Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 3: Walking in Love

October 17 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:1-14
 
We often think love is demonstrated by what we do. This is true in most situations. However, there are ways in which love is demonstrated by what we choose not do.
 
In Ephesians 5, Paul commands believers to “walk in love.”
 
In the following verses he illustrates what this means in some interesting ways. He tells Christians that walking in love is to resist sexual sin. Why? Because sexual sin is inherently selfish. Paul tells us to avoid coveting, because coveting is inherently selfish.
 
He calls upon Christians to avoid filthy speech and crude joking, because they are not loving, they are destructive (Ephesians 5:3-4). 
 
Love, by definition, is other-centered. Thus, it will not be selfish, and it will not be destructive. The evidence that we are in Christ is that we love, and we throw off the impulses of selfishness and the destruction of others (Ephesians 5:5-6).
 
Before Christ, our lives were marked by selfish and destructive affections instead of true affection, true love (Ephesians 5:7-14). Thus, the believer must regularly ask “Am I walking in love or selfishness? Am I building up or being destructive?”
 
Think about how this plays out in church life. Are you pursuing your agenda at the expense of the mission Jesus has given us, or at the cost of offending or hurting other believers? Do you engage in gossip, destructive or divisive behavior?
 
Believers are called to walk in love. Walking in love is often manifested in what we choose not to do. How are you walking?

10/17/2019 2:03:13 PM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 3: God’s Will and the Church

October 17 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
 
Several years ago, my friend Cheryl and her husband adopted a beautiful baby boy named Justin. At the moment those papers were signed, Justin legally became their son, and they became his parents.
 
Can you imagine how crazy it would be for Justin to embrace his parents and then reject all other members of his new family? What would you think if Justin ignored his older brother? How you would respond if he treated his grandparents as strangers?
 
As crazy as it may sound, this is exactly what many of us do as believers.
 
When we repent and believe the gospel, we are adopted by God as His son or daughter. Although this relationship is primary, it is not solitary. The moment we are adopted into Christ, we gain an entire family of fellow believers, known as the church. And yet, how often are we tempted to neglect these new relationships?
 
God has many purposes for His church. One purpose is that we would point each other towards God and His truth. Each person who knows Christ has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit works in and through each of us.
 
Through the Holy Spirit, we have been given what the Bible calls spiritual gifts. There is great diversity in these gifts - knowledge, faith, discernment, etc. And yet, all these gifts come from God. “There are different gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4).
 
These gifts are not for our own accolades or glory; they are for building up fellow believers in the faith and pointing them toward the truths of God and His will for our lives.
 
According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, “A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.”
 
It would seem crazy for Justin to ignore his grandparents and miss out on all the blessings of his extended family. It is just as crazy for us as believers to miss out on what God can do as He works in and through our brothers and sisters in Christ by the power of the Spirit.

10/17/2019 2:00:52 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 27: Walking Differently

October 15 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:17-32
 
“I wonder what this professor is like?” I stood awkwardly outside of the classroom, during my first semester teaching, with students who had no idea I was the professor. I was only a few years older than my students. I looked like them, dressed liked them and used the same lingo as them.
 
“I guess we will all find out together,” I said with a smile.
 
As class started and I introduced myself, students were surprised. Nevertheless, there was an immediate comfort with someone who was seemingly just like them. As the semester progressed, students began to see me as “other.”
 
While I was familiar with their interests and shared in a similar culture, my life was markedly different from theirs and it wasn’t just because of the professor to student divide. The fact that I was open about my faith and lifestyle made me seem odd.
 
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul calls upon believers to live in a way that makes a clear distinction between our lives and the lives of unbelievers (Ephesians 4:17-24). While we live in the same culture and share many of the same customs, the core commitments of our lives are radically different because we live in two different kingdoms.
 
As citizens of a better kingdom with the better King, we speak truth in moments where others would speak lies. We forgive when others would hold grudges. We give in moments where others would steal (Ephesians 4:25-32). We are, well, odd.
 
We ought to be a people who are strange to those around – not because we speak in code or all dress alike, nor because we are unable to function in culture. Rather, the priorities of our lives and the affections of our hearts ought to reflect our commitment to King Jesus and His people. 

10/15/2019 11:31:28 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 27: God’s Will and the Holy Spirit

October 15 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
 
I was living in Europe, my car windshield was embarrassingly dirty, and I had no idea how to translate “windshield wiper fluid” into Hungarian. Instead of asking for help, I decided to trust my instincts.
 
I walked down every aisle at my local automotive store, scanning the labels and analyzing the colors of the liquids. Hoping for the best, I made my purchase.
 
