ISSUES
5. Sept. 11 & 18, 2011:    Coping With The Unbelieving And Difficult Spouse.
6. Sept. 25 & Oct. 2, 2011: In-Laws And The Christian Home......................
7. October 9 & 16, 2011:    God Hates Divorce...............................................
8. October 23 & 30, 2011:  Children In The Christian Home........................

UNIT III:  REMAINING FAITHFUL TILL THE END
9. November 6 & 13, 2011:   When Death Strikes............................................
10. November 20 & 27, 2011:  Jesus And His Family.........................................
11. December 4 & 11, 2011:  Waiting For The Lamb's Wedding......................
12. December 18 & 25, 2011:  Happy Family, Now And Forever.......................

Other Events
13. Work While Waiting ...................................................................................................
14. January 1, 2012: Revision
15. January 8, 2012:         Assembly Sunday School Examination
16. January 15, 2012: District Sunday School Examination
17. January 21, 2012: National Sunday School Examination

Unit 1: Strengthening Family Bonds      17 & 24 JULY 2011

LESSON ONE  
Only the believer who has found God’s love and duly loves Him and His Word can fully demonstrate God’s love to cement his/her marriage/family. (PICTURE)

LOVE CEMENTS THE FAMILY

Memory Verse:  So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:28).

*1 BRIEF COMMENTS
 Apostle Paul has made it sufficiently clear that Christ versus Church relationship is what God expects from the husband and wife.  Christ Jesus has given the acceptable standard.  Yes, He loved the whole world (Jn 2:16) but has gone ahead to show further love for the church.
 The church is made up of men and women who have positively yielded/responded to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross, so Christ while not being partial, continues to show practical interest in the church (His bride)! and His body.  Husbands have these challenge.
 Firstly, Christ loves the church and gave himself (v.25).  Nothing should be too great, and no sacrifice too risky to take for the sake of one's wife (Eph. 5:25).  Love made Christ to do this.
 Secondly, Christ gave Himself as the WORD, not just for salvation but for continuous cleansing, dedication and sanctification of the church.  Love made Him to do this.  The husband must give quality time for relationship, brotherly discussion, unbroken fellowship aimed at helping the two to grow.  Growth is gradual and requires timely efforts (Eph 5:26).  Is it possible to hate oneself?
 Thirdly, the Lord expects the church to be spotless and holy; therefore.  He surrendered by His Spirit to work that out for His own body.  He is always available (v.27).  Maturity of the spouse is not automatic: love, continuous love is necessary.  This should begin with the husband.  Christ continues to care for the church.  Husbands, can you ever hate yourself?  Loving your wife is loving yourself; this is the challenge.  Care for your wife as you do for yourself.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  11: Gifted But Not Loving (1 Cor. 13:1,2)
Tue.  12: Generosity With Wrong Motives (1 Cor. 13:3)
Wed.  13: Divine Love Produces Results (1 Cor. 13:4,5)
Thur.  14: Divine Love Exhibits Incredible Traits (1 Cor. 13:6,7)
Fri.  15: Divine Love Demonstrates Integrity (1 Cor. 13:8-12)
Sat.  16: Love Supersedes Faith And Hope (1 Cor. 13:13)

*2  DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
i. God is love, and love is God. The family would be godly when the members practise God's type of love.
ii. Love is not to be defined in words but should be demonstrated in works
iii. If anyone would demonstrate the love of God, such a person must have the God of love in his heart.

*3 BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Titus 2:1-5; I Jn 3:1-18
*4 AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To underscore the necessity of true love in the family and to point to God as   the source and giver of divine love.

OBJECTIVES:  It is expected that at the end of the two-week lesson, the        participants:
1. should have understood love as it is revealed in the Bible:  God is love and to have love means having God in you;
2. should have been encouraged and provoked to accept the love of God fully manifested in Jesus Christ.  There must be this experience before expression is possible; and
3. should have become determined to demonstrate love as a way of life.  Afterall, love is practical and contagious.


INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: I John 3:1ff

The first half of the year 2011 has just ended. We can say it with all humility, boldness in God and confidence in His word (Psa. 107:20; Isa. 55:11) that the period brought tremendous blessing into our lives as we considered the mega theme: The Christian Home. May the name of the Lord be praised for ever. Amen. We pray that all the godly, holy decisions and actions taken during the period would continue being obeyed, Amen.

The second half of the year begins this week even as we continue with the same mega theme: The Christian Home. God in His word has promised again to bless and heal our lands, Amen.

Again, we would consider the subject under three sub-headings. The first half of the year was designed to lay the foundation, while this half of the year focuses on practical issues affecting the family. Unit I: Strengthening The Family Bonds; Unit II: Dealing With Marital Issues; and Unit III: Remaining Faithful Till The End.
Lesson I centres on love in the family. It has been discovered that so many people come together as husbands and wives and have been drawn together by various factors e.g. the same profession, ethnicity, religion, father's interest, imagined advantages from parents, education, beauty etc. None of these is as enduring, reliable, unbreakable, and approved by God as love; love whose source and sustenance is God. Every other thing may vanish, get broken and lost, but love will remain. That is the challenge in lesson one.

May the LORD help us to discover the kind of love that is divine. May the discovery and appropriation of the love into our lives strengthen us, heal our old wounds and make us responsible partners and parents. Amen.

*5 AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF FIRST JOHN
 There are three brief epistles ascribed to John. Despite their brevity, they deal with profound and critical questions about the basic nature of Christian spiritual experience. The Johannine letters also provide interesting insight into the condition of the church at the end of the first century. Heresy is rearing its ugly head. Autonomy and church organization are reflected. The genuine nature of a committed and obedient relationship to God through Christ is powerfully and warmly portrayed and commanded.

Authorship:
i. Careful comparison of 1 John with the fourth Gospel reveals a marked resemblance in vocabulary, style, and thought. Characteristic words used by both works include “love,” “life,” “truth,” “light,” “Son,” “Spirit,” “advocate,” “manifest,” “sin,” “world,” “flesh,” “abide,” “know,” “walk,” and “commandments.” Combinations of words such as “Spirit of truth,” “born of God,” “children of God,” and “overcome the world” also point to a single author. There are also similarities in grammatical usage and patterns of expression. There are marked similarities in theological outlook as well.

ii. It is difficult to deny the close relationship of the two writings. Those who have attempted to distinguish between the two have had to admit that the variations in style and theological method must have come from one who was closely related and deeply influenced by the writer of the other.

iii. The traditional position on authorship has been that the apostle John was the author of both the Gospel and the letter. The opening words of 1 John point clearly in that direction: “The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life” (1:1, NLT). This is clearly intended to let the readers know that the author was an eyewitness of the events.

iv. The traditional position has been questioned on the basis of a quotation from Papias, who was bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor (AD 100140). His comment, transmitted through Eusebius via Irenaeus, is “If anywhere one came my way who had been a follower of the elders, I would inquire about the words of the elderswhat Andrew and Peter had said, or what Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples; and I would inquire about the things which Aristion and the elder John, the Lord's disciples, say.”

v. A number of significant commentators have argued for the existence of an elder or presbyter John in Asia Minor as distinct from the apostle John. Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, and the Muratorian Fragment (both from the end of the second century), however, assign 1 John to the apostle John.

vi. His claim to be an eyewitness and his air of authority definitely point toward the apostle John as the author of the first letter. Tradition speaks of the advanced age of the apostle as he taught at Ephesus, and of his emphasis upon love among Christians to the very end of his life. First John reflects just such a situation.

Date:
i. The date for the composition of 1 John is usually placed near the end of the first century.
ii. This date is confirmed by the nature of the heresy condemned and by the references to it in Polycarp and Irenaeus.
iii. Greater precision in fixing the date is not possible with the evidence available.

Occasion And Purpose OF The First Letter Of John:
First John is a simple yet profound response to a heresy threatening the church. The methodology used is a careful and clear delineation of the truth as it is found in Christ. The two different positionsthe correct and the incorrectare clearly contrasted. The lines of demarcation are definitely drawn.
The letter, however, also has a positive purpose. The author wants his “children” to know the truth and respond in relationship to God, who was revealed in Christ: “We are writing these things so that our joy will be complete. This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all” (1 John 1:4-5, NLT). The positive purpose is further designated in 5:20 (NLT): “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we are in God because we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” The clear understanding of Christas being both God and manis of highest importance to the author. The believers need to know this and remain in this truth, so that they can continue to abide in the Son of God and not be taken away from him by heretical teachings.The Nature Of The

Opposition:
Assuming that the letter is written to contest the claims of the heretics provides interesting insights into their identity. According to 2:19, the opponents had been members of the Christian community but later had withdrawn to propagate their own beliefs.

The major christological error of the heretics was a denial of the humanity of Jesus, with the implication that he was not the Messiah. The false prophets in the world can be identified by their confession of Jesus: “This is the way to find out if they have the Spirit of God: If a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ became a human being, that person has the Spirit of God” (4:2, NLT). The opening verse of the letter sharply contests the denial of Jesus' humanity. The liar is identified in 2:22 (NLT) as the one “who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Such people are antichrists, for they have denied the Father and the Son.”

The practical outcome of these positions was a moral irresponsibility that advocated a life of sin and disregard for others. John, therefore, needs to call these apostates back to a life of ethics and brotherly love in Christ.
The opposition has been identified in various ways. The emphasis on secret and esoteric knowledge points toward a Gnostic-type heresy. The denial of the humanity of Jesus points toward the docetic heresy. Cerinthus of Asia Minor (mentioned by Irenaeus) has often been associated with the opposition in 1 John. Text:

i. The text of 1 John has been preserved rather well. The simplicity of the terminology and the clarity of its thought have contributed to this preservation. Three passages deserve mention in the discussion of text.

ii.The words “all things” (2:20) are found in the nominative case in some manuscripts and in the accusative or objective case in others. The KJV translates the verse: “Ye know all things.” Use of the nominative case, which then modifies “you”“You all know”is perhaps a better rendering. The emphasis is on the breadth of the distribution of knowledge and not on the completeness of it.

iii. In 4:19 there is no object for the verb “love” in the earliest manuscripts. Some later manuscripts have inserted either “him” or “God” in this sentence (see NLT mg), and the KJV is dependent upon these manuscripts.

iv. The most famous variant in 1 John is found in 5:7-8. “These three agree in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit . . .” is clearly an interpolation added to the text at a fairly late date. The earliest reference comes from the Spanish heretic Priscillian, who died in AD 385.

v. At a later date it was accepted into the Vulgate. Erasmus, who edited the first Greek Testament ever published, did not include the words on the basis of their absence in Greek manuscripts. The only two Greek manuscripts that contain the words were produced since that date. Thus modern translations have eliminated this verse.

Content:
• Commentators are unable to agree on the specific plan and structure of the first letter. The simple terminology, the narrow range of vocabulary, the repetition of ideas, and the almost monotonous grammatical construction defy logical analysis in terms of outline and structure. Commentators have characterized the argument of the epistle as “spiral.” The picture is that of a venerable and respected elder in the community sharing his wisdom without attempting to provide a closely reasoned argument.
• Although chapter designations were not introduced into the text of the NT until AD 1228 and are often misleading divisions of thought, they do provide a convenient method for surveying the content of the letter. It should be noted that the letter also departs from the common letter style of the first century so vividly represented in the Pauline letters.
• The first chapter is composed of an introduction and a discussion of walking in the light. The nature of God and man in relationship comes into sharp focus.
• The introduction stands in the noble tradition of the prologue to the fourth Gospel and the prologue to the Letter to the Hebrews. With majestic profundity the basic dependability of the gospel message is declared. The author claims his status as an eyewitness of the one through whom the Father manifested himself. He claims that he is simply proclaiming the events in which he himself participated. The emphasis on hearing, seeing, and touching (the frequent use of the perfect tense emphasizes the continuing results) takes the manifestation out of the ethereal and speculative realm and places it directly in the world of experience.
• The purpose of the proclamation is fellowship (the Greek word is koinonia). This fellowship operates both on the horizontal plane between believers and on the vertical plane between believers and both Father and Son (1:3). The second element of purpose is “to make our joy complete” (verse 4).
• In the body of the letter the author moves immediately (1:5-10) to the definitive nature of God as light. God's nature as light has a number of significant implications. First, darkness has no place in God at all (verse 5). Second, those who walk (live, conduct themselves) in darkness cannot be in fellowship with God (verse 6). Third, a relationship with God (walking in the light) results in fellowship with other believers and cleansing from all sin by Jesus, his Son (verse 7). Fourth, all have sinned, and denial of that fact does not change the truth (verse 8). Fifth, acknowledgment of sin brings forgiveness and cleansing from the faithful and righteous God (verse 9). Finally, denial of ever having sinned is a reflection upon God and proves that his word is not present (verse 10).
• Joy and fellowship are available only to those who walk in the light of God's presence. Godwho is light through his Son, Jesus Christ (we are reminded of the prologue of the fourth Gospel, that the Word manifested light to all men)solves the problem of sin and unrighteousness through forgiveness and cleansing.
• The second chapter continues the thought of the final paragraph of chapter 1the solution to the problem of sinand then turns to a discussion of the new commandment and the threat of the antichrist.
• In 2:1-6 the solution to the problem of sin in the presence of a pure God is expanded. Jesus Christ not only forgives sin and cleanses unrighteousness but also he is our advocate (the same word used in John 1416 and transliterated “Paraclete”) before God. Jesus had satisfied the requirements for complete reconciliation between God and humanity.
• In response the believer is to keep his commandments. The third verse is the first of a number of verses that respond to one question: How can the believer know that all of this is true? The first test is that of obedience. The implications of the test of obedience is stated positively in verses 3 and 5 and negatively in verse 4. Verse 6 clearly points out that the model for the lifestyle of the believer is to be found in Jesus.
• The second test of believing (“abiding in him”) is outlined in verses 7-17. The second authentication is love for the brothers and sisters in the Christian community. The author clearly states that it is impossible to walk in the light of God and hate your Christian brother or sister at the same time. This is an expansion on the idea of fellowship in the light found in the opening verses.
• After encouraging three different age groups (2:12-14 the reference may well be to stages in the Christian life rather than to chronological age groups), he warns them of the folly of loving the world (verses 15-17). The world consists of transient lusts and pride and is not a part of the Father, who is light. The only one who survives is the one who is obedient to the total will of God.
• Then the author turns to the problem of the end times with its manifestation of the antichrist (2:18-27). The antichrists (note the use of the plural) once were members of the fellowship (verse 19). Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah falls into that category. The author further declares that it is impossible to deny Christ and embrace God (verse 23). Those who are born of God have an anointing from him that enables them to recognize the lies of the antichrist (verse 27).
• The whole epistle to this point has revolved around the implications of walking with God, who is light. God's revelation of himself in Jesus provides clear direction and understanding to recognize the true and identify the false.
• The last two verses of chapter 2 introduce the new topic for chapter 3, being “born of God” (2:29). The children of God do not fear the final revelation of God at the Second Coming. Instead, they anticipate it, for the full quality of their new birth will be made visible (3:2). The author pauses to revel in the function of God's love in our lives as his children (verse 1).
• The author quickly comes back from the joy of contemplating our status as children of God to the stark realities of the world in which we must live. The world about us is characterized by sin, which is now defined as lawlessness (3:4). Sin finds its origin in the devil, who “has been sinning from the beginning” (verse 8). The children of the devil reveal their essential nature by living lawless livesCain is used as a model (verses 10-12).
• Jesus, whose second appearance is noted in the opening verses, came the first time to take away sins (3:5) and destroy the works of the devil (verse 8). Those who live in Jesus should live according to the pattern of their Father, who is righteous (verse 7). The righteous lifestyle is characterized by purity (verse 3) and cessation of sin (verses 7-9). The contrast between the two lifestyles is obvious (verse 10).
• The last half of chapter 3 turns to one of the expressions of righteousnesslove for others in the Christian community. The negative was already introduced in verse 12 (Cain). Hatred of the brother is equivalent to murder (3:15). Indifference to the need of a brother or sister is also condemned (verses 17-18). The model for the love of the brother is Jesus, who laid down his life for us (verse 16). The positive note is that love for one's brothers and sisters is evidence of being born of Godof passing from death into life (verse 14). Again, the contrast between the children of God and the children of the devil is obvious.
• The last half of chapter 3 highlights one of John's favourite emphases. “We know” is repeated in verses 14, 16, 19, and 24. In a world of uncertainties, John recognizes the great need for assurance. He thus outlines a variety of tests to establish and maintain assurance for the children of God.
• The transition to chapter 4 occurs at the end of chapter 3: “We know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us” (verse 24, NLT). Those who have the Holy Spirit need to distinguish between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. The doctrinal test is then outlined. Those who have the Spirit of God recognize that Jesus is God come in the flesh (4:2-3). False prophets who deny this have the spirit of the antichrist (verse 3). Obedience to God enables the children of God to recognize and respond to the language of God (verses 4-6).
• In verses 7-12 John speaks of the origin of love as coming from God who is love (4:8). That love was demonstrated unmistakably in Jesus (verses 9-10) in order to solve the problem of sin. The natural response of the children of God, then, is to love one another (verse 11), to the end that God's love may be perfected (reach its designated goal) in us (verse 12). In this paragraph being born of God, loving God, and knowing God are inextricably intertwined.
• Verse 13 picks up the assurance note of verse 1: “God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us” (NLT). Further assurance is given to those who recognize that Jesus is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, which leads us to know the love of God. The love of God flows through us to others and is an evidence of our relationship to God (4:14-21). The present assurance is so clear that even the fear of Judgment Day is obviated (verses 17-18).
• In the final chapter, John turns to the interrelationship between love and righteousness. Those who are born of God do not find the commandments of God to be burdensome (5:3). The faith of the children of God enables them to find victory over the world that would hinder the fulfilment of commands (verse 4). That faith rests in Jesus as the Son of God (verse 5). Again, correct belief enters the picture: Jesus was fully human (verse 6), and the Spirit bears witness to the reality of Jesus (verses 7-8). The result is a great inner certitude that God “has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (verse 11, NLT). Again, the line of demarcation between the one who has life and the one who does not is made crystal clear (verse 12).
• Verses 13-16 move from the possession of eternal life to certainty in prayer. A solid confidence in God brings answers to prayer (verses 14-15). Confidence also extends to prayer on behalf of others who are committing sin (now John defines sin as unrighteousness rather than the sin that leads to death, verse 12); God will honour that prayer by giving life to the sinner (verse 16).
 The final verses are a reiteration of the major themes of the letter.   The victory of the one who is born of God through the true God who has come to us in Jesus clearly differentiates the child of God from the life of the world under the power of the evil one. The shining note of assurance continues to the very end of the letter.

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
The two-week lesson has two major divisions (I and II) and each of them is divided into A and B.

DIVISION I - True Love Is Divine
 This section shows another name of God:  Love.  He is love, and is therefore the source of the true love.  This is the perfect love that should characterise the Christian home.  The challenge of course is that every member of the family must experience the love of God so as to be able to express it.  Parents and children love better when God who is love dwells in each of them.

DIVISION II:  True Love Is Practicable
 This section shows how God demonstrated in practice what is called love.  He sent His only begotten son who loved us when we were bad and unlovable.  So God so loves us that  He now goes on to demand that we accept His son so as to be empowered to love.  God does not make impossible demands.  He loves us (first) and now commands that we love Him and show this by loving ourselves.  This is the challenge to the Christians who make up the Christian homes.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. TRUE LOVE IS DIVINE
A. Must Be Experienced
B. Must Be Expressed
II. TRUE LOVE IS PRACTICABLE
A. Christ Demonstrated It
B. God Demands It

LESSON EXPOSITION

I. TRUE LOVE IS DIVINE (1 John 3:1ff)
 True love is not exploitative, selfish, manipulative but sacrificial, enduring and selfless.  It is only possible with the persons in whose hearts God dwells.  Talking about true love by someone who does not know and accept the perfect love of God revealed in Christ Jesus amounts to ignorance and empty boasting. God does not have to announce to Hagar that He loved her; He just went ahead to practically demonstrate it,  even when it was known to him what would be the responses of Hagar and the other significant persons.  God loved Hagar who virtually had nothing good to offer in return, including the potential to respond positively (Gen. 16:1ff; 21:1ff).
A. Must Be Experienced (vv. 1ff)
 Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God (v. 1).
i. The greatest uniting factor that can make the family function as God, the designer wants is LOVE i.e. the love that has its source in God. This is more than the selfish, speculative, unenduring natural love (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
ii. v. 1: God is the source and sustainer of the much-talked about LOVE that is indescribable, unexplainable, but can and must be experienced.
iii. v. 1 calls for special attention to the greatness, depth, dimension, awesomeness of love; because it is of God, the depth is unsearchable (Rom. 2:4). God gives this love; everyone must personally accept the mercy of God. If anyone does not experience this, he cannot love as God wishes.
vi. Experiencing it means being born of God (v. 9) and knowing him practically (IJn 4:8). It is an evidence of sonship (3:10); it means He abides in us (4:17). If any of the parents has not experienced this, loving as God expects would be difficult or impossible.
v. Please accept the love of God  that is the foundation for   relationship with God (He is  love). Only then will you be  able to reflect His kind of love.
vi. God did not wait for our actions and reactions before he came to fully reveal His love in Christ.  This sacrificial love must be acknowledged and experienced in the real sense (I Jn 3:1).  Accepting this offer of God's love is an experience with unforgettable and unstoppable results:  being born again, indwelled by God and being enabled to love in a special way.

B. Must Be Expressed   (vv.18ff)
 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (v. 18).
i. As we live together and get involved in various endeavours/ transactions on daily basis, on the experience of God's love would help us take the right actions and make the right decisions.
ii. Every family normally at least takes off on what is called 'love' (natural; artificial; mere infatuation). For the couple to commence and continue with the same original momentum and enthusiasm, God's type of love must be at the foundation (1 Cor. 13:4-7). It's not talking, it's walking in love.
iii. God demonstrated Love instead of defining it in giving His best, Christ Jesus (Jn. 3:16; 2 Cor. 9:15). Christ in turn gave His all (3:16; cf. Rom. 8:31).
iv. Believers are called to declare, demonstrate, and manifest God's love. This should be more real in the Christian family. How? Through sacrificial giving (3:17), spending and being spent (2 Cor. 12:15). Love has no limit and fear (don't mind Abraham and IsaacGen. 12:10-20; 26:6-9). Practical love, is a sign of our obedience to God (Jn. 13:34,35 I Jn. 3:22,23).
v. Love of God in the family when lived and demonstrated appropriately, would make the home impregnable to the devil, demons and all forms of evil.
vi We know  and continue to respect a person not so much by what he knows and says but most importantly by what he does.  When our pronouncements and declarations have long been forgotten, all actions and demonstrations remain fresh.  Love in the family is not by talking but by showing, doing and acting. Therefore, be practical about your faith and beliefs.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Knowing God indeed is by  accepting His love. This should be personally experienced. No one can express the love of God who has not experienced His  indescribable love.
2. You can only give what you have. Who you are is what you will reveal. If we have experienced God, let us reveal His love, starting from our homes and in the church.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
God is love. Therefore, knowing Him is possessing the true love and being equipped to reflect it. Discuss.

II. TRUE LOVE IS PRACTICABLE (Ephesians 5:21-33)
 There are hypocrites all over the place.  Such give instructions which they do not keep, and they show the ways which they are not ready to walk in.  Our Lord has not given an instruction which he has neither demonstrated nor continued to demonstrate.  Love is practicable.
A. Christ Demonstrated It (vv. 21-27)
 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her (v. 25).
i. Love is reflected in actions and reactions. It is not talking, but walking; not saying, but doing (I Jn. 3:18).
ii. Christ came to reveal the love of God in the most convincing and practical terms by His sacrificial death. He gave his love for the sinners. There can be no greater love (Jn. 15:13).
iii. He gave His life when we were very bad (Rm. 5:8) despite the fact that He knows that many would not appreciate this. We do not love our partners because they are good or supportive but because God commands it, Christ demonstrated it, and we should obey (Jn. 13:34,35). Divorce would be out of our dictionary if we have God's love.
iv. vv. 26,27: By Christ's death, the church is being sanctified and cleansed, spotlessly prepared for the glorious day. Love from the husband would make the family the abode of God here on earth; even a nagging wife may perceive God's love in her spouse.
v. Impatience, selfishness, ignorance and peer pressure are some of the challenges confronting God's love in our hearts. Yet as we get constrained by His love, we practise love better.
vi. Someone said “Jesus demonstrated than He defined, acted more than addressing, every instruction He had given was to be demonstrated or already demonstrated.”  (Jn 15:13).  Do you know God?  Do you love God?  Start showing it at home.

B. God Demands It (vv. 28-33)
 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (v. 28).
i. v. 28: God will make neither an impossible pronouncement nor an unreasonable demand on us; but, many of us are selfish.
ii. v. 29: God demands that we should love others like ourselves. It even becomes more serious with the husband and wife because they are one (1 Jn. 4:11-21).
iii. v. 29:  For no one ever hated his own flesh.  No matter the wrinkles on the body, no matter how skinny or ugly a person may be, he continues to care for the body. How do we react to a minor injury that happens to us at home? If it happens to our partner, are we touched as if we are the one?
iv. vv. 29,30: Despite that the church (believers) is not yet perfect, the Lord Jesus continues in His enduring love to care for her. Why should we not do so to our partner?
v. For God so loved… (Jn. 3:16; cf. 1 Jn. 3:16). Let each one in particular so love his wife.  Act today.
vi The entire world can afford to flout God's orders.  Believers in God through Christ cannot.  All the institutions in the world can be ungodly, reckless and unloving; the church must be spotless and blameless.  Why?  God whom they love, demands that they love Him and demonstrate this as they relate with all, beginning from their homes.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Jesus Christ by His sacrificial death has given both a challenge and an example of the meaning of love and how best to demonstrate it.
2. Just as the Lord Jesus loves the church and left nothing undone for it, God demands that the husband should love the wife unconditionally.

*7 SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO

Question:  God is love. Therefore knowing Him means possessing the true love and being equipped to reflect it. Discuss.

 Answer:
1. God is love.  This is more than saying that He has love but the statement is pointing to a stark truth, that God is equal to love, that is, God and love and intertwined.
2. No wonder that His appearances whenever and wherever they occur usually begin with an action or a word of life (He appeared  to abused Hagar, lonely Jacob and fugitive Moses).  The problem has always been insensitivity to or misinterpretation of His actions and words.  Whenever He acts or speaks, the undisclosed reason is His indescribable love.
3. Therefore, blessed (happy) is the man who has received the grace to understand His love, and has positively and sufficiently responded to His love.  Do not underrate His love (Rm. 2:4,5).
4. When  anyone fully and adequately responds to the love of God, he is born of God (I Jn 4:7), God abides in Him (I Jn 4:13).  He is provoked to manifest the love of God (I Jn 3:16,17), He is admonished to love indeed not in word (I Jn 3:18).
5. Finally, anyone who hates his spouse neither knows nor loves God (I Jn 4:16-21; Eph 5:28,29).

 QUESTIONS
1. Discuss some practical ways by which the husband should show love at home?
2. How far should a loving husband go with an unrepentant wife?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO QUESTIONS
 Question I:  Discuss some practical ways by which the husband should       show love at home.

 Answers:  
 Love is of God.  Anyone who has accepted the love of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ should have God in his heart i.e he has God dwelling in Him.  He is to fully reveal the love of God. The husband has so many practical ways of showing  the love of God  the wife and to the children.
1. Consciously, he needs to plan how to create quality time for the wife and children.
2. Like Joseph who was with Mary during good and bad times, the husband is to be available.  Week-end only husband may become wicked husbands.
3. Practically giving some assistance at home even on some jobs at home.  This is unAfrican where the men have been accused of being too busy and  bossy.  Wives are help-mates; they should not be treated as properties or slaves.
4. The husband should take steps to protect the wife from over-labour, relegation by the in-laws or all forms of external attacks (do not behave like Abraham and Isaac  who attempted to save themselves by disowning Sarah and Rebecca).
5. Financial commitment (beyond the  level of doubt) is an indicator to one's sincerity at home.
6. Eating together, going out together to programmes, living in the same room, going  out for relaxation together (once in a while), sporting together are all practical examples of incorruptible love.

 Question 2: How far should a loving husband go with an unrepentant wife?

 Answer;
 The questions is clear and direct.  The question is not about any and every husband but a loving husband.  There are selfish, manipulative, situational and fair  weather husbands.
 A loving husband is one who has the God of love in his heart and will therefore not find it difficult to show the love of God.
  The loving husband knows and believes that:  I Cor 13:1ff
i. Love is selfless
ii. Loving is seeing your partner as God sees her i.e not what she is today but what God the maker can make out of her tomorrow.
iii. Love is enduring and persevering
iv. Love seeks ways out of problems and challenges
v. Love does not look judgemental  at all times but seeks ways of making  life easier for the partner.

How far can love go?
i. The loving husband goes with the nagging wife as long as he wants God to go with him, as the husband
ii. The loving husband keeps remembering the prodigal son and the reactions of the ever-loving and waiting father.
iii. He  never contemplates divorce or begins to make life miserable to the one she has prayerfully chosen.
iv. The loving husband has learnt a lot from Hosea-Gomer relationship (Hosea 1-3).  He never underrates the power of forgiveness (Mt. 18:21-35).

READINGS ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon. 18: Michal Protected Her Husband (I Sam. 19:11-17)
Tue.  19: Abraham Denied His Wife (Gen. 12:10-13; 20:1-7)
Wed. 20: Jacob's Passion For His Family (Gen. 33:1-3)
Thur. 21: Family's Togetherness Despite Crisis (Lk. 1:21-25; 59-65)
Fri.  22: Love Is Not Deceitful (Judges 14:12-18)
Sat.  23: Love is Not Blind (Judges 16:1-21)

*9 LIFE APPLICATION:
There was once a couple that kept on quarrelling over the maintenance of the toilet. They were the only ones living together at that time as there had not yet given birth to children. The trivial issue of taking care of the toilet in the house (a 3-bedroom flat) degenerated to fisticuffs, and eventually to separation.
 We have heard severally of people, including Christians and ministers, who go out in search of baby-producing ladies all because their wives 'fail' to 'produce' one. These and many more practical and critical situations signal the loss of true godly love among couples who found their marriages on wealth and other ephemeral things. Love is the factor that cements the marriage and home; Agape love.

*10 CONCLUSION:
We have come to the end of lesson 1. God has helped us to introduce this new series with the foundational issue of love in Christian marriage. He has helped us to establish the fact that love is the very important element that cements the Christian marriage and home. We have been able to rediscover the type of love that does that magic. May we know Christ the source of this extra-ordinary love and enjoy His love individually and in our families, in Jesus' name.

 

LESSON TWO

Unit 1: Strengthening Family Bonds     31 & 07 JULY – AUG 2011

 

Joseph and Mary were together through the thick and thin of their marriage. No wonder the devil
could do nothing with their home. Relate well with your spouse and family. (PICTURE)

PROPER RELATIONSHIP ENHANCES LOVE

MEMORY SCRIPTURE: My children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (I John 3:18).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
 No one talks so much on love like Apostle John, one of the oldest of the disciples of Jesus, who was also called the Apostle of Love.  He wrote the Gospel of Christ by John, the Epistles of John and the Revelation.
 Christianity is practical.  Believers would relate with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, with brethren and with non-believers.  What we know may not be appreciated but what we do is not easily forgotten.  Apostle John after discussing so many subjects, finally came to what he considers to be one of the most powerful tools that binds heaven and earth together; LOVE
 He says, love when practicalised, lived out, properly demonstrated, is an evidence of our salvation (I Jn 3:14) and being alive in God and God in us (I Jn 3:14).  Absence of love confirms that one is a murderer (v.15), love in us reveals that we know Him experientially (v.16) afterall, it was by His death that we know the depth of His love.  If God expects all these for our brethren, how much more for our wife with whom, we are inseparably one (Eph 5:28,29).  Do not define but demonstrate; do not talk it, walk it  (I Jn 3:17).
 Any “love” shown in the office, in the school or anywhere else even in the church which you have not shown your Spouse at home is artificial, fake,  hypocritical and speculative.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon. 25: The Good Family Background (Lk. 1:5-7)
Tue.  26: Divine Visitation Brought Good News (Lk. 1:8-17)
Wed. 27: Home Coming Despite The Challenge (Lk. 1:23-25)
Thur.28: Neighbours Came For Celebration (LK. 1:57-59)
Fri.  29: Wife's Intervention Confirmed Prophecy (Lk. 1:60-63)
Sat.  30: Togetherness Produced Testimonies (Lk. 1:64-66)

*2 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: 
i. Talking about love without walking in it is falsehood; defining love without demonstrating it is criminal.
ii. Relationship is easier when the partners see the other person as  a major contributor, given by God to achieve a common goal.
iii. Trust, readiness to adjust and non-judgemental approach to issues are necessary ingredients for a God-glorifying relationship.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Lk 1:1-25, 59-80
*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  The lesson aims at reminding the participants about the    importance of the love of God in the way people feel and act   towards their God-given partners.

OBJECTIVES:  It is expected that at the end of the two-week lesson, the participants should:
(i) have understood the importance of right feelings and positive actions towards one another,
(ii) have appreciated the importance of spending quality time together with one's spouse and the children, and
(iii) have become provoked to work towards the common goal despite the challenges and differences involved.

INTRODUCTION:
Textual Source: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-41; 1 Samuel 19:11-24; 2 Samuel 3:13-16

Lesson 1 underscores the importance and indispensability of love to the family. It explains that the unshakable foundation for true love is the recognition and acceptance of God's love fully demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Do you love God? Have you accepted His love? Believers who have experienced God's love love their partners best. May the Lord Jesus help us to love all, and our partners with the love of God.
Lesson 2 is designed to build on the last two weeks' discussion. It is titled, Proper Relationship Enhances Love. Love is the foundation and the ultimate. Yes, love is practical and real. Actions and decisions are bound to take place on regular basis and these have direct effects on the partners whose lives have been woven together by covenant.
This lesson examines how the love of God is taught and appropriated by some Bible figures. Love is seen in spending of quality time together, submission and obedience by the couples, risk taking on behalf of one another, to mention a few. The absence of practical love in action in families today is largely responsible for the divorce cases, delinquent children in welfare houses and all the accompanying vices.
Believers are expected to save their families from the onslaught of the devil, moral decadence in the society and the spiritual shallowness in the Church today as the LOVE of God is found, accepted and practised.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. The Gospel According To Saint Matthew
 The early church fathers unanimously agreed that Matthew or Levi the son of Alpahaeus was a publican.  The authorship of Matthew has not been seriously criticised, except that the question has been raised about why Matthew, as an eye witness, had to depend so much on Mark.  The response to this question has been that he wanted to prove that the apostles and their testimonies were undivided.

Date and Place of Writing:
i. The author's Jewish approach suggests Palestine.
ii. Some have put the date of writing for A.D. 50 because of its Jewish characteristics.
iii. Those who claim that Matthew drew extensively from Mark have concluded that the book came after Mark, and therefore has been dated AD 50's or 60's.  Majority of scholars support AD 50's or 60's.

Purpose Of The Book:
 The theme of the Book is Jesus the Saviour King.  It is designed to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Mesaiah.  It presents  Jesus as the fulfilment of the Old Testament predictions.  Hence he emphasised the kingdom and the Davidic line.
 It is the most Jewish of the gospel writings.  It presents the most systematic programme for Israel and her Mesaiah.  It mentions the Kingdom of God and Heaven more than any other book in the New Testament.

II. The Gospel According To Saint Luke:
 The Gospel of Luke is the third NT book of the Bible.  It is one of the Synoptic Gospels (the three Gospels with literary similarities), others being Matthew and Mark. Literarily, it has been established as a two-volume work with Acts of the Apostles as its second volume (i.e Luke-Acts). Luke's Gospel has been described by someone as “the most beautiful book ever written” appealing strongly to both the Jewish and Gentile readers.

