Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 3: Respected

May 14 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 1:22-27; 2:1-7
The books 1-2 Samuel narrate the establishment of the kingship in Israel. Samuel transitions the nation into a monarchy by first anointing Saul and later David as Israel’s first kings. Though Saul felt threatened by his successor to the throne, the younger David always respected and honored the Lord’s anointed ruler who came before him.
It isn’t always easy to show respect to the person in charge, especially when they want you dead! Perhaps we don’t agree with decisions made by our boss, pastor or leader in government. Maybe you think you could do a better job.
Without much effort, you can find yourself rejoicing in their shortcomings and failures.
Yet, David tore his clothes in anguish upon hearing that Saul and his son Jonathan had been slain in battle. He also composed a song of lament to give words to a nation in mourning for two of its most praised leaders (2 Samuel 1:19-27). David punished the one who killed Saul and rewarded those who recovered his body.
God would redeem this tragedy as he led David to go up to the place of the Patriarchs, Hebron, to begin his reign as Israel’s king. David prayed to the Lord following the death of Saul, and followed obediently in the way God directed. The coming chapters describe the military success of King David, but in the end even he would sin against God and His people.
When Israel asked Samuel to appoint a man to lead them, they were rejecting God as their king (1 Samuel 8:7). But God’s redemptive plan for Israel could not be stopped.
Genesis 49:10 says, “The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him.” This speaks of another rejected king, Jesus, who would come from the line of David and reign in an eternal Kingdom, and receive the highest praise (2 Sam 7:16; Phil 2:9-11).

5/14/2018 2:16:05 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 3: Why Are We Even Here?

May 14 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
God created us to live in fellowship with Him.
Have you ever found yourself staring at the contents of an open refrigerator? Just this morning, I marched straight into the kitchen, swung wide the refrigerator door and stood there contemplating a half empty bottle of coffee creamer.
Within moments I began wondering to myself, “What in the world did I come in here for anyways?” I’ll admit it. I was distracted by the details of my day. And yet, I have a sneaky suspicion I’m not the only one wasting electricity and cold air. You see, many of us have become so preoccupied by our busy schedules that we trudge through each day without ever considering why we live this life. If we were to ever pause long enough to consider our situation, it’s as if we would stand at the refrigerator door of life and exclaim, “What in the world am I here for anyways?”
But praise God, scripture reminds us this life is no accidental adventure. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). None of us is here by chance – we were intricately fashioned by a loving God and made in His image.
And He didn’t just create us to leave us in our aimlessness. God has given us a purpose – calling us to “be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). We are to bring Him glory by taking care of His creation and living in relationship with Him while sharing His great Name with the world around us.
When I enter the kitchen aimlessly, there are consequences – like the size of my waist or the total on my electricity bill. But when I wander aimlessly through life, the consequences are much greater. I forfeit the opportunity to live the abundant and joyful life for which God has created me. Open my refrigerator today and you will find a sticky note right beside my coffee creamer. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance,” and I don’t plan on forgetting that!

5/14/2018 2:14:36 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 27: Finding Strength

May 14 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10; 13:2-8
Over the past five years as a lead pastor, there have been multiple occasions – even on Sunday mornings – when my physical health/stamina was greatly depleted. Sometimes that was due to physical fatigue, other times physical illness and still other times emotional exhaustion. No matter the cause, the potential outcome was the same – if God didn’t demonstrate His power in the midst of my weakness, my ministry that day was going to be greatly diminished, or worse.
I am so thankful that in every one of those cases, God demonstrated His power in my weakness and accomplished His will and purpose through me.
In 2 Corinthians 12-13, Paul makes it clear that God’s strength is most clearly demonstrated in the midst of our weakness. In fact, God made this truth so clear to Paul that Paul actually said he would boast about or glory in his weaknesses, knowing that it would be through His weakness that God’s power would be put on display.
There were others around Paul who were claiming their own power and strength and claiming that Paul’s ministry was weak and worthless. Just as Jesus had walked in personal meekness and physical weakness during His earthly ministry while demonstrating the Spirit’s power, so Paul too acknowledged personal weakness to allow God’s power to be evident in/through him. He would even challenge his naysayers to examine their own lives to see if there was any spiritual power and fruit – evidence of redemption – being manifested in them.
Where do you seek to find your strength? The reality is, we are all weak. Let’s not, then, try to hide our weaknesses, but rather quickly acknowledge them, finding strength in God and allowing His power to be shown through our weakness.
That is how He will receive glory, which should be our greatest desire!

