Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for August 12: Resolved

July 26 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 21:1-6, 10-14
 
The agricultural cycle was intricately woven into Israel’s life, so imagine the disruption caused by a three-year famine. In the Bible, famine stories provoke strong emotions of fear, suspense, longing and questioning.
 
Abraham, Isaac and Joseph were all affected by famines, and the book of Ruth describes God providing in the midst of a famine. In some cases, scripture clearly states that famines were used by God to chastise Israel or other nations (Deuteronomy 28:22-42; 2 Kings 8; Amos 8:11.)
 
Whether a famine is a trial permitted by God in the course of life in a broken world, or something sent by God in the course of practicing justice and discipline, the example we receive from these stories is to seek God’s favor.
 
We learn from David’s encounter with the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21 that God provides direction and strength when His people face trying times. David “sought the face of the Lord,” and was told that an oath had been broken between God’s people and a neighboring people, and for this reason a famine had been sent. It was not God’s intent to destroy Israel for this sin, rather He was disciplining them with a view toward redemption. The Lord’s reputation of being righteous and just was at stake if He did not act with justice toward all people (Joshua 9:1-15).
 
Prayer enables God’s people to endure even the most difficult times. Once again the land produces its harvest after addressing the complaints of the Gibeonites. This resolution comes as an answer to many prayers on behalf of the land (2 Samuel 21:14). So then, prayer in the midst of trials should lead us closer to God’s will for our lives, and sustain us while we endure difficult days.
 
Remember, it is not always the case that trials represent God’s discipline (Matthew 5:11-12; James 1:2), so we must seek the Lord’s face to understand how He may be using trials to sanctify us and glorify Himself. 
 

7/26/2018 12:38:13 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 12: Protect

July 26 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Nehemiah 5:1-13
 
As Christians, we cannot separate who we are from what we do.
 
A few months ago, one of my friends was caught in a terribly cold rainstorm on the grounds of Duke University. Although she made her way to the campus store and had access to a vast supply of Blue Devil umbrellas and rain gear, my friend chose to risk pneumonia instead of making a purchase.
 
You might be wondering why someone would do such a thing. Well, my friend loves the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. As a Tar Heel fan, it would go against her very identity to wear royal blue. My friend would rather end up at urgent care than break her allegiance to her favorite college team.
 
As Christians, our allegiance is to Christ. We are to honor Him in all areas of our life. And yet, we are often tempted to live and act in ways that do not bring Him glory. 
 
Nehemiah faced this same challenge while rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. He and other officials were obedient to God’s direction in reconstruction efforts, but at the same time they were exacting unfair interest from their fellow countrymen. These leaders claimed allegiance to God while taking advantage of the vulnerable in their own communities.
 
After listening to the outcry of the people, Nehemiah realized these actions were not right. He understood that how we treat others is a reflection of how we honor God. He asked the officials, “Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9). Nehemiah and his companions repented of their sin and committed to honoring God in the way they treated the less fortunate in their community. 
 
My friend in the rainstorm was acutely aware that even purchasing a Duke umbrella would distort her identity as a Tarheel fan. Nehemiah realized that by exacting unfair interest, he was distorting his witness to the foreigners around him.
 
As Christians, we must be quick to repent when we realize our actions do not faithfully represent the God we serve. In doing so, we protect our fellowship with God and proclaim our devotion to His Kingdom.
 

7/26/2018 12:38:00 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 5: Averted

July 24 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 20:1-2, 14-21
 
The trumpet sounds twice in this story of near civil war within David’s kingdom. The first trumpet sounds when Sheba, a known troublemaker, calls “every man to his tent, Israel” (2 Samuel 20:1). The second trumpet sounds when Joab, the fierce military commander, declares victory over the rebel and calls every soldier back to his home (20:22).
 
Right on the heels of Absalom’s rebellion, this conflict carries forward Israel’s narrative with gloomy foreshadowing of a divided kingdom between the northern tribes and Judah. In the case of Sheba’s rebellion, the crisis is averted thanks to God’s wisdom given through a wise woman to Joab. Calling her townspeople “the peaceful and faithful in Israel,” she negotiates a truce with the attacking forces in exchange for Sheba’s life.
 
Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it.” In numerous places in scripture, Christians are called to live at peace with one another, and not to pursue quarrels.
                                                            
This does not equate to an avoidance of conflict, although conflict is actually a healthy component in relationships. Nor does it disallow sharing alternative viewpoints through debate and dialogue, even with authority figures.
 
Rather, we learn from this passage that sin leads to questioning God’s provisions and leaders, which can result in terrible consequences for God’s people and their mission in the world. This is precisely the reason why scripture issues such a strong warning against stirring up discord and conflict among God’s people.
 
Called out from among all the peoples on the earth, Israel was chosen by God to represent Him to the world. This kingdom of priests was blessed in order to be a blessing, culminating in the Savior being born out of the line of David.
 
May we all consider in our own day how to protect the priority of the gospel against turmoil, grumbling and infighting by gospel messengers.

7/24/2018 12:00:12 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 5: Persist

July 24 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passages: Nehemiah 4:1-3, 6-9, 14-18
 
Doing God’s work brings out detractors and opposition. As I write, a rescue operation is underway in Thailand to free 12 young soccer players and their coach. The team has been trapped by monsoon rains in an extensive cave system for almost two weeks and can only be reached by professional divers.
 
These rescue workers face daunting obstacles. The cave is narrow, oxygen is scarce and several boys cannot even swim. The task ahead seems almost impossible.
 
We may not have our diving certification, but as followers of God, we too have been given a great task. We are to obey God by serving Him and proclaiming His salvation. And, like the experts in Thailand, we must expect great challenges.
 
Nehemiah’s persistence in the face of opposition is an example to us of how to respond in times of trial. As Nehemiah and the people of God rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem, they were mocked by those around them. Some asked, “What are these pathetic Jews doing?” (Nehemiah 4:2). Others predicted the wall would never be built successfully.
 
The workers at the Jerusalem wall were not surprised by such derision. Instead, they sought God in prayer and kept building, positioning guards around the wall for protection both day and night. When we face opposition while working for God, we must prayerfully commit our work to the Lord and continue in faithful obedience.
 
The workers on the wall also vigilantly prepared for opposition. Laborers knew danger could be imminent, so they “worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other” (Nehemiah 4:17).
 
When we work for God, we must be prepared to face the dangers before us. Instead of cowering in self-preservation, we must press on, trusting the One who has called us to work.
 
The divers in Thailand are persistent. Instead of giving up, they delivered medication, taught the boys to swim, and lined the tunnels with oxygen tanks. As followers of God, we must be persistent in our work as well, trusting in the faithfulness of the One who has called us to serve.

7/24/2018 11:59:45 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 29: Restored

July 12 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 19:1-15
 
Trust once lost can be difficult to regain. As I have grown up watching sports, it is heartbreaking to learn about an athlete who cheated in order to win.
 
All the victories and championships are tarnished by the realization that they were not truly deserved.
 
Many times, this sort of discovery ends their athletic career, destroys their public credibility and ruins future opportunities.
 
Regaining confidence is the theme of this passage, which teaches us that God’s leaders must take advantage of opportunities to increase the trust others place in them.
 
David’s army won a major victory for him that effectively restored him to his throne over the entire nation.
 
However, in the course of battle, his son Absalom was killed which greatly upset David. The rest of David’s men returned to the city defeated, not because they lost the battle, but because they were following their king in mourning the rebel Absalom’s death.
 
This may sound extreme, but David’s actions here were driven by emotion, and they had a negative impact on the divided nation and his soldiers in particular. They needed to rally around their rightful king who survived betrayal, but it seemed like he was ungrateful to them for their heroic sacrifice.
 
Putting emotions aside, David resumed his royal duties and demonstrated that people can be united by trusting in God and in His leaders.
 
The king reconnected with all the tribes of Israel and made his best effort to reconcile ongoing conflicts.
 
He regained the trust of the people and continued to serve God’s people as their chosen leader.
 
Any leader today must also walk the same line of personal feelings and leadership responsibilities.
 
Even when facing disappointments and struggles, leaders have to remain committed to the God’s plan and acting according to his instructions.

