Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 25: Influencing for Christ

March 6 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27; 10:31-33; 11:1
I remember hearing a well-known professional athlete, after being caught in an embarrassing situation, adamantly declare – “I am an athlete, not a role model.”
The reality was, however, he was a role model, whether he liked it or not. Why? One word – influence.
Because of his visible role as a professional athlete, he had influence, particularly over the kids who aspired to be professional athletes one day. This athlete, because of his influence, could not choose whether or not to be a role model. He could only choose whether he would live as a good one or a bad one.
When kids looked at him, they would naturally think, “That is what a professional athlete looks like.”
As followers of Jesus, like it or not, we have influence for the sake of Christ. People will look at us and think, “That is what a follower of Christ looks like.” I have heard many unbelievers say just that.
As Paul clearly declared in his second letter to the Corinthians, “We … are ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The choice for Christians is not whether or not we want to live as representatives of Christ.
Our choice is whether we will represent Him well and influence others toward Him or represent Him poorly and influence others away from Him.
In this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses physical examples to make a clear spiritual point.
If you want to represent Christ well and influence others toward Him, there is only one clear way to do it – live sacrificially for the sake of others, as Christ did for us.
I may love a good steak, Paul says, but I love those who know Christ (or need to know Him) more.
The “Christ Hymn” of Philippians 2:5-11 demonstrates the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
If we want to influence others for Christ, our lives should also be marked by such sacrificial living.
With His Spirit living in us, our lives can be.
Only then will we be able to say, as Paul did, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

3/6/2018 8:37:13 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 25: Our Peace

March 6 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Judges 6:11-16, 22-24
Alfred Nobel is known today as the man whose estate funded the Nobel peace prize. What you may not know is that before the peace prize, Nobel invented dynamite. While dynamite has other uses, it was quickly adopted by military forces and used to destroy countless lives in war.
Alfred’s brother, Ludvig, died in 1888. By fateful mistake, Alfred’s obituary was printed instead of Ludvig’s. One newspaper opined, “The merchant of death is dead.”
That caption changed Alfred and led him to fund the peace prize that bears his name.
We are a world enamored with peace that seems impossible to achieve. Conflict continues geopolitically and interpersonally. Peace evades us.
In Gideon’s story, the people of Israel were not at peace. They were under Midian’s rule because of their sinfulness. God chose Gideon to lead Israel to cast off Midian. After perceiving he had met the angel of the Lord, he became afraid. But God said, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” God promised Gideon peace. But Gideon would face internal turmoil and lead armies into battle, how could there be peace? We can have peace with God even though our external situations do not reflect it.
Gideon met an angel of the Lord, likely none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. The peace we so desperately need, the peace the world lacks and the peace Nobel hoped to achieve with his prize met Gideon that day. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He came to bring us peace, to end our war with God, to release us from sin’s bondage.
Jesus is also the King of kings and He will return. One day interpersonal turmoil, political parties and international conflicts will be in the distant past because there will be One King, One Ruler, One Prince, One Lord, and all will bow before Him as the Prince of Peace.

3/6/2018 8:34:58 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 18: Keeping Commitments