5/14/2018 2:12:53 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 27: Keep Standing

May 14 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Esther 8:1-8; 9:20-22
Esther’s final plea to Ahasuerus was that he overturn Haman’s policy of annihilation. She approached the king in humility, falling at his feet and weeping and requested the protection of her people.
The king could not overturn Haman’s original order because it had his seal. But he did grant the Jews the right to defend themselves and destroy their enemies. After their victory, Mordecai led the Jewish people to memorialize the event with the feast of Purim.

Remembering God’s victories in the life of Israel has been common practice. Each feast, beginning with Passover, is a reflection of God’s rescue, provision or gracious intervention in their history. The simple fact that the Jewish people still exist and the extent of their influence in Western history points to God as a sovereign promise keeper.
Israel has never been a world power. Even at the height of David and Solomon’s kingdom, Israel had regional influence at best. Yet even secular historians recognize the seminal place Jewish theology and worldview played in the development of Western civilization.
Hitler was just another Haman who attempted to annihilate the Jews. Anti-Semitism is still rife around the world. Yet, Israel exists. They still remember. They still reflect on the faithful God who has always protected them. The Jewish people still celebrate their feasts.
Their feasts point to something even greater – salvation through Jesus. Jesus is the Passover Lamb. Even Esther foreshadows the coming Messiah. As she bowed in humility and tears begging the king for the lives of her people, Jesus would kneel in humility and tears in the garden before His crucifixion.
As the king could not overrule the law with his seal, God the Father could not overlook sin. So Jesus took the penalty demanded by His Father’s law and became the rescue of the people He prayed for. So let us look back at Esther, see Jesus and remember our rescue.

5/14/2018 2:11:30 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 20: Giving Faithfully

April 30 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Are you a faithful giver? Do you love to give? If not, you certainly know someone who does. We all have people in our lives who are great examples of faithful giving.
For me, that is my wife.
She loves to give in order to bless and help others. I have often told her, “Baby, my wallet cannot finance your heart!”
Of course, what she gives away is not supplied by me, or even by her, but God.
He is the one who has both blessed and entrusted us to be stewards of whatever we have.
You have probably heard it said, “God owns everything. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills … and He owns the hills.”
While this is true, practically, God generally pours out His blessings through the lives and hands of His people.
Art Rainer, in his recent book, The Money Challenge, describes God’s people as the conduits through which God’s blessings flow. In this passage, we see that God intended to use the believers in Macedonia and Achaia to provide for the needs of their brothers and sisters in need in Judea.
Paul wants to help these Corinthian believers, and us, to see that because God is the one who has lavished blessings on us, chiefly through giving His Son as the payment for our sin, we should now give faithfully with cheerful hearts, allowing the love and goodness and blessings of God to flow through us to others.
How can we have such a heart to give? In part, we can give like this because God is changing our “wanter.”
Rather than wanting to hoard things for ourselves, we want to give to others as God has given to us.
The greater desire to give should also come from our desire to glorify God through every aspect of our lives – including our giving.
The reality is, we never bear a greater resemblance to our Father who adopted us as His children than when we are sacrificially giving for others.
Will you bless others and glorify God by being a faithful giver?