Authorship of the Gospel:
i. In Luke's Gospel, there is no direct reference to anyone as the author of the book.
ii. Comparing the book with Acts sheds some light on the authorship: Both share the same recipient (Lk. 1:1-4; cf Act 1:1-12); Act appears to be the second volume of Luke's Gospel (cf. Act 1:1ff).  logically then, both books share the same author.
iii. The “we” passage in Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-10; 27:1-7; 28:7-16; cf Col 4:14; Php 24) points to Paul's travelling companion who was with him on those occasions.
iv. Evangelist Luke is the most likely candidate.  He was probably a Gentile by birth, well educated in the Greek culture, a trained doctor by profession, companion and loyal friend of Apostle Paul, the main character in Acts (cf Col 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Php 24).
v. An internal evidence in support of the Lukan authorship of the Gospel ascribed to him is the use of medical language (though care should be exercised not to exaggerate this fact) evident in his writings (e.g. “high fever” in Lk. 4:38,39; cf Act 28:8).
vi. The early tradition, the early title of the book, and the 2nd Century witnesses all favour Evangelist Luke the physician as the author of the Gospel.
vii. Luke was never an eyewitness of Jesus' earthly ministry (1:2-3).  However, the Gospel is a product of his cleverness and diligence providentially assisted by the Spirit in researching the relevant facts from sources including eye-witnesses and early ministers of the Gospel.

Date And Place of Writing:
i. The fact that Acts stops before Paul's execution in Rome suggests   that both Luke and Acts were most likely written before AD 64.
ii. This early authorship stand has been challenged by some scholars who argue that Acts may have stopped at both AD 62 either for literary reasons or because Luke needed only positive precedents as a historian with a purpose. This, coupled with Luke 21 strongly suggests that Luke-Acts was written after AD 70.
iii. It is a wide belief that Luke used Mark as a source thereby implying that Luke came after Mark.  Most scholars therefore prefer to date Luke-Acts some time after AD 70
iv. The book was most likely written from Rome.

Recipients:
i. Luke 1:3 mentions a “Theophilus” as the recipient, but who this is a  matter of scholarly guess and postulation. It is yet to be established  as consensus whether “Theophilus” (meaning 'lover of God') refers to  a man (wealthy, reputable Christian) or a group of people (Christians  who could have been collectively referred to as 'lover of God').
ii. However, it is most likely that the gospel was targeted at readers in the Greek world most especially those in upper class Rome, well-to-do and literarily sophisticated, who may have required confirmation in their faith and/or arguments in defence of it.

Purpose of the Gospel:
i. To present an orderly account of the life of Jesus as God's Son tracing  the beginnings of Christianity from Jerusalem to the heart of Rome  (as concluded in Acts).
ii. To correct the wrong impression in the then Roman world that both Christians and their doctrine were dangerous and subversive.
iii. To strengthen the faith of the believers and answer the attacks of unbelievers (1:1-14).

Outline
 The book can be broken down into the following headings:
i. The Son of man comes 1:1-4:13
ii. The Son of man seeks 4:14-19:27
iii. The Son of man saves 19:26; 24:53.

Special Features:
i. Luke uniquely presents the days of the Son of man and points out the significant fulfilment of the writings about Him in the Law, the  prophets and the Psalms.
ii. Together, Luke and Acts make up a two-volume work on the pre-establishment, establishment and early post-exilic periods of the Church.
iii. Luke uniquely uses medical language in his writings as a physician.
iv. Luke was very conscious in his writings about women concerns probably due to the presence of women in the medical field (especially midwifery).
v. The Gospel has been called the “Gospel for the underdogs” because it pictures Jesus as coming to save even the socially condemned people among the Jews  women, publicans and sinners, Samaritans and Gentiles.
vi. It is a universal Gospel. It traces Jesus' life from Galilee to Jerusalem and to Rome, showing Him as performing His works even among Gentiles in order to show that the Gospel is not for the Jews alone but for all, including the Gentile recipients of the book (cf. 2:14; 32; 3:6).
vii. The literary style in Luke's Gospel is in line with the fact that he was well educated.
viii. The book is closer to a Greco Roman history than to a biography when juxtaposed with its second volume (Acts).
ix. Luke presents Christianity throughout the book as non-political and so not opposed to the Roman government, in order to correct the subversive notion the Romans had of the Christians (cf 23.1ff).
x. He uniquely devotes a large amount of materials to Jesus' closing ministry in Judea and Perea (9:51-19:27), predominantly accounting for the discourses of Jesus.
 The book is dramatic and accurate in the historical details accounted for.

III. The First And Second Book Of Samuel:
The books of Samuel derive their names from the individual whom God used to establish kingship in Israel. Samuel is the most prominent figure in the early narratives of 1 Samuel. His key role in leading the nation of Israel through the transition from the period of the judges to that of the monarchy warrants the use of his name as the title for the book.
These books, however, have not always been so designated, nor was the material originally divided into two books. As far as is known, the Septuagint translators were the first to separate the material of Samuel into two books, just as they did to Kings. The Hebrew original of these books was written, as is characteristic of Hebrew, with symbols only for consonants and none for vowels. When translated into Greek, it was necessary to use symbols for both vowels and consonants, thus greatly lengthening the manuscript. Presumably the practical consideration of the length of the scroll was the cause for dividing the material of both Samuel and Kings into two books (scrolls) instead of retaining just one.
The Septuagint translators, recognizing the continuity of content and emphasis in Samuel and Kings, designated what is now known as 1 and 2 Samuel as “The First and Second Books of Kingdoms” and then designated what now is known as 1 and 2 Kings as “The Third and Fourth Books of Kingdoms.” The Latin Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible prepared by Jerome in the late 4th century AD) slightly modified the Septuagint titles to “First, Second, Third, and Fourth Kings.” These titles were utilized all through the Middle Ages and were modified into our present titles by the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century AD in agreement with Jewish rabbinic tradition. The Reformers, however, retained the division into two books, and this has been followed in modern English versions.

Author And Date:
i. Even though Samuel is prominent in the early part of the book, and the book bears his name in our English versions, it is clear that he is not the author of the entirety of 1 and 2 Samuel.
ii. 1 Samuel 25:1 records Samuel's death which is prior to the time of the accession of David to the throne.
iii. Who wrote the material of 1 and 2 Samuel if it was not Samuel? On the basis of the statement in 1 Chronicles 29:29, it has been suggested by some that Samuel composed the early narratives of the book and that his work was later supplemented by the writings of the prophets Nathan and Gad.
iv. There are some others pointing in the directions of David's contemporaries, such as Ahimaaz (2 Sam. 15:27, 36; 17:17), Hushai (15:32; 16:16), or Zabud (1 Kgs. 4:5).
v. Despite that these men might have had access to Samuel's writings, although who the real author was, however, cannot be determined from available evidence.
vi. Whoever it was, it is clear that he lived after the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom in 930 BC. Thus, 1 and 2 Samuel was published in its final form sometime after 930 BC.

Purpose And Theological Teaching:
i. The theme binding together the narratives of 1 and 2 Samuel pertains to the relationship between kingship and the covenant. Kingship as requested by the people was a denial of the covenant; kingship as instituted by Samuel was compatible with the covenant; kingship as practised by Saul failed to correspond to the covenantal idea; and kingship as practised by David was an imperfect but true representation of the ideal of the covenantal king.
ii. Another important theme here is that David conquers and acquires the land promised to Abraham. It is in the time of David that Israel's borders are extended from Egypt to the Euphrates, as had been promised. A second event of major significance for the remainder of the Bible is David's selection of Jerusalem to be the political and religious centre of Israel.
iii. In studying I and II Samuel, the real message is to be found by recalling that God had called Israel into a special relationship with Himself. God was their real King, and He would always deliver them; the people were never able to solve their own problems or make their own choices. These books, like the others of the Old Testament, were written as temporal illustrations of the ultimate salvation God brings to us in Christ.

Historical Background:
Samuel was born prior to 1100 B.c. during the Philistine oppression. The last of God's chosen deliverers (called Judges) was Samson; he had been a judge for twenty years (Jud 15:20) and was credited with the marvellous deliverance of the people of God from the Philistines during his lifetime. Samson's final revenge upon the Philistines was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit and resulted in the death of more of the oppressors than he had killed during his lifetime. It was towards the end of this long period of the judges that Samuel was born. It was, as can be seen from the apparent spiritual degradation of I Samuel 2:1226, a time when every man did what was “… right in his own eyes” (Jud 17:6; 21:25). Morals were almost completely lacking. It seems that Samuel was born for the task of transitioning God's rule among His people from judges to kings who would rule in His name.
Samuel was, in fact, a judge himself (I Sam 7:311), and it is interesting to note that part of his judgeship was contemporary with that of Samson. Even Samuel's sons were judges in a technical sense by appointment (I Sam 8:13), but not in a spiritual sense. Samuel was more than a judge; he was pre-eminently a prophet. He did not deliver the people physically, as the other judges had, but spiritually. He prepared God's people for receiving David, the king of God's choice, and ultimately the son of David, Jesus Christ. Humanly speaking, Samuel single-handedly delivered the nation from complete extinction. There was little unity left during the period of the judges, and the cycles of sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance were tightening into a deadly spin to destruction. It was Samuel who stopped the spin and brought them back to unity as a nation. Samuel was God's man of the hour; he functioned as judge, prophet, priest, and king, and brought the people through this time of transition.

New Testament Use:
Luke, John, Mark, Paul, and the writer of the book of Hebrews quote or allude to I and II Samuel. It is interesting that of the eighteen references to these books in the New Testament, almost all emphasize God's accomplished salvation through Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Not one reference is used to establish or even rehearse a historical fact or an event from the lives of Samuel, Saul, or David. The inspired New Testament writers undoubtedly viewed the whole Old Testament as salvation history, and their references would remind us to emphasize whatever is christocentric in our interpretation of this material.
Outline:
I. The Saving Acts of God Through Samuel. 1:17:17.
A. The Birth of Samuel and Hannah's Song of Deliverance. 1:12:10.
B. Samuel's Ministry in the Temple. 2:113:21.
C. The Capture of the Ark of God. 4:16:21.
D. The Return of the Ark. 7:117.

II. God's Providence Towards His People Under Saul. 8:115:35.
A. The Request for a King. 8:122.
B. Saul Anointed and Vindicated. 9:111:15.
C. Samuel's Call for Faith. 12:125.
D. Deliverance from the Philistines. 13:114:52.
E. God's Rejection of Saul as King for His People. 15:135.

III. God Anoints David and Leads Him to the Throne. 16:131:13.
A. David Is Anointed by Samuel. 16:123.
B. God's Deliverance through David's Fight with Goliath. 17:158.
C. Saul's Rage and God's Help for David. 18:120:42.
D. David's Wilderness Wanderings. 21:130:31.
E. Saul's Death on Mount Gilboa. 31:113.

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This is a two-week lesson divided into two parts I and II and each is further divided into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Mary And Joseph Related Well
 This section shows the secret of the peaceful and harmonious relationship between Joseph and Mary.  The two, having been bethroted to each another still went ahead to live without blemish.  Joseph is called a just person while Mary was a virgin.  Later, Mary was found carrying the baby of the Holy Spirit.  It took God's intervention with a specific instruction to Joseph to avert separation.  Henceforth, Joseph took the pregnant virgin to himself and began to live with her happily without allowing any gaps for man or Satan.

DIVISION II - Love In Action
 This division reveals how David and Michal had started marital live based on love i.e on God.  Later, Michal had to take a big risk to save her husband from death being planned by her father, King Saul.  Later, David had to flee for his live and Michal was given to another person. As soon as David was restored, he, without bias, asked for the fully restoration of the wife, remembering the good things they had done together.  Everyone of us needs to pray for the grace to ask for the restoration of those with whom we have 'broken' God-given relationships.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. MARY AND JOSEPH RELATED WELL
 A. God Was The Foundation
 B. Gave No Room For Gaps
II LOVE IN ACTION
 A. Michal Rescued David
 B. David Requested For Michal

LESSON EXPOSITION
I. MARY AND JOSEPH RELATED WELL (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1ff)
 If there is no trust, understanding and love in the family, what God designs to be a source of blessing can be misunderstood, abused or mismanaged.  However, when God is the foundation of a family, all evil devices are discovered earliest and nipped in the bud immediately.
A. God Was The Foundation (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-38)
 But while he thought about these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20).
i. The betrothed couple started with God and godliness:  Mary was a virgin suggesting her dedication to God (Lk. 1:27); Joseph was also a just and considerate man (Mt. 1:19).
ii. Earlier on, an angel of God had visited Mary with the announcement of God's uncommon favour on her (Lk. 1:26-35). What a special privilege which the devil almost turned to a problem!
iii. Matt. 1:20: But while he thought about these things... The just man saw a strange thing with her trusted lover and was determined not to expose her to public ridicule despite the penalty imposed by culture and God on such a breach of contract. When the man had almost called it quits, God intervened.
iv. God intervened. Clearly and timely, He gave specific instructions to Joseph. God became the basis and foundation of the relationship. Whatsoever people would say because of the strange event was their business.  God's love had prevailed.
v. When the spouses are accessible, reachable and teachable to the Holy Spirit, i.e when God is accepted and made the foundation and His language understood by the partners, all issues can be resolved and all challenges overcome.  Why?  He would speak at the appropriate time in the clearest language.

B. Gave No Room For Gaps (Lk. 2:1ff)
 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife (Mt. 1:24).
i. Families, friends and foes might have misunderstood the situation but since God had spoken, proper relationship started.
Ii. vv. 1-3: They started living together until the law of the land compelled them to go for a population census, divinely used to bring them to where the Holy Child must be born (cf. Mic. 5:2). They both moved together, leaving no gap or room for the devil.
iii. vv. 7-12: They were both together when the divine Child was delivered. Being too far away from each other physically can gradually diminish our love for each other. We need one another.
iv. vv. 21-37: Building a lasting relationship requires spending quality time together. They were both physically present at the Child's dedication and they both listened to the two prophetic declarations. Can you foresee the impact of such?.
v. vv. 39,40: They were both together to train the child. They never waited until the child became incorrigible before they would go into mountains for prayers without works of faith.
vi. Yes, you really have excuses for not giving enough time to your partner and children. Most of the time, our problems come through ignorance, negligence, misplaced priorities. Proper relationship enhances love.
vii Being separated from one another spiritually and physically would do the couples no good.  What do you think would have happened, if Adam had left Eve for about two months?  Again if Manoah's wife had to wait for twelve weeks before she would see the husband after the angelic visitation, or what would have happened if Zachariah and Elizabeth were living in different countries after the husband had been disciplined by the heavenly visitor?  Pray, work and wage war against living apart.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. We relate more productively with one another if everyone has established personal relationship with God.
2. After the initial take off, Mary and Joseph continued to have quality time together, leaving no gaps to man, sin and the devil.  This deepened their love for one another.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
 Every one of us has to be more committed, dedicated and get closer to our partner and children as these would help to bridge the existing gaps between us.  Do you agree?

II. LOVE IN ACTION (1 Samuel 19:11ff; 2 Samuel 3:13-16)
  Love in action is seen in the ways Jonathan and Michal (both children of Saul) loved the man their father (Saul) had labelled his greatest enemy.  If the two had not acted in the  true love of God, David would probably have been a forgotten person; but love, divine love, made them to protect the live of David.  This, of course, made them become permanent enemies of their father.  Love involves risk-taking (I Sam. 19,20).
A. Michal Rescued David (1 Sam. 19:11-24)
 Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed” (v. 11).
i. David had refused to marry Merab, Saul's oldest daughter (18:17-19). Later, Saul's daughter (Michal) loved David, and finally David married her (18:20-28). God must have been looking for a way to prepare for David's safety. He had influenced Jonathan (18:1-3) and now Michal, to love David without reservation (18:20).
ii. v. 11: Saul was out to kill David. Michal took the risk and cleverly paved way for her husband's escape. Later Jonathan also took steps to protect David (1 Sam. 20). No wonder David when the opportunity to kill Saul came, he refused to avenge.
iii. He could not imagine killing God's anointed. He refused to kill the father of his bosom friend, and of his dearest wife. Do we always remember the good relationships of the past?
iv. Though the two had become temporarily separated, it was not easy to forget the good relationships of the past. Any challenge?
v. Michal protected her husband despite the risks involved.  She must have been prompted to do this because God's love was the foundation of the family (I Sam. 18:20).  David would not easily forget this act of love.  Members of the family are expected to protect one another, come what may.

B. David Requested For Michal (2 Sam. 3:13-16)
 And David said, Good, I will make a covenant with you, But one thing I require of you, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter when you come to see my face (v. 13).
i. Saul and Jonathan had died (chp. 1), David had been anointed king in Judah (2:1-7), yet it was not easy for him to forget Michal.
ii. Abner wanted to show favours to David and had booked an appointment with him. David was neither excited by the rebel's surrender nor intimidated by any gifts he was bringing.
iii. vv. 13,14: David's request was clear and direct. Do not come to see my face unless you come down with my wife, Michal, Saul's daughter. Why?
iv. It could be because their relationship started with love (1 Sam. 18:20) and he could not easily forget the bride price/dowry, the risk and joy that accompanied the occasion, and lastly, the risk Michal took for him (1 Sam. 19:11-18; 18:23-27, 2 Sam. 3:11-16).
v. Proper relationship enhances love. Can you remember an estranged partner/child/relative? May the LORD help us to remember some nice experiences of the past so that like David, we can ask for our Michal.
vi The restoration of a spouse (or even a brother) after a period of separation cannot be condoned by many, it also looks senseless, risky and nauseating to a lot of people.  But if God had forgiven us of “all” sins because of our faith in His son, there is nothing too big that cannot or should not be overlooked.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Love involves taking risk on behalf of your partner even as you would for yourself (Eph. 5:29).
2. David could not remember if Michal offended him in the past, love had covered those wounds, but he continued to remember the good, olden days.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
 Question:  “Everyone of us has to be more committed, dedicated and get closer to our partner and children as these would help to bridge the existing gaps between us.” Do you agree?

 Answer: 
  Most of the families we have around us including the ones in the church are plagued by crisis and avoidable troubles and pains.  The results of these negative experiences are seen in the alarming rate of divorce cases, single parenting, moral degradation and degeneration in the society, increase in the number of social welfare centres, police custodies, prison cells etc.  Everyone of us needs to be more committed, dedicated, selfless, improve on how we communicate with one another; all these would help to reduce the 'gaps' at home.
 Some of the possible reasons for the gaps include absence of God and godly principles at home, lack of quality time together, demand for 'rights' without performing responsibilities.  Infidelity and insincerity in sexual and financial matters do lead to unsolvable problems.  Equally serious is prolonged separation for whatever reasons.
 Dealing with the above issues humbly, timely, prayerfully, honestly and biblically may help in solving some of the problems.  Consider these homes:  Joseph and Mary left no gaps (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk 2:1-25), foolish Nabal versus sensitive Abigail (I Sam. 25:1-32), committed Shunemite women versus insensitive husband (II Kgs 4:1-44), Compassionate and committed Michal and David (I Sam 19), good and timely communicating partners (Manoah and the wife Jdg 13).

QUESTION
1. Enumerate what good things your estranged partner, family and children have done in the past plus the love of God for you.
2. Is there any benefit in geographical separation between partners?
3. Do you give instructions to your spouse or take time to discuss?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO QUESTIONS:
 Question 1: Enumerate what good things your estranged partner, family and children have done in the past plus the love of God for you.

 Answer:
 An estranged partner in this context means anyone who has served relationship with another person.  Each of the persons affected automatically becomes a judge, claiming innocence and declaring the other guilty.  One of the first steps towards reconciliation is openness to meaningful discourse and a positive thought about those good olden days.  Please consider these.

An estranged partner:
1. Think about how you met with one another
2. Consider how the two of you were misunderstood, labelled and the possible losses and deprivations you both suffered
3. Remember the coming together,  warmth, sincerity, innocence, trust etc.
4. The good things you have done together: purchase of land, ownership of a car, sponsorship of a project or a junior one, cooperative societies' membership, treatment/care when hospitalised,  care of relatives/in-laws.
5. It may be necessary to remember devotion and support during difficult times (transfer, loss of job, involvement in an accident).
6. Above all these, there is the need to remember the unending, immeasurable and inexhaustible love of God for you as a sinner who became a saint.  You may be provoked to ask for your “Michal”.
An estranged family:
1. That you were born into the same family was not accidental, God permitted and supervised it.
2. Sincerely and honestly consider those good things you have done together in the past  Together in the school, farm, church, football field, just as you celebrated many religious activities together.
3. Again, dwelling under the same roof together, being managed by the same guardians or parents e.g Esther lived with Mordecai, Lot and Abraham, Jacob and Laban, Jacob and Esau.
4. Whatsoever might have happened in the future lives of the above would not be sufficient to render insignificant the earlier relationships.

An estranged child.
1. God has brought the child into the world, using you as vessels.
2. He/She carries your identity.  He continues to perpetuate (negatively/positively) the family name.
3. Remember that despite the ungodly divisions in the house of Isaac (Isaac loved Esau, Rebecca loved Jacob), they still both prayed for Jacob.
4. David did not completely restore the naturally rebellious Absalom but wept bitterly on his death (II Sam. 18:31-19:4.

Question 2: Is there any benefit in geographical separation between      partners?

Answer:
 People have reacted to this practice that has almost become a normal experience.  People no longer see anything wrong with it.  However, let us see the mind of God about it.

Possible reasons for it:
1. Work  Most of the time, an employee gets posted out of a station and has to move.
2. Choice of a place to settle.  'This is usually enhanced by the ownership of a house.  This helps the education of the children (relative stability).  The movement of the husband for any reason may leave the wife and the children in the settled environment.
3. Unwillingness of a partner to comply.  There have been reports of  husband being posted out and the wife outright  rejecting and resisting any movement.  The results of such actions at times have brought regrets.
4. Desire for greener pastures.  Sometimes young men desire to 'check out' in search of imagined benefitss afterall life itself being a risk.  Because of the way such movements are packaged, it may be difficult or impossible for the other partner to join on time.
5. Divorce or the unbiblical desire to be a single parent due to unpalatable  past experiences.
 The disadvantages of the above experience outweigh the advantages (if any).

Possible disadvantages:
1. God did not design that the husband and wife should be living apart; He cannot turn around to approve it.
2. The companionship, fellowship, togetherness behind the establishment of the family system is eroded as couples live apart.
3. It exposes the two to various ungodly temptations.
4. Whenever the two eventually meet, it takes time to surrender the “unlimited” freedom being enjoyed during the absence.
5. The children suffer incompleteness in their growth because they are exposed only to the touch of only one partner.
6. Such separation may generate suspicion (sometimes genuine suspicion) which, if not dealt with on time, may lead to divorce.
7. Money is not everything. Talking together two hours everyday, using the modern appliances does not solve the emotional problem. The truth is, living apart does not have much good.
8. If it has to be, let it not be seen as a standard; let it not be accepted as normal or unavoidable.  If it happens, let it be prayerfully resolved, let there be reunion  Moses’ experience (Exodus 18:1ff).
9. Even when we live together, let it be that indeed we are together in soul, spirit and body, trusting one another as brothers.

Conclusion: 
 God's stand on the family's physical, emotional and spiritual togetherness (Gen. 2:18) cannot be misunderstood by those with godly intentions.  No one has violated the principles of God made clear in the bible without some scars to show for such wilful violation.

 Question 3: Do you give instructions to your spouse or take time to discuss?
 Answer:
 Whatever we do not appreciate, we tend to depreciate it.  Whatsoever we do not value, we do underrate.
1. The wife is not a property, a servant/slave, an intruder or a necessary evil.  Until the man begins to see the wife as God intends, the error of misapplication and abuse would continue.  Who is the wife/woman?
2. She is a partner, a companion, a sister and a joint-heir to the kingdom of God.  When a man learns to see his wife as such, most of the tensions at home would be reduced.
3. If she is not seen from the perspective of God, how then do we take decisions at home or do we just pass on instructions waiting for reports and assessment?
4. Remember, she is a gift, a person designed by God to help the man fulfil; therefore we need their contributions.  Learn from:  The Shunemite woman and her husband  II Kings 4:8ff, Manoah and the wife (Jdg 13), Zachariah/Elizabeth (Lk. 1:59-66).  Women are advised/encouraged not to become Jezebels in the lives of their husbands.
5. How?   Be born again and surrender to the Holy Spirit as you meditate in the word daily.

READINGS ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECODN WEEK
Mon. 1:  The Sensitive Wife's Recommendations (2 Kgs. 4:8-10)
Tue.  2: The Minister's Act Of Gratitude (2 Kgs. 4:11-15)
Wed. 3: The Miraculous Conception (2 Kgs. 4:16,17)
Thur.4: Complimenting One Another (2 Kgs. 4:18-22)
Fri.  5:  Questions Without Follow-Up (2 Kgs. 4:23-25)
Sat.  6: One Partner Protected The Family (2 Kgs. 4:26-37)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 It was once said of a family where the husband and wife refuse to talk to each other for years until God used a situation to cause them talk involuntarily. There are several marriages like that in which the parties involved are mere tenants under the same roof. They hardly talk to each other. They seldom do things together. They live like cat and rat. The only thing that bring some couples together is when, may be the man thinks they should have a baby. One imagines how they relate at such points. The lesson we just concluded is a reminder to all of us, most especially those in similar situations as highlighted above, that proper relationship premised on the Bible is an important key that enhances love itself.

*10. CONCLUSION:
 The previous lesson assured us that it is love, God's kind, which cements the marriage and home. In the lesson we just concluded, we have seen a very important factor that can make this seriously needed and indispensable love what it should be so that it can continue to cement the Christian home. The factor so far discussed is proper relationship. May the bruised and battered marriage relationships, even in our churches, be touched by the healing hands of Jesus, and torched by the fire of God to carry forth the glory of God to the entire people of this world. Amen.

 

 


 

Unit 1: Strengthening Family Bonds     14 & 21 AUGUST 2011

LESSON THREE
Sex, the height of physical intimacy, is God-approved between only a properly wedded man and woman. God hates pre-marital and extra-marital sex! (PICTURE)

SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP IS GOD-ORDAINED

MEMORY SCRIPTURE:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour
(1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
These Thessalonians had been introduced to the light of the gospel through Paul's ministry (Acts 19:1ff). They were following the pungent teachings of Paul who had been instructing them on how to live in order to please God (NIV), but they needed to do more in terms of holiness or sanctification (1 Thes. 4:1,2; cf. 3:13) most especially as it relates to family life and sex before and in marriage. The background of these Thessalonians further called for this challenge. The city was well known for its love to vary sexual habits. So, Paul warned the believers there against sexual immorality (v. 3) that could have included a broad spectrum of illicit and unnatural sexual practices premarital and extramarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest etc. (vv. 18). Our society today is also guilty of variety in sexual appetites. Yet, Christians everywhere should remember that holiness and sanctification cover our attitudes towards sex and marriage. So, abstain totally from sexual immorality (v. 3).
The vessel in v. 4 may refer to your body (NIV) that should be the vessel of the Holy Spirit, never to be joined to sin, even sexual sins (1 Cor. 6:15ff). So, control your body in relation to sex. It may also refer to the believer's wife, in which case the Contemporary English Version of the Bible renders v. 4 as respect and honour your wife. In fact, she is the weaker vessel (1 Pet. 3:7). So, even within the confines of marriage, there are some unnatural sexual practices that are totally unacceptable to God. Our marriage and sexual relationships should be devoid of passionate lust, different from the unbelievers' (vv. 5-8). Why then should pornographic movies, literature etc be your standard for sexuality? We should be different from unbelievers. Possess your vessel in sanctification and honour for the sake of your health now (cf. 1 Cor. 6:18) and eternity hereafter.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon  8: Sexual Immorality Is Suicidal (Prov. 5:1-4)
Tue   9: Sin Destroys The Perverted (Prov. 5:5,6)
Wed  10: Sorrow Attends Sexual Impurity (Prov. 5:7-14)
Thur 11: Sex Is For The Properly Wedded (Prov. 5:15-20)
Fri  12: Sexual Wickedness Attracts God's Wrath (Prov. 5:21-23)
Sat   13: Sex Is Fulfilling Only In Marriage (1 Cor. 7:1-5).

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
i. Sex is godly only between the properly wedded couple; Sexual intimacy is for marriage.
ii. The properly wedded couple involves a man who has fully paid the bride price of the wife after which they both go before the altar of God for His blessing before settling down to enjoy marriage.
iii. Sex is sacred, a divine provision. God the creator intended it to happen within the confines of marriage. Anything otherwise is an aberration and a courting of terrible disaster now and in eternity.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
Aim:  To show God's mind concerning sex and by this correct the    prevalent wrong notions in the world today about it.

Objectives: At the end of this lesson, the people of God should:
i. have better understood that God created sex for the properly wedded, nothing more, and be able to show this from the interaction between Boaz and Ruth;
ii. be showing deeper hatred for sexual sins and the determination to eschew them at all cost;
iii. be able to show from  Amnon-Tamar saga that lust would destroy the lustful; and
iv. become a better and fire-brand advocates against sexual sins most especially among the youth.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Genesis 1:26-31; 2:23-25; 39:1ff; Ruth 2  4; 2 Samuel 13:1-17
We have been discussing factors that strengthen the bonds of the family in the first unit of this Sunday School series. Lesson 2 re-focuses our attentions on the all-important factor of true, the godly one, in enhancing proper marriage relationship. Are you being blessed?
Lesson 3 builds upon the foundation of the previous lesson. True love cements marriage in a unique way, and the height of physical union in marriage between the Christian couple is sexual relationship. It is the consummation of marriage.
When it is founded on Christ's love, it brings glory and worship to God. Otherwise, it is a product of lust that infuriates God. However, sex in itself is not inherently evil. God packaged it along with the institution of marriage from the beginning (Gen. 1,2). The devil was not happy with this godly pleasure, and so the Fall affected everything including sexual relationship.
The trend became so bad that today there are so many despicable sexual practices more than those mentioned in the Bible. A lot of ungodly dimensions have been introduced, such people find it more comfortable to divorce sex from marriage.
God is not happy with this. This is why He is bringing up this Bible-based discussion to rediscover what God wants and put the devil to shame. May we not fail. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. Book Of Genesis:

The Name:
• This first book of the Bible got its name from the Heb. Bere'shith, i.e. "in the beginning".
• The Greek translation of the O.T. (the Septuagint) calls it Génesis, because it recounts the beginnings of the world and of mankind.
• This name has come to stay in most of the Bible translations.

Authorship:
The authorship of Genesis is closely related to the authorship of the entire Pentateuch (lit. “five-volumed,” the first five books of the Bible, which in Hebrew are called the Torah). It is clear that the Bible regards the human author of these books as Moses. On several occasions the Lord commanded Moses to write down various things: “in a book” (Exo. 17:14) “write these words” (34:27). The Pentateuch reports that “Moses wrote all the words of the LOrd” (24:4); he wrote the itinerary of the exodus wanderings (Num. 33:2); “Moses wrote this law” (Deut. 31:9). (Here it is not certain that all five books are meant, but it must refer to at least the greater part of Deuteronomy.) In Exo. 24:7 it is said that Moses read the Book of the Covenant, which he must have just completed.
The rest of the OT bears witness to the writing of the Pentateuch by Moses. David referred to the law of Moses (1 Kgs. 2:3). In the time of Josiah, there was found in the temple the Book of the Law of the LORD...given through Moses (2 Chro. 34:14, NLT). Day by day Ezra read from “the Book of the Law of God” (Neh. 8:18, NLT).
In the NT, Jesus refers to “the book of Moses” (Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37) and otherwise mentions the commands or statements of Moses (Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 7:10; cf. Luke 16:31; 24:44). The Jews also quoted from the Torah as coming from Moses, and Jesus did not contradict them.
Of Genesis in particular, it may be said that Moses had the opportunity and ability to write the book. He could have written it during his years in Egypt or while exiled with the Kenites. As the recognized leader of the Israelites, he would have had access to, or perhaps even custody of, the records that Jacob brought from Canaan. He was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) and probably could have written in several languages and in several scripts (hieroglyphic, cuneiform, Old Hebrew). Although Moses was admirably fitted for the task of writing, one must remember that he was not putting together a human composition but was writing under the inspiration of God (2 Peter 1:21). We may with confidence conclude that Moses was the human author of Genesis.
The liberal view of the authorship of Genesis is that the book is an editorial compositea view first put forward by a French physician, Jean Astruc, who suggested that the different names for God indicated different documents or sources for the writing of the book. The German higher critics expanded the view of the use of documents in the writing of Genesis and developed it into the Graf-Wellhausen-Kuenen, or Documentary, Hypothesis, which may also be called the JEDP theory of the authorship of the book. This view holds that there were four basic documents: (1) J, which uses the name YHWH (Jehovah or Yahweh) for God, dates from about the ninth century BC and comes from Judah; (2) E uses the name Elohim, dates from the eighth century, and comes from the northern kingdom; (3) D is Deuteronomy and is supposed to come from the time of Josiah, about 621 BC; and (4) P is the priestly element, which deals with matters of the priesthood and ritual, dating to the fifth century BC or later. Some may date portions of Genesis as late as the Hellenistic period. According to this theory, the various documents were blended together by editors, so that there was a JE, JED, and so on.
The science of archaeology discredited many of the extreme postulations of these critics, and the work of W. F. Albright and his followers did much to restore confidence in the historicity of Genesis. Within the last several decades, the patriarchal narratives and the account of Joseph have again come under strong attack, but these views are extreme, and much of the evidence adduced by Albright and earlier scholars like R. D. Wilson, W. H. Green, and others still has validity.

Date:
The date of the book is also a matter of debate. Even among those who accept Mosaic authorship there is debate as to when Moses lived. Based on the biblical data, Moses should have lived in the 15th century BC (cf. Judges 11:26; 1 Kings 6:1), but many scholars incline towards a 13th-century date. As outlined above, the liberal view of the date of Genesis would be from the ninth to the fifth centuries BC, with the final editing coming around the fifth century or perhaps even later.

Purpose:
Genesis sketches the origin of many things: the universe, the earth, plants, animals, and mankind. It gives the beginnings of human institutions, professions, and crafts. It describes the origin of sin and death, and illustrates the insidious working of Satan in human life. Above all, Genesis relates the beginning of the history of redemption with the announcement of a Redeemer who was to come (Genesis 3:15). It names the early progenitors in the lineage of the Messiah and the beginning of the Hebrew people through whom the Bible and the Saviour came. Genesis also gives a selective history of people and events as viewed from the perspective of the purposes of God.

Structure:
The book is divided into 11 parts of uneven length, each set off by the expression “these are the generations [descendants, history] of” (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). Only three times does the formula coincide with the first verse of a chapter. Usually called a heading or superscription, the expression serves as a kind of link between what precedes and what follows.

Contents:
•  Story of the creation (Gen. 1, 2).
• The fall of man and its consequences (Gen. 3)
• The rapid progress of sin, resulting in the Flood and its aftermath (Gen. 4 - 9).
• The spread of the nations (Gen. 10:1-11:26).
• Abraham and his house (Gen. 11:27-25:18).
• Isaac and his house (Gen. 25:19-37:2).
• Jacob and Joseph (Genesis 37:2-50:26).

Connection with Succeeding Books:
By the statements just made it has already been indicated in what close connection Genesis stands with the subsequent books of the sacred Scriptures. The history of the chosen people, which begins with Exodus 1ff, at the very outset and with a clear purpose, refers back to the history as found in Genesis (compare Exodus 1:1-6, 8 with Genesis 46:27; Genesis 50:24ff; and see EXODUS, I, 3), although hundreds of years had clasped between these events; which years are ignored, because they were in their details of no importance for the religious history of the people of God. But to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 the promise had been given, not only that he was to be the father of a mighty nation that would recognize him as their founder, and the earliest history of which is reported in Exodus and the following books of the Pentateuch, but also that the Holy Land had been promised him. In this respect, the Book of Joshua, which gives the story of the capture of this land, is also a continuation of the historical development begun in Genesis. The blessing of God pronounced over Abraham, however, continued to be efficacious also in the later times among the people who had descended from him. In this way Genesis is an introduction to all of the books of the Old Testament that follow it, which in any way have to do with the fate of this people, and originated in its midst as the result of the special relation between God and this people. But in so far as this blessing of God was to extend to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3), the promises given can be entirely fulfilled only in Christ, and can expand only in the work and success of Christian missions and in the blessings that are found within Christianity. Accordingly, this book treats first of beginnings and origins, in which, as in a kernel, the entire development of the kingdom of God down to its consummation is contained (compare VI below).