March 6 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 7:1-13
It is one thing to look with awe and wonder at a picture of a sunset on the African plains. It is another thing altogether, having been to Africa multiple times, to see the beauty of that sunset in person.
A picture may be beautiful, but we intuitively know the actual thing it depicts is even more beautiful and glorious.
When we come to issues about marriage, I believe we often run into problems because we treat marriage as the actual thing, rather than seeing it as the picture of something greater. But Paul tells the believers in Ephesus that marriage is God’s picture of something greater – His covenant relationship with His people (Ephesians 5:32).
That reality should radically change the way we live in our marriages.
Why would Paul admonish the Corinthian believers to walk in faithfulness with their spouses, enjoying regular sexual intimacy as both a good gift from God and as a protection against being drawn away to infidelity? The covenant relationship they had with their spouses was a picture of our covenant relationship with God.
We should enjoy continuous spiritual intimacy with God in our covenant relationship with Him. This ongoing intimacy with Him, in covenant relationship, also protects against our hearts being drawn away into spiritual adultery – chasing after other “gods.”
Why would Paul admonish the Corinthian believers not to divorce? The covenant relationship they had with their spouses was a picture of their covenant relationship with God. For them to break that covenant would give the idea that our covenant relationship with God could be broken – painting a false picture. Jesus would likewise warn against divorce, pointing back to God’s creation design and purpose.
Paul, in admonishing some believers who could have biblically married to stay single, was not downplaying the value of marriage.
His rationale for this charge to singleness had to do with practical focus in ministry, not the value of marriage. But, for those who would marry, his charge was “keep your covenant commitments.”
Why? Because it is a picture before a watching world of God’s covenant love and faithfulness.

3/6/2018 8:31:25 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 18: Our Banner

March 6 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Exodus 17:8-16
One of the most iconic symbols in American history is the sculpture of the marines on Iwo Jima as they raised the flag of the United States of America. The flag symbolized victory, freedom and the power of the U.S. military.
That picture aids our understanding of the concept of “the Lord is our Banner.” In Hebrew it would read Yahweh-Nissi.
A banner is a military symbol that clearly identifies an army or a people. In the story of Israel’s battle with the Amalekites, Joshua led the rabble of former slaves to defend themselves. Moses watched from a hilltop overlooking the battle.
As his arms were raised in prayer and dependence on God, Israel gained the upper hand. As his arms fell, Amalek gained the upper hand. Ultimately, Israel was victorious because God strengthened the armies of Israel against their enemy.
It is interesting to observe the shared responsibilities in the battle. Israel fought. Men fell. Moses prayed. Moses lost strength. Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up. God gave Israel victory.
The Lord is our Banner” does not mean we huddle in a corner hiding from our problems, enemies and difficulties. Rather, it means that we walk in faith and advance in dependence.
We do ourselves no favors when we try to battle on our own strength. Rather, we gain victory when we look in faith to the Lord our Banner.
More than 1,000 years later, God gave His people a glorious symbol of His victorious banner.
When Jesus hung on that cruel Roman cross, He atoned for our sins and defeated our spiritual enemy. The cross of Christ is both historical reality and powerful symbol. We receive the victory of the cross not by fighting alongside our Savior, but by depending on the victory He won. Look to the cross as the symbol of God’s banner over you.  

3/6/2018 8:24:25 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 11: Glorifying God

February 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“That is not what that was made for!”
I don’t know how many times I have heard that said to me through the years. Since I was young, I have been bad about doing things with whatever “tool” was available to me, whether that was the objects intended purpose or not.
I might use a fishing pole to get something off of a tall shelf.
Sometimes I might use an otherwise good tool for a destructive purpose – like taking a hammer and chipping the tiny front edges off of my mom’s piano keys. (Yep, I really did that!)
As Paul was writing to the Corinthian believers, seeing some of the ongoing sinful actions of their lives – gluttony and sexual immorality – he was saying to them, “That is not what you were (re)made for!”
Could their stomachs be used for gluttony? Sure. Could their bodies be used for sexual pleasure, even immorality? Definitely. Paul tells them, however, that is not the reason God made them – to satisfy their physical, temporal desires. God made them, in fact, re-made them, for His glory.
Because these Corinthian believers had surrendered their lives to Christ, God had forgiven their sin, given them new life and set up residence in them by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Far from being instruments for sin, their bodies were now temples of the Holy Spirit (6:19) – the place where God’s presence dwells. They could never justify opening
up the doors of those temples for the pleasure and service of their spiritual enemy.
Our lives no longer belong to us. We have been bought with a price – the blood of Jesus (6:20). We should, therefore, use our bodies for what they were (re)made for – the glory of God.
Paul would similarly tell the Roman believers – “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:19).