4/30/2018 1:59:48 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 20: Stand Up and Speak

April 30 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 7:1-10
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, a hobbit named Frodo inherited a magnificent ring from his uncle Bilbo.
According to the story, the evil Sauron forged the ring in order to rule over all the peoples of Middle-earth. Having lost the ring in battle, it eventually came to Bilbo who gave it to Frodo.
At a council, elves, dwarves and men debated the use and purpose of the ring.
Some wanted to wield it. Others thought about destroying it.
Then Frodo bravely offered, “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.”
In the movie adaptation, Frodo spoke up rather quietly but firmly in the midst of a cacophony of arguments and voices. Sometimes, someone needs to speak up.
Esther was divinely positioned as Ahasuerus’ queen to speak up for her people. At this second meal prepared for the king and Haman, she spoke up regarding the evil plot that Haman had envisioned against the Jewish people.
She requested her life and the lives of the Jewish people. She also identified Haman as the scoundrel who was attempting to destroy her people.
While God could have protected His people using other means, He used Esther’s voice to serve His sovereign purposes.
Let’s be clear. God doesn’t need us. God doesn’t need anything. But quite often God positions us in places of influence with other people.
He desires our voices to bring about His purposes. It is not incidental to this narrative or to the biblical storyline that God uses our voices to spread His story.
If we are going to participate in His redemptive plan for mankind, we must do so by standing up to speak – to speak for justice, to speak for forgiveness, to speak for grace, to speak the glories of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4/30/2018 1:57:59 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 13: Becoming New

April 30 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
I have been hard at work trying to refurbish a 14-foot fiberglass boat that I got from a friend.
It was broken down and in need of repair. I have been doing work on the hull, sanding, shaping and so on. The reality is, however, when I get done, I am going to have my same old “Jon boat,” with a little bit of plywood, fiberglass and epoxy added to it.
Many people act like becoming a Christian is simply God doing a little spiritual sanding and shaping on them.
Their idea is, “I wasn’t too bad, but needed a little work. God is taking off my rough edges.”
That is not what the Bible says.
The scripture says I was dead in my trespasses and sin, and that my sin separated me from God.
Here Paul argues that those who come to Jesus by faith – those who are “in Christ” – are reconciled to God.
That means the breach that existed between God and us has been removed through Christ.
Further, we are not just our old selves with a little spiritual filler and paint added. Paul says we have become new creations – the old is gone and the new has come.
It is amazing that God would reconcile us to Himself in that way. But, there is something more amazing still.
He now desires to use us in His mission.
Paul says God has given us the message of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation. God is not only at work in us, but also desires to accomplish His reconciling work through us as we live as new creations, ambassadors of Christ.
We aren’t just patched up; we are new in Christ. Our lives should look different than they once did. We have been given a new mission and ministry – the ministry of reconciliation.
We are God’s mouthpiece to a deaf and dying world. As Paul says, it is as though God is pleading with men through us to be reconciled to Him.
By the power of His Spirit, may we live out this new lifestyle and new ministry for His glory.

4/30/2018 1:56:34 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 13: Stand with Humility

April 30 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 5:1-14
Esther 5 provides a great contrast. In humility, Esther approached the king. In pride, Haman left the king’s presence. In humility, Esther asked for an opportunity to serve the king. In pride, Haman detailed his riches, wealth and prestige.
In humility, Esther honored the king, “If I have found favor,” and “if it please the king.” In pride, Haman built gallows to hang Mordecai.
While Esther recognized the immensity of her responsibility, she carried herself with humility and submission. It has been said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” This chapter illustrates that truth.
Esther knew her role, but in humility put the authority in the king’s hand. Haman could not stop thinking about himself, his wealth, his pride and his prestige. Everything was about him.
To be quite frank with you, most of our conflicts arise when we act like Haman and not like Esther.
Consider church conflict: when a church experiences conflict, it is often because someone did not get his or her way.
The need to have your way is pride. Pride says, “I need to be right. My idea is the best. If I don’t get my way, I’m going to leave.” Humility is vastly different.
Humility solves conflicts often by putting others first. Humility often gives in and it always gives away credit. Humility says, “It doesn’t matter if I’m right as long as God is glorified. The Kingdom of God matters, not my recognition.”
Notice though that humility does not mean silence or self-abasement. Esther took action. Esther spoke to the king. Esther took the initiative. Esther would even propose a solution.

