Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 4: With Works

October 19 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: James 2:14-26
 
If we stop and think about it, the relationship between faith and works is foundational to our everyday lives. Because you believe that your favorite chair is sturdy, you sit down in it to have your morning coffee.
 
You believe that the door you’re walking into will open, so you turn the knob and pull. Belief is always displayed by action.
 
Scripture tells us that our saving faith must be accompanied by works as well.
 
Now, we know that salvation is by faith alone, and we are not justified by works.
 
We rest in the finished work of Jesus to make us righteous before God. However, the natural response to receiving such a salvation is to act on our faith.
 
When we believe God is who He says He is, the natural response is obedience.
 
James tells us that merely saying we believe in God is not enough.
 
He warns that even the demons believe. The difference between real faith and a mere statement of belief is submission to God and obedience to Him.
 
Scripture reminds us of two of our spiritual ancestors whose faith was exhibited by their works. Abraham and Rahab both believed God in a way that caused them to risk everything to obey Him.
 
They did not just merely agree with God in their minds or with their words. They trusted God’s character and the response to their faith was action.
 
Saving faith is always demonstrated by works.
 
A profession of belief in God that is not accompanied by obedience to Him is an empty, dead faith. Genuine faith in God causes a godly person to act accordingly.
 
As a result of the great salvation we have been given by God in Christ, we are moved to action.
 
We seek to obey God and His Word, and we submit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus. Because God is exactly who He says He is, we put our faith in Him and demonstrate with our lives our love for Him!

10/19/2018 10:48:13 AM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 4: Praying for Ourselves

October 19 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: Matthew 6:11b; Isaiah 38:1-6, 15-17
 
With the “Model Prayer,” Jesus profoundly redirects the focus of our prayers. If we are honest, we often start with our needs and how God can help us. Perhaps afterward, we make sure to focus on praise and thanksgiving.
 
To be sure, God loves to hear us and our requests! The image of the children coming to Jesus applies to all disciples. However, once we have focused on His glory and honor, we then are aligned with His will. God reveals both His purposes (6:9-10) and gives us provision (11-14).
 
A good example of this is the story of Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery in Isaiah 38. Surrounded by enemies, Hezekiah became sick unto death (v. 1). He appealed to God for help in his time of need. By God’s grace, he was healed.
 
Now, this isn’t a prescription for every physical ailment people have in this world. Rather, it is an encouraging example to give us hope when we ourselves pray. God does answer our prayers for His glory and our good.
 
By healing Hezekiah, God is glorified and Hezekiah was helped. With us, God seeks to hear from His followers and desires to meet our needs as well – conforming us to His image (Romans 8:28-29). With our minds and hearts aligned to God’s glory, reputation and Kingdom, we can then ask for our daily needs. Physical needs (bread), interpersonal needs (forgiveness) and spiritual needs (temptation) are all connected, and God knows what we need.
 
When we see Him as our Father, we can trust His motivation. Like Hezekiah, we can humbly appeal to God’s reputation and glory, knowing God will work in and through us according to His will. Prayer is simply talking with God.
 
As we converse with Him by his Spirit and His Word, we are changed to become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). We can pray for ourselves, because our lives are aligned with God.

10/19/2018 10:47:58 AM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 28: With Obedience

October 17 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: James 1:19-27; 2:1-4
 
I loved to spend time looking in the mirror when I was growing up. One of my favorite things to do was dress up in my grandmother’s clothes, put on her jewelry and play in front of her mirror. I wanted to wear all the shiny and beautiful things she wore because I wanted my reflection to be just like hers.
 
Scripture calls us to take a careful look at our lives.
 
Are we reflecting the image of Christ in our words, deeds and attitudes toward others?
 
The grace we have been given in Christ requires a response from us.
 
Our faith must result in the setting aside of things that hinder us from being both hearers and doers of God’s Word.
 
As Christians, we are called to live out the truth of the gospel by ridding ourselves of anger and other things that are not of God.
 
