Sunday School Lessons

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 12: Victorious Hope

February 21 2017 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Matthew 8:5-13
 
Do you hope for more? I hope for many more years to spend with my wife and children. I’m sure you’ve used the word hope in this same way.
 
In the sense we so often use the word hope, we mean something akin to wishful thinking. We would like something to be true.
 
But the biblical use of the word hope is something far more certain.
 
When the Bible speaks of hope it means something assured that we simply wait for. The biblical key to unlocking hope in this sense is faith.
 
In this story we find a glorious example of faith.
 
A Roman centurion sought out Jesus to heal his servant.
 
Instead of asking Jesus to come to his house, the centurion observed, “Lord, I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. Speak the word and my servant will be healed. I too am a man with authority. When I tell my servant to do something, he does it.
 
The centurion modeled great faith – so great that Jesus observed he had not found such faith in Israel.
 
Here we see biblical hope unlocked. The centurion knew Jesus could heal.
 
He displayed his hope with humble faith.
 
He acknowledged his unworthiness – a picture of a sinner humbling himself before the only One who can save.
 
He expressed his faith, “Only speak the word, and I know my servant will be healed.” Then the centurion experienced victorious hope.
 
Jesus healed His servant.
 
Did you know you were in this story? After Jesus’ complimented the man’s faith he said, “Many will come from east and west to recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
 
Jesus asserted that if you’ve humbled yourself and trusted in Jesus, “You will be in the kingdom.”
 
It doesn’t get more certain than Jesus’ declaration.
 
So have hope. Look forward to the certain victory you will experience with Jesus in His Kingdom.
 

2/21/2017 7:45:53 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 12: Is Jesus Fully God?

February 21 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Matthew 17:1-13
 
I love watching my children during Christmas time, especially as they open presents. It is very clear which gifts they enjoy over the others.
 
For example, every year they always get candy in their stockings.
 
Consequently, when they unload the stocking they spend little time admiring the candy because it is not as valuable to them.
 
However, one year I snuck a brand new iPhone in my daughter’s stocking.
 
As she was pulling out the candy, I called her phone with my cell phone, and it started ringing in the stocking.
 
If you could have only seen her face – her eyes got huge, her mouth dropped, and she started screaming with great joy! She was so excited about her new phone.
 
Her reaction describes what it means to value something really important.
 
In our focal passage, Jesus reveals His glory as He was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-13). Peter, James and John were privileged to experience this event, and their reaction describes what it means to value something really important.
 
Peter was so impressed with the divine presentation he was unsure what to do.
 
He first asked if he and the other two disciples should leave, and then he quickly proposed to build a tent for a longer stay.
 
A few moments later, scripture records that God the Father spoke to them and, fearing for their lives, the disciples fell on their faces. Jesus comforted the disciples, and as they raised their heads, the whole experience was over.
 
What was the purpose of this event? Certainly it involved the prophecies of Elijah being the forerunner of the Messiah and being fulfilled in John the Baptist.
 
But I also believe it was about Jesus allowing the disciples to get a greater glimpse of his glory and greatness.

Through their experience the disciple would come to understand that Jesus shares fully in God’s glory. What a great gift that was for the disciples and it is an even more important gift for you and me today.
 

2/21/2017 7:43:50 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 5: Jesus, Our Victor

February 21 2017 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Revelation 1:12-20
 
Seeing is ____________. A picture is worth a ________________ _______.
 
I imagine you had little difficulty finishing those sentences with “believing”and “thousand words,” respectively.
 
Pictures and visions reveal glorious truths. The book of Revelation is a book of visions. John witnessed vision after glorious vision intended to encourage and challenge. He received the book of Revelation during a time of intense persecution as he was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos. His fellow believers, many of those in the churches to whom he wrote, were experiencing persecution and suffering in turmoil. Enter Jesus. Now John knew Jesus as well as anyone. He was one of Jesus’ closest followers, if not His most intimate. But if you notice in this text, when John saw Jesus in all of His unfettered glory, he fell at His feet as though dead. John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-20 is not the carpenter’s son dressed in the humble vestiges of a traveling preacher. Rather, John’s vision of Jesus is victorious and full of glory.
 
Jesus is in the midst of the lampstands – His churches. Jesus’ clothing reveals His role as High Priest – the One who intercedes for His churches. His flaming eyes and feet of bronze display His holy judgment. His voice like the roar of many waters reminds us of His revelation. He holds the stars in His hands indicating His control of His churches. Out of His mouth comes a sharp, two-edged sword.
 
This same picture returns later in Revelation when Jesus returns victorious on the white horse defeating His enemies. Jesus protects His churches as He shines gloriously through them. Astonishing as the vision of the unveiled Christ is, His word to John may be even more marvelous: “Fear not. I am the living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore. I have the keys of Death and Hell.” Jesus is saying, “John, I am victorious and My resurrection gives you the right to join Me in My victory.” So, in your situations and concerns, take courage, don’t be afraid, have hope, Jesus is our Victor.
 

2/21/2017 7:42:15 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 5: Who Is Jesus?

February 21 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Matthew 16: 13-28
 
Recently, my bank called and asked if I had made any purchases in Pennsylvania with my credit card. I told them no, so they immediately canceled the card and reissued a new one.
For the next several days, I continued to check my accounts for suspicious behavior. I could only imagine the hardships and problems that would follow if someone had not only taken my credit card but also stolen my identity.
 
As important as my identity is to me, there is another person’s identity that is far more significant. His name is Jesus Christ.
 
Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people have mistaken Jesus for someone else. Some say he was an important historical figure, but not the Messiah.
 
Others claim he was a great teacher, but not a Savior. Some think he was a great prophet, but not God.
 
Of course, this is not new to our day. When Jesus walked the earth, many people mistook His identity. The Pharisees thought he was demonic. Others thought he might be John the Baptist or Elijah. But, as we note in our focal passage, when Peter was asked who Jesus was he rightly responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
 
Peter’s answer is a proclamation of the most important truth in all of scripture. Namely, that Jesus is God sent from the Father to be our Savior.
 
When people misunderstand or reject that truth the consequences are not like my temporary issues when someone stole my credit card. They are eternal in scope.
 
Getting it wrong about the person and nature of Christ means the difference between heaven and hell. Thus, helping others rightly identify Jesus is one of the greatest responsibilities a believer will undertake.
 
Of course, we must realize that only God can change the heart (Matthew 16:17), but nevertheless, we still have the privilege to point people in the right direction.

What will you do to point people to the true Christ?
 

2/21/2017 7:40:04 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



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



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