Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 29: Enjoying God’s Comfort

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

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 1:3-14
Enjoying God’s comfort – what an interesting combination of words. We know what it means to enjoy something. We can think of our favorite activity, or our favorite ice cream, and how much we “enjoy” those things. When we think of comfort, we might think about a faithful friend’s shoulder to cry on.
So when we think the comfort is from God, well … who wouldn’t want the comfort of the Lord? But it is about that time we realize the painful truth about comfort – we only recognize true comfort when it comes alongside suffering and pain.
So, even if the best way for us to experience God’s comfort is to be in the midst of suffering of some kind, I doubt we, as Christians, are simply looking for opportunities to suffer. Quite the contrary, we often are seeking to get out of a painful situation as soon as possible.
Author and pastor John Piper says that Christians often miss opportunities to allow God’s glory to shine through them in their time of distress. Rather than allowing for God to manifest His strength in our weakness, we allow our weakness to be on display as we squirm like a worm in hot ashes, trying to find the quickest way out of our immediate un-comfortable situation.
In so doing, we miss out on a great opportunity to demonstrate God’s faithfulness as we “enjoy” or rest in God’s comfort, even in the midst of very painful circumstances.
My buddy Bryan is a great example of one who enjoys God’s comfort – even in the midst of painful circumstances – because he knows that during those times God is working to demonstrate His power and glory.
During a recent hospitalization where Bryan’s heart stopped seven times in 24 hours, he was immediately seeking to testify of God’s comfort and goodness as soon as the breathing tube could be taken out of his throat. Did his circumstances change? No. Was God’s comfort on display in Bryan’s situation for others to see? Absolutely!
May we enjoy God’s comfort in our suffering – for God’s glory!

4/17/2018 8:27:16 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 29: Stand with Conviction

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

Focal Passage: Esther 2:21-3:6
Mordecai, though a Jew in a foreign land, was loyal to his king. Overhearing a plot against the ruler, he promptly informed Esther who reported the planned crime.
Mordecai’s loyalty to the king came from a deeper source. He would not compromise his faith in God.
When Haman was paraded through the streets, Mordecai would not bow. He would not worship a man. He would only worship God.
These two mini-narratives in the book of Esther remind us that it is always right to do the right thing.
Mordecai’s conviction reminds me of another man a few centuries later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not content to stand idly by under Adolf Hitler’s evil Third Reich, Bonhoeffer actively opposed the Nazis. Bonhoeffer held his Christian faith firmly and even served as a spy for the German resistance.
Eventually, Bonhoeffer was captured and sent to prison. While at Flossenberg prison, Bonhoeffer was executed. He was only 39 years old.
The doctor at the prison commented about his execution, “Through the half-open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer.
“At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps of the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost [50] years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
How was Bonhoeffer able to die with solemnity and peace?
I believe the clue is the same as Mordecai’s strength.
Standing with conviction begins by kneeling in prayer.
We can pray with that same boldness and conviction because Christ died to give us the right to pray.

4/17/2018 8:22:32 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 22: Understanding Love

April 3 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
We all know that the motivation behind an action is very important.
Think about the daughter who stomps down the hallway, slams her bedroom door and then cleans her room, just to get mom and dad off her back.
Even if you go find the room cleaned neat as a pin, you are hardly consoled knowing the motivation behind the action.
Consider also the husband who “serves” his wife in some way, doing so only for what he hopes to get in return.
There is little consolation for the wife, not because the act of service isn’t appreciated, but because the motive for the act is clearly evident.
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 – which some believe is a hymn or composition Paul wrote and included in this letter, under the leading of the Holy Spirit – he did so to instruct the Corinthian believers regarding the motive of their heart from which their acts of service to God and one another should flow. Paul didn’t desire only to see right actions but rather to know that those actions were coming from a right heart, one that had been transformed to love like God loves.
The Corinthian believers had demonstrated their ability to act in self-serving ways – for example, by bringing lawsuits against other believers and by acting selfishly even at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11).
Paul is exhorting them to let the transforming love of God be the motivation that drives all of their acts of service to God and others.
We will not “naturally” act out of a motivation of love – particularly a love that looks like God’s love for us.

