Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 31: Strengthened

December 12 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 15:36-41; 16:1-5
 
As his first term in office came to an end, President George Washington was faced with the decision of whether to seek a second term. The toll public office was taking on his health, his feeling of political inadequacy, and his desire to be at his home in Mount Vernon were all motivating factors in longing for retirement.
 
His plan was to relinquish the office sometime during his first term. So, why did Washington stay? He wanted to see the United States succeed. He was convinced, in part by those around him, namely Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, that his continued presence would foster both stability and strength to the newly formed Constitution.
 
Halfway through the book of Acts, churches have been planted but are still in their infancy. Part of God’s design is that human agents are used as a source of strength and encouragement.
 
That is exactly what is happening at the end of Acts 15 and into Acts 16. Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Mark and Timothy travel to these newly formed churches. Scripture does not hide the fact that there were disagreements along the way. The text says that Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement (v. 39) and eventually decided to part ways.
Yet in the midst of the confrontation, God still uses them. In His sovereign plan, He chooses to use flawed human beings, even gifting them (1 Peter 4:10), to bring about His redemptive purposes.
 
Verse 41 says “he [Paul] went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” In chapter 16, Paul takes on Timothy and disciples him in the faith. As they go around from church to church, God uses them to strengthen those churches as well. The same is true for you and I. In His plan, God has placed us in our churches to help make them stronger. You may be asking, how do I do that?
 
First, pray for your church. Pray for her growth. Pray for her leadership. Pray for her unity.
 
Second, be an example. Be an example of someone who uses their spiritual gifts, refuses to gossip, evangelizes the lost, faithfully serves and disciples others. If you do those things, you’ll be a source of strength and encouragement in your church.

12/12/2017 10:03:18 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 31: Jesus Heals

December 12 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 5:22-24, 35-43
 
The practice of medicine has always been a marvel. I love the redemptive process of taking something that’s broken or hurting and watching it be restored. It’s also incredible to see how the body contains mechanisms to heal itself with little to no help.
 
Despite being fearfully and wonderfully made, our bodies possess many weaknesses, and there are circumstances when doctors and pharmacists don’t have answers to our ailments. Many of us can relate to a time when a loved one was ill and we felt powerless to provide what he or she needed.
 
Jairus was a synagogue leader when Jesus was living out His ministry. His young daughter was dying and neither his position nor status could save her. However, Jairus had heard of someone who could. “When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live’” (Mark 5:22-24).
 
After an interruption from a woman who also needed healing, Jesus followed Jairus to his home.
 
By this time his daughter had died, her family and friends were mourning her passing, and everyone told Jairus that it was too late. But Jesus encouraged Jairus to have faith.
 
In the last few verses of Mark 5 Jesus miraculously healed the young girl proving He had authority over death even before His own resurrection occurred.
 
Through Jairus’ experience we can affirm that nothing is too insignificant or too challenging for Jesus. He meets us where we are when we come to Him (James 4:8) and is always trustworthy despite the obstacles we face on this side of Heaven. We can have hope beyond medicine, beyond our own abilities, and beyond the grave because Jesus has authority over everything.

After all, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
 

12/12/2017 10:01:51 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 24: The Promised One

December 12 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Luke 2:25-38
 
April 1, 2017, marked one of the most important days of my life. At 2 p.m. my life changed forever as I married my wife, Ashley.
 
Having married later in life, at age 32, I looked forward to this day with great anticipation for some time, even wondering if it would ever happen.
 
And when the day finally came, joy filled my heart as I knew God had brought her into my life.
 
In Luke 2, Jesus is taken to the temple, and the author introduces the readers to a character who had waited with great anticipation, wondering when the day would come.
 
Simeon, described as righteous and devout, knew he would see the consolation of Israel.
All throughout the Old Testament God had promised to send a redeemer who would fix what humans had broken.
 
Genesis 3:15, known as the protoevangelium or “first gospel,” says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
 
Moments after Adam and Eve rebelled against God, He promised a rescue plan.
 
And now Simeon, after waiting for years, finally realized that promise.
 
Taking the baby into his arms and looking toward heaven he said, “my eyes have seen your salvation” (v. 30).   
 
While Jesus would certainly redeem humanity it would come with a cost (v. 35).
 
He would have to die a substitutionary death on our behalf because every human being has a debt they cannot pay themselves.
 
We must ask ourselves, “Have our eyes seen God’s salvation?
 
“Have we put our faith and trust in Jesus alone for our salvation?”
 
If the answer is no, the application is simple.
 
Trust Him.
 
Make today a day that will change your life forever.
 
If the answer is yes, may we be like Anna, who just a few verses later, offers praise for what God has done (vs. 36-38).
 
May this Christmas Eve be marked not simply with more fanfare but with glory given to God for our salvation.
 

12/12/2017 10:00:15 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 24: Jesus Saves

December 12 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Luke 2:4-20
 
When you consider Christmas, what are some things that come to mind? Do you think of traditions, favorite movies or carols? Do you anticipate the gathering of family members?
The images of ice skaters in Central Park, a full day in pajamas or a fresh Colorado snowfall all come to my mind. I think of decorating cookies with my sisters or surfing the snow in an inner tube with my brother.
 
