29 December 2016

22 December 2016

19 December 2016

15 December 2016

14 December 2016

Avery’s second annual Christmas recital

Every December, Avery’s piano teacher takes her students to play at local assisted living facilities. It’s good practice for playing in front of a live audience. Watch last year’s performance.

Avery went with an angel theme this year. The first song is “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and the second one is “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

This piano was being a bit uncooperative. Some of the keys were clicking and sticking. But that didn’t deter Avery!

We are so pleased with how quickly Avery has taken to the piano. It seems we may have found her “thing.” She really enjoys playing, and we think she plays well too!

13 December 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 9:1-41

As we ended chapter 8 last week, we saw people picking up stones to kill Jesus, but He slipped away. Despite the threats against His life, Jesus did not fear anything, as evidenced at the beginning of chapter 9.

Jesus noticed a man who had been blind since birth. The disciples asked about the source of the man’s blindness – was it because he sinned or because his parents sinned? Jesus told them that the man was blind so God’s glory could be revealed in him. The disciples saw the man as an object lesson, but Jesus saw the man’s need.

Jesus emphasized again that He was doing God’s work. And He said, “I am the light of the world.” He brings light to the darkness.

Jesus spit on the ground, made mud, and put it on the man’s eyes. He instructed the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man had to take a step of faith. When the man obeyed Jesus’ command, the man was able to see. For the first time, he could see everything around him!

Soon some people recognized that this blind man could see. They questioned his healing. When the people questioned the man, he simply told them what happened. They asked who healed him; he honestly didn’t know because he had never seen Jesus.

The people brought the man to the Pharisees. This healing took place on the Sabbath, so the Pharisees attacked Jesus for violating Sabbath laws. They rejected the man’s miraculous healing. The Pharisees questioned the man, and he called Jesus a prophet. He recognized that Jesus was from God.

The Pharisees and other Jews still didn’t believe the man’s healing. So they turned to the man’s parents. His parents said that he was their son and he was born blind. But they did not claim to know how he was healed. The man’s parents were afraid of the Pharisees.

For a second time, the Pharisees summoned the man and asked him who healed him. The man said, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” The man became bolder and called himself a disciple of Jesus. And he said, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

The Pharisees threw the man out of the temple. By doing this, the Pharisees were throwing him out of every religious and social perk of being a Jew.

Next Jesus sought out the man. Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. Jesus identified Himself as the Son of Man. Then the man confessed that he believed, and he worshiped Jesus.

This man’s healing is a picture of a believer’s conversion. Everyone is spiritually blind. We are lost, and we don’t recognize our lost condition. After we come to Christ, He reveals Himself to us. He opens our eyes so we can see who He is and what He has done for us. Then we worship Him.

The religious leaders ask Jesus if they are blind too. They were spiritually blind because they rejected Jesus as God and Healer. They refused to believe in Him and remained in their sin and guilt.

Jesus compassionately and graciously healed a man who was blind from birth. The man didn’t deserve Jesus’ grace or healing. Jesus healed a man who did not believe in him. The man’s faith grew with each round of questioning.

Things to Think About
  • How do you respond to the needs of others?
  • The blind man was changed and others noticed. Do other people notice that you are a Christian? Does your spiritual sight result in a life that looks different than unbelievers’ lives?
  • How do you respond to others’ rejection, ridicule, and persecution because you believe in Jesus?
  • Does pressure from others change what you think or say?
  • Encountering Jesus results in stronger faith or a harder heart.

This Week’s Memory Verse
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one
can work. John 9:4 NIV

08 December 2016

06 December 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 8:1-59

At the start of a new day, Jesus went to the temple to teach the people. But the Jewish leaders brought an adulterous woman to Jesus. They wanted to trap Jesus and kill the woman.

They said the woman was caught in the act of adultery. Probably not very likely. But if it was true, the law stated that they should have stoned both the man and the woman. Again, the Jewish leaders were only partially obeying God’s law.

The trap – If Jesus sided with the woman, He would be breaking the law of Moses and Roman law. (Jews could not inflict capital punishment without Rome’s permission.) If Jesus sided with the Jewish leaders, He would not be compassionate as He claimed to be.

Jesus’ response: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, the leaders left until only Jesus and the woman remained. He told her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” He said He didn’t condemn her either. Then He sent her away and told her to leave her life of sin.

After this incident, Jesus spoke to the people. He called Himself the light of the world. For the Jewish people, light is symbolic of God’s presence. Jesus again declared that He was God.

Jesus also claimed that He stood with the Father, that He and the Father testify together in unity, that He will go to a place where His listeners cannot go, that He is from above and not from this world, that the listeners must believe in Him or die in their sins, that God is with Him.

He told the people to follow Him so they won’t be in darkness any longer. He told them that He was going to a place where they could not go. He told them that they will die in their sins because they do not believe in Him as God.

The leaders questioned Jesus’ identity. Jesus defended Himself with God’s Word. Many people believe in Jesus after this conversation.

Next Jesus spoke to the people who decided to believe. They may have believed Jesus’ words without fully believing who He was. So they questioned His next teachings.

Jesus told them that the truth will set them free. The people claimed they were not enslaved and didn’t need to be set free. Not true! The people of God had been enslaved many times in their past and currently were enslaved in their sin. God sent Jesus to free them from spiritual bondage.

The people said Abraham was their father. Jesus told them that if Abraham was their father, they would listen to His teachings and believe that He is the promised Messiah. Jesus told them that the devil was their father because they were selfish, lying, murderous people.

Once again, Jesus slipped away without being arrested because Him time had not come yet.

Things to Think About
  • As Jesus exposed people’s sin, some sensed shame and left Him. Others grew more hostile toward Him and plotted to kill Him. And still others recognized something powerful and true in Jesus and were drawn to Him. How do you respond when Jesus exposes your sin?
  • Believers no longer are condemned; we stand in victory with Jesus because He paid the penalty for all of our sin. We are free from the guilt of sin.
  • Everyone is born enslaved to sin. Jesus wants to liberate us from our sin.
  • Jesus is the only one who can save us from our depraved nature and the only one who can free us from spiritual darkness and spiritual bondage.

This Week’s Memory Verse
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

01 December 2016