II. The Book Of Ruth

 Author And Date:
The author of the book is unknown. The question of authorship has particular connection with the date of writing, and a few clues provide at least an educated guess. The book must have been written sometime after the beginning of David's reign. The information in Ruth 4:18-22, which pertains to the historical significance of Ruth as David's great-grandmother, bears this out. Since foreign marriages were not approved in the book of Ruth, it scarcely could have been written during the period in which Solomon began his policy of foreign marriages. Also, David's close friendship with Moab might have prompted someone in his kingdom to write the book, thus presenting objective rationale for David's actions (see 1 Samuel 22:3-5). Consequently, the author may have been someone close to David, possibly Samuel, Nathan, or Abiathar.
The time of the narrative is indicated by the opening statement: “In the days when the judges ruled. . . .” The dates of the judges probably comprise a period of about 300 years, beginning with the judgeship of Othniel and concluding with that of Samson, though Samuel also served as a judge. If the genealogical information is complete in Ruth 4:18-22, the events took place during the life of David's great-grandfather and mark the birth of his grandfather. Allowing a 35-year generation span, the events would have taken place somewhere about the turn of the 11th century BC, or about 100 years before David's birth.

Purpose:
The book's purpose is closely related to its date of composition. Assuming an early date, that is, one close to David's lifetime, its principal thrust must be the authentication of the Davidic line. The book may be considered as a justification for including the godly Moabitess in the nation of Israel.

Content:
• Introduction (1:1-5)
• Return To Bethlehem (1:6-22)
• Reaping In The Fields Of Boaz (2:1-23)
• Relying Upon The Kinsman (3:1-18)
• Redeeming The Inheritance (4:1-22)

Message:
i. First, the book of Ruth traces the lineage of Ruth to David. The   completion of that line is in Matthew 1 and finds its fulfilment in   Jesus.
ii. A second teaching is the beauty of God's grace. A foreigner, even a Moabitess, can be linked with Israel's blessing.
iii. Theologically, the concept of kinsman-redeemer as a type of Messiah is evident. He must be a blood relative, have the ability to purchase, be willing to buy the inheritance, and be willing to marry the widow of the deceased kinsman.
iv. And finally, the love that Ruth showed to Naomi provides a pattern of devotion. The women of Bethlehem told Naomi, “Your daughter-in-law . . . loves you so much and [is] better to you than seven sons!” (4:15, NLT).

III. First And Second Book of Samuel: Refer to Lesson 2, section *5 III.

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
This Lesson is divided into two sections, I and II and sub-divided into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Sexuality That Honours God:
This is a very corrupt generation and who knows what it would become in coming generations. The people of God need to be reminded of the true essence of sex and sexuality. This section strongly reemphasizes the divine origin and purpose of sex and sexuality. Without mincing words, it reminds us that God created it for marriage. The second aspect of the section shows this from how Boaz related with Ruth, not taking advantage of her vulnerability. May God deliver our generation from unwholesome attitudes. Amen.

DIVISION II - Sexual Impurity Infuriates God:
This section tends to establish God's unchanging passionate hatred for and wrath against sexual impurity. Joseph was fully aware of this when his master's wife tried to seduce him. He fled from the sin, not because of any other thing but for the fear of the awesome God and His attitude to sin. That is the focus of the first aspect of this section. In the second aspect, the negative example of Amnon's lust for his sister, Tamar, is used to warn everyone that cares to understand against the dangers of unwholesome sexual attitudes, most especially premarital sex.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. SEXUALITY THAT HONOURS GOD
 A. Instituted For Marriage
 B. Integrity Of Boaz
II. SEXUAL  IMPURITY  INFURIATES  GOD
A. Lessons From Joseph's Integrity
B. Lust Destroyed Amnon's Life

LESSON EXPOSITION
I. SEXUALITY THAT HONOURS GOD (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:23-25; Ruth 24)
 Only what pleases God should appeal to His people. Hence, we should be concerned with how our involvement or interest in sexual activities can honour Him. If He created it, it is better to study His manual to know how He expects it applied in our lives as His sanctified people on our way to heaven.
A. Instituted For Marriage (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:23-25)
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (2:25).
i. We need a rediscovery of how and why God created sex to be able to counter misconceptions about it in this 'modern' world.
ii. 1:26,27: In creating Adam (the man), the omniscient God already had Eve (the woman) in mind. He created them male and female, conveying the idea of gender differences as foundation for sexual relationship between the opposite sexes.
iii. v. 28: The divine command and blessing of procreation is only possible through man-woman sexual union. God had packaged sexuality with man right from the beginning.
iv. v. 31: God's creation, sexuality, is very good; never inherently evil as long as it is done according to the Originator's master plan.
v. 2:23,24: God instituted marriage so that only the properly wedded man and his wife shall become one flesh, i.e. be united in the intimacy of sexual relationship.
vi. v. 25: This shame-free nakedness includes sexual intimacy. Sex is not shameful when it is within the confines of a monogamous God-approved marriage (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1-5).
vii. If God intended sex for marriage, why would you want to 'test' it before marriage or outside your matrimonial home? He who violates God's standard is a criminal, a spiritual criminal, open to the disasters of hell.
viii.God intends sex for a couple of two individuals of opposite sexes. Same-sex marriages and sexual relationship is foreign to God's Law. Anyone who practises lesbianism, homosexuality, gay-marriage  is anti-God! DON'T DO IT!
B. Integrity Of Boaz (Ruth 2  4)
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son (4:13).
i. The same true God of Naomi whom Ruth who opted for (chap. 1) has provision for her remarriage (Lev. 25:35-55; Deut. 25:5-10).
ii. 2:ff: Boaz came on stage, a man with sterling qualities industry (v. 3b; cf. Prov. 27:23,24), caring for God's things (his greeting in v. 4), and regard for others (vv. 4ff).
iii. vv. 5ff: That he refused to take advantage of this defenceless widow (cf. vv. 2,3) shows integrity, a case against those who sexually abuse job-seekers and other less-privileged people.
iv. 3:1-4: Naomi meant well for Ruth (v. 1), but was doing it wrongly. Going to uncover his feet, and lie down with him could have resulted in pre-marital sex and God passionately hates sex outside marriage (cf. Deut. 25:5,6).
v. vv. 5ff: Boaz demonstrated a rare strength of character, restraining himself from taking advantage of the desperate Ruth despite the 'open door' (cf. vv. 10ff; cf. 1 Thes. 4:3-5).
vi. 4:1ff: He waited for formal wedding before 'knowing' her (v. 13). God's blessings follow integrity in sexual matters (cf. vv. 11ff).
vii. Boaz's attitude here would stand on the day of judgement to condemn as many as would not see premarital sex as a deviation from the Law of the awesome God. Waiting is sweet; it brings the presence of the Almighty God into the consummation of your marriage. Then you can practise your sexuality without fear of disaster.

LESSON DERIVED
1. God only approves of sex between the properly wedded man and woman. That is His original and only plan.
2. God passionately hates all forms of sexual relationship outside monogamous Christian marriage premarital and extra-marital sex, sex with several or same-sex partners etc. Eschew them!

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES:
Pornography is a silently fledging time bomb among so many Christians today. Does God support it? How is it affecting Christian marriage culture? How can it be overcome?

II. SEXUAL IMPURITY INFURIATES GOD (Genesis 39:1ff; 2 Samuel 13:1-17)
 God created sex and sexuality, but the devil is trying to turn people against Him through the misapplication. Like every other sin, God hates sexual impurity with unimaginable passion. He who practises it, no matter the status or standing would soon bitterly regret he was ever involved in it. Be wise!
A. Lessons From Joseph's Integrity (Gen. 39:1ff)
 How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (v. 9b).
i. V. 1: Joseph was a young man being persecuted for his God-given vision (chp. 37). He ended up in Potiphar's estate, but carried with him the love for the awesome God and radiated His glory (vv. 2-6).
ii. v. 7: The devil, not being happy with Joseph's spiritual success despite his incarceration, presented a free and seemingly harmless sexual temptation (cf. 1 Pet. 5:7-11).
iii. v. 8: But he refused an 'opportunity' perverts would fully 'maximize'. The true Josephs never try to mellow God's anger against sexual sins.
iv. vv. 8-10: When a man sees sexual sins as great wickedness against the awesome God, he runs away from it, come what may.
v. vv. 11ff: Joseph damned the consequences and preferred to be misunderstood and mistreated by man rather than offending his God (cf. 1 Sam. 2:25). It is high time the Church took its holy stand against the prevalence of sexual sins within its fold.
vi. vv. 19ff: His sexual purity temporarily brought him pain, but the God He honoured with his vessel stood by Him (vv. 21-23). Your chastity may attract oppositions. Be sure you'll laugh at long last.
vii. The fear of the awesome God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). For the holy fear of God's unbearable wrath and for the sake of your well-being now and later, run from sexual sins. Be ready to suffer anything to say 'No' to temptations to fornicate or be an adulterer.

B. Lust Destroyed Amnon's  Life (2 Sam. 13:1-17)
 After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick... (vv. 1,2a).
i. v. 1: Amnon and Tamar were of the same father. Sexual relationship between them was incest (cf. Lev. 18:6-18).
ii. vv. 1,2: True love neither distresses, hurts, nor runs into one's head (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4ff). Amnon's was nothing but lust (cf. vv. 15-17).
iii. Sexual sins start from the mind. Amnon had been lusting after his own sister (vv. 1,2). Guard your heart (cf. Prov. 4:23; Mat. 5:28; 15:18,19).
iv. vv. 3-5: How many people have fallen into sexual sins through peer and other negative influences! (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33).
v. vv. 6ff: Lust, that so many call 'love' today, is 'blind' against reality, godliness and sense. How else does one explain sexual relationship between a father and daughter and the likes?
vi. Sexual sins are demonstration of debasement and madness incest, homosexuality, bestiality, pornography, premarital sex, polygamy, rape etc (cf. Rom. 1:26-32). They invite God's fuming wrath on the sinner in unimaginable ways (cf. 23ff).
vii. Lust destroyed Amnon and still destroys the sexually immoral today. You will do yourself a lot of good if you first objectively check your heart on the scale of God's Word as to what you call 'love' for that person. Make sure it isn't 'lust'. Lust is sex based and very animalistic; true love is God-based and marriage-focussed.

LESSON DERIVED
1. There is no reason for you to bow to pressures from inside and around you to sexually misbehave. God is always watching.
2. Sexual sins open the sinner's life up to all forms of God-approved disasters (cf. 1 Cor. 6:13-20).

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
 Question 1: Pornography is a silently fledging time bomb among so many Christians today. Does God support it? How is it affecting Christian marriage culture? How can it be overcome?

 Answer: 
 Pornography refers to films, magazines, writings, photographs etc that are sexually explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal. It is also the production/sale of such materials. It is very big business all over the world, so much that even some Christians are seriously addicted to it, the major advocates being bookstores, sexshops, TV, cinemas, and the internet. The entertainment industry is badly guilty of routinely incorporating soft porn. Also, dresses so many people, mostly women, put on today in the name of fashion only aggravate the problem of porn.
 Pornography is a perversion of and lie against the dignity and sanctity of human life that has destroyed the innocence of several children (cf. Mk. 9:42), destroyed so many lives, broken several homes, and dashed several hopes.
 Many Christians, including family men and women, have developed real pornography addictions. Such are Christians who have not allowed their minds to be circumcised and sanctified, thus subtly tolerating lust (cf. Deut. 30:6; Heb. 11:25; Jas. 1:13-15).
 The marriage culture is suffering most:
• The spouse who is a pornography addict cannot be sexually satisfied by his/her partner. Imagine what this can lead to.
• There have been cases of siblings who have impregnated themselves because of the influence of porn.
• Addiction to pornography takes a lot of time off the addict; times that should have been productively invested to God's glory. Imagine a boy who goes for overnight browsing in a cybercafé only to surf  pornographic sites when he should be studying his books.
• Most importantly, pornography has drawn the heart of so many parents as well as children against God.
 It seems the world is losing the battle against pornography with the alarming rate at which it is fledging. God and godliness is the  solution. How?
i. Shielding: This has to do with political, social and legal efforts to protect our children, our spouses and our friends from pornography, thereby curtailing the spread of the malady. The government should regulate the activities of  cybercafés to make sure that pornography is checked to the  barest minimum among our youths. There should be very stiff penalty for the perpetrators of pornography as a deterrent to others. Parents can instal softwares such as 'Safe-Eyes' on their computers at home to deny the children intentional or unsolicited access to pornographic materials.
ii. Since declaration and demonstration of disapproval: Enough of silence. The Church of God must consciously and vehemently preach and teach against it regardless of who is involved (2 Tim. 4:2). Parents should make it clear to the children that disapprove of immodesty and impurity. The government should legislate against it; enough of lip-service.
iii. Proper home training: If you don't train your children in the standard of God, there are satanic agents located outside who would help you make them unmanageable. Children with good home training seldom involve in obscenities.
iv. Let people know why it is not good: People tend to follow instructions they know why of and how they benefit them. Parents, government, and churches alike should let people understand why pornography is evil from God's point of view. Change is on the way. The Church can create counseling centres for pornography addicts to help rehabilitate them spiritually and psychologically.
v. Use the spiritual weapon of prayer (cf. Eph. 6:10ff). Trying to shield families and the society from the malady may be punctured at some points, but sincere prayer cannot fail. The power of prayer would break the hold of the demon of pornography on our society and deliver the addicts. We must pray to stop pornography from fledging.
 When all hands are on desk (the home, the Church, government and other stakeholders) and they cooperate with God, pornography would become a thing of the past in our society. But then, where are the people who would take the risk?

QUESTION
1. Sex is not inherently evil. Discuss.
2. Discuss some sexual relationships and practices that contradict God's Word.

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTION:
Question 1: Sex is not inherently evil. Discuss.

Answer: 
i. Refer to division I A.
ii. God created sexuality with man from the beginning and declared that it is good right from the beginning (Gen. 1:27-31; 2:24,25).
iii. The divine command that the first couple should multiply couldn't have been possible without sex (Gen. 1:28).
iv. The shame-free nakedness of Adam and Eve in Gen. 2:25 connotes the idea of sexual fulfilment. This was in the presence of God. Remember that man was still in the state of innocence during that time. It is unimaginable that God would have allowed such a thing to happen in His presence, moreso, as He was starting a new order given His unrepentant passionate hatred for sin and evil.
v. So, sex is not inherently evil. It is the Fall of man (Gen. 3) that dented the originally pure nature of human sexuality. The perversion inherited from the disaster in Gen. 3 has assumed various alarming dimensions today.
vi. Who knows what it would become in the coming generations? People are becoming more corrupt by the day with their unbridled desires to make the experience of sex 'more pleasurable'.
vii. But to the children of God, the presence of God's Spirit of holiness in us moderates our sexual activities and reserves these for only within the confines of God-approved marriage.

Question 2: Discuss some sexual relationships and practices that contradict God's Word.

Answer: 
 There are so many sexual relationships and practices that contradict the Word/Law of God. In fact, they are alarmingly increasing in number by the day. The devil is rolling them out more than ever before. Lev. 18 enumerates some of the ungodly, unwholesome sexual relationships and practices. They include:
i. Incest (vv. 6ff): This involves sexual activities between close   relatives. This is what Amnon did (2 Sam. 13:1ff). What of fathers  who impregnate their daughters today, and siblings who prefer to  marry themselves instead of marrying from outside?
ii. Wife/husband swapping (v. 20): Some don't see anything bad in exchanging their spouses for others' for depraved sexual activities. What a shame!
iii. Homosexuality/Lesbianism (v. 22): Same-sex sexual activity is highly unnatural and foreign to God's original plan for marriage. God would have created another male human being if he wanted it for Adam. Even some priests have foolishly joined the foray of same-sex couples. Don't change God's order lest you learn your lesson the hard way. Go and ask the Sodomites of Lot's days (Gen. 19:1ff).
iv. Bestiality (v. 23): How can a man be so depraved and debased as to go to the extent of sexually interacting with animals? Madness (Rom. 1:21ff). A man was once caught doing it with a goat. That is the extent and more to which a debased man or woman can devalue him/herself.
v. There are also unprintable sexual practices among even married couples.
vi. All of these and others should not be heard of in the true Christian homes. Is yours one?

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon. 15: Detestable Sexual Practices Irritate God (Gen. 19:1-9)
Tue.  16: Destruction Greets Ungodliness (Gen. 19:10-25)
Wed.  17: Don't Follow Ungodliness (Lev. 18:1-5)
Thur.  18: Don't Practise Incest (Lev. 18:6-18)
Fri.  19: Don't Defile Yourself (Lev. 18:19-30)
Sat.  20: Death Greets Unnatural Sexual Practices (Rom. 1:21-32)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 Look at underage kids who get pregnant due to the worrisome level of sexual explicitness in our media (government-owned and private alike) and the prevalence of nudity in our society. Imagine the number of couples in our churches who are semi-divorced all because of their differences on sexual matters. Imagine the rate at which our youths, even in churches, court premarital sex. Can you estimate the number of abortions and pregnancies among youths today? All of these are critical issues that, honestly speaking, would continue in more alarming dimensions if we do not return to the standard laid by God the creator of sex in His Word.

*10. CONCLUSION:
God has graciously assisted us to conclude discussion on a very critical topic that some people find 'dirty' to discuss sometimes even at the expense of the youths and adults in churches who are being plagued by the dangers of sexual illiteracy (in God's way) that result in sexual impurity and failure. We have looked at how God created sex and sexuality, a thing that makes sex not inherently evil. We have looked at the different attitudes of Joseph, Boaz and Amnon to sex, and we must have by now understood that unwholesome attitudes to sex are like placing a poisonous and powerful serpent on one's bossom overnight. God honours those who maintain sexual purity despite the challenges that come with it.

 

 

Unit 1: Strengthening Family Bonds     28 &04 AUG-SEPT 2011          
LESSON FOUR 

Unfaithfulness to God and one another in financial matters in the home causes a lot of avoidable disasters in the home. Be financially faithful to one another in your home.  (PICTURE)

MONEY MATTERS IN THE CHRISTIAN HOME

Memory Scripture:  Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
Refer to division I A for comments. Several Bible students and scholars agree that Apostle Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles to the young Bishop Timothy. The former wrote to encourage and challenge the latter towards quality leadership of God's people, the Church. In his first letter to Timothy, he chose by divine inspiration not to conclude the epistle without touching the issue of money and godliness. He chose verses 17 to 19 of the sixth chapter for this.
The natural man easily becomes haughty and full of himself because of little achievements. It becomes more of an issue when money/wealth is involved. It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Money power is a serious power. Riches easily intoxicate the natural man, because he feels on top of the world. However, he has forgotten that these riches are only relevant, and temporarily, in this present age (v. 17a).
The rich fool in Jesus' parable fell into such terrible mistake and paid dearly (Lk. 12:13ff). He forgot that the riches of this world are uncertain (Eccl. 5:9ff; 6:2ff). The only way to avoid the tragic end of that haughty rich fool as well as that of Nabal (1 Sam. 25:1ff) is to look away from those riches to the ultimate one, the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (cf. Col. 3:1ff).
Our homes must learn to worship God and not money in everything we do (Matt. 6:24). Worshipping God, and not money, includes supporting His works and people as well as the less privileged. His favour would be upon our homes if we can do these.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  22: Abraham Was Hospitable (Gen. 18:1-5)
Tue.   23: Abraham Conferred With Sarah (Gen. 18:6-8)
Wed.  24: Abraham's Home Got God's Blessing (Gen. 18:9-15)
Thur.  25: Avoid Occasion For Wasteful Spending (Lk. 15:11-13)
Fri.   26: Financially Illiterate Children Suffer Loss (Lk. 15:14-16)
Sat.   27: Financially Illiterate Children Learn Hard (Lk. 15:17ff)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: 
i. Faithful family stewardship fosters friendship with God and strengthens family bonds.
ii. Stewardship is managing someone else's property, finances, or household. The owner of the property would definitely be happy with the faithful steward and reward him bountifully.
iii. Christian family members are stewards of God's people, money and materials. Faithfulness invites His favour.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Matthew 6:24-34
*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To show from the perspective of God what our attitudes as    Christian families should be towards money and wealth.

OBJECTIVES: At the close of this lesson, it is expected that each     Christian family should:
i. have better understood the indispensability of right attitude towards our stewardship;
ii. be more determined to be financially united as they journey towards heaven;
iii. be more selfless in their financial dealings, most especially as it affects the things of God and in relation to others; and
iv. have seen better reasons never to try and cheat so much that they are no longer trying to cheat in case they've been doing that before.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: 1 Samuel 25:2ff; 2 Kings 4:8ff; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 6:6-19

The previous lesson discusses God's attitude towards sexuality and sexual relationship in marriage. It also reminded us of what our attitude should be towards this for our matrimonies to be what God wants them to be. Let us not forget what the Lord has taught us.
Several researches have show that one of the major reasons for breakage in matrimonies is money. In the Christian context, the couple's attitudes to God and His things as well as their attitudes to themselves as it relates to money have caused a lot of damages to several marriages.
In this lesson, the Lord would be helping us to be good stewards of the financial resources He gives us and how to be disciplined in the appropriation of these resources.
As we study the lesson, let us properly appropriate the lessons from the characters discussed in the lesson. May we not be condemned by the lesson. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I.  The First Book Of Samuel: Refer to lesson 2, Section *5 III
II. The First Book Of Kings:
The first and second Kings are books continuing the history of Israel as recorded in Joshua, Judges, and the books of Samuel.

Authorship And Date:
• The two books of Kings that we have in our Bible today were originally regarded as one book in the Hebrew canon. The division first appeared in the Septuagint and finally entered the Hebrew Bible in the 15th century AD.
• The books are anonymous, and information about the author may only be deduced by dissecting them for their concerns and perspectives.
• The Babylonian Talmud attributes Kings to Jeremiah, although this identification could have arisen from the tendency of later Jewish tradition to assign biblical books to prophetic authors. 
• One might initially think that such a history would be unlikely for a prophet, but the evidence is to the contrary. The prophets were the guardians of the covenant relationship and are known to have produced accounts used as sources by other biblical historiansthe acts of Samuel the seer, the acts of Nathan the prophet, the acts of Gad the seer (1 Chro. 29:29); the acts of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, the visions of Iddo the seer (2 Chro. 9:29); the chronicles of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer (12:15); the annotations of the prophet Iddo (13:22); and the acts of Uzziah by Isaiah the prophet (26:22).
• Add to this the fact that Kings is positioned in the Hebrew canon in the Former Prophets (Joshua to 2 Kings), and a consistent picture of prophetic origin emerges.
• The date of the final part of the book must be after the last events recorded. Evil-merodach's kindness towards Jehoiachin (c. 561 BC) is the terminus of the book and therefore fixes the earliest date. Since the work shows no knowledge of the restoration period, a date before 539 BC is probable.
• The author's selection of his data to answer the burning theological questions of the exilic community also suggests a date between 561 and 539 BC.

Sources:
 The compiler of Kings specifically names three of the sources that he used in his work.  Biblical scholars have suggested the presence of a number of other sources that may have been cited. Of course, the sources not mentioned specifically by the compiler are only the speculations of those who have studied his work and could have only varying degrees of probability. The sources both specified and alleged are as follows:
• The Book Of The Acts Of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41.
• The Book Of The History Of The Kings Of Israel (cf. 1 Kgs. 14:19; 16:27; 22:39; 2 Kgs. 13:12; 14:28). These passages suggest that this source was the official annals covering the reigns of the kings.
• The Book Of The History Of The Kings Of Judah (cf. 1 Kgs. 15:23; 22:45; 2 Kgs. 20:20; 21:17).
 In addition to these explicitly mentioned sources, scholars have suggested that the compiler drew on other sources that he does not name.
• Davidic Court History: 2 Samuel 920 is often identified as a unit of material in the composition of the books of Samuel; it is variously called “the court history” or “the succession narrative.” Because of similar vocabulary and outlook, 1 Kings 12 is often associated with this material from Samuel. The statement of 1 Kings 2:46, so the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon's grip, is taken to be the end of this record.
• Sources For The House Of Ahab.
• Isaiah Source (compare 2 Kgs. 18:1320:19 with Isa. 36:139:8). The material must be regarded as based on the book of Isaiah or some other source used in both Isaiah and Kings.
• A Prophetic Source: Because  the books of Kings show great interest in the prophets and their ministries, various scholars have suggested that yet another source was used by the compiler; this would be an independent literary unit containing accounts of the prophets. This source would have contained the records for the material on Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29-39; 14:1-16), unnamed prophets (chapter 12; 20:35-43), Micaiah (22:13-28), and other references.

Apart from the sources explicitly mentioned and inferences about their character, the remainder of the sources suggested have only varying degrees of probability. Considerable scholarly effort had gone into identifying and characterizing such sources, but it remains speculative.
What is important to understanding is that the book is not the perspective of its various sources (of which the compiler himself might have been unaware), but the perspective of the book as a whole on the history of the kingdoms. The outline that the compiler has imposed on the sources establishes the teaching of the book.

Theology And Purpose:
The books of Kings record the history of the covenant people from the end of the reign of David (961 BC) through the fall of the southern kingdom (586 BC). Yet, it is not history written in accord with modern expectations for history textbooks. Rather than concentrating on economic, political, and military themes as they shaped the history of the period, the compiler of Kings is motivated by theological concerns.
• Centralization Of Worship: The primary concern of the writer is the purity of the worship of the Lord.
• History Of The Monarchy: A second prominent interest for the compiler was to trace the history of the monarchy.
• Efficacy Of The Prophetic Word: Another reason why Kings can be called Deuteronomic history is its concern with the efficacy of the prophetic word.
• Fulfilment Of The Curses: Another aspect of the compiler's interest in Deuteronomy is seen in his concern to trace the fulfilment of the covenant curses on disobedience.
• Contrast With Chronicles: The interests of Kings are further highlighted when compared with the parallel accounts in Chronicles. While the writer of Kings worked in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem and had to answer the “how?” and “why?” questions, the Chronicler is part of the restoration community.

III. The Book Of Acts Of The Apostles:
The 5th N.T book and the 44th book in the Bible.  It is sequel to Luke's Gospel which some scholars prefer to call the “Acts of the Holy Spirit” because of how it covers the exploits of the Holy Spirit in and through the early apostles and the Church.

Authorship:
i. The author of Luke's Gospel, Evangelist Luke, wrote Acts (Lk 1.3; cf Act 1.1).
ii. The “we” passages (16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-10; 27:1-7; 28:7-16) compared with Php 23:24; 2 Tim 4:11; Col 4:14 show that Luke was an eyewitness to the events recorded in the passages.
iii. The early Church fathers support Luke as author of the book.
iv. The same Luke was a physician (cf Col 4:14).

Date of Writing:
 It is widely speculated that the book was written between AD 63 and 70.

Recipients:
i. Internal evidence points to Theophilus (1.1)
ii. Theophilus means 'lover of God'.  This is why it remains a controversy among Bible scholars till date whether 'Theophilus' refers to a man (wealthy one) or a group of people (Christians) who could also have been collectively named 'lovers of God'.

Purpose of the Book:
i. To present a historical account of Christian origins.
ii. To give a defence of the Christian faith with an underlying purpose of conversion.
iii. To provide basic principles that can be successfully applied to specific church situations in every generation.
iv. To show that Christianity has been divinely ordained for men to be victorious in the face of the toughest persecutions.

Special Features:
i. It has been called the Genesis of the N.T. because it reveals the beginning of the Church.
ii. It reveals the spread of  Christianity from Jerusalem (cf 1.8).
iii. It takes the historical details accurately.
iv. Its literary style reveals excellence that is characteristic of a scholar such as Luke.

IV.  The Epistles To Timothy:
Epistles (I & II) to I Timothy: parts of the Pastoral Epistles written with regards to pastoral care of the churches concerned.  Paul had detailed Timothy his son during his fourth missionary journey to stay back in Ephesus for careful oversight of the church there as he was on his way to Macedonia.  Sensing that he might not be able to immediately return to Ephesus which was in Macedonia, he saw the need to instruct young bishop Timothy on the necessary things in pasturing the growing church.

Authorship:
I. The Epistles point to Apostle Paul as the author (1:1)
ii. Early church tradition totally supports the Pauline authorship.

Date and Place of Writing: 
 Paul wrote from Macedonia to Timothy around AD 64, about eight years after Paul's 3-year missionary stay in Ephesus.

Purpose:
i. The letters are very personal with deep emotion and feeling.
ii. They greatly stress the pastoral responsibility of defending the purity of the gospel from unholy dilution by false teachers.
iii. They speak extensively on the holy calling of the church and the high qualifications God expects from the church leaders.
iv. More than any other NT book, they contain explicit direction on how a pastor is expected to relate properly to both sexes and to all age and social groups in the church.
iv. The two Epistles stress and warn against the prevailing activities of the devil and the danger looming in latter times.

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
This Lesson is divided into two sections, I and II, further divided into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Be Good Stewards:
This section is divided into two: Right Attitude is Essential; and Reason Together Financially. In the first aspect, it re-emphasizes the timeless biblical principle of godliness and contentment as they relate to making money and wealth and expending them. The second aspect exposes the godly virtue of that Shunemite woman in 2 Kings 4:8ff as she put her most probably less-known husband into account in making financial decision that even borders on God's work.

DIVISION II - Be Disciplined:
The second division of this lesson also goes with two sections: Don't Be Tight-Fisted; and Don't Cheat God. It begins with an exposition of Nabal's tightfistedness compared with his wife's, Abigail's selflessness. Nabal's foolishness finished him. This division also discusses the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira, the family that tried to cheat God and get the praise of His people after they sold their own piece of land and brought part of the money under the pretext that they brought all.

LESSON OUTLINE
I.  BE GOOD STEWARDS
A. Right Attitude Is Essential
B. Reason Together Financially

II.BE DISCIPLINED
A.Don't Be Tight-fisted
B.Don't Cheat God

LESSON EXPOSITION
I. BE GOOD STEWARDS (2 Kgs. 4:8ff; 1 Tim. 6:6-19)
 Every well-meaning master is happy with the faithful stewards, rewarding them commensurately. God is our Master, not taskmaster, who has graciously invited us to share in His eternal programme. Families that cooperate with Him would have every of His resources to themselves now and eternally.
A. Right Attitude Is Essential (1 Tim. 6:6-19)
Now godliness with contentment is great gain (v. 6).
I. vv. 6,7: Paul had warned against hypocrites who use godliness for self-aggrandisement (vv. 3-5). Godliness is rewarding when we are satisfied with what God chooses to give us (v. 6). How?
ii. vv. 7,8: Recognising God as the giver of all He has gives us a sense of accountability and contentment. We own nothing (Deut. 8:18; Psa. 24:1,2; Hag. 2:8).
iii. vv. 9,10: Individuals and couples who desire to be rich without regard for God's Word fall into all kinds of evil and damnation (cf. Lk. 12:19ff; 16:13; 18:24,25).
iv. vv. 11ff: Members of our families should have the right attitude towards money for them to be right with God. It pays to trust in Him and be right with the living inexhaustible God (cf. Jas. 1:17).
v. Your attitude to money is your opinion or general feeling about money. The ungodly and selfish opinions that people hold concerning money and wealth are demonstrations of their inner absurd dispositions towards God. Check your heart and control your family's attitude towards God's word in relation to money.

B. Reason Together Financially (2 Kgs. 4:8ff)
And she said to her husband, “...please, let us make a small upper room on the wall” (vv. 9,10).
i. v. 8: Elisha lived in Shunem (about 20 miles SE of Mount Carmel). This woman wasn't a widow (cf. v. 9). Her life calls us to be generous towards God, His people and His work (cf. Gen. 18:1ff).
ii. vv. 9,10: This rich and influential woman (Amp.) demonstrated submission to her husband whose status is uncertain here. Instead of going ahead with her plan without conferring with the man like so many women would do today, she waited for the husband's consent. She must have entertained Elisha continually with her husband's consent.
iii. The husband and wife are one (Gen. 2:24,25) and nothing, including finance and giving, should do them part (Matt. 19:5,6). The nakedness (Gen. 2:25) includes openness to each other in terms of the income and expenditure of both parties.
iv. vv. 11ff: When they agree financially and are open to each other, the family enjoys God's favour (cf. Matt. 12:25).
v. It is absolutely ungodly and unethical for the husband and wife in the Christian home to take independent financial decisions. Any spouse who does or encourages that automatically undermines God's original intention for oneness in the home (Gen. 2:21-25), and God never takes it lightly with anyone who desecrates His programmes.

LESSON DERIVED
1. Developing the right attitude in relation to God and money is a strong element in experiencing joy and satisfaction in the home.
2. Oneness in marriage includes agreement on money matters. The Christian couple should plan and execute their finances together.

WORK TO DO 10 MINITES
 It is not uncommon today to hear of husbands or wives embarking on projects without the knowledge and consent of their spouses. How right is this? Any  alternatives?

II. BE DISCIPLINED (1 Samuel 25:2ff; Acts 5:1-11)
 To be disciplined is to have the ability to control oneself in every way so much that one behaves in a controlled and calm way even in difficult or stressful situations. In the context of money, it is being capable of controlling oneself to behave in biblically controlled manners concerning making money and spending it. In fact, an army which loses its sense of discipline ceases to be an army, and the best victory a man can win is victory over himself. Discipline your family financially to enjoy God's favour.
A. Don't Be Tight-fisted (1 Sam. 25:2ff)
 The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings (v. 3).
i. vv. 2,3: Nabal was very rich in the world but deficient in character unlike his morally sound wife. He was financially harsh (v. 2) with his family (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8).
ii. vv. 4-11: Stingy people easily choose to forget the favours God and others do to them (vv. 10-11). Ungrateful spouses demoralize their partners and weaken their marriage bond.
iii. vv. 12,13: Unwholesome attitudes towards money in the home attracts disaster. Let God control your family finances to better other people's lot. Therein is gain (cf. Matt. 6:33,34).
iv. vv. 14-24: Abigail's response to the looming disaster Nabal invited on his household further shows her godliness and readiness to save her home despite her husband's misgivings. Taking your pound of flesh off your selfish spouse is not the solution (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1ff).
v. v. 25: Abigail's statement here shows that Nabal's selfishness had created cracks in their marriage that culminated in the despicable Nabal's death. Is this true of your home? God can intervene.
vi. Honestly, being liberal is not easy for the flesh, but he who is selfish does it to his own damage (cf. Prov. 11:24-31; 13:6,7). No matter your family's financial status, you are still better than some. So, be liberal to the less privileged (Prov. 19:17; 21:13). Don't end up like Nabal. Teach your children the principles of liberality and giving in God's way. They'll live to appreciate you for it.

B. Don't Cheat God (Acts 5:1-11)
 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet (vv. 1,2).
i. vv. 1,2: This couple were impressed by Barnabas' stewardship and the 'prestige' of it (4:32-37). They wanted the honour but forgot that stewardship is using God-given resources to accomplish God-given goals in the God-approved way. They feigned faithfulness.
ii. v. 2: Note that it was the agreement of both of them. No conspiracy against God ever stands (cf. Jer. 11:9ff).
iii. vv. 3ff: Homes that deliberately withdraw their resources from God or that are hypocritical in giving end up regretting.
iv. vv. 9-11: Never allow the desire to be rich to push you and your spouse into trying to cheat God. Honour God with your resources and be blessed (cf. Prov. 3:9ff; Mal. 3:8ff).
v. Cheat God? It sounds ironical. The all-knowing and all-seeing God? How can one cheat Him? Yet, so many like Ananias and Sapphira try to cheat Him today. They try to deceive Him. How? By trying to deceive His people, His Church and its leaders. By withholding His dues tithes, quality offerings, meaningful donations etc. Don't allow your family to join this band wagon; anyone who tries cheating God ends up in the belly of the lion.

LESSON DERIVED
1. Selfishness demonstrates one's disregard for God as the owner and giver of whatever one has.
2. Money, when not properly handled in the home, can cause unmanageable disaffection among the members of the household.
3. It pays to be faithful stewards of our God-given resources. The consequences of being otherwise is better imagined.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question: It is not uncommon today to hear of husbands or wives embarking on projects without the knowledge and consent of their spouses. How right is this? Any alternatives?