The season seems magical, and it is.
 
Jesus, the Son of God, was born into our broken world. Each sentence in Luke 2:4-7 is the fulfillment of a prophecy made about Jesus, showing that He was part of God’s plan and timing. Galatians 4:4-5 supports this: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
 
Luke 2:8-11 reminds us that Christmas is not only a celebration of the birth of God’s Son, but of a Savior destined to be the perfect, living sacrifice in atonement for our sins. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12).
 
Jesus ultimately came to set us free from the bondage of sin and to give us hope that one day we will join Him for an eternity of celebration.

We also see that the shepherds who heard about Jesus that night not only went to Him, but “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:17). We, too, can make Jesus the focus of Christmas. May we not grow too busy or too familiar with this season that we forget to proclaim Christ’s birth as the beginning of the most magical story in history.
 

12/12/2017 9:58:44 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 17: Available to All

November 28 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 15:6-11, 24-31
 
Oct. 31, 2017, marked the 500th anniversary of what would become known as the Protestant Reformation. Reportedly, Johann Tetzel, a papal seller of indulgences, would say, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
 
Disgusted with these and other practices of the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church in Germany. One of the effects of this monumental decision by Luther was a resurgence of a clear biblical teaching: Humans are saved through faith in Jesus alone.
 
This same issue was in question in the early church as Luke writes in Acts 15. There were men coming down from Judea and teaching that unless you have been circumcised “you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). So Paul and Barnabas having just come off a missionary journey where Gentiles were saved, were appointed to go to Jerusalem. After much debate Peter stood up and said, “He [God] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith … We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
 
In his conclusion, James endorses Peter’s suggestion that Gentiles can be saved without being circumcised. What did this council do? What was the result? It helped to define what the gospel was just as Luther sought to do 1,500 years later.  
 
So, what does this have to do with me? How does it apply to my life?
 
Bible-believing Christians must stand for and fight for the true gospel, just as Peter, Barnabas, James and Martin Luther did. The gospel that teaches salvation through faith in Jesus and one that is available to all; regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender or religious background.
 
Have you trusted in the true gospel? Do you think there are some groups to whom salvation is not deserving? Are you adding requirements to the gospel that the Bible doesn’t add?
 
May we always remember what Luther said, this “is the issue by which the church stands or falls.”
 

11/28/2017 8:20:52 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for December 17: Jesus Rules

November 28 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 4:35-41
 
Many people will remember the year 2017 as one characterized by an abnormal amount of natural disasters. Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey devastated the Caribbean and United States. Flooding in Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, and the enormous mudslide in Colombia affected hundreds of lives. Earthquakes, wildfires – the list goes on.
 
One of the most common questions I’ve heard in the face of so many disasters is, “Where is God?” There were times when I was the one asking that question.
 
The disciples felt this way in Mark 4:35-41, when a large storm threatened their safety. After teaching through many parables, Jesus boarded a boat with His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. He made His way to the stern, laid down and slept.
 
Suddenly a large storm came over the sea, rocking the boat as waves overtook it, creating panic among the disciples. They found Jesus asleep, woke Him up and panicked some more, asking, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).
 
Jesus stood up and proved to be more powerful than the forces of nature by calling the wind and the sea into submission.
 
Following Jesus does not guarantee us a life free of storms. Even the disciples, who spent three years personally walking with Jesus, experienced storms. However, Jesus never left the disciples and even challenged their faith by asking, “Why are you so fearful? Why is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
 
Our Savior proves to be present, even in the most overwhelming circumstances.
 
Our entire life’s journey is one that heavily depends on trusting God. When it seems that God is sleeping through circumstances and I’m tempted to question if He cares, He leads me back to the foot of the cross. Our God, who is powerful and loving enough to save souls, is the same God that rules over all of creation and extends the invitation to trust Him no matter what comes our way.
 

11/28/2017 8:05:22 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 10: Misguided Worship

November 28 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 14:8-20
 
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
 
These words came from a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005. While Foster was not a professing Christian, he echoed a foundational biblical truth. We were created to worship, and because of that, every human directs affections toward something.
 
In Acts 14, that’s exactly what we see the people of Lystra doing. God has just used Paul and Barnabas to heal a man who was crippled since birth. Being worshippers by nature, the people claim, “The gods have come to us in the likeness of men.”
 
They begin calling these two followers Zeus and Hermes. In an outrage, Paul and Barnabas tear their clothes and tell the people to stop worshiping them. Why? Because these two men knew that for humans to direct their worship toward anything or anyone other than God was an affront to the only One deserving of it (Romans 3:23). So rightly, they point these people to the living God.  
 
It was God who created the earth and everything in it (Acts 14:15) and because of that He deserves the glory and honor and power (Revelation 4:11). No thing or person deserves our worship!
 
The problem for us is that we allow things other than Jesus to compete for the throne of our lives. That’s why John Calvin said our hearts are “idol factories.” As followers of Jesus, we must be aware of this and constantly assess if we are directing our worship toward Him.

