Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 24: Restores

March 11 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 5:21–43
Devoting his life to serving a leper colony in Hawaii, Damien de Veuster began his ministry to islanders in 1864. He is famously quoted for saying, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” Mother Theresa noted a few things that stood out about Damien’s ministry: he removed fear from their hearts and gave them “hope in being cured.”
This missionary brought Christ to both a physically and spiritually sick people group. De Veuster himself contracted leprosy not long into his ministry. Although he was unable to physically heal himself or any of the people he went to minister to, he did make himself available to serve and share Christ.
A Greek word that means “to heal” is used twice in verses 28-34. The word can also mean “to save.” The sick woman in the passage responds to Jesus’ healing power by “trembling with fear” and she tells Jesus “the whole truth.”
The language suggests Christ has not merely healed the woman physically. More importantly, He appears to have offered her spiritual healing. Just as Jesus used sickness as a metaphor for sin in Mark 2:17, He uses physical healing as a means to highlight both His power and salvation.

A similar experience occurs in Jairus’ story as well. Jesus’ comment to Jairus in verse 36, “Do not be afraid; just believe,” coupled with the specific act of healing Jairus’ daughter, makes it evident. There is spiritual healing and physical healing.
The people group De Veuster served were brought to faith in Christ. They were restored to a right relationship with God through salvation. Having that same faith, who will you share this salvation with?

3/11/2019 10:42:24 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 24: The Problem with Work

March 11 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 2:18-23; 3:9-13
Several months ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is getting ready to retire. He began building his company at a young age and had spent the last 40-plus years investing time, energy and heart into it. His company had grown beyond his wildest dreams, but after spending almost two-thirds of his life in his work, all that effort would suddenly end.
My friend was at odds with how he would transition out of his life’s work. Should he sell his business? Would someone be interested in taking it over? And what was he going to do during retirement?
Solomon also considered his work in Ecclesiastes 2:18-23.
He had invested a lot of time, money and thought into the kingdom he had built, but recognized that one day it would all be passed on to someone else. “For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it” (Ecclesiastes 2:21).
King Solomon recognized his life’s work was a futile if he was not serving God. “I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts …” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).
Colossians also speaks to this by saying, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will received the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You served the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:17, 23-14).
Fortunately, my friend recognizes that all his work has been a gift from God. As he has prayed through this new season, he practices laying down his dreams, his accomplishments and his future before the Lord.

3/11/2019 10:40:04 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 17: Unites

March 11 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 3:23-35
In C.S. Lewis’ classic book, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we find the Pevensie children making their way to Aslan, the lion. As the story progresses, the children learn Aslan has the power to restore life to all those who were turned to stone by the White Witch.
Throughout Lewis’ story, the reader also learns that Aslan is who he says he is. As for the beginning chapters of Mark, the increasing testimony of Christ’s work – in both word and deed – culminates in this passage. The main point here is that Christ is who He says He is, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
From a literary perspective, Mark 3:22-30 may seem out of place. But Mark appears to include the section to emphasize two ideas: (1) the difference between Jesus’ friends and family and the scribes, and (2) to explain the “unpardonable” sin.
Jesus demonstrates the seriousness of attributing or assigning Christ’s lifesaving power, through both word and deed, to Satan. In Narnia, that would be akin to saying Aslan’s power to restore came from the White Witch. It simply does not make sense. If Satan was behind all that Jesus had done, then it would go against everything Satan tries to accomplish.
In previous chapters, Jesus has displayed Himself through His power. He drove out demons, was tempted by Satan for 40 days and healed people. Jesus also demonstrated His authority through conflicts, which led up to the current passage, where He closely identifies Himself with the people of God.
Verses 31-35 should not lead us to believe Jesus teaches that family relationships are unimportant. Instead, He is simply pointing to a higher priority. That higher priority is “the will of God.” In these verses, Mark identifies Jesus as the One who is unified with both the Father and the people of God. How might you demonstrate such unity in your life this week?

3/11/2019 10:37:23 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 17: The Problem with Wisdom

March 11 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17; 7:23-39
As a kid, I loved to learn but also recognized that more knowledge could lead to more opportunities. As I’ve grown older, applying knowledge in a way that is wise has become even more important.
Wisdom is a characteristic for which King Solomon is known.
Yet, as one of the wisest men in history, he considers wisdom, on its own, to be void.
In Ecclesiastes 2:16, Solomon compares those who are wise to those who are foolish. “For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!” Without Christ, the wise, like the foolish, will perish.
Knowledge and wisdom are gifts from our Father, but He has also created us with finite minds.
King Solomon confesses that, even as a wise man, there is much wisdom and knowledge he doesn’t have. “All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, ‘I shall be wise’; but it was far from me. As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out? I applied my heart to know, to search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.
We know God to be the only one who has all knowledge and wisdom. Solomon understood that God gives wisdom to those who please Him and live righteously (Ecclesiastes 7:23-29). As Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit when we trust in Jesus as our Savior, making it possible for us to please God and follow Him.
Ephesians 3:19 puts it this way, “… to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” The love of Christ is beyond our understanding, but it has the power to change our lives, and the lives of others, forever.