Answer: 
i. Refer to division I B.
ii. From the point of view of the Bible, nothing, and nothing at all   should separate the Christian couple, not even money.
iii. It is absolutely wrong for any Christian spouse to embark on any project without the knowledge and consent of his/her marriage partner. It undermines the biblical principle of oneness in the Christian home.
iv. The Shunemite woman preferred to confer with her husband before embarking on the project of preparing a place for the prophet's comfort despite that it was a laudable project.
v. Decision making should not separate the Christian couple. The moment the spouses begin to take independent decisions and steps, there is already a crack in the wall of the home that easily opens for the devil's nefarious incursions.
vi. Those who embark on projects without the knowledge of their spouses advance reasons that include “I want to give him/her a surprise”, wastefulness of the other spouse, miserliness of the other spouse, among others.
vii. Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that no excuse appeals to God. Adam's couldn't (Gen. 3:9ff), Moses' couldn't (Exo. 3:11  4:17), Saul's couldn't (1 Sam. 15:10ff), and yours would not.
viii. Instead of going against God's standard of unity for the Christian home, why don't you commit everything to God for due intervention even if the allegations against your spouse are true.
ix. Concerning the issue of joint account, the couple also need the wisdom of God and a concrete agreement as to how it would work best for them. To some people, joint account is only necessary to execute concrete projects including housing, school fees and buying of cars. To some others, joint account is total; no exemption. What suits you best?
x. Pray for the wisdom of God to deal with the wasteful spouse, and don't try to take your own pound of flesh from your miserly spouse.

QUESTIONS
1. Discuss what the attitudes of our families should be towards financial resources?
2. Discuss the place of agreement between the husband and wife in family finance?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTION:
Question 1: Discuss what the attitudes of our families should be towards financial resources.

Answer: 
i. Refer to section *1 (Brief Comment) and the main text of this lesson.
ii. Christian families should basically appreciate God as the sole source of whatever they own.
iii. The above would help them not to be haughty because of their financial status.
iv. They should be selfless in spending their God-given money. They should put the less privileged into account in appropriating their resources. Tightfistedness invites God's wrath and poverty.
v. If they accept God as the source of their resources, they would not try to cheat Him. Ananias and his wife failed in this context and had themselves to blame.
vi. Most important is the indispensability of oneness when it comes to spending in the home. None of the spouses should take independent decisions of the other. They are one and money must not separate them.
vii. Summarily, recognize God as the ultimate giver, honour Him with the given resources, remember others as you dispense the resources, and do all these in biblical unity in the Christian home. Whether you know or not, you invite God's favour on your home.

Question 2: Discuss the place of agreement between the husband and wife in family finance.

Answer: 
i. Refer to division I B.
ii. It is God's programme that the spouses in the Christian marriage should agree in everything including family finance.
iii. So, agreement between the husband and wife in family finance glorifies Him.
iv. It also cements the home against the onslaught of the devil. The couple's unity in finances would be seldom divided on other delicate issues.
v. It is a signal to the children as to how they should relate with their own spouses in the nearest or far future. Children tend to follow the lifestyles of their parents.
vi. Money is one of the problems that weaken the strength of love in marriage when not properly managed. Therefore, agreeing on issues relating to it strengthens the family love.
vii. The Christian couple who are united on money issues would be able to withstand the test money poses to the strength of love in the marriage.
viii. The place of agreement between the husband and the wife in family finance cannot therefore be overemphasized. May God help our families to be one on financial issues. Amen.

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon. Aug.  29: Selfishness Estranges Brothers (Lk. 12:13-15)
Tue.    "      30: Selfish People Don't Regard Others (Lk. 12:16-19)
Wed.   "      31: Selfishness Destroys The Fool (Lk. 12:20,21)
Thur. Sept.1: Serving Mammon Destroys Man (Lk. 18:18-25)
Fri.      "      2: Selflessness Is Rewarding (Lk. 18:26-30)
Sat       "    3: Sensible People Provide For Their Homes (1 Tim. 5:8)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 A woman who had been married for four years now and had experienced that money caused stir in her marriage, while narrating her own experience, once said, “Finances in the home is always an issue. There are some things I want to buy, things like jewellery and shoes, that my husband may not approve of. For those things, I go absolutely with my money''. She therefore advocates that in the home, there should be three accounts, one for the husband, wife and the joint one. Another man however disagrees with the above woman. He strongly believes having a single and joint account is very important for a successful marriage.
Ideally, there should be nothing that should be allowed to be strong enough to separate a Christian couple. Yet, on and on and on go the issues that cause problem in marriage. Money is the major problem. Let us all go back to the Bible to discover and change every ungodly attitude towards money in our homes. May we find God's help to do so. Amen.

*10. CONCLUSION:
In the 4th lesson we have just concluded, we found God's favour and grace to discuss the issue of money in the Christian home. We have so far been reminded of what our attitudes should be towards money as husbands and wives in the context of the Christian home. We have also examined some case studiesthe Shunemite woman and her husband, Nabal and Abigail, and Ananias and Sapphira. All of these, both the positive and the negative, have combined to inform us on what God expects from us in our homes as it touches family finance. May every crack created by unwholesome attitudes towards money in our homes be mended by the power of God's Word, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Unit 11: Dealing With Family Issues
LESSON FIVE         11 & 18 SEPT 2011

Living with an unbelieving or difficults pouse can be very terrible. Yet, withsubmission and demonstration of truelove for God and the spouse, God would intervene. (PICTURE)

COPING WITH THE UNBELIEVING AND DIFFICULT SPOUSE

MEMORY SCRIPTURE:  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
Hebrew 12:14 is a very important pivot for Christian relationships, be it ordinary friends or marriage partners. It contains two important ingredients that solidify any relationship both horizontally and vertically (between humans and between man and God).
To pursue is a conscious effort. It is to follow something for a long time in order to get it; to try hard to achieve or obtain something over a period of time; to continue to work at something or carry it out. Try to live in peace with everyone, is the rendering of NLT. We are to consciously strive to maintain peace with all people, including even the unbelieving and difficult spouses. It is not going to be easy maintaining cordial godly marriage relationship with spouses that are unbelievers and may be sometimes very difficult. Yet, God wants us to cope with them in peace (cf. Rom. 12:18).
Added to this is holiness. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, one of the things He produces is peace, i.e. He makes us peaceful. In other words, peace is an integral part of holiness. The one who lives in Christ's holiness is definitely a peaceful person since Christ Himself is our Peace (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:11ff). So, peace and holiness are very significant in maintaining smoothness in any form of God-approved relationships, marriage inclusive.
The issue becomes more delicate, given the fact that skirmishes in relationships, marriage inclusive, are capable of making one not to be able to either see the Lord or enter His rest. So, employ every measure, including forgiveness, tolerance, perseverance etc, to make sure that you are in good terms with your spouse, no matter how difficult or unbelieving he/she may be. Even if you are not doing it for any other thing, do it for the sake of heaven and your mind's rest here on earth.
Refer to Lesson 6, section *1 for additional comments.

DAILY BIBLE READING
Mon.  5: Strive For Peace In Your Home (Heb. 12:12-17)
Tue.   6: Sedate Your Suffering With Christ's Joy (Jas. 1:1-4)
Wed.  7: Suffering Spouses Need Divine Wisdom (Jas. 1:5-8)
Thur  8: Submission Wins Even The Harsh (1 Pet. 2:18-20)
Fri.   9: Submissiveness Is Emulating Christ (1 Pet. 2:21-23)
Sat.   10: Your Saviour Can Save Your Spouse (1 Pet. 2:24,25)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
i. Modelling Christ's love in genuine sincerity and perseverance  would win the unbelieving
 spouse to Christ's way.
ii. The Agape love (Christ's love) is that intense godly unconditional feeling of tender affection and compassion for someone. When sincerely demonstrated, it wins the hardest of individuals.
iii. “She who has never loved has never lived” (John Gay, 1685 - 1732). Your life with your so called unbelieving and/or difficult spouse would be enjoyable if you employ the instrument of love in sincerity.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Romans 12:16-21

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To help our brethren who are married to unbelievers discover how to cope with them without compromising their faith in God.

OBJECTIVES: At the end of this lesson, the students should be able to:
i. discuss the issue of coping with unbelieving spouses as God expects it in relation to Christian men;
ii. discuss the issue of coping with unbelieving spouses as God expects it in relation to Christian women; and
iii. show from the experiences of Moses, Paul and Eunice how we can cope with unbelieving and difficult spouses.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Exodus 2:11ff; 4:20ff; 1 Corinthians 7:12ff; Acts 16:1-3; 1 Peter 3:1-6

The previous unit of this series was dedicated to discussing how the bonds of the Christian family can be strengthened from the point of view of the Bible. We discussed the issues of love, proper relationship, sexuality, and finally in the previous lesson, finance. Our families must have begun to find their footings by God's unfailing grace.
In the second unit of the series, the God of our fathers who created the marriage institution is ready to help us further tackle some major knotty issues in our marriages and homes. It is a highly practical section.
The first lesson therein that doubles as the fifth in the series is aimed at helping our brethren who by whatever means find themselves in marriage unions with unbelieving or difficult spouses. God has also brought it up to help us help those around in such precarious situations.
There are several case studies of both men and women in such situations in the Bible and our contemporary world. We have discussed reasons why Christians should not marry unbelievers, but what of cases of brethren who are already in it? How to cope with such unscathed is the challenge.
As we discuss some of such cases, may we find wisdom for joy in our marriages. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. The Book Of Exodus

The 2nd Bible book is called 'Exodus', a Latin word which comes from the Greek Exodus in the Septuagint.  It means 'exit', 'departure', 'going' or 'way out'. The book describes the miraculous turning point in Israel's history the exit from Egypt.  It is an integral part of the Pentateuch as it was originally not meant to exist independent of others but to continue the narrative opened in Genesis and completed by the remaining books of the Law.
Exodus borders on the history of the early years of the Israelites  their birth, their earliest development  as a nation personally preferred and chosen by God in accordance with the Covenant He established with them at Mount Sinai.  This made the nation a unique one in religion, culture, government and governance.  etc.  from other nations everywhere.

Authorship of Exodus:
i. There are internal evidences to the effect that Moses the servant of   God wrote the book (cf 17-24; 24:4; 34:27).
ii. OT supports Mosaic authorship (e.g Jos 8:31; cf Ex. 20:25).
iii. The NT supports the authorship of Moses (Mk. 7:10; 12:26; Lk. 2:22-23).
iv. Jewish tradition confirms Moses as the human author of the book.
v. All of these combine to credit Moses as largely responsible for writing Exodus.

Date and Place of Writing:
i. Some people have inferred from I Kings. 6:1 that the book was written  around 1446 BC based on the argument that the Exodus itself   occurred 480 years before Solomon's fourth year on the throne.
ii. The Liberal critics proposed a later date founded upon the heretical Documentary Hypothesis, a theory which was radically inclined and so believed and denied the historicity of the Pentateuch that it sees as a patch work of stones, poems, and laws, etc.  So it is unauthentic, unhistorical and unreliable, a fabrication of men, and not the inspired work of God.
iii. Exodus 1:11 is the point of reference and inference of the third set of proponents on the date of writing Exodus.  They claimed that the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Seti and his Remises II were the Pharaohs of the oppression and the exodus respectively, and therefore fix the date of the writing of Exodus at  1290 BC
iv. It is clear that there has been no scholarly consensus on the authorship of Exodus. However, most people believe that it was most likely written after the exodus and before the death of Moses regardless of the dates that may be attached to such events.

Purpose of Writing:
i. To reveal God's love and purpose in redeeming the Israelites from  Egypt and bondage, consecrating them into covenant, and pitching  His royal tent on earth, all through a human mediator.

Special features
i. It continues the narrative opened in Genesis
ii. Its theology is foundation in that it shows God as revealing His name, attributes, redemption, law and mode of worship.
iii. It records the appointment and work of Moses, the first covenant mediator, as a type of Jesus, the supreme mediator.
iv. It describes how God instituted the priesthood and delineates the functions of the prophet.
v. It describes how God's ancient covenant relationship with His people graduated into the Mosaic covenant at Sinai.
vi. It serves as a link in the overall progressive self-revelation of God that climaxed in the person of Jesus Christ.
vii. It contains the Ten Commandments  the foundation for biblical ethics and morals.
viii. It describes the supernatural character of God's deliverance from sin, Satan and the world.
ix. It describes and emphasizes the need for true worship to naturally follow redemption.

II.  The First Epistle To The Corinthians:
First Corinthians is a practical letter. Paul dealt with problems concerning the church as a whole and also with personal problems. The letter is relevant for the needs of today. Individuals and churches continue to face many of the same problems encountered at Corinth.
There is no need for doubt concerning the authorship, origin, and destination of this letter. It was used by early Christian writers. Quotations and allusions are found in 1 Clement, a letter sent from Rome to Corinth in A.D. 96. Others reflecting use of 1 Corinthians include Ignatius (35107), Justin Martyr (100165), Irenaeus (130200), and Tertullian (160220). First Corinthians was written from the city of Ephesus. In 16:7b-8a, Paul wrote, “I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

Paul's First Ministry in Corinth
A brief survey of Paul's contacts with Corinth will aid in understanding his correspondence with Corinth. In a vision at Troas on his second missionary journey, Paul heard the call, “Come over unto Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul and his party went to Philippi and established work there. Following their release from prison, Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica. Although a work was established there, persecution arose due to the jealousy of the Jews. Paul and Silas moved on Berea, where they were well received. However, Jews from Thessalonica came and stirred up the crowds.

The decision was made for Paul to minister alone in Athens. A comparison of Acts 17:13-15 with 1 Thessalonians 3:6 indicates that Timothy returned to Thessalonica. Silas probably remained at Berea. Paul's ministry was brief in Athens. Some converts were made, but a church was not established. Paul left Athens alone and probably discouraged.

Paul went from Athens to Corinth, where later Silas and Timothy joined him (Acts 18:5). He ministered in Corinth for at least eighteen months (Acts 18:1-18). He began working with Aquila and Priscilla in tentmaking. Probably, they already were Christians. They had come to Corinth because of an edict by Claudius that Jews should depart from Rome.

Allowing for a margin of one year, Paul's first visit to Corinth can be dated with a high degree of assurance. Two events provide data for this dating. Aquila and Priscilla had “lately come from Italy; because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome” (Acts 18:2). Suetonius wrote concerning Claudius, “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.” “Chrestus” is probably a reference to Christ. If so, the non-Christian Jews and Christian Jews were arguing concerning Christ. Orosius, a fifth-century historian, dates the edict in the ninth year of Claudius (History, VI.6.15). The ninth year of Claudius was from January 25, 49, to January 24, 50. Although the accuracy of Orosius has been questioned, this dating fits with other data. If correct, Aquila and Priscilla probably came from Rome in A.D. 49 or early 50. Thus, Paul could not have arrived in Corinth before 50.

The date of Gallio's proconsulship provides better data for determining the time of Paul's ministry in Corinth. Normally, a proconsul served for only one year, beginning on July 1. An inscription found at Delphi is a copy of a letter from Claudius in response to a report sent by Gallio as proconsul. It states that Claudius was in his twelfth year, hence January 25, 52, to January 24, 53. It also stated that Claudius had been acclaimed as emperor for the twenty-sixth time. An inscription on an aqueduct in Rome shows that the twenty-seventh acclamation came before August 1, 52. This would place the Delphi letter between January 25, 52, and August 1, 52.
Gallio could not have begun in July 52, reported to Claudius, and received an answer by August 1. If he served for only one year, it would have been from July 1, 51, to June 30, 52. Acts 18:18 seems to indicate that most of Paul's ministry of eighteen months had passed when he appeared before Gallio (Acts 18:11). Thus the most likely time for dating Paul's arrival in Corinth is early 50.

Paul left Corinth accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:18). He left them at Ephesus and promised the Ephesians that he would return. In the meantime, Aquila and Priscilla instructed Apollos; and he left for Corinth, where he preached for some time (Acts 18:24-28). After visiting Jerusalem and Antioch of Syria, Paul returned to Ephesus for a ministry of more than two years (Acts 19:8-10).

Paul's Contacts with Corinth During His Ephesian Ministry
During Paul's Ephesian ministry, a series of disturbing events took place relative to Corinth:

i. A party spirit arose in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:12-13; 3:3-4).
ii. A series of reports came to Paul, some by those of Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11). These reports included attacks upon Paul (1 Cor. 2:1-10) and problems of immorality (1 Cor. 5:1).
iii. Paul wrote a letter warning against fellowship with sexually immoral people (1 Cor. 5:9). This letter is lost unless a portion of it remains in 2 Cor. 6:147:1.
iv. The Corinthians wrote to Paul (1 Cor. 7:1), asking about certain problems concerning marriage, fornication, and disorders in public worship.
v. A delegation came from Corinth (Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus) with news from Corinth (1 Cor. 16:17).
vi. Apollos quit his work in Corinth and returned to Ephesus. Even under Paul's urging, he refused to go back to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:12).
vii. Paul sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17) in an effort to heal the problems. Timothy probably went by way of Macedonia (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 16).
viii. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8), expecting them to receive the letter before the arrival of Timothy (1 Cor. 16:10).

Purpose for Writing First Corinthians
Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to give instruction and admonition that would lead to the solving of the many problems in the congregation. Some of these problems may have arisen out of a “super spiritualist” group that had been influenced by incipient Gnostic teachings. All of the problems in chapters 114 were grounded in egocentric or self-centred attitudes in contrast to self-denying, Christ-centred attitudes. Chapter 15 concerning the resurrection may reflect sincere misconceptions on the part of the Corinthians.

Theme of 1 Corinthians
The egocentric life is contrasted with the Christocentric life, or, the mature Christian is characterized by giving, not getting.

Outline
•  Introduction (1:1-9)
• Words Against Carnality and Immaturity (1:104:21)
• Problems of Sexual Immorality (5:16:20)
• Marriage and Celibacy (7:1-40)
• Meat Offered to Idols and Christian Liberty (8:111:1)
• Problems in Public Worship (11:214:40)
• The Resurrection (15:1-58)
• Practical and Personal Matters (16:1-24) 

III. Acts Of The Apostles:
The 5th N.T book and the 44th book in the Bible.  It is sequel to Luke's Gospel which some scholars prefer to call the “Acts of the Holy Spirit” because of how it covers the exploits of the Holy Spirit in and through the early apostles and the Church.

Authorship:
i. The author of Luke's Gospel, Evangelist Luke, wrote Acts (Lk 1.3; cf Act 1.1).
ii. The “we” passages (16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-10; 27:1-7; 28:7-16) compared with Php 23:24; 2 Tim 4:11; Col 4:14 show that Luke was an eyewitness to the events recorded in the passages.
iii. The early Church fathers support Luke as author of the book.
iv. The same Luke was a physician (cf Col 4:14).

Date of Writing: 
 It is widely speculated that the book was written between AD 63 and 70

Recipients:
i. Internal evidence points to Theophilus (1.1)
ii. Theophilus means 'lover of God'.  This is why it remains a controversy among Bible scholars till date whether 'Theophilus' refers to a man (wealthy one) or a group of people (Christians) who could also have been collectively named 'lovers of God'.

Purpose of the Book:
i. To present a historical account of Christian origins.
ii. To give a defence of the Christian faith with an underlying purpose of conversion.
iii. To provide basic principles that can be successfully applied to specific church situations in every generation.
iv. To show that Christianity has been divinely ordained for men to be victorious in the face of the toughest persecutions.

Special Features:
i. It has been called the Genesis of the N.T. because it reveals the beginning of the Church.
ii. It reveals the spread of  Christianity from Jerusalem (cf 1.8).
iii. It takes the historical details accurately.
iv. Its literary style reveals excellence that is characteristic of a scholar such as Luke.

IV. First Epistle Of Peter:
Two epistles are traditionally credited to the account of Apostle Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus during His earthly ministry and in fact the most outspoken.  I and II Peter are the 21st and 22nd books of the NT respectively.

Authorship: 
 The Author identifies himself as Simon Peter, “servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1).  He was a natural leader of men most importantly because of his strong, aggressive, active traits.  He was the chief figure during the time that Jerusalem was the centre of Christian activities, before Antioch became the centre and Paul the leading figure.  Paul speaks of his visit to Antioch (Gal 2:11).  Peter made references to the letters of Paul (2 Pet. 3:15,16).  He further testifies as an eye witness of Jesus' Glory on the mount of transfiguration (1:16-18).

Recipients: 
The popular view is that he writes the book to all Christians generally. More specifically, there is the scholarly assumption that the destination of the two Epistles is likely to be the same: the cities in the Roman provinces of  Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia in the Northern part of  Asia Minor.  He wrote the letter to the Jews of dispersion, who were in the exiles, (cf I Peter 1:1,2; 2:1). The scattered Christian (Jews of dispersion) occupied most of the Roman provinces mentioned. Paul's missionary work was known better in the Southern Galatia and Asia (Acts 13,14). However, Peter's letter shows that God's work has expanded in the Northern Galatia and Asia minor.

Dates and place(s) of Writing:
i. The dates of the letters depend largely on one's opinion of the    authorship and this makes the matter still uncertain.
ii. As to their place(s) of writing, there are two:  Babylon and Rome.  However, the former is the most probable if I Pet 5:13 is taken literally.  This is likely the same place where he wrote the second letter.

Purpose of the Epistle:
i. First Peter was written to strengthen, encourage and comfort the   readers in the midst of the “fiery trial” they shall endure.
ii. It was also meant to hold out to them their great hope.
iii. In his first letter he instructs the Christians on how to deal with outside forces in form of persecution (e.g I Pet. 4:12 ff).  But in this second Peter teaches on how to deal with inside forces in form of false teachers and evil doers (2:1ff; 3:3-6).
iv. The second letter is a “reminder” of the Gospel truth against the pernicious attacks of false teachers who were bringing in destructive heresies (1:12; 3:1-7).  These false teachers followed the way of Israel's false prophets who were corrupt and immoral (2:2,3,10).  Indulging revelries and carousals (2:13,14) licentious, and defiled by the world and its passions (2:17-22).
iv. The certainty of Christ's return which the forces tend to destroy must be hoped for among Christians (3:8-18).

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
The lesson has two distinct but progressive divisions. These are each further divided into A and B.
DIVISION I - The Cases Of Men:
Coping with difficult spouses is not peculiar to any of the sexes. Men are affected and women are not left out. Division I of this lesson looks at the topical interest from the point of view of men using the Bible as its main text. The first section discusses how Moses coped with his unbelieving wife, while the second section exposes Paul's Spirit-inspired admonition as touching the topical interest.

DIVISION II - The Cases Of Women:
In division II, a godly woman’s character in the Bible would be examined, how she coped with her unbelieving Greek husband with the help of her own mother Lois so much that she produced one of the greatest leaders of the Church even under such a spiritually precarious situation. Apostle Peter's admonition for the Christian women in Eunice's shoes today is the focus of the second section of the division.


LESSON OUTLINE
I. THE CASES OF MEN
 A. Moses' Story
 B. Paul Spoke From Experience
II. THE CASES OF WOMEN
A. Eunice's Situation
B. Peter Admonishes Women

LESSON EXPOSTION
I. THE CASES OF MEN (Exo. 2:11ff; 4:20ff; 1 Cor. 7:12ff)
 A Christian man who is into the life journey of marriage with an unbelieving wife may find life very unbearable if he does not cooperate with God to cope with the situation. Women, most especially the unbelieving and Satan-infested ones, have terrible strategies to frustrate man, the immature man. The Bible offers the solution.
A. Moses' Story(Exo.2:11ff; 4:20ff)
Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” (4:25).
i. 2:1122: Moses met and married this Midianite when he was a fugitive. You married as an unbeliever and now you are born again while your spouse is unconverted; learn from Moses.
ii. 4:20: Moses was fully aware of his Israelite identity as well as being an oracle of God, yet he refused to put away his yet pagan wife. That you are now born again is no excuse to divorce your spouse (cf. 1 Cor. 7:12ff).
iii. v. 24: Moses became too indulgent of his wife; he despised God's covenant of circumcision. He almost paid with his life. Be careful lest the unbelieving spouse  'converts' you anyhow.
iv. v. 25: She was pissed off by Moses' religious standing. This is common with couples of different faiths. It is likely Moses allowed her to get more understanding of the faith before Jethro brought her back later (18:2)wisdom.
v. Let us not misinterpret Exodus 18:2. We are not very sure why Moses' wife had to go and stay with Jethro. However, it is very likely that after the experience of 4:20ff, Moses foresaw troubles for his wife and children if he took them down to Egypt on his rescue mission. He therefore had to send them back to his father-in-law until the mission was accomplished. This is not a case for divorce or unnecessary separation.

B. Paul Spoke From Experience (1 Cor. 7:12ff)
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her (v. 12).
i. vv. 12,13: The challenge here is, is it godly to continue in relationship with the yet unconverted partner after one's conversion?
ii. The biblical standard is that the unconverted partner must not be divorced as long as he/she is willing to remain in the marriage (cf. v. 15). Why?
iii. v. 14: First, God hates divorce (cf. vv. 10,11), and secondly, the marriage relationship is sanctified to/for the believing partner (cf. Tit. 1:15). He/she must not deny the unbelieving partner the duties and lawful comforts of marriage.
iv. v. 16: What a great hope. The unbelieving partner is constantly exposed to the gospel witness as the believing partner practically demonstrates Christ's love. He/she is likely to become saved by God's grace, thus putting an end to the believer's agony.
v. It is very likely that Paul was speaking here from his own personal experience and encounter with the Lord on this issue of coping with unbelieving and difficult wives. He was obviously married as a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin before his conversion. It is likely his yet unbelieving wife gave him some problems, but thank God for His grace to cope with her, hence the Spirit-inspired admonition from his godly experience.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Tolerating the unbelieving spouse doesn't mean going back to the Egypt of sin with him/her. Be compassionate but uncompromising.
2. Dealing with unbelieving partners needs God's wisdom and lots of painstaking patience.
3. Christian calling does not dissolve marriage covenant. Never contemplate divorcing your yet unconverted spouse.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
Discuss the challenges confronting brethren who after being married when non-Christians were converted while their spouses are yet to know Christ. Any hope?

II. THE CASES OF WOMEN (Acts 16:1-3; 1 Pet. 3:1-6)
In most cases, Christian women are the worse hit when it comes to coping with the unbelieving husbands. Bashings and bruises are the pains of such women. They have been severely abused over the years. Yet, there is hope. A look at Eunice's experience coupled with Peter's admonition would help such Christian women.
A. Eunice's Situation (Acts 16:1-3)
Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek (v.1).
i. v. 1: Timothy was the son of a Jewess born to a Greek father--a spiritually mixed marriage.
ii. The Jewess, Eunice (cf. 2 Tim. 1:5) got married to the pagan husband before her conversion to Christianity during Paul's earlier visit to her hometown, Lystra.
iii. No doubt, Eunice's the genuine faith (2 Tim. 1:5) was evident in her attitudes towards the unbelieving husband (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1ff). Otherwise, she may have been thrown out for being unruly.
iv. Timothy was uncircumcised (Acts 16:3) despite Eunice's faith. It shows her submission to her husband. The wife of an unbelieving husband would find life easier when she eschews 'holier-than-thou' attitudes.
v. Lois, Eunice's mother (cf. 2 Tim. 1:5) also helped her to demonstrate godliness towards her yet unbelieving husband.
vi. The circumstances that brought any Christian into marriage union with an unbeliever notwithstanding, God is always available to help out when the Christian wife allows Him to be in charge with all humility. Eunice is a model; no unnecessary 'holier-than-thou' attitude, no pride. No wonder she was fulfilled as a mother even in such a situation.

B. Peter Admonishes Women (1 Pet. 3:1-6)
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (v. 1).
i. v. 1: even if some do not obey the word presupposes situations in which Christian women would be wives to unbelieving husbands. Yours is not the first regardless of how you came into it. God has you in mind.
ii. The Christian wives of unbelieving husbands must be submissive. God would work on the husband's heart when the wife willingly gives in to his authority.
iii. v. 1b,2: The wife's godly conduct (cf. Gal. 5:22ff) and her penchant for peace (cf. Heb. 12:14) can win the unbelieving/difficult husband for Christ without saying a word.
iv. vv. 2-4: The unbelieving husband is seldom charmed by your fanciful hairdos, gold jewellery and expensive clothes (v. 3). He'll only see the need for Christ when he sees how you honour God and live a pure life (vv. 2,4; CEV; cf. Col. 3:23).
v. vv. 5,6: Submission to the husband despite his religious inclination and harshness is imperative to the Christian wife's peace of mind in marriage. However, she needs God's wisdom to ensure that the submission doesn't amount to ungodly compromise (cf. Jas. 4:4-6).
vi. If care is not taken, the Christian wife may find herself pleasing her unbelieving husband to the detriment of her faith in Christ. God expects her to fulfil her marital vows to him in humility and submission. However, in the matters of faith, she must humbly, prayerfully and wisely refuse to compromise God's standard. The same God who helped Daniel would help her.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Conversion after marriage while the spouse remains unconverted is neither crime nor disease. It is a challenge that needs godly conduct, God's wisdom and grace to overcome.
2. The Christian wife of an unbelieving husband needs submission without compromise to win the man. Don't lose hope. The same God who saved you can also save your yet unconverted spouse.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question: Discuss the challenges confronting brethren who after being married when non-Christians were converted while their spouses are yet to know Christ. Any hope?

Answer: 
i. We would be very insincere or grossly under-informed if we claim that such Christians, most of them very committed, don't exist among us. Even ministers of the gospel are not exempted.
ii. They face a lot of challenges. The danger of compromise is there. If care is not taken, it is easier for the unbelieving spouse to 'convert' the believer than for the vice versa as much as it is easier for the one inside the well to pull the one outside it down the well than the other way round.
iii. The challenge of abuse/misuse. Most unbelieving spouses prove difficult to their Christian partners. They tend to abuse the brethren, most especially when the unbeliever is the man, mental torture, physical battering, sexual abuse or starvation, hunger etc. Brethren in such shoes know where they pinch most.
iv. There are so many other challenges. Mention as many as you can remember. However, the summary is the challenge of 'unequal yoke'. Just as it can never be easy to yoke a cow with a horse for ploughing the field, it has never been easy living with an unbelieving spouse. The experiences involved have frustrated so many such that they are still finding it difficult to find their footings in God and the world.
v. However, Christian brethren in such shoes are not alone (1 Cor. 10:13). Jesus our empathizing High Priest (Heb. 4:15) is always at hand to help them if they would cooperate with Him. The only hope they have for a peaceful life is in Him (cf. Col. 1:27).
vi. Nevertheless, things would be better if Christian singles would endeavour to wait on and for God to give them His own best in marriage. It does not come by chance. They need to consciously cooperate with Him in His Word. You can avoid unnecessary heartbreaks if you follow God's advice.

QUESTIONS
1. How should the Christian husband relate with his unbelieving or difficult wife?
2. The Christian wife of an unbelieving husband should be submissive but must not compromise her faith in Christ. Explain.

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTION:
Question 1: How should a Christian husband relate with his unbelieving or difficult wife?
Answer: 
i. Refer to division I.
ii. Trying to 'enforce' authority would not help matters. Such women are ready for the worst shows. So, if the Christian husband is trying to force the Christian faith or any other thing on them, it may result in regular fisticuffs.
iii. He needs patience, endurance, and tolerance to cope with the unbelieving wife.
iv. He needs the wisdom of God to deal appropriately with her so that she would see godliness in him and by this come to Christ.
v. He must model true unhypocritical Christianity to win the wife unto Christ.
vi. He must regularly pray for her. Her eyes would soon be open by the power of the Holy Spirit.
vii. Divorce is not the solution. God can never support divorce because one is married to an unbeliever whether intentionally or by mistake. The man should keep asking for God's grace to cope with the unbelieving wife instead of even contemplating divorce that would only invite God's wrath upon him.

Question 2: The Christian wife of an unbelieving husband should be submissive but must not compromise her faith in Christ. Explain.

Answer: 
i. Refer to division II.
ii. Submission is not foolishness. Submission does not blindfold one. It is the willingness to yield or surrender to somebody; in this case, the Christian wife willingly surrenders to the unbelieving husband.
iii. However, the wisdom of God demands that the wife should know what to surrender to the husband in humility.
iv. When it comes to fulfilling the marital responsibilities, the house chores, due respect, sexual satisfaction, care of the children etc, the wife should carry these out in humility so that the unbelieving husband would have no evil to say about her.
v. However, when it comes to the matter of faith in God, the wife must prayerfully and wisely make her Christian stand known to the husband, not proudly anyway and not in a 'holier-than-thou' attitude. For example, on no account should the wife succumb to idol worshipping for any reasons. But this should be done in humility.

READING ASSIGNEMTN FOR THE SECOND WEEKS
Mon.  12: Godly Character Wins Even Difficult Spouses (Prov. 31:10-12)
Tue.  13: Virtuous Wives Are Industrious (Prov. 31:13-15)
Wed.  14: Virtuous Wives Are Wise (Prov. 31:16-18)
Thur.  15: Virtuous Wives Are Generous (Prov. 31:20)
Fri.  16: Virtuous Wives Bring Their Husbands Honour (Prov. 31:21-27)
Sat.  17: Virtuous Wives Win Their Husbands (Prov. 31:28-31)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 Being married to an unbeliever is neither a disease nor a guarantee for hell, although this does not mean that singles should go and intentionally fall into unequal yokes with unbelievers. However, cases of fathers and mothers in the Lord who have faithfully and painstakingly gone through the harrowing experiences of living with unbelieving spouses teach us that we need God's wisdom and humility to succeed. There are husbands who have tolerantly prayed for their unbelieving wives for decades before the conversion, and vice versa. They have a lot of testimonies to share. If anyone is in such shoes today, you are not alone. You can make it if you follow the Bible and godly examples of those who went through it before you.

*10. CONCLUSION:
 Lesson 5 has just been concluded. We have re-examined how difficult it can be living with unbelieving spouses. We have also unravelled from God's Word how those in such situations can cope within the confines of godliness. The difficulty involved as seen in this lesson are enough reasons for the Christian singles to walk with God to get His best for them individually in marriage, otherwise, they stand the risk of experiencing the harrowing encounters of coping with unbelieving spouses. However, there is hope for all who are already in the heat of the situation. Cooperation with God in all humility and sincerity would silence the devil and bring down the glory of God into your family in the long run. You will laugh last.

 

Unit 11: Dealing With Family Issues    25 & 02 SEPT – OCT. 2011-05-31

Jethro supported Moses family; Moses honoured Jethro; Jethro’s piece of advice saved Moses a lot. They have shown us what our relationship should be with our in-laws. (PICTURE)

LESSON SIX

IN-LAWS AND  THE CHRISTIAN HOME

MEMORY SCRIPTURE:  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, Live  peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
 Refer to Lesson Five, section *1 (Brief Comment). Verses 9-21 of Romans chapter 12 is a description of what love, God's kind of love (agape) should be (cf. 1 Cor. 13). It is unhypocritical (v. 9). Everyone born of God and ready to demonstrate his/her Father's love to the world must hate evil to love good (v. 9). This kind of love shows godly affection that places others' interest ahead of one's (v. 10). It sustains the Christian in the ways and works of the Lord even in the face of the toughest oppositions (vv. 11-13). Also, true love is not vengeful in any way, right or wrong (vv. 14ff).
Within this latter manifestation of true love comes our memory scripture verse 18. Peace is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God in man (Gal. 5:22ff), i.e. he who is truly born-again and Spirit-filled has the peace of Christ inside of him so much that he can express that love to those around him (cf. Isa. 26:3; 48:22; Jn. 14:27; 20:19,21).
Of a truth, there are people who are not for peace at all, some in-laws inclusive. Yet, the Lord commands us to do everything as much as depends on us, to live peaceably with all men. We are to do our best (CEV) and do our parts (NLT) so that we are not accused and convicted of being trouble-makers (cf. Matt. 18:7). Even in cases where in-laws are terribly ungodly, anti-Christ and bad, we still have the divine charge to ensure that we remain in peace with them as much as it depends on us, i.e. make sure you have peace towards them inside of you even if they are at war with you. This command becomes more necessary given the fact that doing otherwise can cost one peace with God both here on earth and ultimately in eternity.
So, whatever it would cost you, painstakingly strive to maintain peace with your in-laws. It is not going to be that easy, but with the grace of God, your rugged determination to be at peace with all demonstrated in your attitude them, and as you commit them to God in prayer, they'll be made to live with you in peace (cf. Prov. 16:7).


DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  19: Deceit Among In-Laws Isn't Good (Gen. 30:25-43)
Tues.  20: Deceit Brews Bad Blood (Gen. 31:1-21)
Wed.  21: Deceit Brews Lack Of Trust (Gen. 31:22-25)
Thur.  22: Discourage Discord With Your In-Laws (Gen. 31:36-43)
Fri.   23: Do Everything To Maintain Peace (Gen. 31:44-50)
Sat   24: Don't Trespass Your Limits, In-Laws (Gen. 31:51-55)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS
i. We are all in-laws in a sense or the other. Pursue peace with your in-laws and families would enjoy God's peace.
ii. Whether male or female, you are a brother/sister-in-law to some, a son/daughter-in-law to some others, and/or a father/mother-in-law to some. If you have the peace of Christ in you and are ready to let this peace flow to others, including those in-laws, the families involved would enjoy the peace of God.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Psalm 34:1-22

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM: To rediscover from the Word of God what the relationships among in-laws should be for our homes to be havens of God's peace and tranquillity.

OBJECTIVES:  It is expected that at the end of this lesson the people of God should:
i. have better understood the true meaning of the biblical concept of 'leaving to cleave';
ii. be able to discuss the biblical role of in-laws in relation to the couple;
iii. be able to discuss how in-laws can be in good terms with special reference to Jethro-Moses relationship, while they themselves are demonstrating such attributes; and
iv. have been more enlightened on their limits when it comes to the affairs of the couple.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source:  Exodus 18:1ff; Ruth 1:1ff; Matthew 19:4-6

Thank God who has been helping us to deal with family issues in the second unit of this series. In the previous two-week lesson, He took us through how to cope with spouses that are unbelieving and difficult. Those in such situations no longer have excuses.
This week, we begin another two-week lesson that borders on in-law relationship. This has been a very critical issue in marriage, Christian inclusive. Several marriages have collapsed due to in-laws' influences while some others have testimonies of continued existence with their in-laws's help.
Of a truth, we are all in-laws in a way or the other. So, when we talk of in-laws and the Christian home, we are talking of how each and every one of us as in-laws as well as the couple who are themselves in-laws in a way or the other to their initial families, can relate in the family without offending God.
We shall examine the words of our Lord Himself coupled with the experiences of Naomi/Ruth and Jethro/Moses. Be sensitive and sincere as we study this soul-searching lesson.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I.   The Book Of Exodus: Refer to lesson 5 *5 I

II. The Book Of Ruth: Refer to lesson 3 *5 II 

III. The Book Of Matthew: Refer to lesson 2  *5I

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This is a two-week lesson divided into I and II with a further subdivision into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - “Leaving” Isn't Abandonment:
 In this section, the people of God are taken back into a critical look at how complex the concept of leaving and cleaving in marriage is. It emphasizes the fusion or coming together of not only the man and the wife but also their different families. The second aspect also hammers on the fact that the couple would at a time or the other need their in-laws. For these reasons, coming together in marriage does not mean a total abandonment of the different families that produced the spouses.

DIVISION II - Learn From Jethro/Moses:
 This section takes a definite look at the in-law relationship between Jethro and Moses. It unravels the cordiality of their relationship, showing some of the parts they both played individually to make this a reality. It also emphasizes the fact that they both knew their limits as father-in-law and son-in-law. We have a lot to learn from these Bible charactersensure that peace reigns within you and your in-laws, and know your limits when it comes to the affairs of others.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. “LEAVING” IS NOT ABANDONMENT
A. The Cleaving Is Complex
B. The Couple Need In-laws Still
II.  LEARN FROM JETHRO/MOSES
 A. They Were In Good Terms
 B. They Knew Their Limits


LESSON EXPOSITION
I. “LEAVING” IS NOT ABANDONMENT (Ruth 1:1ff; Matthew 19:4-6)
In the context of this lesson, to leave is to go away from someone. To cleave is to cling closely, steadfastly, or faithfully to somebody. To abandon is to leave somebody behind totally. Leaving one's parents to cleave to one's spouse does not connote abandonment of those parents who have done a lot to get us to where we were before we contacted the spouse. Let the Word of God prevail.
A.  The Cleaving Is Complex (Matt. 19:4-6)
And said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' (v.5).
i. v. 4: Jesus wisely answered the cunning Pharisees' question: marriage is basically for a man and a woman.
ii. v. 5: It is somehow more difficult for the man than the woman to do so. Yet, responsibility demands that they both do so.
iii. vv. 5b,6: The cleaving is complex; the man and his wife fuse, becoming one inseparable flesh and pooling together both of their resources.
iv. This also implies that the two families involved (in-laws) must become united for the sake of the new home's well being.
v. v. 6b: Specific divine warning to all, including the in-laws: never separate the couple in any sense. He who destroys God's institution incurs His wrath (cf. 1 Cor. 3:17).
vi. Of a truth, the coming together of a man and a woman in marriage is a complex mystery (cf. Prov. 30:18,19). Many things are involved as they pool their formerly individual resources together, financial, emotional, physical etc. Included in this mystery and complexity of the union is the fact that both of the different families and relatives of the spouses have also become one. This implies that 'leaving' them doesn't mean totally abandoning them.

B. The Couple Need In-laws Still (Rth. 1:1ff)
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest (1:22).

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
Compare the in-law relationship between Laban and Jacob with what obtains among in-laws today. Any similarities? Make recommendations.

II.  LEARN FROM JETHRO/MOSES (Exodus 18:1ff)
 While Moses sojourned in Midian, he met and married Zipporah, one of the daughters of Jethro the priest of Midian as he tended the sheep of the priest (Exo. 2:16ff). Thus, they became in-laws like you are an in-law in a way or the other to some people. We all have a lot to learn from their relationship.
A. They Were In Good Terms (vv. 1-12)
 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down, and kissed him. And they asked each other about their well-being, and they went into the tent (v.7).
i. v. 1: Jethro was obviously impressed (not envious) by what God was doing in and through his son-in-law (cf. vv. 8-12).
ii. vv. 2-5: After the near-death experience of 4:24-26, Moses' wife and children had to stand afar a little to avoid recurrence, and because of the rigours of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Jethro took care of Moses' wife and children during that period.
iii. vv. 6,7: Respect is reciprocal. Jethro was kind to Moses. It wasn't difficult for the latter to come all out to honour Jethro. Try being good terms with your in-laws, even the terrible ones (cf. Rom. 12:17ff).
iv. vv. 7bff: How many in-laws can wholly discuss like this without suspicion and reservation? We need God's visitation. See how sincerely happy and proud Jethro was with Moses' success.
v. The truth is that we need God's visitation in most of our relationships with our in-laws. Most of them aren't what God expects them to be due to factors ranging from immaturity, Satan's influence, hatred, envy, intolerance, to mention but a few. May this be a forum to heal these ills bring about peace and tranquillity in our homes. Amen.

B. They Knew Their Limits (vv. 6,13-27)
 “If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” (v.23).
i. v. 6: Jethro sent message to his in-law ahead of his coming. In-laws should learn not to bump on the couple's privacy.
ii. vv. 13-16: Jethro was genuinely concerned with Moses' interest and continually sought his best.
iii. vv. 15-17: Moses thought he was doing the best thing. God didn't directly tell him to delegate these duties. He uses others, including our in-laws, for our betterment. Be sensitive.
iv. vv. 17-23: Advice from the mind of a man genuinely committed to his in-laws well-being.
v. v. 23: Jethro was neither trying to force his opinion on Moses nor unduly interfering. He allowed Moses to think over it and consult his God. In-laws should know their limits.
vi. vv. 24ff: Moses also knew his limits. He didn't shun Jethro. He considered Jethro's advice, consulted God and did the right thing. Don't disrespect your in-laws for any reason.
vii. v. 27: Jethro was wise enough not to remain with them. Friendship is sweeter when in-laws are distance apart.
vii. Any human activity that has no limits may end up more disastrously than expected. Every relationship has some boundaries. Problems ensue when the parties involved overstep their boundaries. Problems among so many in-laws today stem from the readiness to accept and live by the boundaries limiting their activities/interventions in the affairs of the couples involved.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. In-laws should honour one another and be ready to offer assistance to one another within the limits of God's standard.
2. The couple's independence should be respected by the in-laws. Godly intervention is what they need, not undue interference.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question:  Compare the in-law relationship between Laban and Jacob with what obtains among in-laws today. Any similarities? Make recommendations.

Answer:
i. Laban was the father of Leah and Rachael, the two wives of Jacob, even Jacob the son of Isaac the son of Abraham. In a nutshell, Laban
 And Jacob were in-laws (Gen. 29:1ff).
ii. The two men started their in-law relationship on not too sound a note. Jacob who had cheated brother Esau was also short-changed, a thing that led to him becoming polygamous, unfortunately marrying two blood sisters (Gen. 29:15ff).
iii. Jacob was obviously not happy with this thing Laban did to him. He must have been dealing with him from then on with suspicion. After all, he himself was a master cheat.
iv. Even when it came to business dealings within these in-laws, they still couldn't cement the already cracked walls of their in-law relationship (Gen. 30:25ff).
v. Their in-law relationship was so poor that Jacob had to eventually flee from Laban cheating and being cheated (Gen. 31).
vi. There is not much difference with what happens among in-laws, even Christians, today.
vii. Living together with in-laws has not been properly managed today. It has caused more pains than gains. So many mothers-in-law have become rivals to their daughters-in-law because of their undue closeness and familiarity.
viii. Culture has also not helped in some areas. Ungodly cultural practices that in-laws try to force on the couple like Laban force Leah on Jacob are problems to the in-law relationships.
ix. What of in-laws who dupe their fathers/mothers-in-law in business dealings? They forget that they have a tie in some way.
x. Honestly, we need to return to the Bible to overcome these terrible situations.
xi. Keep due distance from yourselves even when living together with the in-laws. The couple should enjoy their due privacy.
 Let the parties involved in in-law relationships be duly committed to the principle of maintaining peace and tranquillity, whatever the cost may be (cf. Rom. 12:13ff; Heb. 12:14).

QUESTION
1. Define the concept of 'leaving and cleaving' in marriage as it has to do with the in-laws.
2. What does Jethro-Moses in-law relationship teach us?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTION:
Question 1:  Define the concept of 'leaving and cleaving' in marriage as   it has to do with the in-laws.

Answer:
i. Refer to division I, most especially the introductory comment under   the sub-topic.
ii. Leaving in the context of Christian marriage is to leave behind one's parents for the purpose of uniting with another person of opposite sex in marriage (Matt. 19:5).
iii. In the same context, cleaving is to cling very closely, intimately, steadfastly and faithfully to another person of opposite sex from a different family in order to live together in marriage till death do them part.
iv. However, leaving one's initial family/relatives to cleave to one's heart-throb does not mean that one would have to totally abandon those that brought one up.
v. Of a truth, one still has spiritual, physical, psychological etc responsibilities to them as long as they live.
vi. In fact, God cannot be happy with anyone who abandons his/her parents, aged or not because he/she now has his/her own home. What then is their gain for investing all they did in you over time?
vii. Leaving to cleave in marriage therefore does not mean totally abandoning the initial family. It means entering into the most intimate physical union with one's spouse, but with limited relationship with the others that would not bring any offence within the confines of God's holy Law.

Question 2:  What does Jethro-Moses in-law relationship teach us?
1. Refer to division II.
2. The Jethro-Moses in-law relationship teaches that cordiality among in-laws is still possible if the parties involved are ready to do the right things.
3. It teaches us that each of us as in-laws must make it a point of duty to give our in-laws due respect/honour like Moses and Jethro did to themselves. After all, respect is reciprocal. Where there is respect, suspicion would be absent. Learn from Laban-Jacob sour relationship.
4. It teaches that in-laws can be of help when their in-laws need their help. They should not hesitate to help as at when due. Jethro came to Moses' rescue when the latter needed to protect his wife and children from the hazards of his calling. We all need help.
5. However, every in-law should know and maintain their limits. No undue interference or poke-nosing that can bring unnecessary insults. Jethro knew when to intervene and Moses know how to handle Jethro's intervention.
 Our relationship with our in-laws can be very cordial if we can learn from Jethro and Moses as they related as in-laws.

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon. Sept.  26: The In-Laws Shouldn't Support Divorce (Jdg. 19:1-4)
Tues.   “   27: The In-Laws Should Calm Frayed Nerves (Jdg. 19:5-10)
Wed.   “  28: There Are Truly Difficult In-Laws (1 Sam. 18:17-30)
Thur.   “   29: There Are Really Dangerous In-Laws (1 Sam. 19:1-10)
Fri.      “  30: The Lord Saves Faithful In-Laws (1 Sam. 19:11-24)
Sat. Oct.  1: Work For Your In-Laws' Well Being (Mk. 1:29-31)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 So many housewives, Christians inclusive, are silently and openly suffering from the undue and ungodly interferences of their in-laws, most especially from the side of the husband. The men are also not left out of similar bitter experiences in in-laws' hands. The relationships among members of the different families and relatives of so many couples have not been too good in so many cases. This lesson is a challenge to every child of God to see ourselves as in-laws in a way or the other and endeavour to be at peace with our in-laws for the sake of heaven and the homes involved.


*10. CONCLUSION:
 Gradually, we have concluded the sixth lesson of this series. The devil is losing because he has lost from Calvary. Homes are being set loose from his grip. What a joy in heaven and on earth in the lives and homes of the hitherto enslaved children of God. We have seen how much the devil has caused the in-law relationships in so many cases to be sour and has capitalized on this to deprive the homes of the much needed peace because of the carelessness of the parties involved. Let us all go back to our respective homes to rediscover this principle of peace with our in-laws and begin to enjoy the mighty hand of God in our homes in uniquely powerful dimensions.

 

Unit 11: Dealing With Family Issues    09 & 16 OCTOBER 2011-05-31

The law court may undo the marriage it contracted itself at will, but God can never be witness to the
coming together of a man and woman in marriage and be a witness at the separation. Eschew divorce! (PICTURER)

LESSON SEVEN

GOD HATES DIVORCE

MEMORY SCRIPTURE:  Yet you say, “For what reason?”  Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously. Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant (Malachi 2:14).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
 People have always refused to learn from personal experiences or those of others.  The people of God had just returned from the seventy-year Babylonian captivity.  The ever-loving God gave them post-exilic prophets who would speak words of encouragement, admonition and hope.
 The captivity was permitted by God because of the godlessness, waywardness and sinfulness of His people. Amongst other things, it was designed to purfy and prepare them for better lives in God and for God who has remained ever-loving, yet uncompromising.
 God blessed the returnees with prepared, passionate and principled leaders (Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah).  It was clear that God's people, after a brief period of dedication and holy living, soon went back to their old ways of godlessness.  The only thing that remained was God's grace and His unconditional covenant.
 God took another step of grace.  He raised post-exilic prophets:  Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These ones spoke on various subjects.  In this lesson, Malachi's message on divorce is our focus.  Yes, he spoke on other subjects such as sins in general, unfaithfulness of the priests and leaders, insincerity in financial commitment etc.  The topic being discussed focuses on God's pronouncement on divorce.  He clearly declares His utter hatred for divorce and putting away (Mal 2:14-16).  He warned them and declared that their waywardness was responsible for some of the situations they were passing through, yet they kept querying God with bitterness (2:17)
 He accused people who practise divorce of being violent, treacherous and ungodly.  Why should I love what God hates and continues to hate?

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  3: Has God Joined You Together? (Mk. 10:9)
Tue.  4: From The Beginning (Mk. 10:6-8)
Wed.  5: Moses Gave A Permissive Will (Mk. 10: 4,5)
Thur.  6: Wives, Remain With Your Husband (1 Cor. 7:10,11)
Fri.  7: Remaining With Unbelieving Partner (1 Cor. 7:12,13)
Sat.  8: When The Unbeliever Willingly Departs (1 Cor. 7:15,16)

 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS
i. Jesus Christ is the invisible presiding minister at any holy wedlock service but He is neither consulted nor invited when such is being dissolved.
ii. Most of the time, the judgement on divorce cases is read under thirty minutes but the agonies, pains and regrets arising therefrom continue for over thirty years.
iii.  All that the couples need to do so as to avoid divorce is understanding, determination and passionate resolution to be more responsible to God and one another.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: I Cor 13:1-13

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM: To show God's unchanging attitude towards divorce and to provoke believers to hate divorce as God does.
OBJECTIVE: It is expected that at the end of this two-week lesson, each participant:
i. should be able to appreciate God's perfect will on marriage just as divorce is a crime as far as He is concerned.
ii. shall become determined not to contemplate divorce and become more resolute about making their marriages work by God's grace.
iii. would be provoked to correct some of the errors of the past by taking a cue from David and asking for the restoration of the estranged partner.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Malachi 2:1-17; Matthew 19:1-10
Lesson 6 was in pursuance of the role of in-laws in the Christian marriage and home. We have discovered from the lesson that in-laws are not expected to interfere in the couple's affairs. God wants to duly intervene as at when their helps are needed. In the same vein, the Lord has warned couples not to unnecessarily downplay the place of their in-laws, although they must not behave as weaklings.
This new lesson, the 7th in this series, continues our studies in the second unit of the series. The issue being discussed these two consecutive weeks is a very critical one in our society, the church inclusive.
If we are going to be sincere with ourselves, we would all agree that divorce remains a very serious issue. It is even now common among Christians, ministers of God inclusive.
This lesson is aimed at helping us rediscover the mind of God concerning divorce or putting away even if it has become the thing in vogue today, done with impunity. May God help us to be on course. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. The Book Of Malachi:
The book of Malachi is the last prophetic book of the Jewish canon as well as of the Old Testament.

Authorship of the Book:
‘Malachi' means “my messenger” or “messenger of the Lord.” Since the word appears in 3:1, some scholars think that it is not a proper name at all and does not provide the name of the author of the book. According to one ancient tradition, the “messenger” was Ezra, the priest responsible for the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Yet it would be most unusual for the Jews to preserve a prophetic book without explicitly attaching to it the name of the author. All of the other major and minor prophetsincluding Obadiahare named after a particular prophet. Moreover, “messenger of the Lord” would be a most appropriate name for a prophet (cf. II Chro. 36:15-16; Hag. 1:13).

Background of the Book:
During the 5th century BC, the struggling Jewish community in Judah was greatly assisted by the return of Ezra and Nehemiah. In 458 BC Ezra was encouraged by King Artaxerxes of Persia to lead a group of exiles back to Jerusalem and to institute religious reform. About 13 years later, in 445 BC, a high-ranking government official named Nehemiah was allowed to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls, a task he accomplished in 52 days (Neh. 6:15). As governor, Nehemiah led the people in a financial reform that provided for the poor and encouraged tithing to support the priests and Levites (5:2-13; 10:35-39). Like Ezra, Nehemiah urged the people to keep the Sabbath and avoid intermarrying with pagan neighbours. After a 12-year term, Nehemiah returned to Persia and the spiritual condition of Judah deteriorated. Perhaps discouraged by their lack of political power, tithing became sporadic, the Sabbath was not kept, intermarriage was common, and even the priests could not be trusted. When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem sometime later, he had to take firm action to straighten out the situation (13:6-31).

Date:
Since Malachi had to deal with the same sins mentioned in Nehemiah 13 (see Mal. 1:6-14; 2:14-16; 3:8-11), it is likely that the prophet ministered either during Nehemiah's second term as governor or in the years just before his return. The reference to “the governor” in Malachi 1:8 implies that someone other than Nehemiah was in office, so it may be best to place Malachi just after 433 BC, the year Nehemiah had returned to Persia.

Purpose and Theology:
Malachi was written to shake the people of Judah from their spiritual lethargy and to warn them that judgment was coming unless they repented. The people doubted God's love (1:2) and justice (2:17) and did not take his commands seriously (1:6; 3:14-18). Yet God was “a great King” (1:14) with a great name that was to be feared even beyond the border of Israel (verses 5, 11). Malachi repeatedly urged both the priests and the people to revere God and give him the honour he deserved. God was Israel's Father and Creator (2:10), but the nation showed contempt for his name (1:6; 3:5). In response to this contempt, God would send his messenger to announce the Day of the Lord (3:1). John the Baptist did call the nation to repentance, and Christ came to cleanse the temple (John 2:14-15) and to establish the covenant (Mal. 3:1-2). Most of the work of refining and purifying will take place at the Second Coming, when Christ returns to purify his people (cf. verses 2-4) and judge the wicked (4:1).Content:
i. God's great love for Israel (1:1-5)
ii. The unacceptable sacrifices of the priests (1:6-14)
iii. The punishment of the priests (2:1-9)
iv. The unfaithfulness of the people (2:10-16)
v. The coming of the messenger of the covenant (2:173:5)
vi. The benefits of faithful tithing (3:6-12)
vii. The day of the Lord (3:134:6)

II. The Book Of Matthew: Refer to lesson 2  *5 I

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 The lesson is divided into two broad areas, I and II, and each is sub-divided into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Divorce Remains An Issue
 This section shows divorce as an issue during the time of Jesus.  It goes further to show how some biased Pharisees came deliberately to test Jesus with preconceived and biased questions on the matter.  The response of Jesus left them disorganised because He made them to know the unchangeable original intention of God.  Even the disciples were confused with the seriousness of God about the family institution.  He clearly told them that anyone practising divorce has only chosen the permissive will of God (plus its consequences) and not the perfect will.  May we learn from this as we handle this ever-present issue  divorce.

DIVISION II - God Hates Putting Away
 This section shows what happened after the people of God had returned from the 70-Years Babylonian captivity.  Apart from placing themselves first economically, they began to break the laws of God on family matters.  At the forefront of these ungodly acts were the priest and levites.  God immediately sent one of the post-exilic prophets,  Malachi to warn the returnees on the criminality and godlessness of divorce and putting away.  It does not matter who is involved (today), God will deal with men who break the hearts of the wives of their youth.  Be admonished.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. DIVORCE REMAINS AN ISSUE
A. The People's Biases
B. Jesus Gave The Answer
II. GOD HATES PUTTING AWAY
A. No Matter Who Is Involved
B. Divorce, A Breach of Covenant

LESSON EXPOSTION
I. DIVORCE REMAINS AN ISSUE (Matthew 19:1-10)
 The daily occurrences around us show that divorce is  an issue.  Even, what we read over the pages of daily papers and magazines and references to what happens in our courts, not to mention how this issue is fastly eroding into the church, all these confirm that the rate at which divorce is going in this generation should attract the attention of the church.  However, the truth is, there is unchanging word of God for those who want to live above this deadly cankerworm.
A. The Peoples' Biases (vv. 1-3)
 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (v. 3).
i. vv. 1-3: Jesus had barely finished a teaching session when the Pharisees came as usual to test/tempt Him.
ii. v. 3: Most of those who ask questions about divorce are themselves divorcees or are contemplating divorce, trying to justify their error.
iii. v. 3: This question is trickish. It is not just about divorce, but divorce for just any reason. It also places man at an advantage, making him the only one who can initiate divorce proceedings.  But divorce has been an issue since Moses' time (Deut. 24:1-4; cf. Mt. 5:31,32; Lk. 16:18).
iv. Should divorce (a divided voice in the hitherto one family) be just for any reason?
v. The schools of thought during the period were two. First, Shammai practised rigid interpretation of the law and concluded that divorce is only permitted when the wife is sexually immoral.  The second by Hillel said a woman could be divorced for any reason.  What are some of the reasons for divorce today?
vi. Why on earth should anyone be a specialist in negative thinking and thought?  Why are people always pessimistic  expecting failure, accident, death, miscarriage etc?  Yes, these events happen daily.  It is expected that the children of God should fill their hearts with the word of God.  What Job feared eventually happened to him (Pro. 23:7).
B. Jesus  Gave The Answer (vv. 4-10)
And He answered and said unto them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said…. (v. 4).
i. vv. 4,5: The source of Jesus' teaching is God (Jn. 7:16) and the scriptures (Jn. 7:42; Lk. 24:27). He referred them to God's original purpose for marriage. You may deliberately abuse, reject or misinterpret the purpose of marriage. Yet, the Owner's purpose remains (cf. Gen. 1:27; 5:2; 2:24; Matt. 19: 4,5).
ii. vv. 4-6: From the Scripture references quoted by Jesus, He made abundantly clear the truth of the matter.
iii. v. 7: The biased questionnaires went ahead looking for “divine approval” for their errors. They knew the law but denied the spirit behind it. Jesus answered them clearly and directly.
iv. v. 8: He accused them of being stubborn and unmanageable. No wonder God permitted them to divorce, knowing they were bent on it.  Based on permissive will (at least to make it stricter) He gave His counsel in v. 9.
v. v. 10: The disciples (not the biased questionnaires) sensed the toughness of the above and exclaimed.  The truth is God hates divorce, so do not try it (Gen. 1: 27; Mal. 2:16).
vi. Remedies to Divorce: Love (Eph. 5:25-29), no prolonged geographical separation (Exo. 18:1-8; 1 Cor. 7:1-5).
vii.Jesus, answer to the question on divorce is very relevant today as it was then.  To the biased Pharisees, it was heretic, to the disciples it was tough and difficult.  To Jesus the author of life, it was the only truth meant for those who have inner eyes and ears and are ready to obey God in full.  What do you say?

LESSONS DERIVED
1. If you do not hate divorce the way God does, you may practise it one day just for any reason.
2. Divorce was permitted during the time of Moses as against the perfect will of God.

WORK TO DO
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of divorce.

II. GOD HATES PUTTING AWAY (Malachi 2:1-17)
 There are so many things that God hates and detests.  Six are clearly stated in Pro. 6:16-19.  The list is inexhaustible.  However, He also comes out clearly to declare His eternal hatred for another foundation destroyer and disorganisational agent to the first institution of God, called the family.  This agent of destruction is called divorce (Mal 2:16).  Sequel to the fact that it has gone so deep even into the corridors of so many great men of God, people now see it as acceptable, normal, sinless.  The truth of the matter is that God hates it,  no matter who is involved.  Be wise unto salvation and holiness.
A. No Matter Who Is Involved (vv. 1-15)
Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously, yet she is your companion, And your wife by covenant (v. 14).
i. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34,35).  He expects the leaders of His people to live exemplary lives (Lk. 12:48; Jas. 3:1). The priests here failed themselves (Mal. 2: 1, 7, 8).
ii. Whenever the leaders misbehave, it is either they think they are covered by “immunity” or they make efforts to explain away some undeniable Bible truths.  God can't be fooled (Mal. 2: 8.9).
iii. Charges against the people:  Judah had married the daughters of foreign gods (i.e. unbelievers), and many had abandoned the covenant wives of their youth (Mal 2:14). People who go for divorce today have their flimsy, selfish and unbiblical excuses.
iv. People can always have their ways as they deliberately circumvent God's laws.  God is the rewarder.
v. Honour God's word and be honoured by Him.  Dishonour the word of God and be outright rejected and dishonoured by Him ( I Sam. 15:26; Ps. 138:1,2).

B. Divorce, A Breach of Covenant (vv. 16,17)
“For the LOrd God of Israel says that He hates divorce for it covers one's garment with violence” says the Lord of hosts.  “Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously” (v. 16).
i. God passionately hates divorce. Wherever it happens, it is His permissive will (“since you want it, go ahead and have it”).  Divorce is the division that happens between a married couple that is approved by the law court.
ii. Marriage is not a contract.  A contract can be terminated for many reasons.  Even before it happens, the parties know some of the reasons--an act of God, if it is established on illegality e.g. agreement to steal, misrepresentation of a party to the contract etc.  But covenant is more than a contract.  Covenant is a promise with expectation. When entered into by the believers, God is a witness.  Under no condition can God be persuaded to be a witness (again) if there is to be a dissolution.  God is a witness to the believer's marriage (Mal. 2: 14).
iii. From the marriage, God expects that children and godly children would be born because He has made them one (2:14,15).  Divorce is the highest level of violence one can imagine. It is treacherous (2: 14).
iv. In a divorce case, nobody wins.  The partners continue treatment of incurable internal sores.  The children would grow and become suspicious of opposite sexes. They may also become social problems.  They may hate God for no reason.
v. Remedies: Forgiveness and Love (Mt. 18:21-35), Remembering the past good deeds (2 Sam. 3: 12-16).
vi Divorce has caused mental sickness to some and to a lot, it has caused permanent family injuries and structural imbalance. It is now becoming a practice amongst the children from such homes to refuse to go into marriage because they no longer can trust the opposite sex.  Before God, the parents of such children may be held responsible.

LESSON DERIVED
1. No matter who is involved in divorce cases, God's word is clear. He hates divorce and it will never be the perfect will of the holy God.
2. Everyone is a loser when there is a divorce experience.  The parents and the children are permanently wounded.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of divorce.

Answer:
 Divorce remains one of those acts that God hates (Mal 2:16).  Jesus further buttressed the word of God by the way He answered the biased questionnaire in Mat. 19:1-5.  If divorce is ever permitted, it is strictly under the permissive will of God i.e He allowed it because one of the affected persons is bent on having it and cannot be persuaded by God.  The two permitted grounds include immorality after manage (Deut 22:22 cf I Cor 7:39) and the deliberate departure of an unbelieving partner in marriage (I Cor 7:12-16).
 Since Divorce is against the original intention of God and He has continued to show His hatred for it, one cannot imagine from the Bible any advantage of it.
 For the disadvantages, see the suggested answers to questions 1-3 at the end of this less (i.e lesson 7).

QUESTIONS
1. Why do you think that divorce is becoming more rampant in the church and even amongst the leaders?
2. God invisibly put His signature when His people are being joined together.  He cannot come back to remove His signature. Discuss.
3. If God so hates divorce, what provisions does He have for overcoming it?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTION:
Question I:  Why do you think that divorce is becoming more rampant in    the Church, and even amongst the leaders?

Answer:
1. Today's Christianity is on sale and at a very reduced price.
2. Christians today are very shallow in the WORD.  Believers are disappointedly superficial spiritually.
3. It is more of leave-me-alone and accept-me-as-I-am way of love.  No more serious regard for the truth.
4. Bad example of the leaders.  If leaders practise polygamy (secretly), divorce and other immoral life styles, what do you expect of the congregation?
5. Demonic strategy to weaken/destroy the foundation and structure of the society.  Everyone on the street and everywhere is from a home.  If the homes are destroyed, any hope?
6. Mental knowledge without heart fortification through prayer.  Many talk so much about prayers, but do they pray?  If they do, what type of prayers?
7. Parental influence/experience.  Like parents like children,  unless God powerfully intervenes.
8. Influence of modern day technology that promotes indecent and obscene entertainment. Programmes of some drama groups are packaged as religious but which are dangerous and ungodly.
9. There is less preaching/teaching on holiness/godliness

Conclusion:  God has not changed.  His standards remain as they were at the beginning.  It does not matter who is involved, God hates divorce.  Save yourself.

Question 2: God invisibly puts His signature when His people are being joined together.  He cannot come back to remove His Signature.  Discuss.

Answer:
1. The coming together of two children of God is not accidental
2. God started the move and continues to supervise the union.
3. He is invisibly present in all their journeys of life.  He cannot leave them alone.
4. He registers His approval, supports and preserves them as they walk together in love, the word, prayer and expectation of His second coming.
5. He cannot imagine/initiate divorce.  His signature plus *those of other officiating ministers and parents are invisibly on the marriage certificate.  Can He come back to remove it?

*1. When the couple begin to trample on the WORD, He is being asked to  withdraw.
2. When love, forgiveness, holy living are no longer embraced and practised, He is being asked to go.
3. When they eventually reject all godly and biblical counsel, they are sending Him away.

However, even in the face of all these misbehaviours
1. He cannot come back to withdraw His signatures
2. He cannot be a party to dissolution and He does not advocate permanent strained relationship.
3. Usually, when people wait to misbehave and have their ways, He is neither consulted nor invited to come in, yet, He would keep waiting for the parties to go back to the foundation like the prodigal son.

Question 3: If God so hates divorce, what provisions does He have for overcoming it?

Answer: 
 God hates divorce for so many reasons.
1. It causes permanent injury to those involved and are directly and indirectly concerned (children,  in-laws etc).
2. A partner can become mentally and emotionally destroyed.
3. The children grow to hate themselves, parents, the opposite sex based on experience.
4. It weakens the foundation of the society, the church etc.
5. Social problems and even crimes may be on the increase as the children do not enjoy full  parental care.

Provisions from God.  He has made available to the willing and waiting provisions to help overcome the deadly cankerworm called divorce.
1. He gave His Word of light and power.  Read, believe and practise.
2. He gave teachers/preachers who would keep reminding the children of God of His changeless standards.
3. He gave (gives) His spirit to enable the believers live by the word and for empowerment inwardly.
4. He has given Bible characters and contemporary believers who received His inexhaustible grace to live above divorce.
5. He provided the opportunity(ies) for fellowship so that as it is called today, we can also admonish and encourage one another.

Conclusion: 
He that thinks he stands should take heed lest, he falls (I Cor. 10:12).

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon.  10: No Defrauding Of One Another (1 Cor. 7:1-6)
Tue.  11: Avoid Prolonged Geographical Separation (Exo. 18:1-7)
Wed.  12: Remembering The Past Good Deeds (2 Sam. 3:12-16)
Thur.  13: Forgiveness Is The Antidote (Matt. 18:21-35)
Fri.  14: Husbands, Love Your Wives (Eph. 5:25-29)
Sat.  15: God Is A Witness (Mal. 2:10-16).

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 What a terrible world we are in today! Divorce is now so rampant that even ministers of the gospel put their wives/husbands and remarry at will. One wonders how the Christian who goes to appear before a magistrate court all because he/she has filed a divorce case against his/her wife/husband feels on such occasions. It is very alarming looking at the type of lukewarm attitude turned by so many Christians, churches and ministers to God's word on divorce. Imagine a situation in which some brethren arranged and went ahead to 'help' a brother separate from his wife of several years because she was not able to 'produce' children. They also helped the brother to remarry. Don't we read the Bible? Or, is it that some of us have just deliberately decided to go against the Bible? God's standard is sure: He hates divorce with indescribable passion. He expects His people to do likewise. May we not become His enemies by supporting divorce in any way, direct/openly or subtly. Amen.

*10. CONCLUSION:
Lesson 7 emphatically condemned divorce from the point of view of God in His Word. We dissected the topic, God Hates Divorce, from Malachi 2 and Matthew 19. God helped us to establish the fact that divorce is an issue in the world today, and because of this, the Church needs to discuss it and make its no-nonsense stand based on the Word of God known to the world. Honestly, if we would see divorce the way God sees it, none of us would ever contemplate it no matter the situation, knowing that there no situation too tough to the remedied. May God give us His own eye glasses to be able to see everything, including the prevalence of divorce in this generation. Amen.

