Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 3: The Gospel Message

November 14 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 13:26-39
When I taught in public school, I quickly learned that if I was going to effectively teach and manage a class I had to determine what was nonnegotiable. These expectations for behavior were set in place and not up for debate. Coming to class prepared with pencil and paper, respecting your classmates and listening while the teacher was talking were three such examples.
Equally important to having these expectations was that I clearly communicate them. How could the students know what the standard was if I didn’t communicate them?    
In Acts 13, Paul delivers a sermon, and in the middle of this sermon, he does two note-worthy things. First, he establishes what is nonnegotiable in the message of salvation, Christ’s death and resurrection. Secondly, he communicates it to them.  
Often referred to as the linchpin of Christianity, the message of salvation through Christ is empty if Jesus had not been resurrected (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus’ resurrection not only showed God’s immense power, but it proved Jesus was who He said He was. He was God, which is why Paul makes this part of his salvific plea, “But God raised him from the dead!” (v. 30).
He’s saying, “don’t miss this. It is of utmost importance.” He even repeats this truth again in verses 34 and 37. It is safe to say that Paul views this fact as a nonnegotiable.  
The text also makes it clear that Paul extends the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. In verse 32, he says, “We bring you the good news.” In verse 38, he says, “Let it be known to you,” and then again, “through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
Bring, be known and proclaim describe what Paul is doing. He’s communicating the truth he knows.
When we tell others the gospel message we must include the resurrection of Jesus. It is a nonnegotiable, but we must also clearly communicate that message!

11/14/2017 8:32:32 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 3: Jesus Calls

November 14 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 1:14-20
Growing up, I loved fishing in the Rocky Mountains with my dad. As a seasoned expert, he was perfectly capable of fishing on his own, though he’d much rather share the experience with a loved one.
The joy it brought him was contagious, and I grew to love fishing because he loved it.
Before a fishing trip, we would gather equipment, prepare rods and talk about what we might catch. We’d be out the door by 4 a.m., but I didn’t mind getting up early. In fact, I didn’t care about leaving the comfort of my bed, because I treasured adventures with my dad. After finding the perfect spot, we’d sit on the bank, cast our line and wait for the fish to bite. On the occasion that I caught a fish, my dad had to reel it in because he was much stronger than I was.

Simon, Andrew, James and John were also fishermen who Jesus called to follow Him. Simon and Andrew “left their nets” and James and John “left their father” to become “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20). These men were willing to leave comfort behind for an undertaking that would change their lives. Jesus also shared how we can become fishers of men by repenting, believing the gospel, abiding in Christ and preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14-20). Much like preparing for a fishing trip, we must prepare to be fishers of men. We need faith and the Spirit, just as we need equipment; we need the gospel like we need a fishing rod; and we can anticipate the mission by conversing with God through prayer. We may cast the net of Good News, but our trust must rest in God to save souls. Our heavenly Father is the expert of salvation, and He’s more than able to accomplish the task without us. Nevertheless, He longs to share this adventure with His children.  The joy of our Lord is contagious, and we’ll grow to love the process of sharing the Good News, simply because He loves to share it too.

11/14/2017 8:30:37 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 26: Set Futures

November 14 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Leviticus 26:3-16, 40-45
In recent days I have had to accept a hard truth: my children will never obey perfectly.
A few weeks ago, my son had to be put out of his soccer game twice for disobedience. This morning when I dropped him off for school, his teacher referred to him as the “wild child.”
Even I have quipped about “the preacher’s kid.”
On another occasion I disciplined my daughter for disobeying, at which point she looked up at me steely-eyed, as if to say, “bring it on old man.”
Let’s face it, as hard as we work at both formative and corrective discipline, our kids still possess a sin nature – strong-willed, defiant and rebellious.
God did not love Israel because of her inherent righteousness nor did He operate under the assumption that in showing love to her she would then be perfectly obedient. This makes the conditional nature of the covenant somewhat puzzling at first glance.
If you walk in my statutes and keep My commandments … then I shall give you rains … But if you do not obey Me … I will appoint over you a sudden terror.”
Paul resolves this conflict of ideas in his epistle to the Romans. In 7:9-10 he states the problem. “When the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me …
In 8:3-4 he gives us the remedy: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us …
Christ met the conditions of the covenant on our behalf. He met the condition of perfect obedience (Leviticus 26:1-13) and He took the punishment upon Himself for utter disobedience (Leviticus 26:14-45).
Now, in Him, we no longer fear judgmental wrath, but rather we embrace His Fatherly discipline which is wrought for our good and His glory.