Instead, we are to act on the things we learn from God’s Word.
 
James discusses several areas in our behavior toward others that exhibit a faithful response to the work of Christ in our lives. One of these ways is our speech. What we say is an indication of what is in our hearts.
 
James also points out that God has a heart for those who are needy and vulnerable.
 
Our actions toward them display either sincere faith in God or the lack of it.
 
Character traits of a believer in Christ include compassion, justice and care for the needy.
 
If our lives do not reflect growth in Christlikeness, it is safe to assume that we have become only hearers of God’s Word.
 
If we desire to be more like Jesus, we will act on what is revealed to us in scripture.
 
As we receive the implanted word (James 1:21) we begin to mirror God’s character in our lives.
 
We become those who are careful with our speech. We seek the fair treatment of others.
 
We become obedient followers of Jesus who care about what God cares about.

10/17/2018 8:33:51 AM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 28: A Prayer of Surrender

October 17 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: Matthew 6:10-11a; James 4:6-10, 13-17
 
As we study the “Model Prayer,” it becomes clear that all of life must be shaped and formed by this pattern.
 
The first request – to cause God’s name to be honored in our lives – must be the foundation. But how will God’s name be honored in our lives?
 
Jesus says we must also pray His will be done in all things (v. 10).
 
When our will and desires are aligned with God, we give Him glory.
 
A particularly good example of this is in the book of James. In chapter 4, we see many verbs helping to further clarify what it means to bring our wills in alignment to God’s plans.
 
We are to “submit ourselves to God,” “resist the devil” and “draw near to God” as a way of honoring God and declaring His will to be done (4:6-10).
 
Jesus then becomes not only our model of prayer, but reemphasizes His Lordship in our lives as we seek His will.
 
Even in our day-to-day plans, we must bring God’s will into our lives (4:13-17)!
 
Our constant prayer should be that God’s will be done and that His Kingdom would be realized in our lives – both on this earth and in His heavenly realm.
 
Like a kid who asks for candy for breakfast, many times we go to God to get our own way. Or, like a teenager who doesn’t submit to his or her parents, we deem them unworthy of trust and take matters into our own hands.
 
Perhaps we’ve made up our mind and have implemented certain plans for life, scarcely inviting God into the process.
 
With this model prayer, Jesus invites us back into relationship with Him. His plans are for His glory and our good.
 
Building upon the foundational prayer of our lives (that God would be honored), we’ve seen that another important aspect of prayer is to align our hearts with the will of God.

10/17/2018 8:29:08 AM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 21: With Perseverance

October 4 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: James 1:2-15
 
Life can be hard, there’s no denying that. We are faced with sickness, broken relationships, failure, lack and loss. Sometimes we face all of those at the same time. If you’re not in the middle of a difficult situation right now, then you probably know someone who is. Jesus even told His disciples that they would definitely have trouble in this world (John 16:33).
 
It seems strange that scripture would tell us to consider all our trials as joy. How can we be joyful about things that are so painful? As James is writing to a group of displaced and persecuted believers, he answers this question for us. In our trials, God is doing something holy. As our faith is tested by hardship, God is producing endurance and faithfulness is us. He is growing us up into mature Christians.
 
As believers, maturity is what we want – it is our goal. We want to be those who are faithful and obedient. We want to be those who trust God. As we persevere through difficulty, this is the type of character produced in us. And being the loving Father that He is, God does not leave us on our own when life gets tough. He knows that we need wisdom to faithfully endure. He promises that if we ask in faith, He will give us all the wisdom that we need.
 
We must also be careful not to assume that God is somehow tempting us in our troubles.
 
A sinful response to suffering is not from God, but from a lack of faith in Him. Instead, we rest in the fact that God is present in our trials, providing for us and making us more like Jesus.
 
We have a great hope, knowing that our present reality is not all that there is for the Christian. We can endure difficult seasons in this life, because we know that there is another life to come.
 
Until then, we rejoice in the fact that God is present in our trials, providing for us and making us more like Jesus.

