29 September 2016

27 September 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 1:19-51

This week, we see more of John the Baptist and his mission on earth. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. He was born six months before Jesus. John the Baptist was born into the priesthood, but God called him to be a prophet. His task was to prepare the way for Christ the Messiah and to prepare people’s hearts to receive Jesus.

John’s message was repentance. He also called for people to be baptized, an outward sign of an inward change. Baptism typically was reserved for Gentiles when they converted to Judaism. So it was unusual for John to tell Jews they also needed to be baptized.

When Jewish leaders questioned John and asked who he was, he humbly answered their questions and pointed them back to Jesus. They asked John if he was the promised Deliverer. John said he was pointing people to Jesus. John didn’t want people looking at him; he wanted people looking at Jesus.

John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God. This was a very symbolic name for Jesus. In Jewish sacrifices, a sinner brought a lamb to a priest. The sinner laid his hands on the lamb and confessed his sins so that his sins symbolically were transferred to the lamb. The lamb was slaughtered as the sacrifice, and the blood was sprinkled on the altar as an offering for the sin of the sinner. This was God’s appointed way to cleanse His people from their sins.

But then God sent Jesus as the lamb for all people. He was our substitute. He stood in our place, He symbolically took on our sins, He bore the full wrath of God, and He died for us.

Later, John the Baptist was with his followers, Andrew and John (the author of this book). John the Baptist again calls Jesus the Lamb of God. Jesus invited Andrew and John to come and see. They spent the day with Jesus. Jesus is never too busy to spend time with us. Jesus desires to spend time with us.

Andrew immediately found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon in a way that showed Simon that Jesus knew him fully. Jesus gave Simon a new name – Peter.

Then Jesus called out to Philip and told Philip to follow Him. Philip found his friend Nathanael. Nathanael questioned if anything good can come from Nazareth. But he didn’t stay in his doubt. He went with Philip to meet Jesus. Jesus told Nathanael that He saw him sitting under a fig tree. Nathanael could have been studying the Scriptures or praying under the fig tree. Nathanael realized that Jesus was the Messiah and the only stairway to God. Jesus commended Nathanael for his faith.

Things to Think About
  • All of John’s life was a preparation for his calling. He had to be prepared first before he could prepare others.
  • The ministry of all believers is to point people to Jesus.
  • Are you stepping out of the way and working to point others to Jesus?
  • Man’s greatest tragedy is a loss of fellowship with God. Man’s greatest problem is God’s wrath. Man’s greatest need is a restored relationship with God. Man’s only hope is Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus is God’s chosen One to take away the sin of the world.
  • Do you worship Jesus for His sacrifice and for the changed life His death brings?
  • The ministry of all believers is to bring people to Jesus.
  • God gives His people the privilege of introducing others to Jesus. But we must be with Jesus before we can bring others to Him.
  • Who does God want you to bring to Jesus?
  • God can use you in a way that He can use no one else. Are you willing to let Him use you to touch other people’s lives?

This Week’s Memory Verse
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NIV

22 September 2016

20 September 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 1:1-18

As John begins his gospel, he wants his readers to know that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Jesus was with God, and He is God. Everything was created by Christ and for Christ, including you and me. Jesus is the life giver and the life sustainer. As the Creator, Jesus also holds the universe together. And He holds individual lives together.

John calls Jesus the Word. This means that Jesus was the source of God’s message to His people. Jesus was God’s communication to the world. He was God’s voice to the world.

Next, the apostle John presents John the Baptist. John the Baptist was appointed by God to prepare the way for Jesus. He pointed everyone to Jesus as God in flesh and the promised Messiah. He told others to follow Jesus.

The world did not recognize Jesus or know who He was. Even His own Jewish nation rejected Him as Messiah, although God called them to make Himself known to the world.

Finally, John discusses the miracle of spiritual birth. To be born again is to receive a completely new life from God. It is a supernatural experience. It is not from human decision or human effort. No one can decide for someone else.

The way we are born again is by receiving and believing in Jesus. To be a child of God means I have peace, security, and comfort.