It will have to be supernaturally accomplished – as the Spirit of God does His work first in us and then through us.
In fact, as the Holy Spirit transforms us to act out of love, we see evidence of His other fruit as well – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
May our love for God motivate us to lovingly serve God and others, all for God’s glory!

4/3/2018 7:58:03 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 22: Be Ready to Stand

April 3 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 2:5-10, 15-17
Sometimes it is easy to have present-day bias. We think that today’s culture is more advanced than previous cultures. Or we think that today’s culture is more evil than previous cultures. Or we think that politics today could not be any worse.
Of course today’s politics are filled with corruption, partisanship and intrigue. Even a cursory glance at any major news network will reveal the perversion and corruption of too many politicians, but our culture and the nature of politics today are not really that unique.
King Ahasuerus of Persia was known for his selfishness, disregard for others and immorality. Perversely dismissive of his first queen, Vashti, the king needed a new queen.
The suggestion for finding a new queen pleased King Ahasuerus. Virgins from across the kingdom were brought to the harem, pampered, then sent to spend the night with the king. The story of Ahasuerus and Esther is neither a fairy tale, nor a model of biblical morality. But the story of Esther should give us confidence in the Lord.
Behind the immorality and the machinations of king and court, God is accomplishing His purposes. God is working through the integrity of Mordecai. God is working through the humility of Esther.
We must be careful not to judge Esther’s conduct in the same manner we would criticize the king. Esther really had no choice but to present herself at the king’s proclamation, but Esther stood out. She stood out precisely because she acted out of humility. She was not governed by queenly ambition. She knew who she was, a Jew, and knew who God was. As a result she found favor with everyone she met.
That favor is very important to the story as God was poised to use the humble character of the new queen who stood out to keep His promises to His people. The lesson for us – we can stand up and stand out for the Lord because He is sovereignly orchestrating events, even behind acts of immorality and corruption. 

4/3/2018 7:55:46 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 15: Serving God’s People

April 3 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, 21-26
I have mentioned previously that I was a Registered Nurse before I was a pastor. My primary area of work was cardiovascular nursing. We would primarily serve heart patients but would occasionally encounter someone who had suffered a stroke.
As a result of losing blood flow to some part of the brain, the stroke patient would often lose some type of body functionality.
He could have an ocular stroke and lose his vision. Or he might have a more substantial stroke and lose the function of one whole side of his body.
These affected parts are not only unable to carry out their function, but other body parts then have to accommodate that lack of function.
I’ve seen patients have to use their left arm to pick up and move their no longer functioning right arm.
I can’t help applying that background to what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12 regarding spiritual gifts. Paul is clear that God has given every single part of His body gifts to utilize, not for the sake of the individual himself, but for the building up of the body of Christ.
There are several truths we must not miss here. First, God the Holy Spirit is the one who gives gifts to the children of God (we don’t get to determine our own giftings). Second, every body part is important – put in place by Christ and gifted by the Spirit – serving a particular function for the benefit of the body. Third, there is no time to “take a break” from serving Christ. With Christ as our head, we are to give ourselves daily in service to Him for His glory and the building up of His body.
So many in the church today act like those stroke-affected body parts – present but not functional, requiring others to try to work around them or make up the loss. As a result, our churches are struggling to function as Christ intends, with every part functioning and serving with Christ as head.
May we each utilize our spiritual giftings for the glory of Christ and the building up of His church!

