Sunday School Lessons

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 6: The Jesus People Should Know

August 26 2009 by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Mark 1:1-3, 7, 9-13, 21-28

A child, frightened by a storm, ran to get in bed with his mother.

“Don’t worry,” she assured him, “God is with you.”

“I know,” he said, “but right now I need somebody with skin on.”

Have you ever longed to know how Jesus looked?

We are familiar with other characteristics of Him — His uniqueness, His power to save, heal, and forgive, along with His claimed authority in heaven and on earth. Let’s consider a rarely discussed characteristic — His physical appearance.

Jesus lived before photography was invented. Even had there been portrait painters in His day, wouldn’t they have painted royalty rather than some itinerate preacher from Galilee?   

Gratefully, we have a pen picture of Jesus from which all artists have worked.

It first appeared in the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century. Tiberius Caesar in Rome requested Publius Lentullus, then president of Judea, to seek Jesus and report back to him what Jesus was like.

Lentullus replied, “There appeared in these days a man of great virtue, named Jesus Christ, who still lives among us. Gentiles accept Him as a prophet of truth, but His disciples call Him the Son of God. He raises the dead and cures all manner of diseases. He is a man of stature, somewhat tall and comely, with very reverend countenance, such as His beholders may love and fear.

“His hair is the colour of a chestnut full ripe, plain to His ears, whence downward it is more orient and curling about His shoulders. In the midst of His head is a partition in His hair, after the manner of the Nazarites.

“His forehead is plain and very delicate; His face is without spot or wrinkle, beautified with a lovely red. His nose and mouth are so formed as nothing can be reprehended. His beard is thickish, in colour like His hair, not very long, but forked.

“His look is innocent and mature; His eyes are grey, clear, and quick. In reproving, He is terrible; in admonishing, courteous and fair-spoken, pleasant in conversation mixed with gravity. It cannot be remembered that any have seen Him laugh, but many have seen Him weep. In proportion of body He is excellent; His hands and arms are most delicate to behold. His speech is temperate, modest, and wise. A man for His singular beauty, He surpasses all children of men.”

I agree. Do you?

8/26/2009 4:58:00 AM by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for Aug. 30: Live Victoriously

August 18 2009 by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Three Tests

Focal passages: 1 John 5:1-5, 13-21
How do you know that you know that you know God? Here we have three tests: love, life and faith.

The test of love shows in “whoever,” “whatever,” and “whenever.”

Real love loves whoever is born of God.

When we are saved we become new creatures who, as part of our spiritual DNA, love. First, we love the Father who gave us new life. And we love, “whoever has been born of Him,” other born again Christians.

Then we do whatever He commands (5:2f).

If we fail to obey these commands, then we have no basis to be certain about our salvation.

We’re giving disturbing evidence to the contrary.

When He tells us to love someone of another race, we don’t make up an excuse not to.

True love loves if whenever your brother or sister is in sin, you pray for them, you intervene (5:14-17).

True prayer meetings are not first concerned for health and wealth but for the will of God (5:15).

Pray not just for sicknesses but for sin, salvation and sanctification.

The test of our life shows in overcoming and perseverance. We must overcome our enemy, the world and be transformed by God’s word.

In that, we persevere.

The “grand mark” that sets true believers apart from hypocrites, is perseverance.

“He who was born of God” — that is, Jesus — protects God’s people (5:18) so we continue to overcome sin.

The test of faith shows in doctrine, fruit and exclusivity.

We must believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1), born as fully man and fully God, crucified to take away God’s right wrath at our sins; that Jesus is who He claimed to be, equal to the Father, and as such demands of every believer absolute surrender.

Faith is a fruit of life.

That’s plain in the Greek of 5:1. Everyone who has believed (past action continuing into the present) “has been born of God” (a past completed action).

That is, God made them alive and as a consequence they had faith.

Faith comes not first as a work of human (so-called) “free will,” but as a fruit of the gracious work of God in the human heart.

This is “the faith” that overcomes the world.

Our faith is genuine faith if we understand it is exclusive.

There are really only two options: either we serve God or idols (5:20f).