3/11/2019 10:35:05 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 10: Forgives

February 26 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 2:1-12
A prominent early church father named Iranaeus said, “If Christ forgives sins he must be truly God, for no one can forgive sins but God.”
The main point of this week’s text is that Christ forgives sins.
He alone has the authority and power to do so.
One commentator, William Lane, explains that while the effects of sin have caused sickness and disease, Jesus’ healing miracles demonstrate that He is undoing the curse. He is making all things new, and His ministry points forward to the end of time.
The signs and wonders of Jesus leading up to His encounter with the paralyzed man call our attention to the promises of prophetic hope (2 Corinthians 4:17-18; 1 Peter 5:10).
We wait for a future Kingdom where there is no need of healing.
However, it is important that we do not link physical sickness with a corresponding sin.
Lane writes, “There is no suggestion in the narrative that the paralytic’s physical suffering was related to a specific sin.”
Some thematic threads that tie Mark’s narrative to previous stories include Jesus’ authority (Mark 1:22, 27; 2:10), Jesus’ healing of the sick (Mark 1:31, 34, 41; 2:11) and the people’s “amazed” reaction (Mark 1:22, 27; 2:12).
The theme of disciple-making can be found here as well, for example, when some friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus (Mark 2:3-5).
Finally, Jesus Himself preached and taught the word (Mark 1:14, 21, 38; 2:2). If Jesus is our example (1 John 2:6; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21; Ephesians 5:1–2), then we too should be preachers and teachers of the word.
How will you put your faith in action? In what ways can you spread the word?

2/26/2019 10:07:48 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 10: The Problem with Pleasure

February 26 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
In college I had the privilege of meeting Wayne Simien, a brother in Christ and alumnus of my favorite college basketball team: the Kansas Jayhawks. He shared about a life-altering experience that completely changed my perception of success.
Simien was part of the Miami Heat team that won the 2006 NBA Finals.
He talked about the adrenaline rush and the feeling that he had all he could ever want.
The exhilaration wore off that same night when Miami’s coach promised fans another championship in 2007. The team had just reached the highest point in their careers. Was it not enough?
In 2007 the Heat did so poorly they were booed off their own court. The same crowd that idolized them the year before was now taunting them.
As unfulfillment sank in, Simien realized that God was calling him to another dream. He decided to leave the NBA and pursue youth with the gospel.
Similarly, King Solomon seemed to have it all.
He had access to entertainment, endless food and drink, and more wisdom than anyone in his kingdom, yet he regarded it all as vain (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3).
He had more possessions than any king before him, with countless houses, servants, and animals (Ecclesiastes 2:4-7), all of which were evidence of his immeasurable wealth.
With that wealth, Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem, an extravagant monument that was regarded as one of his grandest achievements.
But something was missing.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done … indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
The New Testament puts it this way, “And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:17).
God is a good Father who wants to give good gifts to His children.
But He is our greatest possession and only in Him can we find everlasting pleasure.

2/26/2019 10:05:23 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 3: Calls

February 26 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 1:9-20
A well-known Christian theologian, Augustine, wrote about his conversion in his famous book Confessions. In the book, written as a prayer, he described God’s power to save, despite his initial reluctance to accepting Christ. He wrote, “I had no answer when you called me saying, ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’”
A Christian friend had come to see him. Upon discussing God’s Word, he listened intently and it caused a great inner struggle. He confessed his inner turmoil: “‘The Way,’ Jesus, the Savior, pleased me well, but I was still reluctant to pass through the narrow gate.”
As he withdrew to find solitude, he reflected deeply and eventually surrendered his heart to repent and believe. What Augustine experienced in God’s call to salvation – repentance and belief – is exactly what Jesus called for in Mark 1:15.
The first verses of Mark identify who Jesus is. Mark also shows how John the Baptist prepared the way for the messiah, and emphasizes one of the key themes throughout the book: Christ’s power.
A prime example of Christ’s power can be observed in verse two, as Mark quotes Isaiah the prophet, saying, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.”
As the text introduces John the Baptist, Christ’s forerunner, it prepares us to meet Jesus Christ. As John is a messenger, so is Jesus (Hebrews 3:1). As John is showing people the way, Christ is “the Way” (John 14:6).
The “good news” of salvation also connects to disciple-making activity, which is another major theme throughout the book of Mark. John the Baptist made disciples (Luke 7:18) as well as Jesus (Mark 1:17, 20).
As the narrative unfolds, we the readers find ourselves engaged and needing to respond to two themes connected to the good news: a decision to follow “the way of the Lord” and the act of disciple-making.
Will you respond to God’s call?