As I refilled my fluid and tested out my wipers, I realized I had made a terrible mistake. Globs of blue gunk poured out onto my window.
 
The liquid I had assumed was windshield wiper fluid was actually antifreeze.
 
And, just in case you’re wondering, antifreeze does not clean windows. Without a correct translation of those labels, I was lost.
 
I’m afraid many people read God’s Word and seek His will just like I shopped for wiper fluid. They rely on educated guesses to make sense of what God is saying, but miss the point.
 
You see, we were never meant to fully understand God’s will for our lives in our own strength. But God has not left us without help. He has given us His Holy Spirit, who guides us as we seek to know His will. Paul writes, “God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
 
The world is full of people using earthly reasoning to make life choices. They have rejected the wisdom of God because they do not know Him. According to Paul, “the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
 
As people who belong to Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are not without hope, and we don’t have to live with antifreeze on our windows. Through God’s Spirit, we “can evaluate everything” and discern the deep truths of God (1 Corinthians 2:15).

10/15/2019 11:28:09 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 20: Walking Forward

October 4 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16
 
“I will pray for you!” Often, you say that to another believer and if you’re honest, you never pray. We’ve turned “I’ll pray for you” into a meaningless nicety. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
 
What the Apostle Paul envisioned for the church was believers actually praying for one another and building one another up into Christian maturity. Moreover, he envisioned Christians praying specifically for the presence of the Spirit to be evident in the life of a believer.
 
That Spirit manifests as Christian brothers and sisters using their God-given gifts to love and serve one another. According to the Apostle, God gives His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers “to build up the body of Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit’s presence, as He works through Christian brothers and sisters, that strengthens and equips the congregation.
 
We certainly should ask for the needs of other Christians to be met, but more than that, we ought to ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit to be evident in their lives through the outworking of their gifts. That is how God chooses to equip His church to be more like Jesus.
 
In recognizing my own temptation to tritely say “I’ll pray for you,” only to forget, I now attempt pray for someone on the spot. I ask the Lord to intervene in whatever situation is going on, but I always make a specific request that the presence of the Spirit would be known and felt in the life of the believer for whom I’m praying.
 
As we encounter requests for prayer, our fellowship in Christ should drive us to faithful and fervent prayer so that the body of Christ might be built up. And let us take every opportunity to speak the “truth in love” so that “the whole body, fitted and knit together” might grow into maturity for the sake of God’s glory.

10/4/2019 10:05:25 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 20: God’s Will and the Bible

October 4 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Psalm 19:7-14
 
My husband and I are expecting our first child in January, and just recently, at our little one’s 20-week anatomy scan, we were amazed by the detail with which the technician examined every part of his tiny body.
 
She was able to accurately measure his arms, spine, brain and so much more. Unfortunately, although the expert needed our baby to flip over for his final measurements, he refused. We were forced to reschedule our appointment.
 
Every adult in the office that day understood what was best for the baby, but we were unable to communicate with our bundle of joy. The little guy had no idea how important it was for him to do a somersault.
 
Is it possible that, as believers, we are tempted to view God’s will in a similar way? We know God has a plan and that His way is best, but sometimes we live in oblivion.
 
This sort of behavior is far from what our Creator intended. God has not left us like a baby in utero, with no way to listen to His instruction. We have direct access to God’s will through His Word. Instead of spending months or even years wondering what God’s will may be for our lives, we can know His good and loving plan for us with complete certainty and trust. As the psalmist writes in Psalm 17:7, “the instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life.”
 
When we obey God’s word and align our will with His, the result will always be blessing. As we follow God’s directions, we are “warned by them, and in keeping them there is an abundant reward” (Psalm 17:11).
 
For right now, I have to hope that when we return for our next ultrasound appointment our baby will cooperate, turning in the right way for the technician to complete her job.
 
You and I, on the other hand, have nothing to wait for. We can open the pages of God’s word today and learn His good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives.

10/4/2019 10:03:09 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 13: Walking Together

October 1 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:1-10
 
Christians can divide over silly things sometimes. Other times we split over serious issues. Yet, the Scripture calls us to unite on the most important issue: the gospel.
 
Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
 
One of the markers of the gospel at work among God’s people is that we have supernatural unity that transcends culture, politics, ethnicity, socio-economic status and more. Most of our divisions along these lines arise because of arrogance and pride. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us that to walk worthy of the gospel is to live a life of humility (Ephesians 4:1-3).
 
To walk worthy of the gospel is to have a life marked by the fruit of the gospel, which is unity in and because of the gospel.
 
