Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 29: Restored

July 12 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 19:1-15
 
Trust once lost can be difficult to regain. As I have grown up watching sports, it is heartbreaking to learn about an athlete who cheated in order to win.
 
All the victories and championships are tarnished by the realization that they were not truly deserved.
 
Many times, this sort of discovery ends their athletic career, destroys their public credibility and ruins future opportunities.
 
Regaining confidence is the theme of this passage, which teaches us that God’s leaders must take advantage of opportunities to increase the trust others place in them.
 
David’s army won a major victory for him that effectively restored him to his throne over the entire nation.
 
However, in the course of battle, his son Absalom was killed which greatly upset David. The rest of David’s men returned to the city defeated, not because they lost the battle, but because they were following their king in mourning the rebel Absalom’s death.
 
This may sound extreme, but David’s actions here were driven by emotion, and they had a negative impact on the divided nation and his soldiers in particular. They needed to rally around their rightful king who survived betrayal, but it seemed like he was ungrateful to them for their heroic sacrifice.
 
Putting emotions aside, David resumed his royal duties and demonstrated that people can be united by trusting in God and in His leaders.
 
The king reconnected with all the tribes of Israel and made his best effort to reconcile ongoing conflicts.
 
He regained the trust of the people and continued to serve God’s people as their chosen leader.
 
Any leader today must also walk the same line of personal feelings and leadership responsibilities.
 
Even when facing disappointments and struggles, leaders have to remain committed to the God’s plan and acting according to his instructions.

7/12/2018 11:22:35 AM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 29: Plan

July 12 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Nehemiah 2:1-8; 17-18
 
Serving God requires intentionality. It’s summertime, and many of us are either returning from or planning for a vacation. Depending on your destination, you may have booked plane tickets or changed the oil in your car, but I’m guessing each of you packed a suitcase.
 
I would classify myself as an over packer. I begin early, and in my humble opinion, you can never be too prepared. My husband, on the other hand, prefers to work under pressure. He believes it’s much more effective to pack everything at once on the night before you leave. Although some might disagree, there isn’t one right way to pack.
 
And yet, you’ll only be prepared for your trip if you’re intentional about the things you bring. Likewise, although there is not one right method for serving God, we must be careful to plan intentionally while prayerfully relying on His guidance.
 
When Nehemiah learned of the desperate situation in Jerusalem, he acknowledged his dependence on God and acted on every opportunity. While fulfilling his daily responsibilities, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah, “why are you sad?” (Nehemiah 2:2).
 
Nehemiah prayerfully and carefully explained the plight of the Jewish people. Nehemiah also actively planned the work to which he had been called, asking the king to send him to Judah so he might rebuild the wall. He even requested official letters for both protection on his journey and provision for the rebuilding process.
 
Additionally, Nehemiah did not attempt to complete the task alone. He enlisted the help of his fellow exiles, saying, “Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17).
 
God is calling each of us to serve Him, and we must follow Nehemiah’s example by acknowledging our dependence on God, actively planning for the work, and calling others to serve alongside us.
 
When I pack for the beach but forget my sunscreen, the resulting sunburn keeps me from truly enjoying my trip. When we attempt to serve God without acting intentionally, we often forfeit the opportunity to glorify God as He works in and through us for His good pleasure.

7/12/2018 11:22:23 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 22: Deposed

July 10 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 15:10-16, 24-30
 
The book of 2 Samuel describes David’s many victories against foreign enemies. Yet, it is apparent that the enemies within, himself and his family, proved to be his toughest challenge.

One of David’s sons, Absalom, was previously exiled from the king’s palace because he struck down another of David’s sons in vengeance (2 Samuel 13:39).
 
After a few years, Absalom managed to persuade the king that he should be welcomed back into the king’s palace, and David welcomed back his son with a kiss (14:33).
 
Absalom was very cunning in the way he manipulated others to regain his position of influence. He then used that position to gain a following among Israel’s people by promoting himself as superior to King David.
 
His entitlement and selfish ambition led him to defy God’s plan, attack his father and overestimate his own abilities.
 
