Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sunday School

 I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to teach Sunday school classes this year and I had my excuses all in a row; I have a baby; who is going to look after him? 8:20 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. is a long time to be at church every Sunday morning, especially with two little kids. I’ve already done it last year; I should give someone else the opportunity. 

So when the email came asking me to volunteer again I wrote a sweet but simple, “Can’t do it this year. Sorry.”

God however had different plans. Proverbs 16:9 reads, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps,” and I was soon to find out how true that was.

It started with a reply from the Sunday School Director that child care would be provided during the Sunday school sessions.

Then one of the blogs I follow, written by a friend of ours, had a post about how valuable teaching Sunday school really was.

I read the below post:
The Right Honourable Sunday School Teacher
Psalm 34:11
       Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Some say you are a mere Sabbath-School teacher, but you are a noble personage, holding an honourable office, and having illustrious predecessors…He who teaches a class in a Sabbath-School has earned a good degree. I had rather receive the title of S.S.T. than M.A., B.A., or any other honour that ever was conferred. Let me beg of you then to take heart, because your duties are so honourable. Let the royal example of David, let the noble, the godlike example of Jesus Christ inspire you with fresh diligence and increasing ardour, with confident and enduring perseverance, still to go on in your mighty work, saying, as David did, Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. If you want, however, a higher example, even than that of David, hear the Son of David while from his lips the sweet words flow, Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 19:14.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): The longer we live, the more highly we prize the blessed work of Sunday School teaching…We have the fullest assurance that such work will meet its rich reward in the day of the Lord, even though present appearances may be discouraging.

C. H. SPURGEON: Let us be encouraged to sow the good seed in evil times. Let us not despair. If there were no more mustard seed in the world, and I had only one grain of it, I should be all the more anxious to sow it. You can produce any quantity if only one seed will grow…It is always an act of faith to sow seed; because you have, for the time, to give it up, and receive nothing in return. The farmer takes his choice seed-corn, and throws it into the soil of his field. He might have made many a loaf of bread with it; but he casts it away. Only his faith saves him from being judged a maniac: he expects it to return to him fifty-fold. If you had never seen a harvest, you would think that a man burying good wheat under the clods had gone mad; and if you had never seen conversions, it might seem an absurd thing to be constantly teaching to boys and girls the story of the Man who was nailed to the tree. We preach and teach as a work of faith; and, remember, it is only as an act of faith that it will answer its purpose. The rule of the harvest is, According to thy faith, be it unto thee.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Many a Sunday-School teacher comes home on Sunday night with a heavy heart, and fancies that his or her labour is all in vain―But all this is disgraceful unbelief. There is often far more going on in hearts and consciences than we see. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him,” Psalm 126:6. There are more being converted and saved than we suppose. “Many shall sit down in the kingdom of heaven” whom we never expected to see there when we died.

C. H. SPURGEON: Teachers of the children in the Sunday-Schools, it may be years hence, but if you have taught a child really to know something, that knowledge may be the beginning of his salvation.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: It may be that the Sunday School pupil will grow up a wicked youth―a wicked man; he may seem to have forgotten everything good, holy, and true―to have worn out, by his sinful practises, every sacred impression; and yet, nothwithstanding all, some precious clause of Holy Scripture, or some sweet hymn, remains buried in the depths of memory, beneath a mass of folly and profanity; and this Scripture, or this hymn, may come to mind in some quiet moment, or it may be on a dying bed, and be used by the Holy Ghost for the quickening and saving of the soul. Who can attempt to define the importance of getting hold of the mind when it is young, fresh, and plastic, and seeking to impress it with heavenly things?

C. H. SPURGEON: You are not sowing, as some say, on virgin soil, for it has long been occupied by the devil; but you are sowing on a soil more fertile now than it ever will be―that will produce fruit now for better than it will do in after days; you are sowing on a young heart, and what you sow will be pretty sure to abide there.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): In after years, smothered convictions will bring back the power of early impressions. These seeds of instruction will burst forth into life. He will find it “hard’ in a course of sin “to kick against the pricks,” Acts 9:5. The Scriptures, fastened on his memory, will force themselves upon him with many a sharp and painful struggle. Conscience will disturb his pleasures, and embitter the sweetness, and which he had found, or fancied that he had found, in his sins.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): And if you, oh reader, have the care of children, teach them to commit to memory large portions of Scripture. It may come back to them with blessing when you are in your grave.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): My mother died before I was seven years of age―she stored my memory, which was then very retentive, with many valuable pieces, chapters, and portions of Scripture, catechism, hymns and poems…Though in the process of time I sinned away all the advantages of these early impressions, yet they were for a great while a restraint upon me. They returned again and again, and it was very long before I could wholly shake them off. When the Lord at length opened my eyes, I found a great benefit from the recollection of them.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: It is impossible to tell where and when the fruit of a Sunday School teacher’s work may turn up. It may be on the burning sands of Africa, or amid the frozen regions of the North, in the depths of the forest, or on the ocean’s wave; it may be at the present time, or it may be years after the workman has gone to his eternal rest. But, let it be when or where it may, the fruit will assuredly be found, when the seed has been sown in faith and watered by prayer.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Dr. Morrison, missionary to China, who translated the whole Bible into Chinese, became pious at a Sabbath-school.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): May we not learn from this to be more earnest, both in prayers and labours, in seeking the salvation of little children?