These aren’t tests we have to pass to graduate to eternal life.

These are tests we will pass if we have eternal life. So do you pass the tests?

8/18/2009 9:51:00 AM by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life lesson for Aug. 30: Will You Remain Faithful?

August 18 2009 by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Matt. 26:36-46; 1 Pet. 4:12-19

My parents referred to Christians as “the faithful few.”

I didn’t understand the term, nor did they explain it.

In time, I defined “the faithful” as the nucleus around whom success for any great cause is achieved.

Faithfulness doesn’t depend upon education or station in life, and its ranks are open to any who are willing to dedicate themselves to the victory of a cause.

Jesus said, “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much” (Luke 16:10).

How can we know God’s will? E. Stanley Jones’ suggested, “When in doubt, do the most Christlike thing. If any guidance seems at variance with what you see in Christ, doubt that guidance, for it cannot be of God, however implemented by reason or emotion.”

Peter urged us neither to be surprised nor ashamed when we suffer because of our faith. We’re to continue to do right, entrusting ourselves to God (1 Pet. 4:19).

The closest I’ve come to suffering for my faith occurred when, at a faculty party, those of us who didn’t drink, or laugh at immoral jokes stayed a while, then thanked our host, and left.

The following morning, Brian, a student of mine, reported that a teacher said, “We had a great time last night once ‘the sticks in the mud’ went home.” Brian said, “I knew she was referring to you.”

“I’m honored you could identify me as one she described,” I said.

Peter wrote, “When the fiery ordeal arises to test you, don’t be surprised, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead … rejoice, so that you may also rejoice … at the revelation of His glory” (1 Pet. 4:12-13).

We exhibit our willingness to follow God’s will by acting upon it. Jesus cried on the night before He died, “My Father!

“If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).

When we question whether we missed God’s perfect will for our lives, let’s agree that God will use and bless whatever we dedicate to His glory. Now, retired from teaching, I’ve become a Christian writer; and Brian, my former student, is a minister.

As George Eliott said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”     

8/18/2009 9:50:00 AM by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for Aug. 23: Embrace Love

August 11 2009 by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Love is . . .

Focal passage: 1 John 4:7-21

There used to be a cute little fad of defining love. “Love is . . .” You fill in the blank. Here, in 1 John 4:7-21, we can fill in that blank, “Love is . . .”

Life-giving. The famous early church leader Augustine prayed, “Lord, you command self-control. Grant what You command and command what You will.”

Here, God tells us to love then that He has granted that love (4:7-12). Love issues out of us like good fruit from a good tree (4:7). God demonstrated His love by sending His Son (4:9, c.f. John 3:16).

He showed us His love by giving us life, “so that we might live through Him,” (4:9b). Once we have that life, we will love.

If we don’t love, then, it is because we don’t know God (4:8). All the religion in the world won’t make up for a refusal to love. And the reason: “God is love.”

Those who don’t love don’t have the life of God.

Many southern churches used to exclude people because of their skin color.

Loving pastors were run off because they tried to reform that sin. Here we see how dreadful that sin it.

As a lack of love, racism shows a lack of the life of God.

God gave us life, by giving “His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10b).

Propitiation means a sacrifice to take away wrath.

In our sins, God is angry with us. Rightly angry.

The Father sent the Son to bear that just anger. And one of the lavish gifts God gives His people is confidence.

We no longer fear God’s punishment because we know that Christ has taken it for us.

God’s love is lavish. God has given us His Son to save all kinds of people (4:10-14) and He’s given us the Spirit (4:13).

God has given all of Himself, in three-Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So we can “abide,” live, in God.

He gave us this love first. His love takes the initiative. We love, now, because He loved us first (4:19). That’s lavish!

God’s lavish love in us will demonstrate itself. It’s easy to say, “I love God” (4:20; c.f. 4:12).

After all, how are we supposed to tell? There is one indisputable evidence: whether we love Christians we can see. Practically: providing a ride, money, food, welcoming all kinds of people. Seeking to give to others the life God has so lavishly given us.

We love an invisible God by loving visible people.