Unit 11: Dealing With Family Issues     23 & 30 OCTOBER 2011

LESSON EIGHT
Are you yet childless? Don’t lose hope. God answered Hannah with Samuel. But when your Samuels come, groom them in the way of the Lord. (PICTURE)

CHILDREN IN THE CHRISTIAN HOME
MEMORY SCRIPTURE: Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them: they  shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their  enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:5).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
 When God is allowed to be at the centre of our efforts, including homebuilding and children rearing, success is unstoppable (Psa. 127:1,2). This is the same God who is the creator and owner of all (Psa. 24:1,2; Jn. 1:1-3). He made the first set of humans and supervised how they would continue reproducing, graciously giving them part of His creative powers to bring forth other humans (Gen. 1:27,28). The ability to give birth to babies is a rare gift from God, and children themselves are gifts from the Lord beyond just merits (Psa. 127:3). Both Christians and unbelievers have children.
Children are compared to arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psa. 127:4). Arrows are made from raw sticks. The harder you work on them, the sharper and more effective they become. Children are raw gifts from the holy God. The inputs of the parents shape and sharpen them as weapons in the hands of either God or the devil depending on their attitudes towards Christ and His kingdom (cf. Prov. 22:6).
Line 5 of Psalm 127 does not just happen where parents just sit down, folding arms after giving birth to them. Your input to any project or programme determines what you get from it. Some couples have had their quiver full of children only to end up regretting that they ever had one. Those who are happy or blessed by the presence of both biological and spiritual children around them are those who apply the right building blocks (line 1) to shape and sharpen their God-given arrows. Their happiness/blessedness is because these well-trained and developed children would protect the parents against all forms of shame. They would become the parents' pride everywhere even among the people of God. The parents have no cause to fear because of them. Such godly children and youths do not come by accident; they are conscious preparedly for, and worked upon. May God bless those waiting on Him for the fruit of the womb with children from His throne of mercy.
Refer to division I for additional comments.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  17:  Hannah Received Samuel (1 Sam. 1:19-20)
Tue.   18:    Hannah Nurtured Her Boy (1 Sam. 1:21-23)
Wed.  19:  Hannah's Pay Back To God (1 Sam. 1:24-28)
Thur.  20:  Hannah Appreciated God (1 Sam. 2:1-5)
Fri.   21:    Hannah Experienced The Omnipotent (1 Sam. 2:6-8)
Sat.   22:   Hannah's Enemies Silenced (1 Sam. 2:9-11)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
i. Children are gifts from God. Appreciate the Giver; appropriate them according to His Word.
ii. Refer to section *1. Brief Comment. God gives children as He wills. What He expects from us is to recognize and appreciate His position as the ultimate giver, and develop the children with the yardstick of the Bible. He who does these courts God's favour.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Genesis 1:27,28

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM: To help the readers understand what God expects our attitudes  to be towards the children He gives us.

OBJECTIVES: It is expected that at the end of this lesson the readers    should:
i. be more appreciative to God for the children He has given and would still give them;
ii. be looking at the children as precious gifts from the gracious God that must be treasured greatly and kept from all abuse;
iii. better appreciate that coming of children from God does not erase parents experiencing challenges over them; and
iv. begin to devote quality time to encouraging brethren who are being challenged on the issues of children in their homes, making them understand that those challenges would soon become testimonies.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Genesis 4:1,2; 29:31ff; 30:1-2; I Samuel 2:12ff; Psalm 127:3-5.

Lesson 7 centres on the attitude of God to divorce. Through His prophet Malachi, He condemned it without mincing words. In like manner, Jesus sternly opposed the views of those incorrigible leaders of His time. God would be happy with us if we have corrected any erroneous views we may have been abhorring in relation divorce.
This week, we are considering the topic, Children In The Christian Home. The lesson draws our attention to the fact that children in our homes are gifts from God who need to be taken with heart-felt gratitude to God and treasured with total care. We see that in Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:1ff). Children should be kept safe like a warrior would stock and treasure arrows in his quiver (Psa. 127:4)
Ironically, some wicked individuals abuse these God-given treasures that some others are expectantly waiting on God for.
May as many as have challenges to battle with in their homes concerning their children would experience God's timely intervention, in Jesus' name. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. THE BOOK OF GENESIS: Refer to lesson 3, Section *5  I

II. THE BOOK OF FIRST SAMUEL: Refer to lesson 2, Section *5  I I

III. THE PSALTER:

 “Psalms” is the title of the 19th  book of the Bible, which, in the Hebrew Bible, is titled tehillim (meaning 'praises').  The title in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) is psalmoi (meaning 'songs to the accompaniment of stringed instruments') from which comes the English 'psalms' and 'psalter' that originally referred to stringed instruments as well as the song they accompany.

Authorship of The Psalms:
i. The superscriptions on the psalms offer a lot of assistance in this regard.  They ascribe 73 psalms to King David, 12 to Asaph (a gifted Levite-mustcian. Cf I Chr. 15:16-19; II Chr. 29:30), ten to Korah's sons (a gifted family of musicians), two to king Solomon, and one each to Heman, Ethan and Moses, while 50 psalms are anonymous.
ii. None of the mentioned names was a fiction.  References are made to their existence on earth in the Bible.  Apart from Moses, David and Solomon, each of the remaining authors was either a priest or Levite specially gifted in music.
iii. In summary, David and the others wrote the Psalter.

Date of Writing and Compilation: 
i. Moses wrote the earliest known psalm (Ps. 90) in the 15th Century BC.
ii. The bulk of the psalms was written in the 10th Century BC.
iii. The latest ones such as psalm 137, were written between the 6th and 5th Centuries BC.
iv. There are evidences to the effect that David, Hezekiah and Ezra were at different stages individually involved in the collection of the Psalms for corporate use in Jerusalem (cf I Chr 15:16-22; II Chr. 29:25-30; Pro 25:1; Neh 10:39; 11:22).
v. It is most likely that the Psalter (collection of Psalms) was compiled into its final form during Ezra's and Nehemiah's days (450-400 BC).

Purpose of Writing:
     The Psalms were basically written to express the deep inner emotions of the human heart in relation to God.  Of these, many express prayers to God, others, praise, thanksgiving and adoration to Him, while still some contain Messianic messages.

Outline:
    The  Psalms are naturally divided into five sections, in accordance with the ancient organization, with a doxology closing each section as shown in the parenthesis below:
i. Humans and creation, Pss 1-41 (41,13)
ii. Deliverance and redemption Pss 42-72 (72.19)
iii. Worship and sanctuary, Pss 73-89 (89.52)
iv. Wilderness and God's ways Pss 90-106 (106.48)
v. God's Word and Praise. Pss 107-150 (150.1-6).

Special Features:
i. It contains the Psalms that were the chief hymns in the worship of ancient Israel
ii. It is based on the literary characteristics of parallelism of thought in which the second line(s) of poetry restates, contrasts, or progressively completes the first as  of the OT poetry and songs.
iii. It is the longest Bible book with the longest chapter (119.1-176); shortest chapter (117,1-2) and middle verse (118.8).
iv. Its spiritual depth and breadth are vast.  No wonder most believers treasure and read it more than the other Old Testament books.
v. It expresses the full range of man's emotion and needs in relation to God and human life in a deeper way than any other book of the Bible.
vi. Its five sections naturally correspond with the five books of  the Pentateuch respectively with regard to their themes as shown in the outline above.
vii. It is the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament
viii. About half on the psalms include prayers of faith in times of adversity that scholars refer to as 'Lament' (Ps 3,7,42,60,79)
ix. It can further be categorized into 'song of praise'  thanksgiving brought by an individual (cf Ps 18:34; 116) or community (cf Ps 124)  and 'hymn'  praises God more generally for His greatness and grace (cf Pss 36,100).

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This two-week lesson divided into I and II with a further division into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - They Are God's Gifts:
 This division puts to test Genesis 4:1,2 and Psalm 127:3-5. In its first part, we see how Adam and Eve accepted and appreciated God's gift of their children despite the after-effect of the then recent Fall. The second part shows from the Psalmist's submission in the 127th Psalm that children must be treasured and properly appropriated before they can become the pride of the parents to the glory of God.

DIVISION II - The Challenge:
 This division reminds the reader from the Bible that parenting has its peculiar problems different from setting to setting. There is the challenge of delayed parenthood experienced by the likes of Rachael, Elizabeth and Hannh. There is also that of problematic children as in the case of Eli's sons. These two challenges are deeply discussed in the two different parts of this division respectively with the belief that the readers would be more equipped with hope to face these challenges and to help the wavering stand against them as well.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. THEY ARE GOD'S GIFTS
 A. Appreciate The Giver
 B. Treasure The Gifts
II. THE CHALLENGE
 A. When They Are Not There
 B. When They Are Problematic

LESSON EXPOSTION
I. THEY ARE GOD'S GIFTS (Genesis 4:1,2; Psalm 127:3-5)
 The beauty of a gift lies in its reception and appreciation by its target. It gladdens the heart of God when parents receive the children He gives with all gratitude to Him, cooperate with Him to make them what He originally intends them to be.
A. Appreciate The Giver (Gen. 4:1,2)
 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord” (v. 1).
i. vv. 1,2: God never abandons His own for life. Just immediately after the fall (Gen 3), God helped Adam to know his wife carnally and that produced children (cf. 1:28).
ii. v. 1: The couple got their first issue as a gift from the Lord. Their testimony (v. 1b) signifies God as the giver (cf. 1 Sam. 2:1-10).
iii. Eve's response to God's gift here shows what our attitudes should be when we receive anything from the Lord. People who wait for years expecting from God usually appreciate God better.
iv. You are duty-bound to be grateful to God for those lovely children He has released as blessings to your marriage.
v. The fact of the Fall didn't make Eve to lose focus of the real Giver of her children, confirming with certainty that she acquired them from the Lord. Why then do you handle your children as if they are your exclusive property? Beware!

B. Treasure The Gifts (Ps. 127:3-5)
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth (v. 4).
i. lines 3,4: Come to think of how invaluable a gun is to a man of war. The Psalmist sees children in the light of what a warrior can use arrows to accomplish.
ii. line 3: Children are God's property (heritage) handed over to various homes for care and proper upbringing in God's own way. The arrow can only be as good as the manufacturer painstakingly shapes it to be (Deut. 6:4,6,7).
iii. Consider the attitudes of some parents today who value material things more than their children's welfare. Your input into your children determines the output. Samuel grew up in a polluted environment, yet he excelled (1 Sam 1:19-28).
iv. line 5: Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. Having the quiver full of children empowers one economic, physical, spiritual etc (cf. Gen 34:5ff; 46:1-4; 49:29-33).
v. While thanking God today for men like Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Samuel among others, we should not forget their parents who heavily and humbly invested in them when they were babies time, love, money, education etc.
vi. Treasures are well protected and polished by those who appreciate their worth depending on their sources and price tags. The fact that these children come from the inestimable God places high premium on the children He gives as against the worthless ones from idols. So, treasure them aright because you will one day stand to account for how you used them (2 Cor. 5:10).

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Thank God for those lovely children God has given you and do not mock the expectant homes.
2. It is better not to have children than to have them when you cannot cater for them or bring them up in the ways of the Lord.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
Child abuse is a social vice challenging our society. Advise the church, parents and other stakeholders on how to combat it.

II. THE CHALLENGE (Genesis 29:31ff; 30:1ff; 1 Samuel 2:12ff)
 Life itself is a challenge. The difference between a Christian and an unbeliever is that the Christian sees what the unbeliever sees as life's unfairness as mere challenges to promote the Christian in every respect. Christian parenting is challenging, but we have the living God who can help us to live above all of these challenges.
A. When They Are NOt There (Gen. 29:31ff; 30:1ff)
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and said to Jacob 'Give me children or else I die! (30:1).
i. 29:31ff: Jacob married two sisters, loving the younger more. However, the loved one (Rachel) was made barren by God who closes and opens wombs according to His will (cf. 20:17-18; 21:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:2,5,6)
ii. 30:1: Rachael soon became envious and impatient. She lost focus of the real Giver of children and blamed her husband for childlessness just as many would behave today.
iii. 30:1,2: Being married for years without children isn't easy; the reproach from ungodly in-laws, neighbours, rivals, the spouse etc can be killing (1 Sam. 1:6,7; Lk. 2:24-25). No wonder Rachael misbehaved. Yet the barren need to be positive about their conditions. God never fails.
iv. v. 2: Pressures from within and without may be tempting you to cut corners or misbehave to overcome barrenness. Beware! God is never too late (Psa. 97:7; Jer. 10:1ff; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 10:13).
v. Patience, faith and prayer with supplication will turn the table in your favour in God's appointed time (cf. 21:1-7; 25:20-23; Jug. 13:1-24; 1 Sam. 1:20ff; 2:1-11; Lk. 1:57,58). Don't help God.
vi. Who and where you turn to for the fruit of the womb would determine how long it would take to get God's best children or if you would ever get any. Those who turn to idols and other ungodly means would soon prefer never to have received such children. Wait for God's best. He is never too late. When His best comes, you will know it is worth waiting for. Ask Hannah and Elizabeth/Zachariah.

B.  When They Are Problematic (1 Sam. 2:12ff)
 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord (v. 12).
i. We cannot rule out the possibility of children who have chosen to go different way from their parents' godly or Christian way (1 Sam. 8:1-4).
ii. vv. 12-17: High Priest Eli had a similar experience in his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. The boys were wayward, corrupt, ungodly and highly immoral.
iii. Many factors are responsible for difficult and unyielding children in the home: negligence of the parents, demonic influence, deliberate choice of the children, environmental influences etc (cf. I Sam. 2:29; 2 Tim. 1:5).
iv. Good and godly children are not product of luck or chance. With concerted efforts in prayer, discipline and constant dedication to God, Isaacs, Samuels, Esthers would emerge (cf. 18:6,22).
v. A stitch in time saves nine, they say. Don't wait until those children begin to manifest ungodliness before you begin to run from pillar to post. Straighten those palm trees when they are still very young and you won't have to struggle to do that when they have grown hardened. Eli didn't start early. And where was his wife? No one prays to experience what became of that aged priest. You would have to labour hard on those children in cooperation with God before they won't become heartaches to you. Labour now to rest later.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Precarious conditions like that of barren Rachael demand being positive in attitude and confession. Patience, persistence and prayer will definitely turn the tide.
2. Imbibe discipline and fear of God in your children from the start. When they grow old, they shall not depart from it.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question:  Child abuse is a social vice challenging our society. Advise the church, parents, and other stakeholders on how to combat it.

Answer:
i. Child abuse is severe mistreatment of a child (e.g. physical violence, neglect, sexual assault, or emotional cruelty) by a parent, guardian, or other adult responsible for his/her welfare. So many children are subjected to silent, uncontrollable sobbing through beatings and bruises, sexual harassment etc. So many of them are traumatized and afraid of life generally because of their terrible experiences. It occurs both among the rich and the poor (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21)
ii. Many parents end up abusing their children/wards all because they too were victims of child abuse, and that has so bastardized their psyche that they voluntarily or involuntarily continue the vicious cycle of abuse.
iii. Every stakeholder in the care for children should get it straight that abusing children by any means and at any level violates God's fundamental purpose for man.
iv. Yes, God commands parents and other stakeholders to discipline their children (Prov. 22:6,15). Yet, this doesn't give them absolute unrestricted control that gives room for abuse over the children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
v. If you are a parent/guardian who has been abusing your children/wards in any way, God would help you out if you can do the following: admit that child abuse is a problem, a terrible sin against God and humanity (cf. Psa. 32:3-7); admit that you are too weak to help yourself out (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9, Heb. 11:32-34) then ask for God's grace/help; and, consciously fight the desire to abuse children in your in prayer and seeking the assistance of God's people (Prov. 15:22, Jas. 5:16).
vi. For the abused, so that you don't become the devil's agent of continuing the vicious cycle, face the problem headlong. Allow God to help you heal the wounds. Forgive and let go those who abused you; don't be another Absalom (2 Sam. 13:23ff). You can also open up to individuals and authorities who can help you out; silence is killing. And then, learn to take up the supposed pieces of your life and move on with the journey to your destiny (cf. Php. 3:13ff).
vii. The truth is: child abuse can become a thing of the past if all hands are on deck to combat it.

QUESTIONS
1. What is responsible for the wicked act of abandoning babies as  we experience it today in our society?
2. Advise Christian parents who have lost total control of their children to hooliganism, and other ungodly practices. Any hope?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1:  What is responsible for the wicked act of abandoning babies as we experience it today in our society?

Answer:
1. Child  abandonment is the act of leaving a child behind for others to look after, especially when it is expected to be the personal responsibility of the one abandoning the child.
2. It is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. The abandoned child is called a foundling. Such a child is neither a runaway nor an orphan, but is experiencing more terrible things than these ones.
3. Factors responsible for this wicked act include among others:
a. No relationship with the Creator of these children. A man who does not know God properly can do anything evil, including child abandonment. Imagine a lady who kept her new born baby by the road side because it came from an unwanted pregnancy.
b. Prevalence of promiscuity. Promiscuity leads to unwanted pregnancies and make so many fathers and mothers when they are yet unprepared, hence the abandonment of the resulting children.
c. Poverty. Some people abandon their children because they feel they cannot take care of them properly.
d. Cultural undertone. In some cultures, the birth of girls is welcome with terrible coldness.
e. Social situations. Situations where parents are financially incapable to take care of their children may well have been eased if the bottlenecks in the adoption proceedings are removed and orphanages are readily available.
4. These and many more are responsible for child abandonment in our society. The Church must wake up to its responsibility to condemn child abandonment right from the pulpit. If this is coupled with the efforts of responsible and responsive governments, child abandonment can be reduced to the barest minimum.

Question 2:  Advise Christian parents who have lost total control of their children to hooliganism, and other ungodly practices. Any hope?

Answer:
1. Refer to division II.
2. It is not too late and all hope is not lost. There are cases of children who have once been terrible heartaches to their parents who are now sources of joy to them, even those who have become ministers of the gospel.
3. Parents who feel they have lost total control of their children to social and spiritual vices should first look unto God away from their perceived or real problem. The more they keep musing over the heartaches, the more animosity they develop against those children and by extension, the God who gave them such children.
4. They should admit their own fault or lapses that may have contributed to the problem. God respects and responds to the contrite heart.
5. They should not be tired of lifting such children to God in regular prayers. It is never too late for God to intervene in the worst of situations.
6. Blaming or condemning the hardened child would not help matters. Instead, adopt methods of communication that can make the child to listen to your own (God's anyway) view on how to become the best in life.
7. Continue demonstrating in practical ways that you still love the child despite his/her waywardness, only that you want that destructive lifestyle to quit his/her life so that he/she can become the best in life. The father of the prodigal son didn't throw the baby away with the dirty water.
 Your child would still come back home to Christ and you if you don't waver in faith as you wait on God regularly (cf. Jas. 1:6-8). There is nothing too hard for God to do. Just believe, trust and obey His Word.

READINGS ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon.  24: Isaac, Object Of Sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-2)
Tue.  25: Isaac Was Worshipful (Gen. 22:3-7)
Wed.  26: Isaac Obedient To Death (Gen. 22:8-10)
Thur.  27: Isaac Provoked Almighty's Intervention (Gen. 22:11-15)
Fri.  28: Samuel's Ungodly Sons (1 Sam. 8:1-5)
Sat.  29: Send All Children To Jesus (Mk. 10:13-16)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 Our society is replete with actions, reactions and inactions that suggest that so many parents, guardians and other stakeholders do not value the worth of the children God graciously gives. Abortion (ultimate cruelty against the living soul of an 'unwanted' unborn baby) clearly indicates lack of dignity for human soul. It is even being legalized in some societies. What of the unserious uncultured ladies who abandon their new born babies by the road sides or throw them in pit latrines? Are there no cases of parents who brutalize their children in the name of disciplining them? Don't we hear of fathers or guardian sexually harass their children or wards? What about the government that fails to provide basic amenities in schools for the children? Let us not forget churches that have no provision at all for their little ones.
The above is added to the fact of people who think waiting on God for the fruit of the womb is sometimes too tasking and late. They consult demons in the name of herbalists and native doctors, only to get demonized children to their doom. All of these situations describe the unwholesome attitudes of people towards children, childbearing, child rearing, and the God who gives children according to His will and purpose. Both individuals, the government as well as the Church must return to the Bible to rediscover how God expects us to handle children-related matters.

*10. CONCLUSION
In the just concluded lesson, we learnt how to demonstrate the right attitudes towards children and the God who gives them liberally. In the first division, we were able to establish the fact that they are gifts from God to whosoever has them. They must therefore be acknowledged, appreciated, and treasured thus. The second division highlights some of the common children related challenges. We saw how God expects His people to react to situations where the children are not yet forthcoming even after serious and godly efforts have been exerted. We also discuss how we can cope with and overcome the challenges of problematic children in homes where they are present. Above all, it is believed that this lesson would have by now lifted the spirits of the readers, giving all the right perspectives on children matters as well as hope on Satan-oppressed, obsessed or possessed children.

Unit III: Remaining Faithful Till The End   16 & 13 NOVEMBER  2011

Death is the debt we all owe nature. It is the only thing that God allows to separate the
married. Only His grace and wisdom can save the widows/widowers from loneliness and hardship.(PICTURE)

LESSON NINE

WHEN DEATH STRIKES
 MEMORY SCRIPTURE
A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be
married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord (I Corinthians 7:39)

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
1 Corinthians is a discourse of Christian marriage matters, given the place it occupies in both the mind of God and the life of man. Paul was actually trying to, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, resolve those knotty marital issues generating polemics among the highly heterogeneous Christian Community in Corinth then. The issues discussed include that of widowhood. Every man has the debt of physical death to pay sex or status notwithstanding. The Bible would therefore not have been complete if there were no clear-cut directives as to life after the death of a spouse for the spouse left behind. God would not make such a mistake. Verses 39,40 of 1 Cor. 7 are clear on this.
The marriage of a properly wedded couple remains validly binding as long as both of them live on this side of heaven. Marriage happens only here on earth. Sex and marriage are absent in the rapture and transformed heavenly body. Therefore, marriage ends here with the death of one of the spouses. The widow/widower left behind immediately becomes liberated from the covenant/legal bond of that previous marriage union.
Life must continue, hence the issue of the next marital line of action to the widowed/widower.  He/she can decide to marry with special care  “only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). Later in Paul's ministry, he charged the young widows under 60 to remarry in the Lord (1 Tim. 5:9-16). However, widow/widower may decide to remain as she/he is as much as God gives her/him that grace of celibacy after initial marriage. Such would have more time to devote themselves to the Lord, thus making them happier in the real and ultimate sense (1 Cor. 7:40). Come what may, whatever side of the divide the widow/widower may decide to stay, it needs God's wisdom based of the facts of the scriptures, realities of life and directives of the Holy Spirit. May God help all at such cross roads. Amen.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon.  Oct.  31: Abraham Mourned His Wife (Gen. 23:1-3)
Tue.   Nov.  1: Abraham Requested A Property (Gen 23:4-10)
Wed.    “   2: Abraham Paid Full Price (Gen 23:11-16)
Thur.    “   3: A Befitting Burial For Sarah (Gen. 23:17-20)
Fri.       “   4: Ezekiel Became Widower (Ezek. 24:15-18)
Sat.      “  5: Ezekiel's Life A Message (Ezek 24:19-27)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS:
i. To be bereaved of one's spouse is not a curse for death is inevitable.
ii. Every man born of a woman is bound to die the physical death. Even our Lord Jesus chose not to escape the divine verdict of the physical separation of the body from the soul. It is therefore not a curse for anyone who loses his/her spouse to the cold hands of death.
iii. Life doesn't end here; it continues in eternity. So death is more of a blessing to the Christian who has the assurance of eternity with the Life Himself.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: 1 Timothy 5:1-16

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To help the readers get a better grasp of what God expects from the widows/widowers who lose their spouses.

OBJECTIVES: At the end of the lesson, the readers should be able to:
i. show from Abraham's example that remarriage after the death of the spouse is God-ordained to overcome the dangers of loneliness;
ii. show from Judah's misbehaviour that if not well managed, the loss of the spouse can bring terrible setbacks to the life of the widow/widower;
iii. discuss the two Bible-approved categories of widows and those allowed to remain widows for life with those commanded to remarry; and
iv. discuss what the attitude of the Church should be towards the widows/widowers.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Genesis 25:1-6; 38:12ff; I Timothy 5:3-16.

Last week we concluded lesson Eight the last in Unit Two of this series.  We saw in the lesson how the good Lord does release children to various homes according to His eternal plan and programme.  The recipients of these gifts of God needed to take them with thanksgiving and endeavour to cater for them in the Lord's way. There are homes that are facing challenges like barrenness and difficult children according to the lesson.
Today's lesson is the ninth in the series and the first in unit three.  It is precipitated upon the fact that death is inevitable especially when it brings separation between husbands and wives.  When that happens the appropriate step must be taken to forestall any mistake that may bring regret and reproach to God.  Abraham the father of faith serves as our model and perfect example in this area, while Judah's example contradicts God's word (Lev. 20:12).  Also Paul aired his own view on the set of women who can be enlisted as the real widow in the church.
May the Lord bless us as we allow the word of God through this medium to direct our course, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I.  The Book Of Genesis: Refer to lesson 3, Section *5 I 
II. The Second Epistle To Timothy: Refer to lesson 4, Section *5  I V

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
This is another two-division lesson with the two divisions each broken down into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Its Effect On The Man:
Division I is intended to show from the lives and experiences of Abraham and Judah how the death of a wife can affect the man (widower) and how God expects the widower to respond to the challenge in such a way that would glorify God. It also shows what the purpose of remarriage should be. The second part borders on Judah's misbehaviour shows that the widowers should be very careful how they take the challenge of the death of their wives lest they be on a collision course with God.

DIVISION II - Its Effect On The Woman:
The second division of this lesson refocuses the readers' attention on the effect of husband on the woman as spelt out in Paul's first epistle to Timothy. The first part shows how the older widows, 60 and above should go about their lives after losing their husbands. The second part also borders on the younger widows who are deeply admonished in the epistle to make sure youthful exuberance and other factors do not cause these godly woman to backslide after losing their husbands.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. ITS EFFECT ON THE MAN
 A. Abraham'S Example
 B. Judah's Misbehaviour
II. ITS EFFECT ON THE WOMAN
 A. As Older Widow
 B. As Younger Widow

LESSON EXPOSITION
I. ITS EFFECT ON THE MAN  (Gen. 25:1-6; 38:12ff)
Psychologists have showed that sex is an important determinant in how issues affect individuals and how such respond to such issues. Researches have shown that the death of spouses affect men and women differently. Let us see how the all important issue affects men from the point of view of the Bible.
A. Abraham'S Example (25:1-6)
 Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah (v.1).
i. At a very ripe age of 127 years Sarah, Abraham's wife, Isaac's mother died leaving Abraham a widower (Gen. 23:1-20).
ii. v. 1: One would have expected him to remain just like that, but loneliness is better imagined than experienced.  Abraham who was about 140 years of age again took a wife (cf. 1 Cor 7:9).
iii. Abraham with the help of God managed the whole scenario well without any flaw. He settled everything that had to do with inheritance before his demise (vv. 5,6).  If a man who had no access to the Bible could do that, more is expected today.
iv. Although the covenant child (Isaac) had been born, Abraham must have married for the other purposes than for procreation.  Yet, children were born unto the family (vv. 2-4).
v.  Compare Abraham's experience here with what they did for David in 1 Kgs. 1:1-4. Note that David was too advanced in age to have carnal knowledge of this young wife of his (1 Kgs. 1:4b). The intention of bringing in the young woman was for nothing but companionship (v. 1). We can agree that Abraham married Kethurah purposely to avoid the disaster of loneliness. The coming of the children was secondary; both the man and the woman were still able to reproduce. If David was that agile, that young woman would still have given birth to some.

B. Judah'S Misbehaviour (38:12ff)
 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.  Then he turned to her by the way, and said, 'please let me come in to you'; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law (vv 15,16).
i. That one was bereaved of one's partner (spouse) should not be an avenue unholy and irreligious lifestyle.
ii. Judah who was the fourth son of Jacob, who would later take-up as the king and leader of all his brethren (Gen. 38:12-20; 49:8-12) gave us a very bad example here.
iii. Although he had lost his wife carelessly, he committed an abomination punishable by death (cf. Lev. 20:12). Do not be pushed to be against God.
iv. He did the right thing in a wrong way.  Judah begged for sex from a harlot who was his daughter-in-law in disguise.  Was that not too early? It is better to remarry than to misbehave
v. This is the misbehaviour of Judah that Abraham was fortunate and wise enough to avoid. A lonely widower can misbehave at any point in time if the loneliness is not filled with something worthwhile and godly. Let us help both the widows and widowers among us so that they do not become the devil's prey because of unnecessary loneliness.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Abraham mastered his circumstances and that helped in protecting his integrity and reputation.
2. Do everything possible to safeguard your weakness so that you don't fall into lamentable error.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
What counsel do you have for young widows who instead of remarrying, go about destroying their testimonies?  Any counsel for the men who take unholy advantage of such widows?

II. ITS EFFECT ON THE WOMAN (1 Timothy 5:3-16)
 Researches have shown that men find it easier to adjust to the realities of widowhood than the women do. There are many factors contributing to this. However, God has given those affected the ways out through His servant, Apostle Paul. May we be assisted by His Spirit to understand these. Amen.
A. As Older Widow (vv. 3-10)
 Honour widows who are really widows (v.3).
i. In this passage, Paul seriously charged his faithful son Timothy about the proper way to administer the church of God with particular reference to the widows.
ii. v. 3: Honour widows who are really widows. Not all women who were bereaved should be accepted as widows by the church.
iii. He classified the acceptable ones on the basis of age and unquestionable dedication  to  God  (vv. 1ff).
iv. vv. 5-8: Children of widows are expected to be responsible to their bereaved parent. So, a widow in this respect should be more committed to God and Christian service than craving for worldly pleasure.
v.  It is easier for the older widows to remain single but married to the Lord and His work. At an age above the Bible-specified 60, the women, most especially those with grown up children, are by far less sexually inclined than their male counterparts. Therefore, they can hold themselves against ungodly advances from immoral men and stand firm in Christ (cf. Lk. 2:36-38). This becomes easier where the children and relatives are responsible.

B. As Younger Widow (vv. 11-16)
 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully (v.14).
i. Timothy must refuse the name of younger widows from the church's widows' list.  They are still young to remain widows permanently.  When the passion for pleasure comes, they might not be able to resist it.
ii. In his opinion, Paul desired that they should get married.  He sees remarriage as the best option for them.
iii. It is an act of wickedness to kick against the remarriage of any bereaved woman especially in the Lord. After she has sufficiently waited on God, new life in and with God should begin (cf. Rth. 4:1ff; 1 Cor. 7:39,40).
iv. We aren't sure if the widow in 2 Kgs. 4:1-7 actually remarried, but we do know that the first thing that preoccupied her mind was getting settled with her children before knowing the next step.  Timing is important.
v. Paul was neither wicked nor harsh against the younger widows by asking the church not to count them among widows. They are vulnerable in several ways. They have to cope with sometimes very young children left behind by their husbands. They have to manage the assets and liabilities of the husband. Above all, they have to cope with living alone apart from their loved husband. All of these brought together can sweep the young widow off balance without a considerate helper. So, they need to remarry.

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Trusting God and total devotion in prayer and supplication would quell all the pressures of loneliness in a well-deserved widow (cf. Lk. 2:36-38).
2. Remarriage is not bad. It is the best option for a young widow.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question 1: What counsel do you have for young widows who instead of remarrying go about destroying their testimonies? Any counsel for the men who take unholy advantage of such widows?

Answer: 
i. It is not uncommon to see or hear of widows who were fervent for the Lord during the lifetimes of their husbands to make the apostate U-turn after their husband's death.
ii. The widow who refuses to take the godly step at the right time but prefers to make ends meet in manners that destroy her testimony is merely demonstrating the fact that she has not been properly convinced of the veracity of Christianity.
iii. Also, such a widow is on collision course with the holy God because she is destroying God's temple (her body), and God does not take such lightly (1 Cor. 3:16,17).
iv. Instead of destroying their testimonies, why not cooperate with God to get His best to remarry? He helped widows in the Bible and in the contemporary world before them, and would help them as well.
v. The young widow should remarry so that the devil would not warm his way into her life and destroy her because of loneliness, unnecessarily burning with natural sexual desire, and the need to meet her needs.
vi. Men who take unholy advantage of young widows are God's enemies, and we all know the end of such wicked people. Boaz is a challenge to such sexual 'opportunists'. He chose not to abuse the vulnerable Ruth. That young widow may be vulnerable today, but remember that the God who created her would not hesitate to deal with you if you abuse her in any way.
vii. Instead of abusing her, do everything within the limits of the Bible to help her. Instead of using that young widow as your sex toy even if she so presented herself for the sake of survival, why not marry her if God is saying so, or help her to settle down maritally?
 Refer to division II for further comments.
QUESTIONS
1. Abraham took the right step at the right time.  He never gave any chance to the devil. Explain.
2. The right person and the right time are worth considering when remarriage is being considered. Discuss.

*8. SUGGESTION ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1: Abraham took the right step at the right time. He never gave any chance to the devil. Explain.

Answer: 
i. Revisit division I and part A for the comments there.
ii. Abraham lost his wife quite all right. Hardly does it happen for the husband and wife to die naturally on the same day barring other factors. For sure, one would be taken while the other is left behind for continuity.
i. Abraham had a lot at stake after the death of Sarah. The faith they both had in God must not be compromised, the future of their old-age promised son Isaac must not be jeopardised, to mention but a few.
ii. Abraham was old and saw the need for a companion/close confidant to take Sarah's vacant place to forestall the devil's incursion. He needed the right woman that could manage the good things he himself and Sarah had built together so far.
iii. He was not ready to wait unnecessarily to give the devil any chance. He remarried at the appropriate time. Keturah filled the gap Sarah's death had opened.
iv. The Lord is challenging widowers today to take into cognisance the relevant factors spiritually, biblically, socially, physiologically etc, to resettle down in marriage so as not to destroy the existing testimonies.
v. After a period of mourning for the departed wife that is enough to show genuine and sincere love for the wife, and at a time when both God and man would have seen the necessity for it, it is advisable for the widower to remarry.
vi. However, the remarriage must be done with God's wisdom and considerations for both the incoming woman and the already present structure, children and material resources.
vii. A stitch in time saves nine. Just exactly what Abraham did.

Question 2: The right person and the right time are worth considering when remarriage is being considered. Discuss.

Answer: 
i. Refer to the answer to question 1 for some relevant points.
ii. The right person and the right time are two important factors that would determine the success of any remarriage.
iii. As in the case of first marriage, the persons involved are very important. Marriage brings together two different people from different backgrounds, with different experiences. Without a proper blending, there cannot but be avoidable problems.
iv. The one to remarry must seriously seek the face of God for the best person to remarry. After all, He knew from eternity that the situation for remarriage would arise and has definitely made the best provision to meet the challenge whenever it would come (Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 2:9).
v. Bringing in the wrong person would make life a whole lot of hell for the remarrying partner, given the various issues involved in the union.
vi. The one remarrying must have settled issues with both the prospective new spouse (a widow/widower?) as well as the children (if any) in the previous marriage. Otherwise, hell would be let loose later in the journey.
vii. The factor of timing is also very important. How proper is it for a man who lost his wife last month to begin printing invitation for remarriage next month? Has he not brought in occasion for suspicion no matter his innocence?
viii. The time to execute remarriage should not be taken with levity. It should be neither too early nor too late. Being too early attracts suspicion and criticism, and may result in making terrible and irreparable marriage error while being too late may give room to the devil.
ix. The one remarrying should wait on God and seek the godly counsel of His people for the right time to resettle down with the right person for remarriage. May those already in such situations find God's grace to make the right moves. Amen.

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon.  7: The Gap In Lot's Home (Gen 19:30-38)
Tue.   8: Abigail Remarried (I Sam 25:39-44)
Wed.  9: Widow's In Jesus' Ministry (Lk. 7:11-16)
Thur.  10: Widow's Persistence A Lesson (Lk. 18:1-8)
Fri.   11: Widows Neglected In The Church (Acts 6:1-4)
Sat.   12: Widows' Case Treated (Acts 6:5-7).

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 A very popular man once died. To the chagrin of everyone, friends and foes, the woman expected to be his widow absconded with one of his closest friends while alive, the very month that followed his one-in-town funeral. “What a callous woman!” you would say. So many widows/widowers are misfiring even in the church. Nevertheless, we have those who are not missing it at all. Some of them, the older ones, have chosen Christ and their children as their 'husband'.
In addition, so many men and women are silently and sometimes, openly regretting their remarriage so much that it becomes increasingly difficult for them to forget their first marriages and live happily with their second spouses.
The above are some vivid descriptions of sad occurrences in the area of remarriage even among Christians. We all need to return to the Bible. There is hope for those who have made mistakes in this area. Let them seek the grace of God to forgive themselves and face the reality with their new spouses. Let those who are yet to take such steps think twice and pray well before launching out. May we not regret. Amen.

*10. CONCLUSION:
 This is an all-important but rarely discussed topic in our churches that we just scaled through in our Sunday School lesson. People are afraid of death, the reality of which we cannot run from. We would all die one day or the other. Let God just give us the grace to fulfil our days. That is our prayer. By implication, one of the couple would have to go, living behind the other (widow/widower) no matter how much they love themselves. The Lord has helped us to discuss how God expects His people to react to the death of spouses whenever it happens. May we live long to fulfil as much as God desires for us, and ultimately make heaven, come what may.
 

Unit III: Remaining Faithful Till The End    20 & 27 NOVEMBER 2011

After having lived a perfect human life, Jesus brought together the family of God. You can be part of this family by confessing your sins and accepting His lordship.  (PICTURE)

LESSON TEN
JESUS AND HIS FAMILY

MEMORY SCRIPTURE
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those  who believe in His name (John 1:11,12).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
A quick reference to division II A of this lesson would help a lot. He, here refers to Jesus the Living Word of God and the very embodiment and full revelation of the Godhead. He came from where? Heaven, of course! He came at the right time (cf. Gal. 4:4) and for a purpose to redeem and save humanity from Satan and the consequences of sin (Matt. 1:21). He came over 2000 years ago and chose to live among the Israelites according to prophecy (Mic. 5:2ff). He came first to His own. In a broader sense, His own refers to the entire humanity that He created and are by implication His own (Jn. 1:1-4). The whole humanity had rejected Him in the loins of Adam (Gen. 3:1ff) and brought untold damnation on the entire creation.
In a more specific sense, He came to the Jews, His own covenant people by the pact He sealed with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He came to these ones with the offer of redemption and salvation so that through them, the whole world would get to know Him. Sadly however, they wasted this opportunity by rejecting Him to the extent of organizing and supervising His unspeakable sufferings and ghastly death (unknown to them that it was an atoning death). They thought they had genuine reasons for this. By their own rating, He didn't meet their expectations of the Messiah.
By the Jewish standard then, the whole world was divided into the Jews (who had and knew God and His Law) and the Gentiles (who knew God not). When the Jews He initially visited rejected Him, He extended the offer to the once condemned Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:11ff), as many of them who would receive Him and believe in His name. To these ones He gave the right, power, authority, privilege to become God's own children, apple of His own eyes (Deut. 32:7ff; Zech. 2:8) along with as many as would accept Him even among the Jews, since He is for all. This is the experience of being born again into the family of God. Have you experienced this?

DAILY BIBLE READING
Mon.  14: Christ Would Come Through A Family (Isa. 7:10-14)
Tue.  15: Christ Would Live Among Humans (Isa. 7:15-17)
Wed.  16: Christ Would Come To Judge (Isa. 7:18-25)
Thur.  17: Christ Comes To Reign (Isa. 9:1-5)
Fri.  18: Christ Would Be Born Human (Isa. 9:6-7)
Sat.  19: Christ Would Come Into A Family (Mic. 5:1-5)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
i. Jesus came to bring up the family of God. You are a member of His family if you do His will.
ii. Yes! That is the very essence of His first advent. You are born into that family when you accept Him as your personal Lord and Saviour as well as become resolute to do only what pleases Him in His Word. Heaven is sure then for you.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Isaiah 42:1-4

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To show the attitude of Jesus to His earthly family as well as the family of God to challenge God's people towards meaningful living in God's house.

OBJECTIVES:  At the end of the lesson, the people of God should:
i. be able to discuss some lessons that God wants us to learn from His coming into and cooperation with His earthly family;
ii. have resolved whatever the conflicts may be with their spouses caused by non-cooperative attitudes on their parts;
iii. be able to discuss the leadership lessons from the steps our Lord Jesus took before selecting His first disciples, and their applications in the home front; and
iv. be able to better appreciate the immeasurability of the sacrifice Jesus made for God's family and how this should spur in us committed worship and service unto Him.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Luke 1, 2; John 1:1ff; Ephesians 2:10ff

The 9th lesson introduced us to the 3rd unit of this series. In its study, we rediscovered the reality of death at its appointed time in the marriage journey. We were reminded of how to deal with life when the death of a spouse occurs. May we live long to enjoy the goodness of God with our spouses, and may the Lord grant the widows/widowers the fortitude to live without their beloved spouses. Amen.
This new lesson x-rays Jesus' attitude to both His human and divine families. He actually came to the world through a family historically confirmed as those of His foster father, Joseph and His very human mother, Mary. He even had brothers and sisters among whom He lived for years before His death, resurrection and ascension to glory.
The purpose of His coming through human instruments came to the fore when He began gathering the prospective members of God's eternal and universal family for whom He eventually paid the ultimate price of His atoning death. Today we enjoy in His grace and glory.
Let us patiently unravel the challenges God has for us in this lesson.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF THE BOOKS:
I. The Gospel According To Saint Luke: Refer to lesson 2, Section *5  II 

II. The Gospel According To Saint John
This is the fourth Gospel in the N.T. AuthorShip:
At the end of this Gospel we are told that it was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20, 24), but unfortunately the book nowhere tells us who this disciple was. Evidence shows that the most probable identification is with the apostle John. He fills the place we would have expected John to fill from what we know from the other Gospels.
The Gospel appears to have been written by one who knew the Jews and the Palestine of Jesus' day well. He was familiar with Jewish messianic expectations (e.g., John 1:20-21; 4:25; 7:40-42; 12:34). He knew of the hostility between Jews and Samaritans (4:9) and the contempt the Pharisees had for “the people of the land” (7:49). He knew of the importance attached to the religious schools (verse 15). He knew the way the Sabbath was observed and was aware of the provision that the obligation to circumcise on the eighth day overrides the Sabbath regulations (verses 22-23). Throughout the Gospel he moved with certainty in the vast range of Jewish ideas and customs.
It is the same with topography. The writer mentioned many places, and his place-names all seem to be used correctly. He referred to Cana, a village not mentioned in any earlier literature known to us, which means that the reference almost certainly came from someone who actually knew the place. He located Bethany with some precision as about 15 stadia from Jerusalem (about 2 miles, or 3.2 kilometers, 11:18). He had several references to places in or near Jerusalem, such as Bethesda (5:2), Siloam (9:7), and the Kidron Valley (18:1). Of course, this does not rule out some contemporary of John's, but it makes it difficult to think of the author as a much later individual writing at a distance from Palestine. The evidence as we have it indicates that the writer was a Jew in the Palestine of Jesus' day.
To many careful readers, it seems that the Gospel bears the stamp of an eyewitness. For example, Jesus was teaching “in the treasury” (8:20). Nothing is made of the point; the incident could easily have been told without it. It looks like a reminiscence of someone who sees the scene in his mind's eye as he writes. The fact that the house was filled with fragrance when the woman broke the perfume jar (12:3) does not materially affect the account but is the kind of detail that one who was there would remember. The author noted that the loaves used in the feeding of the multitude were barley loaves (6:9) and that Jesus' tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top to bottom (19:23). He told us that the branches with which Jesus was greeted were palm branches (12:13), and that it was night when Judas went out (13:30). Such touches are found throughout the Gospel, and it seems unjustified to treat them as no more than an attempt to create verisimilitude. They seem much more like indications that the author was writing about events in which he had himself taken part.
The early church accepted Johannine authorship without question. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian all see the apostle as the author. The first to quote this Gospel by name was Theophilus of Antioch, about AD 180.
Those who object to Johannine authorship emphasize the differences between this Gospel and the Synoptics. The argument is that if Jesus was anything like the Christ portrayed by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he could not be like the Christ of the fourth Gospel. This is a completely subjective argument, ignoring the fact that any great man will appear differently to different people. The judgment of the church throughout the centuries has been that Jesus was large enough to inspire both portraits. To put the same point another way, we have no reason for holding that the first three Evangelists tell us all there is to know about Jesus. There is no contradiction. John simply brings out other aspects of Jesus' life and teachings.
While we cannot prove beyond all doubt that John the apostle was the author, we can say that there is more reason for holding to this view than to any other.

Date, Origin, And Destination:
It has been usual for conservatives and liberals alike to date this writing in the last decade of the first century or early in the second. Some liberal scholars have put it well into the second century, but this is not common, and it is remarkable that there has been such a considerable measure of agreement.
It is said that this Gospel is dependent on the Synoptics, which means that it must be dated sometime after them. But this argument has been widely abandoned in recent times. There is so much in John that is without parallel in the other three Gospels, and conversely so much in the other three that John might have used had he known it, that it is very difficult indeed to hold that this writer had any of the other Gospels before him when he wrote, or even that he had read them. Such resemblances as there are seem better explained by common use of oral tradition.
It is also argued that there is a very developed theology in John and that we must allow time for its development. Granted, the theology of this Gospel is profound, but this does not require that we must wait for it until the end of the first century. The theology of the Letter to the Romans is also profound, and there is no reason for dating that writing later than the 50s. On the ground of development, then, there is no reason for putting John later than Romans. Development is a slippery argument at best, for it usually takes place at uneven rates, and we have no means of knowing how fast it took place in the area where the author lived.
Other arguments for a late date are no more conclusive. For example, it is urged that the ecclesiastical system presupposed by the Gospel is too late for the time of the apostle John, and that the sacramental system of chapters 3 and 6 must have taken time to develop. But John does not mention any sacrament. It is true that many scholars think these chapters refer to baptism and the Lord's Supper, but the fact is that John mentions neither.
It is not surprising in view of the way the traditional arguments have crumbled away that many in recent times are arguing that John must have been written before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. If it were later, why does not John have some reference to it? Some of his language appears to be earlier. In 5:2 he says there “is” (not “was”) a pool called Bethesda. And he often refers to the Twelve as Jesus' disciples, or “his” disciples, or the like. In later times Christians usually said “the” disciples, for they saw no need to say whose the disciples were. But in the early days, when Christians were in contact with rabbis (each of whom had his disciples), it was important to show that Jesus' disciples were in mind. It is important also that John makes no reference to any of the synoptic Gospels. The simplest explanation is that he had not seen them. They were not yet widely circulated.
None of this enables us to date this Gospel with precision. But the weight of evidence points to an early date (before AD 70).The author was John the apostle, a Jew. However, the writing gives evidence of contact with Greek thought, for example, in the reference to Christ as “the Word” in chapter 1 and the translation of words like “rabbi” (1:38). It is almost universally held that such considerations compel us to see the work as originating in a center of Greek culture, and Ephesus has traditionally been favored. Before the end of the second century we have Irenaeus writing that John published the Gospel during his residence at Ephesus.
Some scholars point to similarities between John and the Odes of Solomon, which they think came from Syria. As there are also some resemblances in the language of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in the early second century, this is held to show that John was written in Syria, probably at Antioch. Others again think that Egypt was the place, and they support this by pointing out that the oldest fragment of a manuscript of this Gospel was found there. There is no real evidence, and we are left with probabilities. There is much to be said for accepting the evidence of Irenaeus and seeing Ephesus as the place of origin, but we can scarcely say more.
There is no real indication of the intended destination. From 20:31 we learn that the book was written that the readers might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, God's Son, and that by believing they might have life. The Gospel, then, has an evangelistic aim. But it is also possible that “believe” means “keep on believing”“go on in faith,” rather than “begin to believe.” That is to say, the book may have been meant from the beginning to build people up in the faith. Probably we should not distinguish between these aims too sharply. Both may well be in mind.

Background:
Several possible backgrounds to the Gospel have been suggested. The Greek interest is obvious, and this writing has sometimes been called the Gospel of the Hellenists. The suggestion is that we should look to Greek writings, perhaps the works of the philosophers or Philo of Alexandria, to find the right background against which to understand what John has written. This approach may be seen in the work of Rudolf Bultmann, who thought specifically of Gnosticism. Indeed, for Bultmann one of the sources of this Gospel was a discourse source that he thought was taken from non- Christian Gnosticism. Not many have been prepared to follow Bultmann, but a number of recent commentators have discerned some form of Gnosticism as the backdrop to John.
While such views are put forward seriously, there are some substantial objections. One is that, despite the confident assertions of some scholars, Gnosticism has never been shown to be earlier than Christianity. In the form in which it comes before us in history, it is a Christian heresy, and of course, the Christian faith must appear before a Christian heresy is possible. Another objection is that there is a basic difference between the two systems. Gnosticism is concerned with knowledge (the very word is derived from the Greek word gnosis, “knowledge”). Its “redeemer” is one who comes from heaven with knowledge. But John does not subscribe to the view that man is saved by knowledge. The Redeemer comes to take away the sin of the world (1:29). Gnosticism tells people that life is an upward struggle; Christianity tells of a Savior who came down to raise them up. It is not easy to see any form of Gnosticism as the essential background to Christianity.
Much more significant is John's Semitic background. Especially important here is the OT, accepted as sacred Scripture by Jew and Christian alike. It lies constantly behind John's statements, and it must be studied carefully if John is to be understood. It is plain that John knew and loved the Septuagint, the translation into Greek of the Hebrew OT. Again and again, the Septuagint can be shown to lie behind what John says.
In modern times important discoveries have been made at Qumran, in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. Among the scrolls unearthed in the caves of this area are several that have affinities with John. Indeed, one of the interesting facts about the scrolls is that they have more parallels with John than with any other part of the NT, a fact difficult to explain if John was written late and at a distance from Palestine. The resemblances to the Qumran writings must be viewed with care, for there is often a linguistic resemblance where the thinking is quite different. For example, both use the unusual expression “the Spirit of truth.” But where John means one of the persons of the Trinity, the scrolls speak of “a spirit of truth” and “a spirit of error” striving in the souls of people. The connection is real, but John is clearly not dependent on the scrolls for his thinking. The contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls is that they afford additional evidence that this Gospel is basically Palestinian and must be understood against a background of first-century Palestine.
Other backgrounds have been suggested, such as the Hermetic literature. This is a group of writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (“Hermes Thrice-greatest”), a designation of the Egyptian god Thoth. There are indeed some points of contact with John, but they are few in comparison with those of writings rooted in Palestine. It is difficult to take such suggestions seriously. John is essentially Palestinian.

Purpose And Theological Teaching:
The writer told us that Jesus did many “signs” (or miracles) that he had not recorded, but “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life” (John 20:31, NLT). John wrote to show that Jesus is the Messiah. But he did not do this simply with a view to conveying interesting information. He wanted his readers to see this knowledge as a challenge to faith; when they believe, they will have life. John sought to bring men and women to Christ; he had an evangelistic aim. That does not exhaust what he was trying to do, for his words have meaning for believers. It is important that believers have a right knowledge of Jesus and that they continue to believe.
The main theological teaching of this Gospel, then, is that God has sent his Messiah, Jesus. He is the very Son of God, and he comes to bring life (3:16). Though Jesus told the woman at the well that he was the Messiah, this is not often said so specifically. The avoidance of the term might well be because of the political overtones it had acquired among the Jews at large. They looked for a Messiah who would fight the Romans. He would defeat them and set up a mighty world empire with its capital in Jerusalem. Jesus was not aiming at anything like that, and it was important that he avoid the kind of language that would give that impression. But though the conventional messianic terminology is avoided, John left no doubt that Jesus was God's chosen one. Again and again he depicted Jesus as fulfilling messianic functions. For example, in the long discourse in chapter 6 we see Jesus as the bread from heaven, fulfilling the expectation that when Messiah came, he would renew the manna; and in the giving of sight to the blind man (chapter 9) we have another messianic function (cf. Isaiah 35:5).
With this greatness of Jesus, John also combined teaching about his lowliness. A continuing, though unobtrusive, strand of Johannine teaching is that Jesus depends on the Father for everything. Apart from the Father, Jesus said, he could do nothing (John 5:30). His very food is to do the Father's will (4:34). He lives through the Father (6:57). It is the Father who gives him his disciples (6:37, 44; 17:6). It is the Father who bears witness to him (5:32, 37). John insists that Jesus is in no sense independent of the Father. In the mission of Jesus, John sees the working out of the purpose of the Father.

III.  Pauls Letter To The Ephesians
 Ephesians is the 10th book of the New Testament.

Authorship Of The Book: 
i. Most scholars believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle.
ii. External evidence supports this view. All traditions take the epistle as being Pauline until it was first disputed by Erasmus (15th century) and by later 18th - 20th century critics. This tradition is unassailable in its unanimity.
iii. Marcion included it in his canon, although under the title of Laodiceans (c. AD 140)
iv. It was in the Muratorian Canon under the Epistles of Paul (c. AD 180)
v. It is under the Epistles of Paul in the earliest evidence from the Latin and Syriac versions
vi. It probably preceded the Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (AD 95) because of its development of thought.
vii. There are also internal evidences.  The scholars who questioned Pauline authenticity of this book have their arguments reasonably answeredthe book's self-claims (1:1; cf 2 Cor 10:1; Gal. 5:2, Col. 1:23); it's Pauline structure; Pauline language and literary affinities (1:22; 2:13,17; 4:25; 5:2; 6:1-3; cf. 1 Cor. 3:9); theological affinities; and historical data.

Recipients Of The Epistle: 
i. Most probably Ephesus, although it may have been a circular letter to  the churches of Asia Minor with Ephesus as the primary church  addressed.
ii. However, tradition has handed down the letter as one sent to the Ephesian church.
iii. But modern criticism has strongly disputed Ephesus as the destination.
iv. In any way, it is most probable that Paul wrote the letter as a circular letter to all of the churches of Asia, but it came to be generally known as the letter to the Ephesians earlier on because Ephesus was the major city of Asia. 
v. Or in another way, we can say the letter was written and addressed to the Ephesians even though Paul wrote it in a form which would make it suitable for other churches.  It was intended to be circulated.

The City of Ephesus:
i. The City of Ephesus can be seen to be of special significance to the   Christian ministry.
ii. It was a bustling town on many trade routes, with 230 independent communities surrounding it.
iii. The strength of the Ephesian church led to missionaries going out to the surrounding districts with the word of God, not to mention the travellers who passed through the town, who heard the Word of God and brought it home with them.
iv. Ephesus was probably also the gateway for the gospel to the six other churches mentioned in the opening of Revelation (Rev. 2-3).

Paul and the Church in Ephesus:
i. The church in Ephesus was started by Paul whilst returning from his  2nd missionary journey (around 53 AD).
ii. He only stayed briefly, reasoning with the Jewish leaders of the town while he was there, but left Priscilla and Aquila (Jewish converts from the Church in Corinth) behind to encourage the Ephesians in their growth.
iii. He left, promising to return if it was the Lord's will. (Acts 18:18-21).
iv. Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey (54-58 AD) saw his return to Ephesus where he stayed for about three years, building on the work of Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila.
v. He initially approached the Jews there with the gospel but had to move the discussions to the lecture hall of Tyrannus because of their opposition, where he stayed successfully for about two years (Acts 19:1-19).
vi. At the end of this period, Demetrius the silversmith led a riot in Ephesus attempting to get rid of the young church there, for its teaching on one true God was harming his business (making idols) (Acts 19:23-20:1). This trouble that ensued made Paul to bid farewell to the elders of the church, charging them also with its leadership (Acts 20:17-35).
vii. Paul never visited Ephesus again. However, thank God he wrote!
 Circumstances of Writing:
i. In the latter part of Paul's life, he was imprisoned several times for his Christian witness.
ii. It seems most likely that the Letter to the Ephesians was written from prison in Rome in the early 60's AD.
iii. Whilst in prison, he had the freedom to receive friends and dispatch letters; so when he learned of a growing heresy in Colossae he wrote the letter to the Colossians, dispatching it with Tychicus and Onesimus, who also carried with it the Letter to Philemon and possibly the Letter to the Ephesians.
iv. This is significant to help explain the differences and similarities between the Letter to the Ephesians and the Letter to the Colossians.
v. The Colossian-bound letter deals with many similar issues as the Ephesus-bound letter, but has explicit references to the Colossians (e.g. Col. 1:3-14), whereas the Ephesian letter lacks any personal references to the recipientseven the opening "To the saints in Ephesus" (1:1) is disputed.

Date And Place Of Writing: 
i. The letter was most likely written early in Paul's first Roman  imprisonment (around 60-62 AD).
ii. Since Clement of Rome cites Ephesians, it must be dated earlier than AD 95.
iii. Paul identifies himself as a prisoner at the time of writing Ephesians (3:1; 4:1; 6:20) and tradition has it that he wrote a group of epistles called the "Prison Epistles" at the time of his imprisonment in Rome.
iv. Its close association to Colossians-Philemon and the probability that Tychicus delivered both letters (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9) and proofs of this dating.

Content:
 The issues Paul addressed in Ephesians can be clearly seen to be rising above the directions and warnings associated with combating heresy as is common in his other letters - Ephesians is a very positive letter spelling out Paul's view of the unity of the Church under Christ and the way Christians should relate to one another in view of this and under God's plan.
• 1:1-2: Opening address.
• 1:3-14: Praise to God for His sovereign choice and the blessings that   Christ offers.
• 1:15-23: Paul's Intercession for the Ephesians.
• 2:1-10: The Good News of Christ.
• 2:11-3:13: The Implications of The Gospel.
• 3:14-21: Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians.
• 4:1-16: Exhortation to be godly and unified in the Spirit and in the   faith and knowledge of the Son of God.
• 4:17-5:21: Exhortation to live as children of light.
• 5:22-6:5-9: Guidance for Christian household.
• 6:10-20: Exhortation for the Christian to be strong in the Lord.
• 6:21-24: Concluding remarks.

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This lesson is divided into two separately but interdependent sections. Each of these is further divided into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Reared In A Human Family:
 Division I focuses on Jesus and His earthly human familyhow He came into them, and what He did among them. It reminds the readers how Jesus divinely and miraculously joined the betrothed family of the pious Joseph and the then virgin Mary. It continues in the second aspect to show us how He cooperated with His human parents despite that they were His own handiwork. We have a lot to learn from our great Master for success in our families.

DIVISION II - Raised The Family Of God:
 How Jesus raised and established the family of God is the target of this division. He searched for them after 40 days of rigorous fasting and prayer, He trained them for the task ahead, and laid down His life for that family of God to empower them then and our own generation today for meaningful service. God bless us as we study. Amen.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. REARED IN A HUMAN FAMILY
A.  Came Into A Human Family
B.  Cooperated With His Family
II. RAISED THE FAMILY OF GOD
A. Searched Out His Own
B. Sacrificed For His Family

I. REARED IN A HUMAN FAMILY (Luke 1, 2)
 Who is Jesus? The Word of God who became man to bring God to us so that we can be saved from the power of Satan, sin and death. He is the perfect image of God revealing to us who God expects us to be. What a mystery! God becoming man! May He grant us the understanding to grasp this and live by it appropriately. Amen.
A. Came Into A Human Family (Lk. 1:26ff; 2:1-24)
 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (2:7).
i. 1:26ff: The O.T. is replete with promises of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mic. 5:1ff). When the fullness of time came, He made the announcement to the virgin betrothed Mary.
ii. vv. 39-44: She had been told that the coming upon her of the Spirit (cf. Gen. 1:2b) and the overshadowing by God's power would bring about the conception (v. 35). That Mary carried baby Jesus in her womb shows that He had a human mother.
iii. 2:1-7: Historians agree with vv. 1-3. This witnesses to the fact that Jesus was actually born of a human mother and taken up by the foster father, Joseph from the tribe of Judah.
iv. vv. 21-24: Jesus was presented in the temple and circumcised according to the Jewish law; He came into a Jewish family. No man ever lives without linkage to a specific family. Do you recognize yours?
v. There would have been unresolved controversies concerning the humanity of Jesus had it been only the Bible recorded it. Conversely, even the secular historians and the Qur'an as well as so many other so called 'holy books' attest to the humanity of Jesus. He came and lived with a family. The family later testified to His untarnished image. What are your family members spouse, children, relatives saying about you now, and what would they say about you after your demise?

B. Cooperated With His Family (2:39ff)
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart (v. 51).
i. vv. 39-40: If Jesus, despite being God in man chose to remain in the care of and submit to human parents, who is any child to be disobedient to the parents? (Exo. 20:12).
ii. vv. 41,42: Jesus was just 12 at this time. He obediently followed His parents to worship God in Jerusalem. He cooperated with His parents for spiritual development.
iii. v. 51: After the reunion with His parents who mistakenly left Him behind (vv. 43ff), He humbly chose to follow the parents. Most children don't have anything upstairs or inside before they become unmanageable for their parents (cf. Exo. 21:15,17).
iv. Jesus stayed under the tutelage of His parents from age 12 to 30 before His manifestation. He would have helped them with chores, carpentry etc. He listened and obeyed their instructions.
v. v. 52: No wonder He kept increasing spiritually, psychologically, physically and otherwise (cf. Eph. 6:1-3).
vi. God who instituted the family setting does not encourage dissidents (cf. Deut. 21:18ff). There'll continue to be problems in any family where the members are uncooperative in their attitudes. Divided, the family falls. If Jesus cooperated with His human family despite being initially misunderstood, who are you to become unnecessarily stubborn to your parents for whatever reasons?

LESSONS DERIVED
1. If Jesus, God-incarnate could come through and remain under the tutelage of His parents, who are you not to respect your parents?
2. Any child who duly regards his/her parents stands to benefit a lot.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
To what level should a child get to that he/she would begin to treat his/her parents with less respect or even disdain?

II. RAISED THE FAMILY OF GOD (John 1:1ff; Ephesians 2:10ff)
 After Jesus had demonstrated to us what our attitudes should be towards our human family members (Christians and non-Christians), He launched into the very spiritual aspect of His coming the inauguration of God's family in a more formal way in preparation for the eternal stay with Him in heaven.
A. Searched Out His Own (Jn. 1:1ff)
 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (vv. 11,12).
i. vv. 1-9: The very essence of the Godhead became flesh (vv. 14-18) at the appointed time (Gal. 4:4) and for a purpose (Lk. 19:10).
ii. vv. 10,11: In the process of searching for the prospective members of God's family (cf. Lk. 19:10), He first visited those through whom He came (the Jews), who rejected Him for obvious reasons.
iii. vv. 12,13: From there, He expanded the scope of His search to include the gentiles; only those who would accept Him as the true Messiah and be reborn by the washing of His blood (cf. Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5).
iv. vv. 35ff: He immediately began this after a 40-day fasting and prayer by first calling those who would be with Him before being sent out to bring in others to the family (cf. Matt. 4:1ff; Mk. 3:13-19). He was laying the foundation (cf. Eph. 2:19-22).
v. Observe that Jesus did not rush into calling His disciples. We should learn from this that no decision should be taken in our homes without due consultation with God in prayer, guided by the unchanging eternal principles of His Word. Only then can we be sure of His support and provisions in every area.

B. Sacrificed For His Family (Eph. 2:10ff)
 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (v.19).
i. v. 10: God's plan is to separate His own family from the families of the world like He brought Abraham from Ur. Every sinner is a prospective member of God's family.
ii. vv. 12,13: We all were once cut off from His Household because of sin (cf. Gen. 3:1ff), but Christ came in the form of man and through a family to bring us into God's family. How?
iii. vv. 14-18: By His sacrificial and atoning death and resurrection, He abolished the restraining ordinances and reconciled both the Jews and gentiles into the family of God called the Church. Are you truly a member of that family?
iv. vv. 19-22: Having laid the solid foundation by His ultimate sacrifice (v. 20), He makes everyone who accepts His Lordship (cf. Jn. 1:12,13) members of God's household as He gradually builds us towards His everlasting home in heaven.
v. Every member of the family is expected to sacrifice one thing or the other for the sake of the continued existence of the family. The husband/father sacrifices his personality and resources for his home, the wife sacrifices her ego and resources to submit and keep the home intact. The children too make a lot of sacrifices while still young and when they become old for the sake of the family. How much are you ready to sacrifice to make your family what God intends it to be?

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Jesus is still searching for prospective members of His eternal family, but many are still rejecting His offer. Have you accepted Him?
2. The ultimate sacrifice Christ paid for His family challenges Christian families to duly demonstrate sacrificial love.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question: To what level should a child get to that he/she would begin to treat his/her parents with less respect or even disdain?

Answer: 
i. Honestly, there is no level, age or status in life that a child should reach and become arrogant to the parents.
ii. Jesus is our perfect example. He is God-incarnate. Yet, He chose to respect and obey His human parents despite the fact that He created them.
iii. Even on the cross while dying, He still thought in a way of how His mother would cope after His death. He handed her over to John the beloved whom He charged with the responsibility of ensuring her well-being.
iv. God Himself does not take rebellion among children in a light mood (Deut. 21:18ff). He commands that they be stoned to death in the O.T. In the N.T., even if they are not stoned to death, nemesis has a way of catching up with such rebellious children.
v. No child should feel too big for the parents' correction and admonition. The child can never be as experienced as the parents.
vi. The child who treats the parents with disregard or disdain stands at the risk of being cursed by the parents and God Himself.
vii. God gives no room for any child, no matter how highly placed, to disrespect the parents (I kg. 2:19,20).

QUESTIONS
1. What do you learn from the fact that Jesus, despite being the embodiment of the Godhead, humbled Himself to be born and reared by His mere creatures?
2. How did Jesus raise the family of God?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1: What do you learn from the fact that Jesus, despite being the embodiment of the Godhead, humbled Himself to be born and reared by His mere creatures?

Answer: 
i. Refer to the body of the text.
ii. The fact that Jesus, despite being the embodiment of the Godhead, humbled Himself to be born and reared by His mere creatures, teaches total humility on the parts of the children.
iii. As earlier said in the suggested answer to work to do, it is absolutely wrong for any child to grow too big for the parents to guide, direct and correct.
iv. Jesus has by His example taught us humility and submission to our parents no matter what level or status we may have attained in life.

Question 2: How did Jesus raise the family of God?
Answer: 
i. Refer to division II.
ii. He first of all came to search out His own.
iii. He was given birth to as a man by a human mother, though without the intercourse of a man.
iv. He grew up among those He had chosen from among the nations of the world thousand years ago to launch out His salvation plans though, yet, His own rejected His personality and power because of their ignorance and pride.
v. He launched out to both the Jews and the Gentiles, and from them brought together His first disciples who were to work with Him in bringing more people into God's family (cf. Mk. 3:14).
vi. As He continued calling people into the family of God, He soon paid the ultimate price to seal the covenant of redemption and salvation between God and as many as would care to accept His offer (cf. Jn. 1:12).
vii. From that time, the family of God (the Church) has continued to swell from generation to generation, and it would continue so until the return of our Lord and Master, Jesus.


READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEK
Mon.  21: Christ Comes To Form God's Household (Isa. 11:1-9)
Tue.  22: Christ, The Root Of God's Family (Isa. 11:10-16)
Wed.  23: Christ Called His Would-Be Co-Searchers (Mk. 3:7-19)
Thur.  24: Christ Gave His Co-Searchers An Assignment (Lk. 10:1-24)
Fri.  25: Christ Commissioned His Co-Searchers (Mk. 16:14-18)
Sat.  26: Christ Empowers His Co-Searchers (Acts 1:1  2:41)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 It is not uncommon today to find children who at a point or the other in their lives feel too big for their parents. They shun the parents and do all sorts of disrespectful things to them because they think they have become 'big' in life. What about children who tell their parents to leave them alone when they offer relevant pieces of advice or correction, claiming that such parents are 'old-school'? These are some of the ills in our society and sometimes among so-called Christian children who are more of churchgoers. Jesus is our standard. May His attitudes towards His human parents here on earth not stand to condemn us on the last day. Amen.

*10. CONCLUSION:
God has helped us to complete the tenth lesson. As we prepare for the eleventh, let us not forget how Jesus related with His earthly human parents. He gave them the due respect despite being their Lord and creator. Let us not also forget that He also came to establish the family of God in a very formal way in preparation for the eternity with Him. The lessons from these facts are meant to solidify our families in the body of Christ. May these lessons not be our condemnation, in Jesus' name. Amen.


 

Unit III: Remaining Faithful Till The End    04 & 11 DECEMBER 2011-05-31

The marriage supper of the Lamb of God is at hand. Are you earnestly  waiting for Him? (PICTURE)

LESSON ELEVEN

WAITING FOR THE LAMB’S WEDDING

MEMORY SCRIPTURE:   Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. (Revelations 19:7).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
Please refer to division I A of this lesson for comments on our memory scripture. According to the divine agenda and eternal order of events, we should be expecting the rapture anytime from now. After the rapture comes the momentous event of the marriage of the Lamb. Note that the emphasis is on the Lamb, the same Lamb of God who has come to take away our sins once and for all (Jn. 1:29) and not the bride (not the marriage of the bride). He is the focus, the One being honoured. He had paid the price, sown the seed, made the sacrifice that culminated in His alarming but atoning death on Calvary. Expectedly, sown seeds germinate to bring forth fruits in the end. His ultimate sacrifice resulted in the establishment of the Church. His death has brought so many children unto God in the Church.
His wife is the Church (the universal body of as many as accept His lordship without reservations) whom He has redeemed by His precious blood (1 Cor. 6:20). Imagine the number of men and women, boys and girls who are being added to this glorious body day after day (cf. Acts 2:47)those who have gone before us to be with Him, those of us who have been born again now, and those who are still going to be born again, born or yet to be born. We are altogether being prepared by salvation and sanctification, being made ready and presentable on that day. Are you ready?
Why would there not be great gladness and rejoicing in heaven (hence the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb)? After all, the devil lost the battle of the souls of the true members of the Church who remain faithful to the end. For this reason and because He, Christ the Son of the Living God, is the centre of the whole show (the One who reconciled man to God), both the heavens and the earth must come together to celebrate the harvest from the ultimate seed He sowed over 2000 years ago. Would you be there to celebrate Him? Start preparing now!

DAILY BIBLE READING
Mon. Nov.  28: Signs Would Precede His Coming (Mt. 24: 1-3)
Tue.    “  29: See That None Deceives You (Mt. 24:4,5)
Wed.   “  30: See That You Are Not Troubled (Mt. 24:6-8)
Thur. Dec.  1: Stand For Christ To The End (Mt. 24: 9-13)
Fri.     “  2: Spread Our King’s Invitation (Mt. 24:14)
Sat.  “  3: Sensitivity Is Needed (Mt. 24:15-28)

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT
i. Jesus has paid the price for His bride. His cleansed and faithful betrothed are not tired of waiting for Him.
ii. There was, in most cases during the N.T. times, a period of staying apart after a young man and a young woman become engaged. The bridegroom went ahead to prepare a place for his bride in his father's house while the bride kept preparing herself for her new home. This is a picture of what is presently spiritually happening between Christ and His bride (the Church) who are patiently waiting for His return for them.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: 2 Corinthians 11:1,2

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To rekindle the interests of God's people in the second coming of our Lord and the events to follow so much that everyone is doing everything possible to be relevant at His appearance.

OBJECTIVES: At the end of the lesson, the readers should be:
i. able to discuss how the Church is the bride of Christ;
ii. able to discuss the blessedness of making it to the Lamb's wedding feast;
iii. able to describe the nature of the return of Christ the Lamb of God for His bride, the Church and what the union would be; and
iv. be showing more determination to make heaven regardless of the odds.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Revelations 19:1ff

We were graphically reminded of Jesus' attitude to both His human and spiritual families in the previous lesson. He is our perfect example, and we should follow His holy footsteps (cf. Eph. 5:22ff).
Here we are in the eleventh lesson in this series as we move gradually to the end of the series. The challenge is: how far have you been putting into practice the eternally relevant lessons we have so far been privileged to gather from the Throne of Mercy?
In this lesson, God would be giving us the grace to understand the concept of the marriage of the Lamb of God. We would be seeing the saints in every generation as the betrothed of Christ, His expected Bride. This bride must however prepare themselves for the coming of the Bridegroom whose arrival time is unknown.
The arrival of our Bridegroom however, would be glorious. He is coming to permanently and totally vanquish our arch-enemy, the devil, so that He can eternally consummate His marriage with His bride undisturbed.
Blessed therefore are those who would take this lesson and daily get themselves prepared to be reunited with the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF REVELATION:
 The book of Revelation is the last book but not the least of the Bible.  In the scholarly circles, it is categorizeds as one of the Apocalyptic books and infact the major revelational record that grants us a deeper understanding of the subject of eschatology  the study of the last things; things to happen towards the end of this age.