11/14/2017 8:28:41 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 26: Andrew: Active Witness

November 14 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: John 1:35-42; 12:20-26
I took the students from our church to a missions camp this summer. I wanted the young people to get out of their comfort zone and share the gospel with people.
In my desire to challenge the students, I overlooked an important point.
As we went out the first day, it was me who would share first.
When I walked up to the first person, I was nervous. I had to ask myself, “Why am I scared to share the greatest story ever told?”
The only thing running through my mind was the outcome.
If they don’t respond positively to the gospel, have I failed? Did I not present the gospel correctly?
I don’t think I am alone when it comes to these thoughts.
Many of us know we should share the gospel, yet we decline to out of fear of failure. This study on Andrew should encourage us greatly.
In the first chapter of John, we meet a guy named Andrew who comes to know Christ as Messiah.
In return, Andrew runs to find others to come and meet Jesus.
Andrew’s immediate and urgent response indicates something: the greatest thing we can do for family and friends is bring them to Jesus.
We should be bold and eager to share the greatest message of all, not shrinking back.
We find Andrew again in John 12.
Jesus and His disciples are at a festival, and they meet some Greeks who want to see Jesus. So, what does Andrew do? He finds Jesus.
Like Andrew, we should invite those seeking answers to encounter Jesus.
There are lots of people looking for answers in the world.
We should invite them to know our Savior.

11/14/2017 8:26:49 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 19: Set Free

October 31 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Leviticus 16:3-10, 29-30
Substitution is an idea that most people are familiar with. If the teacher is unable to fulfill her duties, she enlists a substitute to act for her on her behalf.
In baseball, the coach might call for a pinch hitter to bat in the place of another.
This summer, I played church league softball with a sister congregation, and for various reasons certain players would call for a “runner” to take their place as they advanced toward home plate.
Whatever the circumstance, the idea behind any form of substitute is that something is lacking (ability, availability and so on) and requires something or someone more capable to complete the task.
God established the Day of Atonement on which a sacrifice would be offered to atone for all of the sins of Israel.
As the passage in Leviticus relates, two goats would be involved in the ceremony, one to be offered as a propitiation thereby appeasing God’s wrath and the other to serve as a scapegoat to bear the sins of the people away.
These animals would serve as substitutes for the people who because of sin justly deserved the outpouring of God’s righteous judgment.
Yet, Hebrews 10:1-4 says, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
The Day of Atonement served to point God’s people to their need for a better sacrifice, a sacrifice that would be offered by Jesus Christ on the cross. He is the sin offering, the one who appeases God’s wrath, and the scapegoat, the one who bears our sins away. By grace through faith in Him, there is now no condemnation.

10/31/2017 8:26:38 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 19: Hannah: Trust-Filled Prayer

October 31 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: 1 Samuel 1:9-11, 17-18, 26-28; 2:1-3
How many times in life have you desperately been in need before? I remember a few times I have been in desperate need.
Not long ago I was without a job for a significant period of time. I applied at many places and went through several interviews. Yet, for some reason I was still unemployed.
Even one month before the day I was to be married, I was still without a job. My soon-to-be bride would be transitioning away from her out-of-state teaching job after the wedding, and neither of us would be bringing in money once her school year ended.
So, I went to God in deep prayer in need of a door opening so I could provide for my family. I remember as the stress grew that God gave me a great peace. I applied for a job a friend of mine told me about and within three days I was working.
Here in this lesson we come across a woman named Hannah who was also in need before God.
Hannah desired to have a child, so she turned it over to God. She brought her needs before the Lord.
The great part about going to the Lord in prayer is that He hears us and answers. The text says He remembered the need of His servant, and she conceived a child. God was in the work of answering Hannah, even when she did not know it.
The result of the birth of her son, Samuel, is that she gives him back to God. Not only does she display obedience, but she praises God for the blessing in her life. We, too, should respond to God amid the blessings and answered prayers in our life.

10/31/2017 8:24:32 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 12: Set Apart

October 31 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Leviticus 9:15-24; 10:1-3
I fancy myself an amateur baker. I make biscuits from scratch, I decorate cakes, I make cookies, and I love it. My favorite item to bake is pie. I can’t fully explain why, but there is something very satisfying about pulling the finished product out of the oven and observing its beauty, particularly if it’s a meringue pie, and I’ve gotten it right.
To make meringue, you whisk egg whites together and then gradually add sugar until it reaches the right thickness. Anyone who bakes knows that when you separate the eggs beforehand, even the tiniest hint of yolk left behind will spoil the meringue. Only pure whites properly set apart will produce a pie beautiful enough to please the baker.
In Leviticus 9 and 10, Aaron and his sons endure the grueling task of self-purification, atoning for their own sins through bloody sacrifice that they might then make atonement for the sins of the people.
Their purification is complete and their sacrifice accepted as the Lord in glorious and terrifying fashion consumes the offering with fire. However, the weaknesses and the temporal nature of the sacrificial system are on full display in the next three verses. Nadab and Abihu are struck dead for offering strange fire unto the Lord.
Jesus inaugurates a better way and succeeds where the old system was insufficient.
While the Law could not completely purify from sin in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did so by sending Christ to die on the cross (Romans 8:3). Christ is the pure and undefiled priest who offers Himself as the sacrifice once and for all. As such, he holds a permanent priesthood, interceding for and saving forever those who believe on Him in faith (Hebrews 7:23-28).