8/11/2009 9:07:00 AM by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life: Are You Running from God’s Will?

August 11 2009 by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Jonah 1:1-3, 17; 3:1-5, 10; 4:5-11

Growing up, I decided neither to marry a farmer nor a preacher.

How I was reared by one and married the other is beyond me.

When Jack and I met, he was running from God, preparing to teach science.

By the time we married, he had surrendered to God’s call to the ministry.

In those days we attended the Southern Baptist Convention annually.

I was especially inspired by the commissioning service for missionaries. When the speaker appealed to us to surrender for foreign missions, I gazed at Jack for his reaction.

Sensing my stare, he whispered, “I’m called to pastoral ministry in America.”

Years later, I confessed that I didn’t turn complete control of my life over to God for fear He’d say, “Gotcha! Pack your bags; you’re going to Africa as a missionary and eat spinach three times a day.”

“Don’t worry,” Jack said. “I don’t think God would invest in sending you to Africa.

“If He called you, you’d be so excited that your bags would already be packed.”

Jonah 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted me.”

Not wanting the Ninevites saved because they were enemies of the Jews, Jonah fled to Tarshish, Spain.

Does kinship with Jonah lie dormant within us all?

Of course, we don’t run for the same reasons Jonah ran.

Perhaps we run passively, forgetting that we are indeed missionaries, witnessing for Christ daily by what we are, what we say, and all we do.

The key to obeying God’s will is to walk close enough to Him to hear His voice.

Should He call today, how might we respond?

“Sorry, I’m not available to take your call.”

“May I put you on hold?”

Or simply hang up?

Looking back upon life, we’re certain that at times we acted within God’s will.

At other times, we confess to running alongside Jonah, away from God. But we’ve sought and followed God’s will enough times to verify what E. Stanley Jones said: “Outside the will of God we cannot succeed; inside His will we cannot fail.”

You and I have today.

That’s all anyone has. Through ordinary ways of serving God, we can experience extraordinary living. See you in Nineveh!

8/11/2009 9:06:00 AM by Catherine Painter, Author, speaker Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for Aug. 16: Care for One Another

August 6 2009 by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal passage: 1 John 3:11-22

The Apostle John tells us that to be truly saved, we must love.

And love shows itself.

If we are truly saved, our actions will tell.

It is true that our actions will never save us but our actions will tell if we are saved.

There is evidence in our lives.

God showed His love by doing for us what we needed: the Son laid down His life for us.

So too, we must do what we can for other Christians. Christians must give to charity, help neighbors, oppose racism, include all the kinds of people God has made His own.

We know if love has lifted us, if we are hated. If you are truly saved, you will be opposed by the world.

The truth is that to be a Christian is to be committed to Someone and something that will not be popular.

Jesus would never win an election. The world may profess to love a Jesus of its own making. But the real Jesus who calls us to forsake this world, to take up our cross – that will never be popular with the world.

So don’t be surprised, as we’re told in 3:13, that the world hates us.

They don’t understand us, because they’ve never really seen that amazing grace that has transformed our lives. And when they are made aware that we have a grace they don’t have, they will, like Cain did to Abel, hate us for it, 3:12. So don’t be surprised.

How do we know we’re really saved?

We’re amazed by grace, we trust and obey, and loves lifts us to love and to be hated.

How do we know?

If our hearts convict us, then we can believe that God is greater than our guilt.

We all have guilt.

We all stood before God as condemned sinners, pronounced guilty and deserving of eternal punishment. But then for those who obeyed His command to believe in His Son Jesus Christ, the guilt is done away.

And so we begin this journey of the Christian life, the first step being repentance, conviction, admitting that I’ve sinned and need cleansing.

We keep admitting that every step of the way.

That’s why humility and contrition, an increasing awareness of our own sinfulness, is a good sign that we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

Have you made practical efforts to love people who are not just your friends or family? Has your church sought to love people who are outside its usual “kind of people”?

8/6/2009 8:50:00 AM by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life lesson for Aug. 16: Do You Require Signs?

August 6 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Judges 6:14-16, 36-40; Matthew 16:1-4; Romans 12:1-2

Growing up, I heard adults say, “If the Lord wills, I will do thus and so.”