Authorship:
i. The author identifies himself as John the servant of Jesus and companion of the suffering Christian brethren who were obviously the target audience of the book (1:1,9; 4:9; 22:8).
ii. John was in exile on the Island of Patmos, off the west coast of Asia Minor.  He caught the vision of the glory of God while worshipping on that island of adversity (Rev. 1:10ff).
iii. He wrote what he heard and saw as revealed by Jesus Christ (1:1,2,19; 22:8).
iv. He is also classified as one of the prophets (22:9; cf 10:11) and his book as prophecy (1:3; 22:7).
v. Nowhere does he indicate in this book that he was an apostle, only that he refers to the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” (cf. 21:14).
vi. The Christian tradition especially the conservative agreed that John was the son of Zebedee, an Apostle.
vii. All that is said about John the Apostle do not contradict the evidence of the Scripture except that he was not the author; Christ Jesus (Isa. 1:4-8;11a).
 
The Destination of the Letter:
John mentions that he writes to the Seven Churches of Asia (1:4).  Also his presentation of messages to the seven churches identifies the place where each church is situated.  The churches are in order:
1. Ephesus
2. Smyrna
3. Pergamum
4. Thyatira
5. Sardis
6. Philadelphia
7. Laodicea.
The most part of the churches were established by the scattered persecuted Christian Greek speaking Jews.  For example, Paul evangelized the city of Ephesus which is the first of the seven churches.  But other churches were likely established by unknown disciples, either through Paul's evangelistic campaigns in these Asia minor cities up to Pontus as mentioned by Peter (I Peter 1:1), or directly by the scattered Christians from Jerusalem (Acts. 8:1ff).  Also, this might be the reason why Peter mentions Paul in His admonition to the scattered Jewish and Gentile Christians (2 Pet.  3:15,16).

Date of Writing and Place:
The date of writing depends on the period classified as the time of persecution to the Christians.  The first choice is Emperor Nero's reign A.D. 54-68 before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  The second choice falls in to the latter part of Emperor Domintian's reign (81-96) but most sholars agreed on A.D. 95.
The place of writing is the Island of Patmos, a dangerous Island lying some 35 miles off the South Western coast of Asia Minor at 37 20' N26' 34' E.  To this Island John was banished, evidently for some months at about A.D. 95 (1:9).
The Island is about 8 miles long, with a breadth of up to 4 miles, and it has been suggested that the scenery of its rugged volvanic hills and surrounding seas find their reflection in the imagery of the Apocalypse.  The Island now belong to Greece.

Criticism on Authorship and Date:  An Africa Bishop of Alexandria “Dionysius” who lived in the third Century and wrote in 260 A.D. compared the language style and thought of the Apocalypse with the other writings believed to have been written by John the Apostle.  In his evaluation and conclusion, in the sense that there is no similarity between them.
Therefore he suggested that the author could be a certain John, the presbyter, “whose name appears elsewhere in ancient writings”.
Although Dionysius' view of the authorship of Revelation has been accepted by many, the external evidence for the support of the traditional view is overwhelming and undefeated, hence the authenticity of the view of the conservative scholars.

*6. INTRODUCATION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This is the eleventh lesson in this series. It is a two-division lesson like the previous ones. Each of its two divisions is broken down into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - The Bride Is Being Prepared:
 Division I discusses Rev. 19:1-10. It brings to fore the level of preparedness the Lord expects His bride, the Church to have attained before His arrival for us. In the first part, it shows how the Church is getting ready for her Lord. In the second part, it discusses the blessedness of being invited to the Lamb's wedding feast. May we not be left behind on that day. Amen.

DIVISION II - The Groom Would  Soon  Return:
 Division II exposes the remaining verses of Rev. 19 coupled with the 21st chapter. In it, we are challenged to be expecting the return of our Groom soon. The first part is a description of the magnificence of His return based on biblical revelation. The second part discusses how glorious the union of Christ and the Church would be in eternity. This is thus a lesson worth studying.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. THE BRIDE IS BEING PREPARED
A.  The Bride Is Getting Read
B.  Blessed Are The Invited
II. THE GROOM WOULD  SOON  RETURN
 A. The Magnificent Return
 B. The Eternal Union

LESSON EXPOSTION
I. THE BRIDE IS BEING PREPARED (Revelations 19:1ff)
 Preparation determines presentation/manifestation. The level of physical, emotional, psychological, vocational, spiritual etc preparations of the bride even in human marriage tells when the actual marriage takes off. No wonder our Lord's unreserved emphasis on our preparation for the glorious home He has gone to prepare for us.
A. The Bride Is Getting Ready (vv. 1-7)
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (v. 7).
i. vv. 1-5: The real husband does everything to defend his family from both external and internal aggressions. We have the joyous hope that Jesus, our great Bridegroom is coming to vanquish Satan and his forces for the sake of His Bride.
ii. The prospect of this total victory that would eventually pave way for the faithful to be eternally united to Christ, our husband should regularly make us shout Alleluia unto Him.
iii. vv. 6,7: The Bride of Christ, comprising the Church and the O.T. saints, have every cause to rejoice in anticipation of the marriage of the Lamb of God who has finally taken our sins and guilt. Do you have that joy of salvation?
iv. Jesus is the spotless sacrificial Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6; cf. Exo. 12:21). He is the Son of God who has paid the bride price of the saints--His precious blood, by which we become His betrothed.
v. v. 7b: Rejoicing is not enough. The betrothed of Christ are those who make themselves ready day by day for His coming in His Word, prayer and holiness, and by His blood (cf. Matt. 24:33-51; 2 Cor. 11:2).
vi.  The engagement period that elapsed between the betrothal and marriage ceremony was never taken lightly among the Jews. During this time, the young groom prepared a place in his father's house for his bride. The bride also got herself prepared for married life. Despite the binding nature of this agreement however, the bride could be divorced if found guilty of infidelity (cf. Matt. 1:18-25).
vii. We have been betrothed to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). We are in the period of engagement to Him when He is up there preparing a place for us in His Father's house (Jn. 14:1-4) while we keep preparing for His second advent. We must however beware lest we become guilty of infidelity (1 Cor. 10:11); no romance with the devil and his ways, lest we be divorced by our good Lord (cf. Lk. 16:13).

B. Blessed Are The Invited (vv. 8-)
 Then he said to me, “Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God” (v. 9).
i. vv. 8,9: The 'bride' of v. 7 are also the ones referred to as those who are called... (v. 9). They are the faithful who would join Christ forever.
ii. They include as many as would remain faithful to God in the O.T., and the Church as well as the martyred dead of the Tribulation. They have the fine linen of Christ's righteousness; not self-righteousness (cf. Isa. 64:6,7; Rom. 3:21-30).
iii. v. 9: They are those to be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Both the dead and living of the saints would be transformed at the sound of the trump of God inviting them to the supper (1 Thes. 4:13ff).
iv. They are the eternally blessed. John's readers were passing through a period of persecution. The true sayings of God include that whatever we may be passing through now, as long as we have committed our lives to Jesus, we are blessed, i.e. we are happy because we are laughing last.
v. Being present at and participating in/partaking of the Lamb's wedding feast would be strictly by divine invitation to as many as have taken and are taking the pains to live above every form of reproach according to the standard of the Bible. Are you sure of being one of such yet?

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Those who have given their lives to Jesus here on earth are His betrothed He  is  coming  for very soon.
2. It is no light matter to be invited to the Lamb's wedding feast. We must daily prepare ourselves to meet His standard.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
What can we do as the body of Christ to prepare ourselves individually and corporately for the second coming of the Groom of the Church?

II. THE GROOM WOULD SOON RETURN (John 1:1ff; Ephesians 2:10ff)
 The journey of a thousand miles ends some day. The seeming delay notwithstanding, our Lord would return for His own one day according to the divine agenda. A peep into how glorious this would be should be enough to turn our eyes from the ephemeral things of this world and steadfastly focus our attention on Him alone (cf. Col. 3:1ff).
A. The Magnificent Return (19:11ff)
 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war (v. 11).
i. V. 11: Just like in the case of the parable of the 10 virgins, the Bride of Christ must keep expecting the coming of the King of kings and the Lord of all (cf. Acts 1:9-11).
ii. vv. 11ff: Here is a magnificent description of the great Husband of the saints of God coming in His faithfulness, truth and righteousness to judge the world and establish His eternal reign with His sanctified bride.
iii. v. 12: He gloriously adorns kingly crowns different from the victors' crowns of the elders (cf. 4:4).
iv. vv. 13ff: His weapons include His precious blood and His Word (the sharp sword) (cf. 12:11) with which He would judge and rule.
v. v. 14: The arrival of the bridegroom is always accompanied by friends. Our great Bridegroom would return with the armies of heaven, clothed in His righteousness and holiness.
i. It is a glorious feast of all the saints of God. There will be no need for food anyway since we will be in our spiritual state.
vii. The length of the engagement period notwithstanding, it is customary among the Jews for the groom with his friends dressed in their finest clothes on the wedding day go to the home of the bride's father. Together the couple return to the groom's house with their friends singing and dancing their way back to the house. Our Lord Jesus would soon return in His indescribable glory to take His Church to Himself. Would you be there?

B. The Eternal Union (21:1ff)
 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it (v. 24).
i. After the wedding feast comes the actual marriage consummation. Jesus our Husband has gone to prepare His Father's house for us (Jn. 14:1-4). He promised to return so that we can be with Him yonder.
ii. vv. 1ff: Here we see a vivid description of the eternal home where we hope to consummate the marriage eternally with Him.
iii. vv. 22-24: Our Husband would be our glory there. He would cover us with the inexplicable illumination of His glorious light.
iv. v. 25: The husband ensures the security of his home. Jesus would be our impeccable security there against the increasing level of insecurity in our world today. What a relief!
v. v. 26: Finally, no bastard (cf. 1 Jn. 3:4ff), i.e. anyone not registered as member of the Bride of Christ, can smuggle himself inside. It is better to reconcile with Him now!
vi. Please do everything possible within the limits of the Bible to make sure you do not miss this glorious union with the unfathomable Prince of Peace. What an inexplicable disaster/accident to be thrown out of that glory! It is better imagined than experienced. Make peace with Him now!!!

LESSONS DERIVED
1. Jesus our Bridegroom is awesomely coming to judge the unrepentant, and gloriously establish His reign with His holy bride.
2. A glimpse of the heavenly home our Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for us is enough to spur us towards holy living at all cost.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question 1: What can we do as the body of Christ to prepare ourselves individually and corporately for the second coming of the Groom of the Church?

Answer: 
i. Churches should come up with quality programmes that would regularly focus the attention of God's people on the things of God and heaven.
ii. God's people should regularly be encouraged not to forsake the assembly of the brethren (Heb. 10:25) since therein lies strength for moving on (cf. Prov. 27:17).
iii. Enough of this so-called prosperity gospel that is killing the true essence of our relationship with God. Our churches should be saturated with teachings that would make the members become really mature (Eph. 4:11ff).
iv. Churches must uphold discipline among their members. The erring ones should be corrected in love and brought back from the devil's grip.
v. Each of us as Christians should make personal study of the Bible and prayer relationship with God a must on daily basis.
vi. Holiness should be a non-negotiable character among everyone of us, individually and corporately.

QUESTIONS
1. What do you understand by the marriage supper of the Lamb?
2. Where are we consummating our mysterious 'marriage' union with our Lord Jesus Christ?

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1: What do you understand by the marriage supper of the Lamb?

Answer: 
i. A recap of the main text of this lesson would help a lot.
ii. The marriage supper of the Lamb is the next major apocalyptic event being expected in the universe.
iii. This said marriage supper is not too clearly defined in the Scriptures. However, let's see the scenario in which it is spoken of:
1. after the seven seals have been broken (Rev. 6:1-17, 8:1);
2. six of the trumpets blown (8:1-9:13);
3. two woes past (9:12, 11:14);
4. the secular beast and the religious beast have begun reigning in the earth (13:1-18);
5. the seven bowls of wrath have been poured out (16:2-17); and
6. Babylon has fallen with the great harlot receiving her judgement (17:1-18:24).
7. comes the marriage supper of the Lamb(19:1ff) after which our Lord Jesus returns to make war  with the beast (19:11-16).
iv. This great supper of God also appears in Ezekiel where it is called God's sacrifice (39:17-24).
v. We know that it is a time when the Lord Jesus would receive the Church and the saved O.T. saints as His well prepared bride, a bride that He has been preparing for a long time.
vi. To take it literally may not be the best interpretation. Our Lord knows best how He would hold this spiritually. When we get there, we would get to understand it better.
vii. Meanwhile, while we await the coming of our bride, let us get ourselves ready in His holiness.

Question 2: Where are we consummating our mysterious 'marriage' union with our Lord Jesus     Christ?

Answer: 
i. After the marriage supper comes the actual consummation of the marriage. This is not untrue of the relationship between Jesus and the body of O.T. and N.T. saints.
ii. After the period of the marriage supper in the 'sky', the marriage union between Jesus and His bride would be consummated. How and where?
iii. The Lord Jesus after vanquishing the devil, sin and his cohorts would take His bride totally to Himself in the new heaven and earth. There and eternally He would consummate the marriage union with us in His glorious light.
May we not miss this great opportunity, and may we find the grace to stand in His holiness until His second coming.

READING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEKS
Mon.  5: Prepare For God's Son's Wedding (Matt. 25:1,2)
Tue.   6: Push Aside All Distractions (Matt. 25:3-5)
Wed.  7: Pride Goes Before Destruction (Matt. 25:6,7)
Thur.  8: Promptly Respond To God's Call (Matt. 25:8-10)
Fri.   9: Pain Awaits The Unworthy (Matt. 25:11-13)
Sat.   10: Prepare To Be The Chosen (Matt. 25:14)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 God has given us the institution of marriage to understand the kind of eternal relationship He desires with as many as would accept His Lordship in Christ Jesus. He who finds it difficult to understand the human concept of marriage may find it embarrassingly difficult to understand our union with Christ. By the time Christ returns at the rapture, may we not be caught unawares and unprepared for the glorious reunion with the only One who redeemed and saved our souls from guilt, damnation and the pit of hell. Amen.

*10. CONCLUSION:
 As we approach the end of this Sunday School series, we have just concluded the eleventh lesson. By now, every reader should have had a better grasp of the biblical teaching on the expected wedding super of the Lamb of God according to divine agenda. We should have also known from a better perspective what our preparations should be towards the Lord's return. We have also peeped into the glamour of His return as He would be heralded by the hosts of heaven. What a glorious hope!

Unit III: Remaining Faithful Till The End     18 & 25 DECEMBER 2011

We know what we are now and here, but what an unspeakable joy to be in God’s holy light forever! Are you preparing for this? (PICTURE)

LESSON TWELVE

HAPPY FAMILY, NOW AND FOREVER

Memory Scripture
nd I heard a loud voice from heaven saying “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, God Himself will be with them and be their God (Revelations 21:4).

*1. BRIEF COMMENT:
The present world is corrupt and due for destruction in not too long a time. This is because man had sold his soul to the devil who has by this established his hell-bound family here among men. This singular act has brought terrible damnation on this present world, hence the prospect of a new heaven and a new earth as one of the anticipated and Bible-confirmed apocalyptic events. After the final destruction of the devil and his own condemned family of God's enemies, the next event is the renewal of all things (Rev. 21:1ff).

A basic characteristic of the New Jerusalem housing the very holy blood-washed family of God is the permanent, total and eternal presence of God symbolized by tabernacle of God (v. 3). During the about 40-year wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness, the tabernacle played a very significant role in the life of God's people. It stood at the very centre of the camp of the people signifying the overwhelming presence of God. That Presence gave them light in the night and shield in the day. This is the original plan of God when He established Eden (meaning bliss or delight). He desired fellowship with man. Man, in the original sinless state, was God's close confidant, in fact, a member of His eternal holy family. No thanks to the devil and sin that dented this coveted relationship.

It is however great to discover from our memory scripture that in the new heaven and earth, that lightening and protective presence of God would be restored to all who make it to that heaven. As many as accept Jesus wholeheartedly would by then have Him as the eternal head of the family so much that He would continually dwell with them as His own people. His powerful presence would put total end to all pains and tears (v. 4). What a great prospect! It challenges us all to do everything within the confines of His holy Word to make sure we make it to that holy convocation of His eternal family. May we find His help. Amen.

DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Mon. 12: Do Not Be Troubled (John 14:1)
Tue.  13: Your Place Is Being Prepared (John 14:2,3)
Wed. 14: The Assurance Of A Home (2 Cor 5:2-5)
Thur. 15: Looking Forward For The Home (2 Cor 5:2-5)
Fri.  16: Walking With Rugged Determination (2 Cor 5:6,7)
Sat.  17: Desiring To Please Him (2 Cor 5:8,9).

*2. DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
i. God's people are a happy family forever.  The present challenges are preparatory to the unending and indescribable joy reserved in heaven.
ii. Rom. 8:18ff strongly attests to this. The happiness of being a member of God's family is beyond mere happiness founded on ephemeral things and issues. It is the joy premised on the presence of God by His Spirit in the believer now in preparation for the bliss in eternity. The believer is thus unruffled by the present challenges, no matter the thickness.

*3. BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Philippians 3:1-21

*4. AIM AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM:  To rediscover what God expects us to be here and now as members of His family, and what we would be when He returns for us.

OBJECTIVES: At the end of the lesson, the readers should be able to:
i. show the import of being children of God now in His family;
ii. discuss how we can become the betrothed virgins of our Lord;
iii. show the involvements of becoming the wife of Christ in eternity; and
iv. challenge the people of God now on how to be relevant now as members of His family in preparation for being this in eternity.

INTRODUCTION
Textual Source: Isaiah 50:1-2; Matthew 25:1-13; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 21:1-8

Glory be to God for great things He has taught us. Since the take off of the third unit of this series, we have been discussing principles of how to help ourselves and our families remain faithful to the end.
The previous lesson is a reminder of the return of the Bridegroom of the Church to take her to Himself. The prospect of this calls from total and careful preparation on the part of the children of God. We can't afford to waste this glorious opportunity of being privileged with time to prepare for the blissful eternity with Him.
Now we have before us the last but not the least of these lessons, the twelfth. It conveys the topic, Happy Family, Now And Forever. The true Bible-based believer knows that nothing about the believer ends here; in fact, unbelievers as well don't end everything here. There is still eternity over there.
The Bible makes it clear however, that the lives we live with reference to Jesus and His Word have a lot to do with what becomes of us in the eternity.
In this lesson, God is opening our eyes to rediscover how we can be faithful member of His family here on earth as well as what we would be when we get there with Him.
May this lesson not stand to condemn us on the last day. Amen.

*5. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND OF GENESIS:
I. The Book Of Isaiah:
This is one of the OT books, in fact the 23rd  and it takes its name after its acclaimed author, Prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, and his name means “The Lord saves”.
Authorship:
i. The book identifies its author as Prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz who lived in Jerusalem during the reign of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah (1:1).
ii. It is most probable that his ministry spanned more than half a century of Judah's history since Uzziah died in 740 BC and Hezekiah in 687 BC.
iii. He was married with at least two children (7:3;8:3).
iv. He probably came from an influential upper-class family in Jerusalem.
v. He was educated and gifted as a poet and prophet.
vi. He was a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah.
vii. Hebrew tradition has it that he was sawn in two by the wicked King Manasseh  Hezekiah's son and successor (cf Heb 11:37).
viii. This stand on the authorship of Isaiah has been recently challenged by some scholars. They question whether Isaiah wrote the entire book that bears his name as the author
ix. In spite of this challenge, however, expressions such as “the Holy One of Israel”, 'fire' as a figure of punishment, and references to the “holy mountain” of Jerusalem cutting across the entire book strongly argues for its unity
x. Its structure also supports its unity: Chps 36-39 form a historical interlude concluding Chps 1-35 and introducing Chps 40-66.
xi. The NT outright canvasses for the sole authorship of Prophet Isaiah (Mt. 12:17-21; 3:3; Lk:4; Rom 10:16,20; Jn 12:38-41).
xii. The external evidence of the Jewish Talmud which attributes all parts of the book to the prophet Isaiah should not be underrated.

Date Of Writing:  
Most scholars are unanimous in the belief that the events discussed in the book occurred between 700 and 680 BC.

Purpose of the Writing: 
i. The prophet outright condemned the sinful acts of his own nation and the contemporary ones and intimated them with God's impending judgement.
ii. He prophesied hope to a whole future generation of Jewish exiles
iii. He prophesied the coming of the Davidic Messiah whom God will send for the salvation of all.
 Special Features:
i. The natural division of the 66-chapter book into two broad sections (Chps 1-39 and 40-66) has  earned it the repute of being the Bible in miniature  39 OT books; 27 NT books.
ii. This twofold division stresses the general themes of judgement and salvation with the redemptive work as the major thread tying them together
iii. The book is largely written in Hebrew poetic form with Isaiah's rich vocabulary surpassing those of all other OT writers
iv. Isaiah has been called “the evangelical prophet” whose  book contains the fullest and clearest declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
v. He most vividly discusses in prophecy the atoning death of Jesus for sinners
vi. Of all the OT prophetic books, it stands out as the most theological and comprehensive.
vii. It reveals much more about the majestic holy nature of God than is found in any other OT prophetic book
viii. Isaiah frequently reminded God's people of the earlier redemptive events spearheaded by God in Israel's history (cf 4:5-6; 1:9; 9:4; 1:2; 30:17).
ix. Apart from Deuteronomy and Psalms, Isaiah stands out as the most frequently quoted OT book and referred to in the NT.

II. The Book Of Matthew:  Refer to lesson 2, Section *5  I 

III. The First Epistle Of John:  Refer to lesson 1, Section *5  I 

IV. The Book Of Revelation:  Refer to lesson 11, Section *5  I 

*6. INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION:
 This is the eleventh lesson in this series. It is a two-division lesson like the previous ones. Each of its two divisions is broken down into A and B respectively.

DIVISION I - Now, We Are:
 By God's design, everyone born here on earth has the same opportunity to live his/her life here now before proceeding to eternity. This is the focus of the first division of this lesson. The readers are assisted to rediscover the fact that now, God desires us to be His own children as opposed to the devil's family members' corrupt lifestyle in the world. The second aspect of the division also compares our relationship with Christ to that existing between a man and his betrothed virgin.

DIVISION II - Later, We Would Be:
 Division II discusses what we would be like in eternity when our Lord would have come to rapture as many as painstakingly wait for His return in His holiness and righteousness. One, we would become His wife in white robe symbolizing Christ's righteousness, and two, we would become members of His eternal family. These are the unchanging facts discussed by the two different sections of this division respectively.

LESSON OUTLINE
I. NOW, WE ARE
 A. His Children
 B. His Betrothed Virgins
II. LATER, WE WOULD BE
 A. His Wife
 B. His Family

LESSON EXPOSITION
I. NOW WE ARE (Isaiah 50:1-2;  1 John 3:1-3)
 Knowledge of what one is expected to be in any organization would enhance the performance of one. And what you do is a function of what you are since out of the essence of your personality (the heart, the innerman) comes the abundance of your character. What does God expect you to be now so that you can be effective for him as we prepare for eternity?
A. His Children (1 Jn 3:1-3)
 Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (v. 2).
i. Believers cannot sufficiently understand who they are now but there is the need to know who they are not  i.e who they were prior to salvation.
ii. We were dead in sin as children of wrath as we lived through the principles of the world.  He came, saved and quickened us (Eph. 2:1-4)
iii. We were slaves of sin, self and Satan, fully possessed and controlled by passions of the world.  By His love we have become His friends  (Jn 15:13-16; Rm. 6:15-23).
iv. We are no longer bastards (Deut 23:2; Heb 12:7-9) .  No wonder, as children, God now corrects us in love.
v. I John 3:2.  We are His children and this we cannot for now fully appreciate… Later, we would know.  Any responsibility on our part for now?
vi. I Jn 3:3.  Everyone who has such a hope of being a child till the end cooperates with Him, worships and serves Him.
vi.  The devil has his own children parading themselves proudly in this generation. God desires that we be members of His own family to reflect His own light in the world as a counterculture and witness against the finally impenitent members of Satan's family. Would you decline this gloriously rewarding offer?

B. His Betrothed Virgin (Isa.   50:1ff)
 Where is the certificate of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away?  Or which of my creditors is to whom I have sold you?  For your iniquities you have sold yourselves. And for your transgressions your mother has been put away (v. 1). 
i. God's people are happy people unto the Lord, not minding the challenges that may be facing them now.
ii. Believers are not widows bereaved of husbands or wives.  The Lord Jesus is the husband and He lives ever more, so he continues to lavish His care and love on them. (Ps 68:5,6; Isaiah 54:5; Eph. 5:25-27).
iii. God's people cannot be divorced by their Creator and Saviour.  Even when they misbehave, He uses all corrective means to bring them unto Himself (Amos 3:1-3).  He cannot divorce us and we would not give room for that (Isa. 50:1ff).
iv. Now we are His virgins, hopefully, happily and expectantly looking for the final day of wedding.  We would not be like the daughters of Lot (Gen. 19:8; 30-38) or Dinah (Gen. 34:1-120.  We would be for Him and Him alone.  No defilement with sin and no flirting with other gods.
v. The engaged/betrothed virgin normally has a period of waiting for the prospective husband to come and take her away from her father's house. As Christ's virgins, we are waiting for His second coming to take us to His Father's house where we would live with Him forever. Please, don't miss it!

LESSONS DERIVED
1. We are God's children.  We may not fully understand the uniqueness of this gracious position. Yet we would remain as such till the end.
2. We have been betrothed to our Lord and Saviour; therefore we would refuse to be defiled by sin and idolatry.

WORK TO DO 10 MINUTES
Examine the position and privileges attached to being a child of God (I John 3:2).

II. LATER, WE WOULD BE  (Matthew 25:1-13;   Revelation  21:1-8)
 So many people in the world today are alarmingly afraid of the future. They are uncertain of what the future holds for them. This is not so with the genuine Christian who basks in the hope of the renewed heaven and earth devoid of the activities and domination of the devil and his cohorts. What a hope!
A. His Wives (Mt. 25:1-13; Rev.  19:1-9)
 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding and the door was shut (Mt. 25:10).
i. As believers and members of His family, He is assisting us to know the importance of being for Him exclusively.  He is a holy and incorruptible God.
ii. Again, He has explained to us severally the importance of being ready, fully ready in body, soul and spirit (Mt 25:10; Rev 19:7; Mt. 25:8,10).  Shows virgins who were ready but not adequately ready.
iii. The bride does not joke (Jn 14:1-3).  He does not make empty promises.  Since we would like to be with  Him forever, we would be adequately ready in soul, spirit and body (Mt. 25:13).
iv. At the end of the day, we would be fully and finally wedded to Him whom we have loved without seeing, Alleluyah. Happy family, now and forever.
vii.  After the period of engagement comes the actual consummation. Christ would take us to Himself as His full wife, no longer the betrothed virgins. We would live with Him forever in His Father's mansion. How we would consummate the holy marriage union would become clearer to us when we get there (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2). Please, don't miss it.

B. His People (Rev 21:1-8)
 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God (v. 3).
I. No matter what beautiful structures nations are putting in place, the best is not yet now.  By the way, whatsoever you can see physically are being reserved for heavenly touch through FIRE (II Peter 3:5-7).  Believers, God's family know and behave thus.
ii. We are expecting the new earth and the new heavens promised by God. Who ever fails will cry. (I Cor 2:9; II Tim. 4; Gen 4:8; heb 11:40).
iii. When He comes down, everything would be new  Rev 21:1,2.  He would dwell in the midst of His people and they will be with Him  Happily for ever (Rev 21:3).
iv. He would settle them permanently  no sorrow, weeping, barrenness, dismissal, economic problem (21:4)
v. Some would be permanently cut off forever.  Who are these ones?  (Rev. 21:6-8).
vi. The symbolism of family in describing the situation in heaven suggests community life over there. The full, total, complete and perfect love of Christ would cement us permanently to Him and cement every member of God's family together because the inherent nature of sin would have permanently disappeared. What a privilege to make it to that gathering of the holy saints!

LESSONS DERIVED
1. We are betrothed virgins waiting for the arrival of our bridegroom.  As we wait, we would be adequately ready.  This is wisdom.
2. We are keenly waiting for our bridegroom, Maker and Head.  His arrival would put a permanent stop to all tears, sorrows and evil.  Let Him come, O Lord.

*7. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO WORK TO DO:
Question: Examine the position and privileges attached to being a child of God (1 John 3:2).

Answer: 
i. Refer to division I A.
ii. It is a privilege to be a child of God. Jn 1:12 submits that he who believes is given the privilege/right/authority of sonship. So, becoming God's child comes with its prerogatives just as every position in any viable organization attracts certain advantages.
iii. As children of God, we are no longer bastards (Deut. 23:2; Heb. 12:7-9).
iv. As children, we are co-heirs with Christ the first born of God. We are no longer slaves who have no access to the things of the father. We now have the unhindered access to His presence to draw from His array of provisions.
v. As children of God, we have the hope of eternity with Him despite the odds of this present life.
vi. As children of God, the devil cannot overcome us as long as we remain in Him because His insurmountable authority automatically becomes ours as we become His children (Matt. 28:18; Jn. 14:12).
vii. As His children, we are here to represent Him. We carry His very nature of holiness as a counterculture against the decadence prevalent in this present world. We must therefore show His light here now and sweeten the world around us by His grace in us (cf. Matt. 5:13ff).
 Above all, we may not be able to fully appreciate who we are now and the privileges accorded us by the King of kings until we cross the Jordan River. For now, let us keep remaining in Him and doing His will. He has promised to neither leave nor forsake us. May God help us.

QUESTIONS
1. The bridegroom would come, some would be disappointed because of carelessness and others because they were rebellious (Mt. 25:8,11; and Rev. 21:7,8).  Explain.
2. One of the greatest opportunities in life is to be a son of God.  Does it go with any responsibility?  (I John 3:2,3).
3. You cannot be  a member of God's family in heaven if you were not while on earth.  Discuss.

*8. SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:
Question 1: The bridegroom would come, some would be disappointed because of carelessness and others because they were rebellious (Mt. 25:8,11; and Rev. 21:7,8).  Explain.

Answer: 
i. Jesus is the bridegroom in this context. He is the bridegroom the Church is expecting in the next apocalyptic event. The members of the body are the virgins expecting Him.
ii. The parable of the ten virgins in Matt. 25 is a good reference here. We have been betrothed to the Lord Jesus Christ by the fact that He has bought us by His precious blood. Like the ten virgins, we are waiting to join Him in His Father's house in heaven when our Bridegroom returns.
iii. As the bridegroom in the parable tarried, Christ has been tarrying for a while, preparing His Father's house for us. When the groom in the parable later showed up, the virgins were already divided into two on the sides of vigilance and carelessness. The prepared virgins entered with him while the careless unprepared ones had themselves to blame.
iv. The Son of Man is coming soon for His virgins. Obviously, some Christians are careless with their lives. They are taking His seeming lateness for laxity. They are becoming less concerned with the return of the Lord so much that the perils of the end-times are plaguing them. These ones are the careless virgins. Just as in the parable, the Groom would not spare them. They would be disappointed and would regret ever living and even becoming Christians.
v. The vigilant virgins point to the alert Christians who keep growing and developing in Christ despite the challenges of life. When the Bridegroom returns, these would be the ones to constitute His figurative Bride in eternity as well as His eternal family. May we not miss this.
vi. On the other hand, the rebellious are the finally impenitent. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour to be able to live in His holiness and righteousness. They are the sinners who would not have any opportunity to go near the King of kings on that Day (Rev. 21:7,8,27).
vii. The way out is to totally surrender one's life to Jesus and be always at alert for His imminent return, growing in His grace day by day. By these, we would be ready as His betrothed virgins.

Question 2: One of the greatest opportunities in life is to be a son of God. Does it go with any responsibility? (I John 3:2,3).

Answer: 
i. Refer to section *7. Suggested Answer to Work to Do.
ii. It is the greatest of opportunities to be called a child of God (1 Jn. 3:1,2).
iii. However, it is natural with man to talk more of privileges or rights with little or no reference to or care for responsibilities. Nonetheless, responsibilities bring more rights.
iv. As children of God, we are not to sit idle, waiting for His return. We are to occupy till His return (Lk. 19:13).
v. Firstly, having this hope of eternity with Him as children of His now, we have the responsibility to keep ourselves pure and chaste for Him by His sanctifying blood (1 Jn. 3:3; cf. 1 Pet. 1:15,16).
vi. We also have the responsibility of maintaining a sound relationship with Jesus Christ in prayer and His Word for sound growth and vitality towards maturity (II Pet. 3:18).
vii. We have the responsibility to shine the light of Christ in the darkness of the world no matter the thickness of the darkness (Matt. 5:13ff). After all, the thicker the darkness, the brighter the light would be no matter how small it is.
viii. We have the responsibility to ensure that the peace of Christ reigns wherever we find ourselves (Rom. 12:19; Heb. 12:14).
ix. We have the responsibility to let the world around us know about Jesus Christ, lest they have any excuse (Matt. 24:14; 28:18ff).
x. These are our basic responsibilities to God, self and others. May we not lag behind. Amen.

Question 3: You cannot be a member of God's family in heaven if you were not while on earth. Discuss.

Answer: 
i. That is just the truth.
ii. If you are not born again here on earth and do not have a relationship with Christ here, you cannot be part of His in eternity.
iii. You become a member of the family He came to establish some two thousand years ago by first seeing your sinfulness, accepting His offer of salvation, and growing in His grace.
iv. In His second coming, He is not coming for any other person or thing than the ones who have taken the pains to become part of His family here on earth.
v. The members of His family (the Church) here now would have the singular privilege to be raptured with Him into His holy heaven for eternity.
vi. Are you already a fully convinced member of this family? If not, take the positive decision now.

READINGS ASSINGMENT FOR THE SECOND WEEKS
Mon. 19: God's People Are Different (Lev. 18:1-4)
Tue.  20: God's People Are Not Divorcees (Isa. 50:1,2)
Wed. 21: God's People Enjoy His Correction (Amos 3:1,2)
Thur. 22: God's People Live As Strangers (Heb. 11:13-16)
Fri.  23: God's People Love One Another (Jn. 13:35,35)
Sat.  24: God's People Are Obedient (Jn. 15:12-15)

*9. LIFE APPLICATION:
 So many of us Christians are fast forgetting the fact that we are not going to be here for eternity. Some live their lives as if they would still continue to hold the ace in the next 500 years, Christians for that matter. Have we forgotten that having been born again, we must continue to cooperate with the One who recreated us in Christ Jesus so that we are daily made holy in preparation for that holy presence of the eternal God where nothing unholy can go near? Let us look less on the worldly things and focus more on the better things of eternity with Christ in heaven yet to come. May we not miss it.

*10. CONCLUSION:
 We give God the glory for so far He has helped us in this series. We have been discussing the concept of Christian marriage in a deeper dimension, a follow up of the previous series on this same topic Christian Home (I). God has once again shown us what He expects our lives to be before, in, and after marriage, even to eternity, to be. None of us has any excuse. All of these have been read and taught as witness so that none would be able to blame failure on ignorance. God wants the best for us, even our marriages, and He has given us His best in this series of lessons. We would gladden His heart when we practise these truths wholeheartedly without reservations. GO AND DO HIS WORD TILL WE MEET NEXT SERIES!!!

WORK WHILE WAITING (WWW)
Reading Assignments In Preparation For The
January - June 2012 Sunday School Series

Reading assignments for week  1
Mon  Dec.26: Believers And Christ Are In Love (Songs. 3:1)
Tue  “   27: Believers Must Seek Christ (Songs  3:2,3)
Wed   “ 28: Behold The Sparkling Love (Songs  3:4,5)
Thur  “   29: By Christ’s Light, Believers Walk (Songs  3:6)
Fri   “   30: Better To Be With The Groom (Songs  3:7,8)
Sat   “   31: Believers, Beautifully Decorated In Christ (Songs  3:9,10)

Reading assignments for week  2
on. Jan.  2: New Home For The Saints (Rev. 21:1,2)
Tue.    “   3: New Lifestyle In Our Heavenly Abode  (Rev. 21:3,4)
Wed.    “ 4: Note, Overcomers Would Gain Inheritance (Rev. 21:5-7)
Thur    “ 5: Not Meant For The Ungodly (Rev. 21:8)
Fri.      “ 6: Notice, The Lamb’s Wife (Rev. 21:9)
Sat.    “ 7:    Non Is Precious As Christ’s Betrothed (Rev. 21:10,11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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