4/3/2018 7:54:05 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 15: Our Righteousness

April 3 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Jeremiah 33:3-8; 14-16
In Jeremiah 33, the Lord makes a great many claims: “I will answer you,” and “will tell you,” “I shall strike down,” “I have hidden my face,” “I will bring it to health and healing,” “I will heal them and reveal to them,” “I will restore,” and “rebuild,” “I will cleanse them,” “I will forgive,” “I will fulfill the promise,” “I will cause a Righteous Branch.”
Finally, Jeremiah declares that Jerusalem will be called, “The Lord is our righteousness.”
I hope the pattern is obvious.
The Lord is the active agent when it comes to righteousness. We are like the people of Israel. We have been given commands and expectations, but we consistently fail.
We are certainly to strive toward righteousness.
No doubt the scripture teaches that God expects holiness. But we must acknowledge that we have no hope of earning the righteousness we desperately need.
When we examine our lives against the expectations of righteousness that God has for us, we can grow depressed and discouraged. Thankfully, the Lord does not leave us wandering in hopelessness. He acts, answers, heals, forgives, fulfills and provides a Righteous Branch.
The Righteous Branch is none other than the Lord Jesus who is the incarnated fulfillment of God’s righteousness for us. Jesus came to do what we could not. He obeyed God’s Law, kept every standard and fulfilled every expectation. He did what we could not do.
Because He is Righteous, He could take our place. He became our substitute, carrying our sin on the cross and transferring His righteousness to us.
Again, I hope the pattern is obvious. Jesus is the active agent with regard to righteousness.
We cannot hope to earn God’s approval. But we can receive it.
We should heed the Lord’s command to Jeremiah, “Call to me.” If we will call upon the Lord, we can receive the righteousness without which we cannot know the Lord.

4/3/2018 7:52:07 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 8: Remembering the Sacrifice

March 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 11:17-29
The older I get, the more I recognize both the importance and difficulty of – oh yeah, remembering.  There are at least a couple of different kinds of remembering that take place in our lives. We remember some things nostalgically – simply recalling fondly a person or event and how we felt. You might think of a former teacher or a trip to the beach.
We must remember other things, however, because they require action on our part – things like staying on a complicated but important medication regimen or taking out the trash each week.
The reality is, for all of us, we are prone to forget and need reminders. Some of the things mentioned above aren’t really disastrous if we forget. Other things bring much greater consequences.
God knows His people are prone to forget. On the plains of Moab, Moses in giving a series of speeches (Deuteronomy) to Israel before going into the Promised Land, called the people over and over again to “remember” who God was and what He had done and admonished them not to forget.
In giving the Lord’s Supper to His Church, God placed before us a regular and visible reminder to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. And this remembering should always call us to action.
It should first call us to worship – worship the God who redeemed us by His Son. We are here, not for ourselves, but for God, united in Him and with one another. It should also call us to proclamation.
Even in our participation in the Lord’s Supper we proclaim that we have been reconciled only through the sacrifice of Christ, not based on our merit or works. It should lastly call us to evaluate our lives. Paul warns the Corinthian believers not to come to the Lord’s Table unexamined. Because Christ paid such a price for our sin, we should come humbly, gratefully, confessed, and clean.
The next time you partake of the Lord’s Supper to remember Christ’s sacrifice, don’t simply reflect nostalgically. Ask God’s Spirit to drive you to action – worship, evaluate and proclaim!

3/20/2018 9:52:43 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 8: Our Shepherd