Therefore, those of us who believe join a kingdom of priests, “a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). We have been purified and properly set apart to live holy lives, abstaining from fleshly desires and behaving as model citizens of His eternal Kingdom, that others might see Christ’s beauty and so glorify Him.

10/31/2017 8:23:00 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 12: John: Single-Minded Focus

October 31 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: John 1: 26-34; 3:26-30
I worked at a church in Mobile, Ala., my senior year of college. The pastor there had been in ministry for over 50 years. During this time, he baptized something like 10,000 people. I even heard one guy say he was the Billy Graham of pastors.
People came from all over to hear him preach.
By all accounts, we would say “Wow!” this man was a success and had a lot to be proud about. Yet, whenever people would try to praise him, he would always say, “It’s not about me. We come to praise God.”
I was taken aback. This man, who had such a huge following, did not care about the limelight. He simply wanted to make Christ known. He exemplified that Christ-centered living chooses to exalt Christ, not self.
When we come to this study in John, it is a familiar storyline.
John the Baptist is baptizing, and along the way, here comes Jesus. John says, “I baptize you with water but among you is one who takes away the sin of the world.”
He even goes so far as to say he is unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. Here we see John pointing to the greatness and salvation of Jesus.
John goes on to talk about the One who sent him to baptize with water – the One on whom you see the Spirit descend like a dove is the One who baptizes in the Spirit.
He describes his experience of understanding who Jesus is.
We should do the same thing when talking to others, emphasize the One who called and saved us.
In the last part of this study, we read about Jesus baptizing and gaining a following. John’s disciples asked about this.
John answers, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
This is what we all must do as followers of Christ. It is not about us, it’s about making Christ known.
We must not try and build a name for ourselves.
We are called to build Christ’s Kingdom, to make His name known.

10/31/2017 8:19:27 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 5: Set Before

October 17 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal passage: Leviticus 1:3-9; 2:1-3; 3:1-5
As a pastor, I am called to equip my people to do the work of the ministry. One of the things I have done over the last year and a half is to teach through systematic theology on Wednesday nights. Yet there hasn’t been a week gone by – good or bad – that I have not thought to myself, “I’m boring them to tears. They don’t really care about this. Maybe I should shift gears.”
This summer, however, two Sunday School teachers approached me at different times, and told me how theology notebooks helped them understand their lessons.
They were grateful for having learned the information, and I was pleased the tool I had set in place served its purpose.
In Leviticus, God establishes the sacrificial system as a tool for His chosen people to atone for their sins and to offer Him praise for all He has done. The burnt offering appeased God’s wrath while the grain and fellowship offerings were given to thank God for His blessings and to enjoy peace with Him.
Regarding the grain and fellowship offerings, Ligon Duncan observes that, “These sacrifices are not the mandated festival sacrifices that are described elsewhere in the books of Moses. These are sacrifices which the worshiper is given the privilege of bringing when he desires to. There may be an instance in life that prompts a worshiper to want to come and bring the sacrifice of the fellowship offering, or of the peace offering.”
Notice also that no offering of praise or of peace is given until the burnt offering, an offering to deal with sin, has been made.
For us, Christ is the burnt offering, the once and for all atoning sacrifice for the sins of His people that allows us the privilege of thanking Him for His blessings and enjoying His peace. Serve Him with gladness from a grateful heart and rest assured that He is eternally pleased with you.
10/17/2017 3:14:25 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 5: Barnabas: Ongoing Encouragement

October 17 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-27; 11:19-26
Everyone loves to be around encouraging people. I love to be around these people too. I remember a teacher in high school that said writing thank you letters is one of the most encouraging things a person can do.
Honestly, I thought she was crazy when she said this. After all, we live in a world of technology. We send emails now, not handwritten letters.
My attitude changed when I received my first handwritten letter. The author said they were praying for me, and if I needed anything to let them know. It was something so simple, yet it had a great impact on me.
The majority of handwritten letters I receive today come from senior adults. They don’t need anything fancy to encourage me, just a pen and paper. They simply use what they have to do what they can.
The same can be said of Barnabas, because in Acts 4, he sold a field and gave the money to the apostles. He used what he had to help build up the church.
We too can do what we can with what God has gifted us with to build His Kingdom. In Acts 9:26-27 Saul came into Jerusalem, and the disciples were afraid. Let me add: I would be too. But Barnabas steps in and speaks up for Saul. We too should encourage others by standing with them and becoming their advocate.
In Acts 11 we see the church in Antioch start to grow. We see the apostles send none other than Barnabas to them. And the passage says he was encouraged and taught them. Both Saul and Barnabas spent a year with the church in Antioch. The best way we can encourage others, like Barnabas, is by helping them grow spiritually.
Christ-centered living chooses encouragement, not criticism. We must strive to be like Barnabas and use what God has given us to build His Kingdom. We can stand up and be an advocate for others. We can also help fellow brothers and sisters grow in Christ. Let us be an ongoing encouragement to others.
10/17/2017 3:08:32 PM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments

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