God has made us new for His glory! May our lives glorify Him in all things!

2/20/2018 8:53:08 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 11: Our Healer

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

Focal Passage: Exodus 14:29-31; 15:22-27
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you were in the Bible? Maybe you put yourself in the place of a disciple walking with Jesus? Or maybe an Old Testament hero like Moses or David or Daniel?
At times I’ve wondered what it would be like to have existed in one of the Bible stories. There is actually a place for us in the Bible, although it’s not very flattering.
Truth be told, we are much like the people of Israel. Israel had just witnessed God sending plagues upon Egypt – 10 of them. Israel had walked across the Red Sea on dry land. Israel had watched as God destroyed the Egyptian army with walls of Red Sea water. Even after those miraculous acts, Israel grumbled and complained faithlessly when they found a pool of bitter water in the wilderness.
At Marah, Israel tested the Lord. Aren’t we much the same? We have been redeemed, protected and provided for by God only to faithlessly grumble when something doesn’t go our way.
If we find ourselves in the Bible, we are not the heroes, but the sinners. That is the point.
Years later Jesus would face a similar situation to the people of Israel. He was also in the wilderness. Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the temple and show off God’s protection.
Jesus replied, “Do not test the Lord, your God.”
Jesus referenced the very text where Israel tested the Lord. They failed to trust God. We’ve done what they did. And that is why Jesus came, faced temptation, succeeded and ultimately went to the cross.
We cannot obey our way into wholeness. We will never deserve the healing we need. But the healing and provision we need is available. It is available because Jesus refused to test the Lord, because Jesus obeyed perfectly when we disobeyed, because Jesus substituted His wholeness for our lack.
Will you trust the perfect, risen Lord for your healing?

2/20/2018 8:50:22 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 4: United in Christ

February 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10-25
When you think about someone joining a country club, there are several things that could entice them to membership. Many join for the golf course. Others, though, might join because they like the clubhouse and look forward to the lunches, dinners or parties they will enjoy. For others it might be the teaching professional or the swimming pool.
Because these members have come together for very different reasons, it is easy for them to experience discord. The swimming pool crowd thinks money should be spent on the pool. The golf crowd wants to spend money to replace the grass on the greens. After all, if the golf course wasn’t there, there would be no country club.
It is easy, then, when the discord builds for some to leave and go find another country club to join – one with a better pool, or golf course or clubhouse, or whatever fits their desires.
This kind of discord is expected in a country club, but it is grievous when demonstrated in a church.
For the church in Corinth, the division came not because of the swimming pool or the clubhouse, but because of various personalities there to whom different members gravitated.
Paul writes clear and challenging words to correct this church, telling the members that they are there neither because of those men nor for them.
The reason they are part of the church is because they all have one, unifying thing in common: they have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
In these verses, and the three chapters that follow, Paul repeatedly reminds them they have been made one in Christ, unified by the Spirit of God. They are acting like “fleshly” people and spiritual babies (3:1), rather than “Spirit-filled” people.
These believers were “God’s building” (3:9), built on the foundation of salvation through Jesus Christ.
God’s desire was for them to walk in unity in Christ.
God’s desire for us, His people today, is that we do the same.

2/20/2018 8:47:42 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 4: Our Provider

