Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 8: Remembered

August 19 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 1:15-23

I am so quick to forget God’s grace. In an instant, I can recall any and every time I felt as if a prayer went unanswered, moments where it seemed that God didn’t show up, or seasons where God’s presence felt distant. I have to work to remember what God has done in Christ Jesus. In fact, I have to remember to remember! 

Paul knew this phenomenon is common among Christians. We forget. So, he remembered to pray so the Ephesians would not forget. What does Paul point to as a reminder of God’s work among the Ephesians? The finished work of Christ (Ephesians 1:20-23).

When love overwhelms us, and we begin to forget the kindness of God toward His people, our hearts wander into a place where we ask questions like: Is God good? Does God love me? Has he met my greatest need? 

Paul reminds the Ephesians, and he reminds us, that God is good. God has given an inheritance to people who had no inheritance and who deserved nothing but judgment (Ephesians 1:1). He reminds us God does love us because, since eternity past, He has been working toward our salvation through Christ (Ephesians 1:3-17). 

Paul’s words to the Ephesians declare that God has met our greatest need in Christ. It is Christ who died in our place. It is Christ who was raised from the dead, by God the Father, as the evidence of His finished work (Ephesians 1:20). It is Jesus who sits at the right hand of God the Father, ruling and reigning over all things, bringing everything under subjection to His kingship (Ephesians 1:20-23).

When we are tempted to forget, we must remember to remember. The place that will stir our remembrance of God’s work and grace in the present will be God’s work in the past, at the cross, through His Son. 

The place that stirs our knowledge and remembrance of God’s grace for today, is what God did on that great and terrible day, through the death of His Son. We must remember to remember.

8/19/2019 1:58:29 PM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 8: A Daily Pursuit

August 19 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Philippians 4:4-9

What’s on your to-do list for tomorrow? Are you already busy with a myriad of responsibilities from dawn to dusk? 

Are you wondering how you can possibly squeeze in a few moments to spend alone with the Lord in the midst of all your chaos? 

When Martin Luther, the man whose actions and writings ignited the Protestant Reformation, was asked one day what his plans were for tomorrow, his response was, “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” 

I don’t know about you, but the idea of rising early enough to spend three hours in prayer before I begin my already busy day seems more than overwhelming. Yes, morning prayer and Bible reading are crucial for me, but how often do I forget His goodness as soon as I get up from my chair?

In Philippians 4:9, Paul encourages the believers to “rejoice in the Lord always.” This kind of rejoicing does not end when we close our Bibles and begin our day. We are to rejoice in His goodness always - as we brush our teeth, plan a meeting, take our children to practice, make dinner, etc. 

Instead of becoming overwhelmed by all the things ahead, we are to continuously lay our requests at His feet and rest in “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philipians 4:6). 

Even if we meditate continuously on God and His truth, our hectic schedule will most likely remain the same. And yet, our outlook will drastically change.When our minds are focused on the things of God that are true, honorable, just and praiseworthy, Christ becomes our steady anchor in the midst of the chaos of our lives. 

It would be wonderful if we could all say with Luther that on the busiest of days our first three hours are spent in prayer. 

But, until that day comes, let us strive to be people that rejoice in Him always, dwelling richly in His truth in every moment we’ve been given.

8/19/2019 1:55:18 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 1: Rejoice

August 19 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Eph. 1:3-14

“These are for you,” I said as two little boys gasped and giggled with joy. “We can have all these?” my oldest son asked. “Yes, before you were even born, I had been saving them for my sons.” They reached into the open box and pulled out Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr., Brett Favre, Wayne Gretzky and many other 1980s-90s trading cards from my childhood. 

Elated, they began feverishly looking for cards that were shiny or unique looking. Each time they pulled out a card they liked, they would ask me, “This is for us, too?” I would laugh and continue reassuring them, “Yes, all of it is for you.” 

The notion that before they were born, I planned to give them something that was very valuable to me, boggled their young minds. 

The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that, “... before the foundation of the world, [God planned for you] to be holy and blameless in love before him” (Ephesians 1:4b). In eternity past, God set into motion a plan to demonstrate love toward sinners. 

Paul continues, “He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One” (Ephesians 1:5-6). While some Christians are startled by the word, “predestined,” the most shocking word is actually “adopted.” 

In eternity past, God began working toward the salvation of sinners and not just their salvation, but their adoption into His family. 