I considered the statement old fashioned and never used it.

I now realize they were on biblical ground, seeking divine direction.

Paul wrote, “I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills” (1 Cor. 4:19), and the apostle James scolded, “You should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:15-16).

Gideon demanded a sign to confirm God’s will when it seems no clearer revelation was possible.

We consider Gideon a Bible hero, but when we first meet him in Judges 6, we might label him the patron saint of all doubters. Israel was at low ebb due to their disobedience, but Gideon blamed God for their situation.

So, when God sent an angel to him, saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (v. 12), Gideon answered in today’s jargon, “Lord, if You’re with us, where’s the evidence? You brought us out of Egypt only to abandon us into the hand of Midian. Where are the wonders our fathers told us about?” (v. 13.)

God answered, “Go and deliver Israel from Midian.”
Gideon argued that his tribe, Menassah, was the weakest tribe, and he was the youngest in his family.

We sense God’s response: “Great! Since you can’t conquer Midian, maybe you’ll let Me do it through you.”

Still demanding proof of God’s will, Gideon “put out the fleece” twice (vs. 36-39).

He even apologized to God, revealing disbelief and rebellion.

Even though God honored Gideon’s request, we should not follow Gideon’s example as a way of determining God’s will for our lives.

Jesus refused the Pharisees and Sadducees’ request for a sign from heaven because they refused to accept the signs they already had (Matt. 16:1-4).

As we submit our lives and minds to God’s purposes, and become more like Christ and less like the world, we’ll be better able to discern His will (Rom. 12:1-2).

God can change us when we’re willing to be changed, but even God cannot possess the self-possessed who remain filled with their own spirits. When we invite Christ to possess us, our lives will show it, and we’ll see people respond.

Next week we’ll study Jonah … if the Lord wills.

8/6/2009 8:48:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for Aug. 9: Practice Discernment

July 28 2009 by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal passage: 1 John 2:18-27

“It is the last hour” (2:18).

The Apostle John means the last revelations have been made: Jesus has come and sent His apostles.

From Pentecost to the Second Coming are the last days. So there is not another prophet coming, either in a cave in Arabia or the woods of America. In these “last days” antichrist is coming, many antichrists.

Only this letter and 2 John mentions “antichrist” in the Bible.

It can mean, “anti” against Christ, but also in place of Christ.

These are either people who try to take the leadership, glory, authority, given only to Christ, or people who teach against Christ, deny that He is who He said He is.

And there are, he says in verse 18, many of them.

But with so many of them, how will you be able to tell a faithful teacher from an antichrist?

First, in 2:19, the antichrists go out from the church, they don’t stay accountable to a God-centered, Bible teaching church.

In our day, of course, they’ll just form their own church but we’ll know whether they have left the true church by whether they fellowship with other orthodox churches; if they see themselves as the only true church, then that is a red-flag.

But John makes clear that the false teachers, the antichrists, arise from the church, at first appearing to be true believers.

Membership in the church is no guarantee that a man belongs to Christ. Notice how John puts it, in 2:19: “They went out from us but they were never of us.”

Yes, they appeared to be of us. But even then they were not really of us. It’s not as though they lost their salvation. They never really had it. We know that now because they dropped out. This shows us what is wrong in thinking that our only needed evidence of salvation is an emotional experience. And with allowing people to remain “members” for years who have not attended church.

Second, you’ll know the many antichrists because of the Holy Spirit in you. In 2:20, the Holy One is Jesus and He has bestowed on all His true people the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

In 2:27 John tells them that they, or we now as a church, don’t need these outside, unknown questionable “teachers” because we have the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes and giving us reliable teachers.

Does your church expect members to attend? Do you trust the teachers of your church, especially your pastor, or pay more attention to people on TV?

7/28/2009 6:22:00 AM by John Carpenter, Pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life lesson for Aug. 9: Have You Found Your Place?

July 28 2009 by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Exodus 35:30-36:1; Jeremiah 1:4-8; Colossians 3:16-17

Mary stopped me between Sunday School and worship.