March 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Psalm 23:1-6
Our youngest son, Nathan, was a difficult baby. He had colic along with an irritable stomach. Eventually, we had to give him a lactose-free, hypoallergenic baby formula called Nutramigen.
If you’re not familiar with Nutramigen, that’s OK. Think of it as liquid gold. At least that’s what it seemed like when we paid for it.
Anyway, I can remember fighting with him to eat. We knew what was best for him, even if he didn’t want to eat. I think David had something similar in mind when he penned the verses of his most influential psalm – “The Lord is my shepherd ….”
As a shepherd, David knew his sheep were entirely dependent upon him. They required green pastures and still waters (sheep will not drink from moving streams). But more than provision, the Lord our Shepherd guides us.
He guides us to places of provision and protection. Our Shepherd also leads us in the “paths of righteousness for his names’ sake.” David understood leadership. It was his responsibility to lead and guide his sheep. But when David comments about God’s leadership, he reflects on God’s purpose.
As sheep, we don’t know what is best or where we need to go. We tend to wander and drift. But God leads and guides us, and notice why. He guides “for His name’s sake.”
God guides us because He’s redeemed us. We are the recipients of His love, the bearers of His name. So He guides us because we reflect His reputation and glory to the world. The Lord “leads us in the paths of righteousness” because the only way we can walk in righteousness is by Him and through Him.
When we walk in righteousness, it becomes obvious to others that we are walking with wisdom and purpose. Would you join David? Would you follow the leadership of your Shepherd in the paths of His righteous word for the sake of His glorious name?

3/20/2018 9:50:42 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 1: Assurance of the Resurrection

March 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville

Focal passages: John 20:2-9; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Prior to serving in full-time ministry I was a registered nurse, primarily working in cardiology and in the emergency room. In those two areas, it was common to work with patients who were facing life-threatening conditions.
During these critical periods of waiting, I would watch the family members. While their loved one was alive, the family was holding on to hope. However, once death came, they realized, physically speaking, hope was gone.
They accepted death as the final answer. The grave was proof. You put the dead body in there and that is where it stays.
As one of my medical colleagues once told me as a matter-of-fact while I was trying to share the gospel with him, “Dead men don’t rise.”
In every case, my friend was right, except for one. And that one has made all the difference.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He promised, and brought hope to all those who repent and believe in Him by faith. He defeated death, hell and the grave, bringing life – abundant and eternal – to those who turn to Him.
Those who die apart from Christ are twice dead – physically and spiritually. But, because Jesus – who died but is now alive – rose from the dead, we who were spiritually dead are made alive through faith in Him.
The reality of our resurrected Lord makes a difference every day in all of life. People lose their house to a fire and lose hope. The tomb is empty! There is hope.
People experience broken relationships. The tomb is empty! There is hope! If Christ had not risen from the dead, we would have no hope – in life or in death. But Paul says, “Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
We, therefore, not only have hope in this life but the life to come. Christ is not only our resurrected Lord, but also our returning king! Do you know the hope of the resurrected Christ? If not, trust Him today! If you do, tell someone today, “The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive. Trust in Him!”

3/20/2018 9:48:56 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 1: God is Faithful

March 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-12
It amazes me the memory of my children. If I said I would play with them or take them somewhere or get them something, they never forget. I wish I could say that my faithfulness matched their memory. We are flawed and many times unfaithful. We break promises. But God does not. God is supremely, perfectly, gloriously faithful.
There is no greater miracle than the miracle of the resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection has been doubted, denied and dismissed by skeptics over the years. Theological liberalism arose from Enlightenment skepticism.
How could the resurrection actually happen? Dead people don’t come back to life. But Enlightenment skepticism and theological liberalism neglected to explain an integral element of the resurrection story – Jesus predicted it.
Not only did Jesus predict His resurrection, but the disciples themselves dismissed His prediction. The angel they met at the empty tomb told them, “Remember how he told you … that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.
They were completely unprepared for Jesus’ resurrection as they huddled together in fear and hopelessness. But when Jesus appeared to them resurrected, they came face to face with his faithfulness. Jesus kept His promise.
Not only did He rise again, He had predicted He would rise again. His resurrection declared His deity and the fulfillment of His promise vindicated His faithfulness.
Before the resurrection the disciples were more likely candidates for depression than for becoming spokespersons for the largest religion of all time. The only explanation for change in the disciples is the ratified faithfulness of their risen Lord. Jesus promised He would rise. The disciples saw Him, changed and declared His resurrection. And we today can have confidence in the historical reality of the resurrected Christ who has redeemed billions of lives.

3/20/2018 9:45:09 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

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