I can only try to imagine the feeling of betrayal David would have felt as he fled from his son’s takeover plot. After many battles against other kings and armies, his greatest battles were always the ones against his apparent allies.
 
In these times, opposition becomes an opportunity for true friends to demonstrate their loyalty.
 
More than that, God is able to show himself faithful and true against the backdrop of disloyal companions.
 
God also demonstrates his presence to us in the midst of upheaval like a solid rock to stand upon when it seems the world is crashing down. As David fled from Jerusalem, he separated himself from the ark of God, which was to remain behind.
 
David trusted that the promises and power of the Lord would keep him secure as he ventured out to face life-threatening risks.
 
His humble response to this challenge is reflected in Psalm 131:1: “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”

7/10/2018 10:47:02 AM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 22: Pray

July 10 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Nehemiah 1:1-11
 
Pour out your heart to God in prayer. It was a dreary winter day, and as my friend walked out of a local store, he noticed a man trembling in the cold.
 
The man was dressed in a worn coat and held out a mug. My friend approached the man and compassionately tossed a few quarters into his cup.
 
Just like my friend, you and I encounter people with desperate needs every day. And at times, it can be challenging to discern how best to help to those who are hurting.
 
Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king of Persia, was used by God to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His life also serves an example to us as we strive to minister to others in a way that honors God.
 
Like Nehemiah, we must first become aware of the needs around us. When visited by a messenger from Judah, Nehemiah asked for an update and learned that the people in Jerusalem were “in great trouble and disgrace” (Nehemiah 1:3). The wall surrounding the city had been demolished.
 
Like Nehemiah, after we become aware of a need, we must respond by acknowledging God and confessing our sin.
 
After learning of the trouble in Jerusalem, Nehemiah “sat down and wept” (Nehemiah 1:4).
 
He also confessed his own sin as well as the sins and corruption that had resulted in the exile of the Jewish people.
 
Like Nehemiah, we must to look to God for guidance before taking steps of action. Before doing anything, Nehemiah asked that the Lord would be attentive. He prayed, “Give your servant success today, and have compassion on him” (Nehemiah 1:11).
 
When my friend tossed his coins into the man’s cup, hot coffee splashed onto his face.
 
The man wasn’t begging for assistance; he was merely sipping a warm drink and waiting for his ride.
 
Just like my friend, it can be easy for us to help out of good intentions without ever stopping to seek God.
 
Instead of rushing to serve, let’s be a people who prepare our hearts first, by seeking God’s guidance through confession and prayer.

7/10/2018 10:46:41 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 15: Grieved

June 26 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 13:15-20; 31-39
 
The consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba continue raging through his family like a consuming fire spreading room by room. So far in 2 Samuel, two of his sons have lost their lives, showing us that while God established the family for loving relationships, sin destroys them.
 
In the land of Israel, incest was forbidden, but his oldest son and heir of the throne, Amnon, lusted after his half-sister Tamar.
 
Against this law, a “very shrewd man” (2 Samuel 13:3) plotted out a way he could get alone with her.
 
How similar this is to the serpent in the garden, suggesting a path around God’s clearly established commands to fulfill selfish desires?
 
In the end, he “hated her more than he had loved her” (2 Samuel 13:15), proving that sin fails to satisfy or to deliver on the promises made.
 
Two years had gone by before Tamar’s other brother Absolom exacted his revenge for the terrible act she suffered. Far from restoring peace to his shattered family, the murder plotted by Absalom only brought more devastation to the house of David.
 
As a result, he was exiled and plunged his family into mourning. In a single act, David lost one son to the grave, and another by separation.
 
In the context of a fireplace, a blazing fire can provide warmth throughout the home. Taken outside its confines, however, it can burn the house to the ground. It is just the same with sexual intimacy.
 
When it is reserved for its proper place in God’s design, it is a blessing.
 
When it is abused to satisfy sinful desires, it is capable of destroying, lives, families and emotional well-being.
 
As the book of 2 Samuel traces the broken promises of sin throughout David’s family, we can grieve over the brokenness we see in and around our lives in today’s challenging times.
 
Forgiveness is the most difficult thing to offer when faced with terrible wrongs, but God’s grace allows us to offer it others and ourselves to find healing.