“Will you teach our class?” she asked. “Our teacher has moved.”

 “Yes, get me a teacher’s quarterly,” I answered.

“Don’t you want to pray about it?”

“No. You have a need and God has prepared me to meet it. Why should I pray about it? Let’s get started.”

Discovering God’s will is not always that easy.

You may be struggling today with some area of your life that God didn’t address in the Bible.

We all struggle at times, but there are ways we can know we’re in God’s will. For example, the Bible says that it isn’t God’s will that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

Are you a child of God? If you are, you’re in God’s will.

Do you read the Bible? We can’t know God’s will without reading His book.

Romans 12 contains the perfect explanation of being in His will.

Once a Christian asked me if God would OK her marrying a non-believer.

When I showed her 2 Corinthians 6:14, she agreed to consider it. Until we obey God’s word, we’re not in His will.

Are we verbally sharing our faith?

I asked my Sunday School class that question, and someone answered, “I just let my life be my witness.”

My problem with that is two-fold: lives can’t speak; only lips speak, and without sharing our faith, we ignore Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

Perhaps the world has convinced us that we must accomplish something spectacular.
Not true with God.

We can’t be sure that Bezalel and Oholiab (Ex. 35:30-36:1) felt they were in God’s perfect will while constructing the temple, but God used their skills for His glory. While we do what God gifted us to do, we’re in His will. What we leave behind when we die may not be engraved in monuments, but if we’ve woven faith into the lives of others, we’ll hear, “Well done” (Matt. 25).

Perhaps we will not have lived God’s perfect plan (see Jer.1:4-5), but God’s grace covers imperfect choices, and when Christians miss God’s ultimate plan, He’ll use what we do offer Him.

A friend’s recent advice places us smack in the middle of God’s will: “Let’s live in such a way that when our feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says, ‘Oh, no, they’re awake.’”

7/28/2009 6:20:00 AM by Catherine Painter, author, speaker, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for August 2: Sin Wisely

July 20 2009 by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville

Focal Passage: 1 John 1:5-2:2


In 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith claimed they would definitely beat the New
England Patriots.

Not only could he not back up his claim, the Patriots specifically beat him, twice, for two long touchdowns.

People claim all kinds of things they can’t back up.

In verses 6, 8, 10, John says, “If we say,” and in 2:4, “Whoever says.”

These are the claims people make. To be a Christian is to make claims.

First and foremost, we claim truths about Jesus. Our claim is that Jesus is the Word of Life, from the beginning.

Pseudo-Christians claim they do not sin or that sin is not important.

In their day many believed that the real me was the spirit.

The body was just a cage and so what my body does is not really me doing it.

That was their way of excusing sin. We deny we sin by trivializing it.

We’ll talk about delicious foods being “sinfully fattening.”

Many so-called Christians today claim they are “saved” and yet think they can sin freely.

If we claim that our souls are saved while we dedicate our mouths to gossip or our eyes to pornography or our minds to greed or our hands to abuse, John has two simple words for us, “We lie.”

First (1:6), we lie to the world to claim one thing and live another way. Second (1:8), we lie to ourselves if we are not aware of our sins.

And then (1:10), we call God a liar. By claiming we’re fine, we’re saying God is not.

We claim to have sin. If we say the same things (“confess”) about sin that God says, then He will forgive us. Here John says that God forgives because He is faithful and just, not lenient and lax.

He is just because, in 2:2, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, the atoning sacrifice. Notice that it takes blood to cleanse us from sin.

Blood is costly. It takes that blood to cleanse us of sin because our sins are that expensive, that serious.

We claim that He’s the one who paid the price for our sins and so we walk in His ways.

Love and obedience go hand-in-hand. If you’re not obeying, you’re not loving.

Friends, we can’t make claims our life doesn’t back up. If we are to be one of God’s people, in fellowship with Him, then, John concludes in verse 6, we ought to walk the same way He walked. If we’re not walking with Him, then we need to confess and be truly saved.

7/20/2009 4:53:00 AM by John Carpenter, pastor, Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Yanceyville | with 0 comments

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