Things to Think About
  • There is no lasting satisfaction outside of a life lived for Jesus Christ.
  • What are you looking to for satisfaction? True, lasting satisfaction can only be found in Jesus.
  • To reject Christ as God is to reject God as God.
  • Jesus was not simply a prophet, a teacher, or a good man. Jesus is God. He is the long-awaited Messiah.
  • Have you confessed Jesus as God and the Lord of your life?
  • Jesus Christ gives eternal life to all who receive Him and believe in His name.
  • Are you in the majority or the minority? Do you reject and dismiss Christ, or do you worship and obey Him?
  • Jesus is the only way to know God.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:18 NIV

15 September 2016

13 September 2016

BSF 2016-2017: An Overview of the Bible and the Gospel of John

Welcome to a new year of BSF!

Each week, I will provide summaries about the lessons, starting today. Since I serve in the School Program, I also will share the students’ memory verse each week. I am extra excited this year because Avery will be attending BSF with me! She will be participating in Level 1 of the School Program.

This year, we will be reading through the Gospel of John (and supplemental Scriptures from other parts of the Bible). The Gospel of John is all about Jesus. In fact, the entire Bible is one story about Jesus Christ. So before we look at the Gospel of John, we need to understand the outline of the Bible.

There are 39 books in the Old Testament:

  • Genesis to Deuteronomy are The Law.
  • Joshua to Esther are The History of Israel.
  • Job to Song of Solomon are The Books of Poetry.
  • Isaiah to Malachi are The Books of prophecy.

There are 27 books in the New Testament:

  • Matthew to John are The Gospels.
  • Acts is the book about the disciples and the beginning of the church.
  • Romans to Jude are The Epistles (or letters).
  • Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Bible contains 66 books. More than 40 human writers composed the Bible as they were directed by the Holy Spirit. The Bible was written over the course of 1,500 years. God is the Bible’s Author. God uses the Bible to reveal Himself to the world and to reveal His purposes. The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself. The Bible tells the story of redemption. Jesus used his blood on the cross to purchase sinners, setting us free from sin’s bondage.

God’s Word is all-inclusive – we cannot add to it or subtract anything from it. God’s Word is true and inerrant. Reading Scripture is like looking in a mirror. God shows us who we really are and who He really is. The Bible is the final authority for life.

There are four Gospels in the New Testament. Each one recorded the events of Jesus’ life in a slightly different way. Matthew wrote his gospel to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah and eternal King. Mark wrote his gospel to present the work, person, and teachings of Jesus Christ. Luke wrote his gospel to present an accurate account of the life of Christ and to present Jesus as the perfect human and Savior. These three gospels recorded what Jesus did.

John wrote his gospel to record what Jesus meant in his actions and words. John wrote his gospel to reveal Jesus as the Son of God and so that all who believe in Him have eternal life. Here is an outline of the Gospel of John:

  • The Prologue – John 1:1-18
  • Jesus Revealed to the World – John 1:19-12:50
  • Jesus Revealed to Disciples Alone – John 13-17
  • Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection – John 18-20
  • Epilogue – John 21

Are you ready to see the life of Jesus through John’s eyes? I’m looking forward to another exciting year as we study God’s Word together each week!

Things to Think About
  • God transforms believers who study and apply the Bible. Will you commit to studying and applying God’s Word with me this year through the Gospel of John?
  • Will you surrender to God’s authority, purpose, and plan for your life?
  • Jesus is the Son of God, and belief in Him leads to eternal life.
  • In the book of John, the truth of Jesus is revealed. We will see many people reject Jesus, and a small minority will accept and follow Him. Which one are you?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31 NIV

08 September 2016

04 September 2016

Damon's potty training: Day three

We're breathing a sigh of relief around these parts today because we're done with potty training! Damon successfully completed the training today with a big poop in the potty chair, many little potties in the potty chair, and lots of dry underwear. He didn't always tell us when he was ready to go potty, but we saw a panicked look on his face or saw him dancing and then sent him to the bathroom. He almost always went potty. When he didn't, he still had dry underwear. Yea!