6/26/2018 1:43:03 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 15: Tithing: Obedient Response to a Gracious God

June 26 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Malachi 3:7-12
 
Respond to God’s goodness through a tithe of your income. Yesterday I tipped the technician at my favorite nail salon and the waitress at a local restaurant. It wasn’t that I owed them anything. I had already paid my bill. I gave them a few extra dollars because my toes were snazzy, my tea was sweet and I was grateful for their work. 
 
Although tipping is often expected, it is certainly voluntary. When we experience good service, we give generously; when we feel mistreated, we leave nothing extra.
 
Could it be that sometimes we are tempted to view giving to the Lord this way as well? 
To be sure, if this describes your heart, you are not alone. In Malachi 3, when God called for His people to return to Him, they cried out asking, “How can we return?” (Malachi 3:7).
 
God’s response was to accuse His people of theft. He said the people were robbing Him because they were not tithing as they had been instructed. To return to God would mean returning to unconditional giving.
 
Giving was, and still is, a fundamental act of obedience to God. God calls us to be givers, and when we tithe, we declare our allegiance to Him. We remind ourselves that everything we have belongs to God in the first place. 
 
When God commanded His people to return to giving in Malachi 3, He also provided a promise. God explained that if His people would live in obedience, He would “pour out a blessing” for them “without measure” (Malachi 3:10). No, all their problems would not disappear, but their land would produce fruit and the nations would consider them fortunate. We do not give in order to receive, and yet, when we live obediently, God blesses us.
 
We are called to give, but our tithing is not a tip. Giving is not optional and it does not reflect our critical approval of God’s work on our behalf. Instead, our giving reflects our worshipful obedience to the One who gave everything for us. And when we give, we can rest in the assurance that God will indeed bless our obedience.

6/26/2018 1:42:52 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 8: Accountable

June 26 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 12:1-14
 
There are many uniformed, instrument-bearing members that make up a marching band. Each person must practice his or her routines in the summer heat, while also performing the music correctly. They are responsible for knowing their steps and unique parts.
 
However, they all look to one person, the drum major, to serve as their rallying point and their leader.
 
God holds all people accountable for their sins, especially those called to lead others. An almost absolute ruler, the king of Israel had to submit to the God who is sovereign over all. Yet David despised the word of the Lord when he broke at least four of the great commandments in one giant misstep.
 
The king was supposed to lead the nation in obedience by observing the law (Deuteronomy 17:18-20), but David’s great sin with Bathsheba did the complete opposite.
 
For most Christians, the most common spiritual leader they interact with is their local pastor. That pastor is your church’s God-called leader to set an example through demonstrating an upright life, sound teaching and other Christ-like qualities. It is both wise and appropriate then to hold pastors to a higher standard and to examine their qualifications. When they fulfill their calling, the people can flourish and the church’s witness to its community can be amplified. When a leader deviates from his calling, it can injure the church and impair its ministry efforts.
 
All believers must repent of their sins, realizing God forgives and walks alongside us through the temporal consequences. Importantly, we need to remember that the shepherds God has placed over us are sheep too. We must permit them to lead us also in the way of confession and repentance when they do stumble.
 
Psalm 32 says unconfessed sin causes a man to waste away, but blessing is poured out on the one who turns back to the Lord and receives forgiveness. Since our leaders are extra accountable for the lives they lead, Christians should intentionally intercede for them so that they do not fall into temptation.

6/26/2018 1:42:39 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 8: What Happens Next?

June 26 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Revelation 21:1-8
 
One day we will fully experience who God created us to be. Sometimes I think living in this fallen world is a lot like serving in a castle as a singing teapot. Just consider the plight of the servants in the animated film “Beauty and the Beast.” The teapot, the clock, the candlestick – they all began life as humans. And yet, because of a curse, they were all transformed into mere household artifacts.
 
We are not Mrs. Potts the singing teapot, but just like her, we live under a curse.
 
Sin has distorted almost every aspect of our world. And just like Mrs. Potts, who desperately hoped to return to her life as a servant, we wait with expectation for the day when we will fully experience everything we were created to be.
 
