Sunday School Lessons

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

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

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