We'll stay close to home tomorrow and count it as an extra day of potty training, just to be sure Damon is ready to face the real world on Tuesday. But we can say for sure that this Three-Day Potty Training Method really works!

I'm so proud of Damon! I was feeling unsure about everything mid-afternoon yesterday, but he managed to figure out the whole process in the three days. And I'm very grateful for Chris. Potty training is not for the faint of heart, and it should not be done alone. We leaned on each other a lot the past few days. I'm also grateful that we're done having kids and thus done with potty training. ;o)

Just as it happened with Avery, the real test will be how Damon handles everything when we return to our normal routine later this week. We'll be sure to let you know how that goes! In the meantime, I'm happy to say goodbye to diapers!

03 September 2016

Damon's potty training: Day two

Today was both worse and better -- worse because we changed Damon's underwear at least 12 times (though he was only slightly wet each time) and better because he went in the potty chair many more times than yesterday.

It seems Damon is learning a bit of control. He will catch himself going in his underpants then stop and say, "Let's go!" He doesn't always finish in the potty chair, but I still call that progress!

He woke up dry both first thing this morning and after his nap. He had a few little accidents throughout the day, but they were followed by a BIG potty in the potty chair. And there were plenty of runs to the bathroom for false alarms. I had to look back at Avery's potty training to remember that she had what seemed like hundreds of false alarms herself.

Now all we need is Damon to poop in the potty chair!

Chris and I both were a bit discouraged. We know it's all starting to click in Damon's head, but maybe we had some unrealistic expectations about how quickly this would all come together for him. Added to the discouragement, we are completely exhausted. Whether that's due to constantly running to the bathroom for false alarms or simply tiredness from normal life I can't say. I just hope we all three survive the weekend!

We are so grateful that Grandma and Grandpa Hromada and Aunt Karen stole Avery away for a couple of overnight adventures. We definitely couldn't do all of this with Avery hanging around here.

Here's hoping we have a good report tomorrow night!

02 September 2016

Damon's potty training: Day one

For the past several months, Damon has shown many signs of being ready for potty training. For weeks, we've talked up "big boy underwear" and using the potty chair. Since Daddy had a four-day holiday weekend, we decided to take the plunge and start potty training this weekend. Happy Labor Day to us!

After breakfast this morning, Damon chose his first pair of underwear (Thomas the Tank Engine). That was just before 8 a.m. Then Avery went to school, and I headed out to my half-day of work! Daddy and Damon were on their own until just after 1 p.m. when I returned home. Here's what happened the rest of the day:

8:15 a.m. - False alarm run to bathroom, dry, nothing in potty chair.
10:30 a.m. - Daddy paused the movie when Damon said, "Damon go potty." Dry, nothing in potty chair.
11:40 a.m. - False alarm run to bathroom, dry, nothing in potty chair.
12 p.m. - Big accident when Damon said, "Uh oh!" as he pottied on the floor. Nothing in potty chair.
12:15 p.m. - Asked to go to bathroom, dry, nothing in potty chair. Several more false alarms.
1:45 p.m. - Asked to go to bathroom, dry, nothing in potty chair. Nap time.
3:15 p.m. - Woke up from nap, dry.
3:20 p.m. - Small accident in underwear, nothing in potty chair. Several more false alarms.
4:45 p.m. - Small accident in underwear, BIG potty in potty chair!
Several trips to bathroom with no results.
7:25 p.m. - Asked to go to bathroom, small potty in potty chair.
7:45 p.m. - Bedtime.

Damon went through just five pairs of underwear (compared to 20 pairs on Avery's first day of potty training!). We were pleased that he stayed so dry. We just hope he's not holding it in! And we're waiting for the first poop on the potty chair.

A few times, Damon asked to put on a diaper. I'm kind of surprised that he did that. But I think it was because he wanted to poop and just couldn't muster the courage to do that on the potty chair.

Here's hoping we have see some more progress tomorrow!

01 September 2016