Mrs. Potts longed for the prince to find true love. We long for the return of Jesus and for the restoration of His Kingdom.
 
Mrs. Potts hoped to live in the presence of a reigning prince. We know that one day all those who belong to Christ will live in God’s presence.
 
According to Revelation 21:3, Christians “will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
 
Mrs. Potts dreamed of serving in a beautifully refurbished castle. When Christ returns, we will truly live in a perfect place. There will be no more tears, and death will be destroyed. “Grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer” (Revelation 21:4).
 
Mrs. Potts longed for her curse to be removed, but she could only hope.
 
There was no guarantee that the prince would find true love. In contrast, our eternity is certain. It is firmly based on our relationship with Christ. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 21:6). He promises to be our God and make us His beloved children.
 
We can rejoice because we know with certainty that one day we will no longer be singing teapots.
 
Instead, we will be transformed, living in God’s presence and dwelling with Him forever.

6/26/2018 1:42:24 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 1: Valued

June 22 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
 
David swore to Jonathan that he would preserve the family line of Saul’s descendants (1 Samuel 20:12-17). That promise is kept when King David finds Jonathan’s surviving son named Mephibosheth and lavishes his wealth on him. The kindness expressed here demonstrates first the importance of keeping our promises.
 
This is especially true in David’s case because the son is apparently the last surviving child of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:3). David graciously restores all the land, provides workers for the fields and invites him into the royal meal each night. Mephibosheth himself has a son named Mica, which further confirms the promise David made that the line of Saul would not be cut off.
 
Twice it is mentioned in this passage that Mephibosheth is “lame in both feet” which implies he was in a disadvantageous position in his society. He very easily could have been looked down upon, and no one would have questioned David if he said, “Mephibo-what? I don’t know who this guy is; get him out of here.”
 
The son himself says, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8).
 
God’s word is telling you unequivocally that he values the poor, the sick, the outsider and the physically impaired as dignified human beings made in His image, specially designed for a personal relationship with Him.
 
Surely we find in David’s kindness an example to follow for offering compassionate care to others and honoring our commitments. May we also celebrate God’s adoption of us into His family. Just like in this story, we were isolated, without a future and looked down upon.
 
Ephesians 2 portrays clearly the reality of those who are far from God: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13, ESV). With a renewed sense of humility from reflecting on our brokenness apart from God’s grace, let us also show kindness and affirm value of others we meet, forfeiting any sense of superiority and loving them with the love we’ve been given.

6/22/2018 1:27:32 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 1: What Should We Do Now?

June 22 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Acts 2:37-47
 
We do not live for ourselves; we serve God by serving others.
 
In 1987, after defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms appeared in the first installment of a famous ad campaign. The recipe was simple. A voice off camera exclaimed, “You’ve just won the Super Bowl! What are you going to do next?”
 
And Phil responded enthusiastically, “I’m going to Disney World.” 
 
This iconic script was repeated in commercials throughout the next several decades. The Walt Disney Company successfully promoted the idea that even when you reach the pinnacle of your craft, life is far from over. Although few, if any, people reading this article will ever win the Super Bowl, as Christians we have experienced a much greater victory. Jesus Christ has redeemed us from sin and restored us to a right relationship with God. And yet, our lives are far from over. 
 
God has saved us from sin, but He has also left us here on earth for a magnificent purpose. As long as we are alive, we are to joyfully serve our Creator. Following the example of the early church, we are to glorify God by leading others to a deeper relationship with their Savior. 
 
In Acts 2:40, Peter urged anyone who would listen to repent and be baptized exclaiming, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” We are to work diligently to lead outsiders to faith in Christ. 
 
The believers in Acts also intentionally encouraged the spiritual growth of fellow saints. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). In the same way, we are to support and help others as they grow in Christ.
 
Our lives should honor God and point to Christ in every circumstance so that His name is made great in our local communities and throughout the world.
 
Yes, we have experienced a great victory, but our lives are far from over. So what if there was a new ad campaign? How would you respond if someone asked you, “You’ve just had your sins forgiven. What are you going to do next?”

6/22/2018 1:27:21 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



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