Does Christian unity, because of the gospel, mark your life? Do you live, regardless of your differences, with other Christians as if you truly share the “one Lord?” Do you act as if those with whom you disagree with on non-essential issues actually share in the “one faith” or do you treat them as if they are spiritually inferior? Because of the gospel, all believers share the same Father, according to Paul. That means we are one family. Families don’t always get along, but they always love each other.
 
Even in families with strained relationships, usually there is a time of the year when the family gets together to celebrate a holiday around a meal. In those moments, you are reminded that even though you don’t always get along with your family, you love them.
 
Every time the church gathers, it is a holiday (holy day), and we ought to celebrate around a meal (the Lord’s Supper).
 
This should remind us of our love for one another because of Christ’s love for us. And our love for our brothers and sisters must be demonstrated in Christian unity.

10/1/2019 11:20:06 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 13: God’s Will and My Will

October 1 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Romans 11:33-12:2; Ephesians 1:4-6
 
Life is full of questions. Some questions are inconsequential, but others have a huge impact on our daily lives. Is a hot dog a sandwich? If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Why do some people seem to experience more suffering than others? When will the cure for cancer be discovered?
 
One of the biggest questions we will ever confront as Christ’s followers is, ‘How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty and our own free will?’
 
The Bible explicitly teaches that God chooses people to follow Him. In Ephesians 1:4, Paul writes, “For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world.”
 
We trust these words to be absolutely true, and yet, we must admit that as finite humans, our understanding of God’s sovereignty is limited. We know God is in control.
 
We also know God has given us a free will. For example, God calls us to exercise that will by repenting and believing the gospel.
 
I’m so glad God never requires us to fully understand how His sovereignty and man’s free will can exist at the same time. According to Pastor Matt Chandler, “Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss.” Even the author of Romans writes, “who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34).
 
Our response to this mystery must never be fear or defensiveness.
 
Instead, when we dwell richly in these truths, we will be overwhelmed with worship and praise. What’s more, the result will be that we are able to “discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2b).
 
You and I may never agree on the status of a hot dog, but almost all of us can admit they are pretty tasty!
 
In the same way, although the tension between our will and God’s can sometimes seem overwhelming and uncertain, we must be careful to never allow this mystery to keep us from thanking God for His overwhelming gift of salvation.

10/1/2019 11:15:54 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 6: Residence

September 24 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Eph. 3:14-21
 
There are some songs that just make you feel strong, confident and energized. For instance, the theme song to the film “Rocky,” no matter how tired I am, makes me feel like I could put on a sweat suit, run up and down some stairs, punch a heavy bag, and then take on Russian boxer Ivan Drago. But after the song is over, I’m reminded that I’m tired, and Drago would literally break me.
 
For the Christian, the darkness, pain, suffering and sin of this life are constantly aiming to break us. Satan, our enemy, desires our total and complete destruction. And unlike the Italian Stallion, we cannot simply reach down deep to our inner strength and win the battle in which we find ourselves.
 
Instead, we must rely on the strength of Christ, which is present among the people Christ by the indwelling Spirit of Christ: “... according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
 
Through His death, burial, and glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus has broken the power of our enemy and has secured victory for His people (Ephesians 3:20-21).
 
He has already won the fight.
 
Our triumph is not secured by inner strength or a theme song of personal victory. Instead, our strength is Christ’s strength and our song of victory is Christ Alone.

9/24/2019 10:07:08 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 6: Uncomplicated Relationship

September 24 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
 
Isn’t it amazing how technology, the thing intended to simplify our chaos, often seems to do exactly the opposite? Social media, for example, has streamlined our ability to connect with people around the world, but it has also made relationships much more complicated. Should we add a friend we’ve only been introduced to in passing? Should we devote hours to scrolling through posts or wishing happy birthdays? Should we live under the pressure of staying in touch with friends from decades past?
 
I can say without hesitation that although technology is far from the root of the problem, God never intended for us to live in so much drama. Instead, Christ calls us to a change in perspective. Our love for Christ, not our access to technology, should drive how we interact with others.
 
We must filter every relationship in our lives through an attitude that puts Christ first, people second and ourselves third.
 
Paul provides guidelines for relationships in 1 Thessalonians 4, explaining that we are to approach others with purity and humility. As we put others before ourselves, we are to be careful to “not transgress and take advantage of a brother or sister” (1 Thessalonians 4:6). God calls us to flee from impurity and live lives of holiness.
 
We are to focus on our own actions instead of the circumstances of others. Paul instructs, “seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12a).
 
Yes, social media can be wonderful. I love being able to catch up with friends from decades past.
 
But you’ve got to admit, it can be so tempting in front of a screen for us to become consumed with comparing ourselves to others. When we allow God’s love to lead us, not only are our lives simplified, but we are set free to truly love those around us.

9/24/2019 10:05:09 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



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