10/4/2018 1:13:07 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 21: A Prayer of Praise

October 4 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal Passage: Matthew 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9
 
The Medal of Honor is a well-known award given to those who have distinguished themselves in military combat by going beyond the call of duty. The prestigious award is given to the recipient with gratitude and thanksgiving from government officials and is recognized even by civilians as something worthy of honor, respect and admiration.
 
In Matthew 6, once we first see God as our loving Father, we can then petition that His name be honored above all. With thanksgiving and gladness, our foundational prayer can be “hallowed be thy name.”
 
With this refrain, Psalm 96 becomes a poetic commentary on what it means to honor God as holy. First, we must declare His works and His praise for what He has done (vv. 1-3).
 
Declaring, singing and telling are all phrases to describe the honoring of God.
 
Next, the majesty and splendor of God must awaken us to praise (vv. 4-6). In the end, God is the only thing that can hold any true worth and honor. Man-made idols can never last (v. 5).
 
The rest of the psalm is a description of the entire world giving honor and worth to God (vv. 7-13).
 
The peoples, the heavens and earth, the sea and fields, everything in the world should give God true honor.
 
As the cosmos gives honor to its creator, we too must come to our Father with prayers and petitions that seek to honor Him. Our most foundational belief and request to God is to be fully honored in our lives. In fact, that’s what it means to be a Christian (1 Corinthians 10:31). Yes, God wants to hear our requests. Our good Father desires to hear from His children.
 
But before this, we must reframe our minds and hearts around this reality: God’s glory. When God’s glory is our first and foremost concern, the petitions and requests found in the model prayer can then fall into place.

10/4/2018 1:12:57 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 14: True Compassion

October 2 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 6:1-10, 14-15
 
Humans are moved by compassion. The sense of joy we feel when we see it is innate. We love to fill our social media timelines with stories of people being extraordinarily kind to other people. Part of the reason why we love to see compassion on display is because we don’t see it often enough. We are also bombarded by senseless tragedies and natural disaster. Compassion sometimes seems like an exception to the rule.
 
But as believers, we are called to live this way all the time. As Paul concludes his letter to his beloved Galatians, he admonishes them to be a people of compassion. Paul taught that compassion and bearing each other’s burdens are demonstrated in several ways. He notes that the church should seek to restore other believers who have fallen into sin. The Galatian believers are also challenged to make good of the resources that God has given them by providing for the needs of others in the faith.
 
The importance of a lifestyle of compassion is emphasized when Paul discusses sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:8)
 
Whether we choose to sow to the flesh or to the Spirit, we will reap consequences from our choices. To be compassionate toward others is to sow to the Spirit. For this reason, Paul says, we do not give up. We know that the grace and compassion we show to others will reap eternal benefits.
 
Paul ends his letter in the same way he began – putting on display the person and work of Jesus. The apostle reminds us again that there is nothing we can add to what Christ has already done. Our salvation is by faith. What matters now, Paul says, is that we are new. And because we are new, we are free to live generously and compassionately. We forsake the notion that our good deeds somehow earn us merit with God. But as those who have been justified by faith, we seek to honor God by loving one another.
 

10/2/2018 11:35:22 AM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 14: The Object of Our Prayer

October 2 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal Passage: Matthew 6:9a; Psalm 103:1-5, 11-13, 19-22
 
One of the biggest adjustments I had to learn as a new husband was to change my jargon and lingo when I was with my wife. As I spent most of my time with dormmates and friends, I had to learn how to more coherently converse with her. (Trust me guys, calling her “bro” and “dude” doesn’t work!)
 
I had to learn that how I viewed my wife determined how I talked with her. Likewise, the way we view God forms how we communicate with Him.
 
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches us something fundamental about prayer. The most basic and foundational element of your prayer life should be to focus on seeing God as your loving Father. In this framework, your prayer life can thrive.
 
Apparently, the disciples saw prayer as a struggle, while prayer was a normal rhythm of life for Jesus.
 