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): One afternoon, I noticed a young lady at the service, whom I knew to be a Sunday School teacher. After the service, I asked her where her class was. “Oh,” said she, “I went to the school, and found only a little boy, and so I came away.” “Only a little boy!” said I, “think of the value of one such soul! the fires of a reformation may be slumbering in that tow-headed boy; there may be a young Knox, or a Wesley, or a Whitefield in your class.”

C. H. SPURGEON: There may seem no connection between teaching that boy and the reclaiming of cannibals in New Guinea; but I can see a very possible connection. Tribes in Central Africa may have their destiny shaped by your instruction of a tiny child.

RICHARD CECIL (1748-1810): The duty of a Christian is never to despair. The seed may be buried and seem lost, but it will spring up. The privileged child cannot un-know what it has heard.

WILLIAM SPURSTOWE (1605-1666): The promise, and the word that goes from God’s mouth, shall not return to Him void, but shall accomplish that which He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto He sent it, Isaiah 55:11. The manner of the fulfilling of it may be various, but the performance of it is most certain.

C. H. SPURGEON: Dear Sunday-school teacher, do not become weary of your humble work, for none can measure its importance―recollect that you are teaching for God―Believe, dear teacher, believe in the gospel. Believe in what you are doing when you tell it. Believe that great results from slender causes spring. Go on sowing your mustard seed of salvation by faith, expecting and believing that fruit will come thereof.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): God’s time will bring God’s harvest.

And still I hesitated. By now, I’m sure they’ve found someone else, I reasoned.

When we came to church on September 2 however, there was no teacher for the middle school class; five students eager to learn but no one to teach them.

Right there and then I volunteered for the position that God had been gently urging me to take all along.

In the following week I looked through old Sunday school curriculums and found one on Joshua. Reading through it I was struck by how much there was to learn from his life. There were so many lessons regarding obedience and trust in God. About believing God’s promises rather than looking at our circumstances. About the joy that would result in obedience and the painful consequences that so often came hand in hand with disobedience. About God’s promise that Joshua would be successful if he meditated on and obeyed God’s Word.  And about God’s encouragement to Joshua that he should be strong and courageous and not be afraid because God would always be with him.
Awed, I couldn’t put the book down. How was it that I knew all these stories, but yet had never seen the significance of them in my own life?   

So the next Sunday I sat down with my five students and we read the first story about Joshua in Exodus 17:8-16.

Then we discussed what it meant and how it applied to our lives. What could we learn from the words we read? There was a lot! Joshua obeyed Moses’ instructions and learned from him how to love and obey God. Now we needed to do the same.

After discussion time I gave each student a memorization notebook but I did not assign a verse. “Read your Bible, listen to your Bible lessons in school, pay attention in church. Then chose one or more verses to memorize for next week and write it in your notebook.  Next Sunday I want to hear you recite your verse and explain what it means to you." I encouraged them.

The following week we studied Number 13-14 and learned how Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies that trusted God and what it cost them. The rest of the Israelites became so angry they were ready to kill them. Yet, because of their faith in God’s promises God protected and blessed them, and although God did forgive the Israelites sin of unbelief they had to wander in the desert for 40 more years till all the adults died. Only Joshua and Caleb would be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

There was a lot there to talk about as well. How often in our lives do we look at the circumstances rather than at God’s promises? What are the consequences? How does trusting God and His Word change everything? What kind of opposition can we expect to face when we trust God?

After discussing these important concepts we each shared our verses. Some of the verses the students shared were these:

Matthew 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Isaiah 40:30-31 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Exodus 14:14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Psalm30:4-5 Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

There was so much there. Together we soaked it in; God’s word, His promises, what we could learn from Joshua. That hour each Sunday morning before the service became a time I looked forward to all week. 

God had a better plan than mine. Without Him directing my steps I would have missed out on this most blessed opportunity to share His Word with five young, receptive hearts.


  1. "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart