Sunday School Lessons

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 26: Giving with Joy

February 7 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 4:10-20
 
Paul acknowledged in the book of Philippians that serving is often done in a partnership with others (1:5; 4:15) and there is joy for all involved. Both the giver and the receiver benefit from the act of giving.
 
Our lesson writer challenges us to join God in His work of giving for the benefit of others. One of the privileges of being a church member is we are often presented with numerous opportunities to give. There are ministries that need time, talents and financial resources.
As we look at each opportunity, it is helpful to consider Paul’s words regarding how much it meant to him to see believers giving to the glory of God.
 
Our pastor recently preached a sermon on giving that was so full of joy and warmth that a 92-year-old woman in the church commented, “I have heard many sermons on giving, and that was the best one I have ever heard!”
 
Although there were three fine points to the sermon, along with appropriate illustrations, I don’t think that is what brought the woman to encourage the pastor. I think it was the joy that was evident in the pastor as he shared from Exodus 35 that we should give together, give freely and give obediently.
 
He reminded us that giving isn’t something we have to do, but that we get to do.
We set the example for our children when we say, “we get to give our offering today,” rather than, “we have to give our offering today.”
 
Do we find ourselves giving, but with fingers having to be pried open from a tightly closed fist? Or, are we freely giving with hands open wide?
 
As you consider the lesson, take a moment to list all the ways you can readily remember how you have benefitted from the giving of others.
 
Then, make a list of the ways you can quickly think of how you are freely giving to others.
If you observe that one list is rather short, prayerfully consider how God is leading you to give with joy.
 

2/7/2017 8:56:26 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 26: Redeemed and Secure

February 7 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Ruth 3:8-13; 4:13-17
 
Love anyone? The rituals of love and mating can be both unique and unusual.
The Puritans did not believe in lavish diamond rings – too extravagant and worldly.
 
Therefore, a young bride-to-be would receive a thimble from her fiance.
 
The thimble would be used for sewing items needed for the house or for a wedding dress, and when all those duties were completed, she could have the thimble tip cut off, leaving her a very practical wedding band.
 
Around the same period of history, the Welsh exchanged “love spoons” as a sign of romantic intent. The young man would labor many hours crafting his spoon, offering to his female crush a most magnificent utensil that was sure to warm her affections.
 
Ancient Israel also had some interesting and unusual mating customs. Like the Puritans and Welsh, they were very practical. Levirate marriage was a means of providing children for the family when the original husband had died childless.
 
A brother, or another family member, could marry the childless widow and procreate (father) a child for the deceased brother or kinsman. We see this custom authorized and practiced in Genesis 38, Deuteronomy 25 and in the book of Ruth.
 
Naomi, upon her return to Bethlehem, had concluded that the kinsman Boaz, if he could be convinced of Ruth’s potential as a mate, would be the perfect choice. Not only could Boaz provide her and Ruth financial stability, he could provide them with a son to continue their family line. What mother doesn’t want to be a grandmother?
 
Well, Ruth indeed warmed Boaz’s feet and his heart. He was overjoyed that the attractive Ruth had chosen him over the many other younger potential suitors. However, there was a slight catch. Another man, who was closer kin to Elimelech, had first dibs on Ruth. But once he realized a marriage to Ruth would cost him inheritance-wise, he “removed his sandal” (4:8) and gave the prized first rights to Boaz.
 
Boaz became Ruth and Naomi’s redeemer.
 

2/7/2017 8:54:16 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 19: Practicing Joy

February 7 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 4:4-9
 
Think for a moment about a favorite recipe that yields the best dish each time. Your family loves it, you love to eat it and it is delicious!
 
Our passage this week is like a recipe. This recipe yields plenty of servings of joy and it starts with the instruction, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
 
That instruction is just a bit harder than “preheat the oven to 350 degrees,” but it is the first step. We add a generous portion of graciousness, take out any worry, then add praying, seasoned with thanksgiving.
 
We ask God what we need for the recipe, then throw in a dash of being true, pure, honorable, lovely, commendable, morally excellent and a measure of praise! Now, that is a spice cabinet of great value!
 
The good news too, is that not only does this recipe yield joy, but peace too! This is a recipe we should want to use all the time.
 
So, what stops us? Our lesson suggests that one obstacle to practicing joy is that we lose focus.
 
As we keep our focus on Christ, joy and peace flood our hearts and minds.
 
My Mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has given all of us who love her the opportunity to practice joy – no one more than my dad! He is her full-time caregiver and does it each day out of love and his focus staying on Christ. It is the love of Christ that allows him to rejoice as he serves her unselfishly and enables him to be gracious in the face of Alzheimer’s related behaviors. He also knows the value of prayer.
 
He is thankful when I remind him that I am praying for him every day as he serves my mom and lives out his covenant of marriage.
 
Paul reminds believers that it is through the practice of letting “your requests be made known to God” that we receive the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” and he “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).
 
Whatever challenge you face today, be encouraged that you have a recipe that will enable you to practice joy!
 

2/7/2017 8:51:45 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 19: Faith Through Trials

February 7 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Ruth 1:6-18
 
My dad spent the last year of his life in nursing home care. It is not where he would have chosen to be. It was the choice of necessity. Yet, he didn’t complain and made the best of the life before him. It would, and it did, end one day.
 
Elimelech and Naomi’s home had been Bethlehem. It had been their ancestral home for many generations. It was the birthplace of their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and under normal circumstances, Bethlehem would have remained their home for life. However, circumstances dictated change.
 
The famine in Bethlehem forced them to consider other options, and they chose the land of Moab where they expected to live “for a while” (Ruth 1:1b).
 
Now for many Hebrews a journey and stay in Moab would have been more like purgatory than paradise, but they gave it their best shot. Unfortunately, Elimelech died, and some years later, sons Mahlon and Chilion also died.
 
Those left in Moab were the women, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.
Naomi, whose name means “pleasant,” became very unpleasant. She understandably became bitter (v. 14) because of her devastating losses.
 
The focal passage describes Naomi’s decision to go back home. She had rightly concluded there was nothing to keep her in the alien land of Moab. The famine in Bethlehem had passed, and in Bethlehem there was some family left on her husband’s side. Furthermore, Orpah and Ruth were still young enough to find new husbands in the land of Moab.
 
An interesting twist in the story happens when Naomi, who is experiencing a crisis of faith, agrees to let Ruth accompany her on this journey. Ruth, the Moabite, taught to worship a pagan god, now chose not only Naomi but Naomi’s God and whatever future Naomi’s God would provide (v. 18).
 
Crisis can make us bitter or better. It can devastate us, or increase our faith and devotion. My dad’s faith grew, I believe, because of how he handled his own Moab.
 

2/7/2017 8:49:31 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 12: Growing with Joy

January 25 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 3:12-21
 
The spiritual giant, Paul, acknowledges that even he had not perfected following Christ. He realized that it is a process as we move toward the goal of a full understanding of obedience to Christ.
 
He points out that there always has been and there always will be, those who make different choices. It is up to each individual believer and to the church to keep our focus on our “citizenship in heaven” (v. 20).
 
We can find joy in the growth process. A child most likely gets discouraged when he struggles to ride a bike or tie his shoes, and as parents we respond. We don’t sit back and just tell our child to give up! Instead, we encourage them to keep trying and to maybe look for new ways to accomplish the task.
 
Paul is encouraging us. We can know that day-by-day, as we “press on” (v. 12), we can do it with joy.
 
One way to take joy in this journey is to follow the example of mature believers. There is a couple in my church who recently celebrated 60 years of marriage and ministry as together. They have served side by side from the time of seminary, in churches and now in numerous roles in our church.
 
They each have joy in their eyes and voices as they share about their Savior. They tell funny stories about living on practically nothing during the seminary years and stories of warmth as they share about the latest grandchild who they are influencing for the cause of Christ.
The wife shares the gospel with those God places in her path at the grocery store and the doctor’s office. The husband ministers weekly to the senior adult choir.
 
If you compliment them for their service, they very quickly direct the praise and glory to God. It is beautiful and inspiring!
 
They will also let you know they “eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (vv. 20-21).
 
They demonstrate growing with joy!
 

1/25/2017 10:39:14 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 12: Compromised Potential

January 25 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Judges 16:4-6, 13-20
 
Len Bias was an All-American and all-everything college basketball player. For years he had terrorized his Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. Bias so impressed Boston Celtics great Larry Bird of his potential that Bird recommended that Celtics general manager Red Auerbach draft Bias as the overall number two pick in the 1986 NBA draft.
 
Auerbach did, and the Celtics’ world celebrated. Tragically, two days later Len Bias was pronounced dead, presumably as a reaction to a cocaine overdose: compromised potential.
 
Samson would be the last of Israel’s judges. His rise from obscurity to greatness is well known. Manoah’s wife was barren, but God intervened by sending His angel to her with the message that she was to birth a son, and this son would take the Nazarite vow – no alcohol consumed, nothing unclean eaten and uncut hair.
 
The boy was born, was given the name Samson, and God blessed him (13:24).
 
Samson’s life was defined by his biceps and riddles. No one was a match for the mighty and witty Samson. He infuriated his enemies to the point that the Philistines stayed awake at night plotting his demise.
 
They watched Samson and discovered his greatest weakness was women. Therefore, when Samson hooked up with the beautiful and persuasive Delilah, they believed she could deliver Samson for them. And she did.
 
The story of Samson began with such promise – a loving family, the blessing of God, extreme ability and strength. All Samson had to do was keep his vow, his promises to God.
 
But in his search for pleasure, he wasted God’s gift.
 
Potential is an elusive word. We all have it, but we don’t all reach it. Len Bias reached his potential while at the University of Maryland. It was assumed he could reach even higher potential as a Celtic. It didn’t happen.
 
Samson, likewise, was the poster boy for “potential.” He had it by the bucket loads. Unfortunately, his faith and commitment to God didn’t match his potential.
 

1/25/2017 10:36:13 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 5: Following with Joy

January 25 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 2:1-11
 
Paul challenges us to consider that the path to living in real joy is by following Christ. To follow Christ means to demonstrate humility, then we find joy.
 
This approach to finding joy is of course countercultural. Our culture proclaims that temporary measures, such as a purchase of a new car or taking a certain vacation will bring joy. These momentary fixes are all about supposedly meeting our needs and giving us what we deserve. After all, we have worked hard or proven ourselves worthy of such things.
 
However, as Christians, we understand that we only actually deserve an eternity apart from God due to our sin.
 
True joy comes from the amazing gift of eternal life that we receive through the grace extended to us in the saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Out of that realization, we want to obey Christ and experience true joy.
 
I AM SECOND, is a movement that has helped many individuals consider who or what was being placed first in their lives. The iamsecond.com site states they “inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.” Each person who shares on their site has come to the realization that instead of placing Jesus first in their lives, they had sought to meet their needs through allowing other things to take precedence. The list of celebrities, sports icons and television faces includes Chip and Joanna Gaines, Darrell Waltrip and Josh Turner. Each testimony concludes with the celebrity stating their name followed by “I am second.”
 
Perhaps we could reflect on what we might share in a similar testimony. After all, following Jesus is a 100 percent commitment. As the familiar hymn reminds us, “… the world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back.”
 
Following Jesus gives each believer love for others and purpose in each day. As we love others, we find many opportunities to practice humility as we strive to follow the example of Jesus. This leads to true joy.
 

1/25/2017 10:33:57 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 5: Timid Warrior

January 25 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Judges 6:11-16, 25-32
 
Michael Oher became nationally known following the debut of the movie “The Blind Side.” The teenage Oher was encouraged to play football, where he initially proved to be a very large but very timid warrior. He did not want to hurt his teammates or anyone else.
 
Another issue perplexing the young Oher was family. If he accepted the very generous offer of the Tuohy family, would he be betraying his race and friends? Still later, after he had proven to be a mighty warrior on the high school gridiron, he wrestled with the decision of what major university to play for.
 
Would his decision be to please the Tuohys, himself, or both?
 
Likewise, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was trying to protect his family’s wheat crop from the Midianites, Gideon was identified as “mighty warrior.”
 
Gideon responded, “Who me? You must have the wrong guy. I’m the last person you should choose” (v. 15).
 
Then the Lord tasked Gideon to do something that would take real guts and real faith. He was commissioned to tear down the altars of Baal and Asherah (Gideon’s name means to “hack or cut down.”)
 
But these particular objects were not the idols of a foreign enemy or a benign neighbor. These altars belonged to his father. And while Gideon could understand that his father was wrong to have erected and worshiped these false gods, he knew there would likely be severe consequences for himself if he obeyed God.
 
He could lose his life.
 
In fact, Gideon was so petrified by the thought of obeying God that he demolished his father’s altars at night when no one could see his actions. The next day was reckoning day.
Fortunately for Gideon, his father loved him more than the idols and declared that if Baal and Asherah have power, let them punish Gideon.
 
The jump from “timid” to “mighty” comes when God’s children have the courage to risk an uncertain future for a certain God.
 

1/25/2017 10:31:52 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Jan. 29: Sharing with Joy

January 10 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 1:12-21
 
Paul took the time to reassure the readers of his letter that even though he is in prison, he is okay. And not only okay, but that good things have come from the hardship. In Philippians 1:12, he asserts, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
 
What could possibly produce more joy in a believer than coming to that realization?
 
As we study our lesson this week from Philippians 1:12-21, we see that Paul gives us examples of what to do and what not to do. Paul encourages the believers to share Christ with joy, no matter what their circumstances. Therefore, at the top of the do list is share Christ with joy.
 
He points out however that there are those who have chosen to share Christ with wrong motives.
 
At the top of the not to do list is to not share Christ out of envy, strife or rivalry. However, Paul is very quick to remind all believers that even though some have wrong motives, that was not to keep the believers from sharing Christ with joy.
 
Today, we can recognize that a key to joy is as Paul stated, “what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel.”
 
So, let’s think for a moment about those experiences in your life when you felt something “happened” to you.
 
We could consider one category of life experience as loss. A list of losses that happen could include miscarriage, death of a loved one, job loss, a broken relationship or property loss. Paul’s list included the loss of freedom by being imprisoned.
 
He said, “my imprisonment is for Christ.” Can we now place our life event in the same phrase by replacing “imprisonment” with it? For example, the loss of my grandmother happened to me and “my loss is for Christ.” Can we then consider if Christ has been honored in some way through that loss?

As Paul stated, “but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored,” (verse 20). Then, we demonstrate to others that we can share Christ with joy, no matter what.
 

1/10/2017 2:18:11 PM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Jan. 29: Willing Servants

January 10 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passages: Judges 4:4-10, 12-16
 
About 15 years ago I started a church preschool day care ministry. It wasn’t my idea, but I was tasked with the job of designing it, staffing it and getting it up and running.
Over time this particular ministry became quite successful, a true benefit to the community, even though I was not around to personally witness that growth.
 
The true success of that ministry, and any ministry, is a team of willing servants who love their job(s) and get things done.
 
This week’s biblical story seems to defy stereotypes. Israel was a strong patriarchal society. Usually men led and women worked quietly in the background.
 
But here things are different. Deborah is the sitting judge over Israel, a wife, a prophetess, and a wise counselor. Barak, a man, is the commander of the Israeli army, but reluctant to take the fight to Sisera, the Canaanite army commander. For whatever reason, Barak insisted upon Deborah going to the battlefield with him. Deborah reluctantly agreed, with a warning and prophetic word that Barak would not get the satisfaction of killing the evil Sisera.
 
Instead, that honor would go to a woman.
 
In a few days the battle erupted. God threw Sisera and his powerful army into massive confusion, and all of his warriors died except himself.
 
Sisera slinked away to the tent of Jael and his wife, famished and exhausted (see verses 17-22). He mistakenly thought they were his allies. As he dropped into a deep slumber, the unnamed, but willing, wife of Jael slammed a tent peg through his skull. As one of my professors once remarked, “Sisera died of a splitting headache!”
 
For Deborah and Barak, victory came because of a team effort. Apparently Barak was able to leave his ego behind, and Deborah was willing to do something not in her job description.
 
And the unnamed wife was able to keep her fears in check as she did what was necessary to defeat the evil in her home. All were willing servants.
 

1/10/2017 2:15:10 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



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