So, how do we know our worship is directed toward God? Perhaps some questions will help.
 
What gets your attention? Where do you spend your money? What do you do with your time? Your energy? The answer to these questions will reveal what you worship. What are you worshipping? What is on the throne of your life?
 
You cannot choose not to worship, because as Wallace said, “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
 

11/28/2017 8:01:54 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for December 10: Jesus Teaches

November 28 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 4:1-9
 
One of the first things I learned when I became a Christian was that the Bible is God’s perfect and life-giving Word. That was incredible news! I couldn’t fathom that the God of the universe would want to speak to me and guide me.
 
It was also intimidating, and I allowed fear to get in the way of how I interacted with the Bible.
 
I would skim over passages, hang scripture on my wall or memorize verses without giving thought to what it meant for my life.
 
Don’t get me wrong, reading the Bible, memorizing scripture and placing reminders of God’s Word around our homes are good things. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to know and remember what God teaches; we must also be active participants of His teaching.
 
In Mark 4:1-9, Jesus speaks to this very point. The “sower” ultimately represents Jesus, but by extension represents each of His followers in our attempt to spread the gospel. The “seed” is the Word of God, and the “soil” represents the condition of one’s heart upon receiving the Word.
 
Jesus teaches about four types of soil: hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil and good soil (Mark 4:4-8). The first three types share a common problem – the seed isn’t allowed deep into the soil. Similarly, the hardness of our hearts, hardships we face and distractions of the world can keep God’s Word from being rooted deeply in our hearts.
 
Upon falling on good soil, the final seed “yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty and some a hundred” (Mark 4:8). Jesus goes on to say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). These two passages show us that obeying God’s Word will produce fruit.
 
We have access to the truth through the Bible, and God has placed other teachers in our lives to help us know His Word. Living out God’s Word, however, will change our lives and the lives of others forever.
 

11/28/2017 7:25:21 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 3: The Gospel Message

November 14 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 13:26-39
 
When I taught in public school, I quickly learned that if I was going to effectively teach and manage a class I had to determine what was nonnegotiable. These expectations for behavior were set in place and not up for debate. Coming to class prepared with pencil and paper, respecting your classmates and listening while the teacher was talking were three such examples.
 
Equally important to having these expectations was that I clearly communicate them. How could the students know what the standard was if I didn’t communicate them?    
 
In Acts 13, Paul delivers a sermon, and in the middle of this sermon, he does two note-worthy things. First, he establishes what is nonnegotiable in the message of salvation, Christ’s death and resurrection. Secondly, he communicates it to them.  
 
Often referred to as the linchpin of Christianity, the message of salvation through Christ is empty if Jesus had not been resurrected (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus’ resurrection not only showed God’s immense power, but it proved Jesus was who He said He was. He was God, which is why Paul makes this part of his salvific plea, “But God raised him from the dead!” (v. 30).
 
He’s saying, “don’t miss this. It is of utmost importance.” He even repeats this truth again in verses 34 and 37. It is safe to say that Paul views this fact as a nonnegotiable.  
 
The text also makes it clear that Paul extends the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. In verse 32, he says, “We bring you the good news.” In verse 38, he says, “Let it be known to you,” and then again, “through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
Bring, be known and proclaim describe what Paul is doing. He’s communicating the truth he knows.
 
When we tell others the gospel message we must include the resurrection of Jesus. It is a nonnegotiable, but we must also clearly communicate that message!
 

11/14/2017 8:32:32 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 3: Jesus Calls

November 14 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 1:14-20
 
Growing up, I loved fishing in the Rocky Mountains with my dad. As a seasoned expert, he was perfectly capable of fishing on his own, though he’d much rather share the experience with a loved one.
 
The joy it brought him was contagious, and I grew to love fishing because he loved it.
Before a fishing trip, we would gather equipment, prepare rods and talk about what we might catch. We’d be out the door by 4 a.m., but I didn’t mind getting up early. In fact, I didn’t care about leaving the comfort of my bed, because I treasured adventures with my dad. After finding the perfect spot, we’d sit on the bank, cast our line and wait for the fish to bite. On the occasion that I caught a fish, my dad had to reel it in because he was much stronger than I was.

Simon, Andrew, James and John were also fishermen who Jesus called to follow Him. Simon and Andrew “left their nets” and James and John “left their father” to become “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20). These men were willing to leave comfort behind for an undertaking that would change their lives. Jesus also shared how we can become fishers of men by repenting, believing the gospel, abiding in Christ and preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14-20). Much like preparing for a fishing trip, we must prepare to be fishers of men. We need faith and the Spirit, just as we need equipment; we need the gospel like we need a fishing rod; and we can anticipate the mission by conversing with God through prayer. We may cast the net of Good News, but our trust must rest in God to save souls. Our heavenly Father is the expert of salvation, and He’s more than able to accomplish the task without us. Nevertheless, He longs to share this adventure with His children.  The joy of our Lord is contagious, and we’ll grow to love the process of sharing the Good News, simply because He loves to share it too.

11/14/2017 8:30:37 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



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