7/12/2018 11:22:35 AM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 29: Plan

July 12 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Nehemiah 2:1-8; 17-18
 
Serving God requires intentionality. It’s summertime, and many of us are either returning from or planning for a vacation. Depending on your destination, you may have booked plane tickets or changed the oil in your car, but I’m guessing each of you packed a suitcase.
 
I would classify myself as an over packer. I begin early, and in my humble opinion, you can never be too prepared. My husband, on the other hand, prefers to work under pressure. He believes it’s much more effective to pack everything at once on the night before you leave. Although some might disagree, there isn’t one right way to pack.
 
And yet, you’ll only be prepared for your trip if you’re intentional about the things you bring. Likewise, although there is not one right method for serving God, we must be careful to plan intentionally while prayerfully relying on His guidance.
 
When Nehemiah learned of the desperate situation in Jerusalem, he acknowledged his dependence on God and acted on every opportunity. While fulfilling his daily responsibilities, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah, “why are you sad?” (Nehemiah 2:2).
 
Nehemiah prayerfully and carefully explained the plight of the Jewish people. Nehemiah also actively planned the work to which he had been called, asking the king to send him to Judah so he might rebuild the wall. He even requested official letters for both protection on his journey and provision for the rebuilding process.
 
Additionally, Nehemiah did not attempt to complete the task alone. He enlisted the help of his fellow exiles, saying, “Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17).
 
God is calling each of us to serve Him, and we must follow Nehemiah’s example by acknowledging our dependence on God, actively planning for the work, and calling others to serve alongside us.
 
When I pack for the beach but forget my sunscreen, the resulting sunburn keeps me from truly enjoying my trip. When we attempt to serve God without acting intentionally, we often forfeit the opportunity to glorify God as He works in and through us for His good pleasure.

7/12/2018 11:22:23 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 22: Deposed

July 10 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 15:10-16, 24-30
 
The book of 2 Samuel describes David’s many victories against foreign enemies. Yet, it is apparent that the enemies within, himself and his family, proved to be his toughest challenge.

One of David’s sons, Absalom, was previously exiled from the king’s palace because he struck down another of David’s sons in vengeance (2 Samuel 13:39).
 
After a few years, Absalom managed to persuade the king that he should be welcomed back into the king’s palace, and David welcomed back his son with a kiss (14:33).
 
Absalom was very cunning in the way he manipulated others to regain his position of influence. He then used that position to gain a following among Israel’s people by promoting himself as superior to King David.
 
His entitlement and selfish ambition led him to defy God’s plan, attack his father and overestimate his own abilities.
 
I can only try to imagine the feeling of betrayal David would have felt as he fled from his son’s takeover plot. After many battles against other kings and armies, his greatest battles were always the ones against his apparent allies.
 
In these times, opposition becomes an opportunity for true friends to demonstrate their loyalty.
 
More than that, God is able to show himself faithful and true against the backdrop of disloyal companions.
 
God also demonstrates his presence to us in the midst of upheaval like a solid rock to stand upon when it seems the world is crashing down. As David fled from Jerusalem, he separated himself from the ark of God, which was to remain behind.
 
David trusted that the promises and power of the Lord would keep him secure as he ventured out to face life-threatening risks.
 
His humble response to this challenge is reflected in Psalm 131:1: “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”

7/10/2018 10:47:02 AM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 22: Pray

July 10 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Nehemiah 1:1-11
 
Pour out your heart to God in prayer. It was a dreary winter day, and as my friend walked out of a local store, he noticed a man trembling in the cold.
 
The man was dressed in a worn coat and held out a mug. My friend approached the man and compassionately tossed a few quarters into his cup.
 
Just like my friend, you and I encounter people with desperate needs every day. And at times, it can be challenging to discern how best to help to those who are hurting.
 
Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king of Persia, was used by God to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His life also serves an example to us as we strive to minister to others in a way that honors God.
 
Like Nehemiah, we must first become aware of the needs around us. When visited by a messenger from Judah, Nehemiah asked for an update and learned that the people in Jerusalem were “in great trouble and disgrace” (Nehemiah 1:3). The wall surrounding the city had been demolished.
 
Like Nehemiah, after we become aware of a need, we must respond by acknowledging God and confessing our sin.
 
After learning of the trouble in Jerusalem, Nehemiah “sat down and wept” (Nehemiah 1:4).
 