But her motivation was not pride or self-affirmation. Rather, her motivation was the rescue of her people.
The genuinely humble person is willing to stand out for the benefit of others. A few hundred years later, Jesus stood out on our behalf by hanging in humility between heaven and earth.

4/30/2018 1:54:32 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 6: Displaying the Gospel

April 17 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 4:5-18
Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the awesome power of God on display as He raised Jesus from the dead. God’s desire is not, however, for that resurrection power to be highlighted and talked about once a year in a Sunday morning church service in late-March or early-April.
God’s desire is for that resurrection power to be put on display all day, every day, everywhere.
God has ordained that our lives, as followers of Jesus, should be living displays of the resurrection power of the gospel.
Paul begins by telling the Corinthians that we are to proclaim Christ, not ourselves.
We aren’t saying, “Look at me and be like me.” Rather, we are saying, “I am throwing the spotlight on Jesus Christ – the resurrected and living Lord – to help you see that He is what you and I need.”
While we are imperfect displays – Paul calls us “clay pots,” which are fragile vessels – we are nevertheless the objects through which God has chosen to put His gospel and resurrection power on display.
The fact that this power and this gospel is displayed in “clay pots” says the value is not in the container but rather what is on the inside. As God works in and through us, His glory is put on greater and greater display (v. 15).
In general, clay pots were used for simple, practical, temporal purposes. What is amazing about the power of the gospel is that God has chosen to do His eternal, spiritual work through us. So, what do people see when they look at you?
Do they see a simple clay pot, satisfied, in your own strength, to do practical, temporal tasks that won’t last for eternity? Or, do they see a weak, cracked, imperfect clay pot filled with the resurrection power of the living Christ being used by God for His eternal purposes for the sake of His glory?
As a Christian, God has saved you through His Son and empowered you by His Spirit to be a beautiful display of His glory and power. Let’s be faithful displays!

4/17/2018 8:30:33 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 6: Stand Down

April 17 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 4:1-3; 10-16
Haman was angry at Mordecai’s refusal to bow down. But not only did Haman hate Mordecai, he hated all the Jews as well. Wanting to rid himself of Mordecai’s dishonor and the Jewish people, Haman plotted to have all the Jews killed.
Mordecai and Esther messaged back and forth about the proper course of action. From this passage comes the most famous phrase in the book of Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (4:14).
To readers looking backward at the sovereign intervention of God over and over again for the protection of His people, Mordecai’s statement is obvious. But Esther was the one who had to act. The future of the Jewish people depended, at least in part, upon her action. And yet, if the king did not receive her, she could be immediately killed.
Remember how quickly the king dealt with her predecessor, Vashti. But Esther did not act immediately. Notice what she ordered Mordecai to do. She insisted that the Jewish people fast for three days. While the word prayer is not included in the narrative, fasting in Jewish faith nearly always included prayer.
It is safe to assume Mordecai, Esther and the Jewish people fasted and prayed over this dilemma and over Esther’s opportunity.
They stood down. They paused their planning in order to pray. They waited in faith-filled fasting rather than in worry and fret.
Why? I think Esther and Mordecai knew it was entirely possible she had been ordained for this moment, but that did not mean they would act in brazen self-confidence. They stopped to pray.
I think sometimes we are not wrong in our assessments of situations, but we are often wrong in the bravado of our actions. Instead of praying, we plot. Instead of waiting, we work. Instead of trusting, we talk.
Esther and Mordecai give us an example we would be wise to follow – stand down, fast, pray and trust.

4/17/2018 8:28:58 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

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