2/26/2019 10:01:47 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 3: When Life Feels Empty

February 26 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 1:1-14
Have you ever measured your life’s value based on how you’re doing in work, school or sports? Have you ever thought that you only measured up to the number of friends you have, how much was in your retirement or even how many people came to know Jesus because you shared the gospel with them?
I have done all of the above, actually.
In high school I saw myself as a good student, a strong athlete, someone who had plenty of friends and got along easily with most people.
Two years into college the last of my identities fell apart. I barely squeaked by my science courses, hundreds of runners surpassed my skills and I was more homesick than I thought possible. I grasped at titles, approval and performance to fulfill me, but came short every time.
If I could no longer claim any of these things to give me value, where was my purpose? Where did I belong?
In Ecclesiastes 1:1-14, King Solomon wrestles with the same sense of meaninglessness. “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
Generations of people have come and gone, working hard to pursue dreams or build personal kingdoms.
But what purpose do they have without Christ?
And how long will they stand alone?
Solomon also understood that, apart from Christ, nothing in this life can truly satisfy. “... The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8).
All other wisdom, possessions, and works are burdensome, futile, and easily forgotten (Ecclesiastes 1:11-14).
There is a yearning in every person for purpose and belonging. What then does this mean about seeking “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)?
What does it mean to put Jesus first as Lord, knowing that only He can define and fulfill us?

2/26/2019 9:58:32 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 24: Reunited

February 7 2019 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 45:1-15
Little boys break things, and mine is no exception. Interestingly, my son looks to me to fix whatever it is he has broken. No one taught him to come to me, but something inside of him views me as the answer to the problem. The two pieces cannot come together unless I by some means unknown to him reunite them. On the one hand, this makes me feel great as a father.
On the other hand, the pressure is a bit more than one person can bear. What happens when that which is broken is something glue cannot reunite?
Joseph suffered greatly at the hands of his brothers. They plotted to kill him but instead sold him into slavery. In Genesis 45 he stands over them as second in command of Egypt and responsible for the livelihood of the entire kingdom and those who surrounded her. The lives of his brothers are in his hands. What will he do? Will he get his revenge or will he forgive?
Joseph forgives. Joseph forgives, because he sees the sovereign hand of God in his circumstances to provide for His people. Because God has rescued him, he can offer the same to his brothers.
Second Corinthians 6:19 says that because God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. In the narrow context that means He has commissioned us to call others into this reconciliation through salvation. More broadly it also means that because we have been reconciled to God we can be reconciled to others, even those who have committed the worst atrocities against us.
What wrongs have been committed against you? They are nothing compared to the sin you have committed against God. Yet, He has offered you mercy and grace and forgiveness in Christ. Therefore, seek to be reconciled to your enemies. Offer grace and mercy and forgiveness to others. In this, you will bring God glory.

2/7/2019 12:11:49 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 24: When False Religions Deceive

February 7 2019 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: 1 John 2:18-29
Recently, I was on a plane sitting next to very successful land developer in Atlanta, Ga. We had a fascinating conversation about how he made important business decisions. Basically, he would draw a grid on a piece of paper and write all the pros on one side and all the cons on the other side.
The business leader would evaluate both sides of the grid using a rational and reasonable approach. If he knew his decision was wise and right, he would move forward and make the deal.
In the midst of our conversation, I told him I was a pastor and asked if he ever thought about using his grid when it came to making decisions about eternal matters.
Immediately, he began to argue that all religions, for the most part, were all the same. So, to him, it did not matter if you were a Christian or a Buddhist, it was all equal. I tried to explain to him that all religions are not the same and they often make claims that are contrary to each other. I suggested using his grid to evaluate the claims of Christ, knowing that he would come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Messiah – fully God and fully man.
Unfortunately, all his excitement about his strategy for making rational and reasonable decisions for his business endeavors were irrelevant when it came to truth claims about Jesus.

Tragically, he left the plane that evening rejecting what God had done for him in Jesus Christ.
As we think through our lesson this week, the Apostle John makes clear that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah has no part in God’s family (1 John 2:22).
With that in mind, we must do all we can to help others to embrace the truth that Jesus is God, came to earth and dwelled among us, died on the cross for our sins, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven and is the mediator between God and anyone who believes on Him so they will not spend eternity separated from God.

2/7/2019 12:11:37 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments

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