In Matthew 6:9-13, we see a clear structure and model for our own lives as apprentices to Jesus – and the first step is to reshape our minds around how we view God.
 
God is, as He makes clear, our loving Father who works on behalf of us.
 
You can find a poetic reflection on this reality in Psalm 103.
 
The psalmist declares qualities that help shape our hearts and minds about our heavenly Father. We see a call to praise the God who forgives, redeems and satisfies us as we remember the benefits we have in Him.
 
He has compassion on us (v. 11-13), just as a father has compassion his children.
 
We have access to Him as our father, and therefore the benefits are accounted to us as His people.
 
As we begin this study, Jesus is calling us first to reform our minds about how we view God. After that, the praise and the petition will follow.
 
When we realize to whom we are talking, we can then pray properly. And this gives us hope in our prayer life.

10/2/2018 11:35:03 AM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 7: True Fruit

September 18 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 5:13-26
 
The best way to identify what type of fruit tree you’re looking at is to identify its fruit. Apple trees grow apples. Pear trees grow pears. The tree is known by its fruit. Scripture tells us that Christians are identified by their fruit as well.
 
After carefully reminding the churches of Galatia of their freedom in Christ, Paul ensures that they know the purpose of that freedom. God has given us freedom through Jesus so we can use it to love one another. Paul notes that we accomplish this by the work of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us.
 
As we are led by the Spirit, our lives bear good fruit and show we have faith in Jesus.
 
Paul writes that it is easy to distinguish between those who are being led by the Spirit and those who are not. Those who are not led by the Spirit have habitual actions that only seek to satisfy their flesh.
 
The Galatians are warned that these are people who will not have a part in the Kingdom of God. Those who are led by the Spirit, however, will seek things that please God. An important truth for us to remember is that while our good works do not save us, they are indicators of our faith.
 
Our actions and attitudes reveal who or what is leading us.
 
We have a responsibility as believers to steward our freedom well. Jesus told His disciples that the world will know that we belong to Him by the love we have for each other (John 13:35).
 
But God has not left us to accomplish this all on our own. He has sent His Spirit to help us live lives characterized by the fruit of the spirit.
 
Because there is no law against doing what pleases God, we find that we are free to be loving, joyful and patient along with all the other fruit. Praise the Lord that, by the Holy Spirit, He helps us to do what pleases Him!

9/18/2018 1:55:43 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 7: Going Out

September 18 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: Acts 16:6-15
 
Every year, hundreds of people gather together in downtown Hendersonville, N.C., for the annual Apple Festival. Complete with attractions, gifts and tons of food, this weekend-long event becomes a hub for both locals and travelers.
 
Since the festival is all about apples, the farms that grow and sell their apples use this event as their Super Bowl. They realize what an opportunity they have as people flood the area with the intent on going home with bushels and pecks of apples.
 
If you’ve seen this, you realize a crucial and obvious fact about these various farm stands: they go where the people are. Their motives are not to simply wait for people to come to them, but to position themselves right in the middle of where the greatest concentrations of people are.
 
Like the apple farmers, the church must realize the same! Rather than the church building, believers can take the message of the gospel to others as they go about their lives.
 
In Acts 16, Paul is traveling the Greek world. His travels have brought him to various towns and cities, and he (along with his companions) have brought the gospel with them. Eventually they landed in Troas (v. 8) but received a vision to head to Macedonia – seeing this as God’s plan to give the gospel to this region (v. 10).
 
Eventually, the group arrives at Philippi, an opportune place for the gospel to spread. They then found a group of women – among whom was a wealthy lady named Lydia. Upon hearing the gospel, she was saved and baptized (vv. 14-15).
 
This story reminds us that the gospel works best when it is being shared where the people are. When messengers have a message, they must seek out those who need to hear.
 
Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction, may we, too, seek out those who need the gospel message – celebrating when they do receive the Good News of the gospel!

9/18/2018 1:55:35 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



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