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

Focal Passage: Genesis 22:1-14
Felt needs are important. We work in order to earn money to provide shelter, food and clothing. Day to day we are hungry, thirsty, tired, frustrated, disappointed, discouraged, and we act to meet those needs. But sometimes, our felt needs can overwhelm us.
In our text, Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham and Isaac had a need – a need they felt. Abraham responded, “God will provide.” Do you have Abraham’s kind of faith in God’s provision?
Søren Kierkegaard, a Dutch philosopher/theologian of the 19th century, famously interpreted Abraham’s faith in this text as a “blind leap.” In Kierkegaard’s estimation, Abraham closed his eyes, stepped out and happily landed in a place of God’s provision.
I believe Kierkegaard’s claim is glaringly wrong. Abraham’s faith in God’s provision was anything but blind. God led Abraham, forgave Abraham, cared for Abraham and gave he and Sarah a child far after their days of childbearing were past. Abraham’s faith in God’s provision was based on years of God demonstrating His faithfulness. In that desperately poignant moment when Isaac was tied down on the altar, Abraham trusted God to the point of obedience. Then God stopped him and showed him a ram caught in a thicket.
This story teaches us two things about God’s provision. First, there is nothing we can sacrifice, give or do to earn God’s provision. It is important that we see that Abraham and Isaac still sacrificed, still worshiped.  
Second, we access God’s provision through faith. It was Abraham’s faith in God that led him to obey. If we want to experience God’s provision, we must have faith. God has already provided on the grandest of scales. He gave us just what we needed when He sent Christ to the cross. We access His provision by faith. And when we believe in the provision of God through Christ, we have a basis for trusting God to provide our felt needs as well (Romans 8:32).

2/20/2018 8:43:50 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 25: Always on Mission

February 6 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 28:17-28
One of my responsibilities at the church where I serve is to train disciple-makers. Each semester I lead a class on how to fulfill the great commission Jesus gave to His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). During our 12 weeks together, I use a phrase over and over that goes something like this: “We stand on the shoulders of the saints who have gone before us and were faithful to their God-given task.”
Think about it. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are saved because at some point someone shared with you the life-changing message of Christ.
In His sovereign plan, God appointed a time for you to come into contact with someone who had what you needed. In a sense, you stand on their shoulders.  
In the last chapter of Acts, Paul explains to the local leaders how he ended up in Rome.
From a heavenly perspective, it was because God knew he would come in contact with people who were eager to hear the message he was proclaiming (Acts 28:22).
Paul wouldn’t have had this audience if the circumstances hadn’t turned out the way they had.
God was working even in the midst of the struggles and trials Paul was facing.   Because some accepted this message, he now had saints that were standing on his shoulders, because he was faithful in sharing what had transformed him.
The same is true for you and me.  As you finish your study in the book of Acts, if you have taken away anything, my prayer is that you’ve developed a passion and commitment for personal evangelism.
You are a steward of a message that has eternal consequences. And because of a parent, grandparent, pastor, Bible study teacher, friend, co-worker, sibling or even a total stranger, your position with God is one of peace (Romans 5:1) and not wrath (Romans 1:18). Now, go! Go and make disciples of all nations!

2/6/2018 8:01:54 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 25: I Am a Light

February 6 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Ephesians 5:8-14
Christine Caine, an activist against human trafficking, spoke at a conference when I was in college and shared a story I’ll never forget.
Caine and her daughter, Sophia, were shopping for a flashlight. Sophia was thrilled with the one she’d chosen and, itching to go home, said to her mother, “Let’s go find some darkness!”
Their new flashlight was no use under the bright store lights; it would only serve its purpose within the contrast of darkness.
Believers have a new identity as “children of light” that are called to walk in obedience to the Lord as they learn what is pleasing and acceptable to Him (Ephesians 5:8-10). This means that anyone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior remains in darkness.
Just like Sophia’s flashlight was indistinguishable among the incandescent store lights, missing its objective, the light Christ placed in us does not fulfill its intention when it fears exposing the darkness. Ephesians 5:11-13 reads, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things that are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”
There was a time when we, too, were in darkness. Because of the Fall, everyone was born into sin, and whether we were 7 years old or 52 when we believed in the Lord, there was a time when there was no light in us either. Even still, having tasted the sweet salvation of Jesus Christ, we are not exempt from falling into sin. This understanding should lead us to humility, compassion for those in darkness and a deep desire to see the lost be found.

May we long to hear the Lord say unto others as He has graciously called out to us, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).

2/6/2018 7:56:59 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

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