He also confessed his own sin as well as the sins and corruption that had resulted in the exile of the Jewish people.
 
Like Nehemiah, we must to look to God for guidance before taking steps of action. Before doing anything, Nehemiah asked that the Lord would be attentive. He prayed, “Give your servant success today, and have compassion on him” (Nehemiah 1:11).
 
When my friend tossed his coins into the man’s cup, hot coffee splashed onto his face.
 
The man wasn’t begging for assistance; he was merely sipping a warm drink and waiting for his ride.
 
Just like my friend, it can be easy for us to help out of good intentions without ever stopping to seek God.
 
Instead of rushing to serve, let’s be a people who prepare our hearts first, by seeking God’s guidance through confession and prayer.

7/10/2018 10:46:41 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 15: Grieved

June 26 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 13:15-20; 31-39
 
The consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba continue raging through his family like a consuming fire spreading room by room. So far in 2 Samuel, two of his sons have lost their lives, showing us that while God established the family for loving relationships, sin destroys them.
 
In the land of Israel, incest was forbidden, but his oldest son and heir of the throne, Amnon, lusted after his half-sister Tamar.
 
Against this law, a “very shrewd man” (2 Samuel 13:3) plotted out a way he could get alone with her.
 
How similar this is to the serpent in the garden, suggesting a path around God’s clearly established commands to fulfill selfish desires?
 
In the end, he “hated her more than he had loved her” (2 Samuel 13:15), proving that sin fails to satisfy or to deliver on the promises made.
 
Two years had gone by before Tamar’s other brother Absolom exacted his revenge for the terrible act she suffered. Far from restoring peace to his shattered family, the murder plotted by Absalom only brought more devastation to the house of David.
 
As a result, he was exiled and plunged his family into mourning. In a single act, David lost one son to the grave, and another by separation.
 
In the context of a fireplace, a blazing fire can provide warmth throughout the home. Taken outside its confines, however, it can burn the house to the ground. It is just the same with sexual intimacy.
 
When it is reserved for its proper place in God’s design, it is a blessing.
 
When it is abused to satisfy sinful desires, it is capable of destroying, lives, families and emotional well-being.
 
As the book of 2 Samuel traces the broken promises of sin throughout David’s family, we can grieve over the brokenness we see in and around our lives in today’s challenging times.
 
Forgiveness is the most difficult thing to offer when faced with terrible wrongs, but God’s grace allows us to offer it others and ourselves to find healing.

6/26/2018 1:43:03 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 15: Tithing: Obedient Response to a Gracious God

June 26 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Malachi 3:7-12
 
Respond to God’s goodness through a tithe of your income. Yesterday I tipped the technician at my favorite nail salon and the waitress at a local restaurant. It wasn’t that I owed them anything. I had already paid my bill. I gave them a few extra dollars because my toes were snazzy, my tea was sweet and I was grateful for their work. 
 
Although tipping is often expected, it is certainly voluntary. When we experience good service, we give generously; when we feel mistreated, we leave nothing extra.
 
Could it be that sometimes we are tempted to view giving to the Lord this way as well? 
To be sure, if this describes your heart, you are not alone. In Malachi 3, when God called for His people to return to Him, they cried out asking, “How can we return?” (Malachi 3:7).
 
God’s response was to accuse His people of theft. He said the people were robbing Him because they were not tithing as they had been instructed. To return to God would mean returning to unconditional giving.
 
Giving was, and still is, a fundamental act of obedience to God. God calls us to be givers, and when we tithe, we declare our allegiance to Him. We remind ourselves that everything we have belongs to God in the first place. 
 
When God commanded His people to return to giving in Malachi 3, He also provided a promise. God explained that if His people would live in obedience, He would “pour out a blessing” for them “without measure” (Malachi 3:10). No, all their problems would not disappear, but their land would produce fruit and the nations would consider them fortunate. We do not give in order to receive, and yet, when we live obediently, God blesses us.
 
We are called to give, but our tithing is not a tip. Giving is not optional and it does not reflect our critical approval of God’s work on our behalf. Instead, our giving reflects our worshipful obedience to the One who gave everything for us. And when we give, we can rest in the assurance that God will indeed bless our obedience.

6/26/2018 1:42:52 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



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