Before the world began, God has been planning to give you something. He has eagerly awaited the moment you would receive it and experience the joy of His gift. He has given us His Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), He has sealed us for the day of redemption, and He has lavished grace upon us (Ephesians 1:6), so that in Christ, for ages to come, He can give us all things. Our only response ought to be childlike humility in which we are overwhelmed by not just the Gift, but the love and intention of the gift giver.

8/19/2019 1:46:38 PM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 1: A Centered Life

August 19 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Matthew 6:25-34

When your life is centered in Christ, you find all you need. 

As a high school senior, I found myself at the center of a four car pile up. It’s challenging to focus on safe driving when a handsome young man is nearby. At the precise moment I should have been braking for the red light ahead, I was waving and grinning out the driver’s side window. The consequences were costly and embarrassing. 

You might not be waving at your crush next week in traffic, but I am relatively certain we all fight against distracted driving. 

Not only that, we face a myriad of distractions in almost every area of our lives. We see opportunities to do good, to enjoy life, and to serve others, yet we often find ourselves overwhelmed and empty.

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus reminds us that although we may be distracted by many things, when our lives are centered on Christ, we find all that we need in Him. 

Jesus commands in Matthew 6:25, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.” He isn’t declaring these things unimportant. 

Instead, Jesus is reminding us that He is in control and will lovingly provide everything we need. Instead of focusing on the distractions around us, we are to trust Him with the details of our lives and focus on seeking after His Kingdom and righteousness. 

Even if my hands remain at “10 and two,” I drive the speed limit, and I never text behind the wheel, there is no guarantee that I’ll never be in another wreck. And, even if my life is unwaveringly centered on Christ and His Kingdom, He never promises the circumstances of my life will turn out beyond my wildest dreams. 

Instead, God promises so much more. When we seek the things of God above all else, we find ultimate hope and joy in serving Him with our whole lives, trusting in His lovingkindness as He cares for the details of our lives.

8/19/2019 1:42:26 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 25: Living to Do

August 8 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 3:1-11
The other week our family was on vacation. My idea of vacation is to relax, read a book or take afternoon naps. My boys’ idea of vacation is to go and do. “Dad, can we do this? Dad, can we go here? Dad, what are we doing next?” We made time to go and do as well as time to rest and relax. Our spiritual lives are like this. We need time to pause, pray and rest spiritually. That’s why we are supposed to set aside the first day of the week for worship and spiritual rejuvenation.
Jesus both rested and worshiped. But our Christian faith must also be active. Jesus healed the sick, ministered to the downcast and preached the gospel. Paul echoes Jesus’ ministry when writing to his protégé, Titus. We have been saved, not by our righteousness but by his mercy (Titus 3:5). Yet, we have been saved for good works (Titus 3:8). Good works don’t result in salvation, but salvation should always lead to good works.
Our faith should be alive, active and engaging. Good works looks like: comforting a bereaved family through a meal; counseling a young mother-to-be at a crisis pregnancy clinic; volunteering at a local food bank; sharing necessities with the less fortunate locally through mission partners or globally on a mission trip.
The good works we can engage in are nearly limitless. When our good works are the fruit of the gospel, they provide opportunities for others to experience the love of Christ and hear the message of Christ.
You are alive. Christ gave you this new life that you have. What are you going “to do” with it to share his love and gospel with others?

8/8/2019 10:46:14 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 25: Leave a Legacy

August 8 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 17:1-13
Presidents are burdened by it, but not only presidents. Pastors and parents, business leaders and baseball players – they will all leave a legacy.
The question is not whether or not we will leave a legacy, but rather what kind of legacy we will leave.
The way we live our lives matters. Our lives have an impact. Sometimes that impact is obvious; other times less so. But there is an impact nonetheless.
When I hear the word legacy, I immediately think of two men.
One is Jimmy Dean. He was my childhood pastor. It was under his ministry that God made my calling clear.
The other is Bill Bowyer. He was my pastor for four years while I was in seminary. I then had the joy of serving under him for almost 10 years. God used both of those men to profoundly shape who I am today – as a Christian, husband, father and pastor.
After King Asa of Judah died, his son, Jehoshaphat, became king. While Jehoshaphat had, no doubt, seen the tragic end of his father’s life and his failure to trust God completely, he had also seen the beginning of his father’s leadership where his trust in God was evident and God’s power and faithfulness were clearly shown.
Thankfully, Jehoshaphat chose the path of following Asa’s earlier example – and David’s before him – of walking closely with God in faith and obedience. He continued that legacy.
In many ways, our true legacy is seen in the actions of those who follow after us. Did they see in us a committed faithfulness to love, obey, and serve Jesus to the extent that they committed their lives to doing the same?
Are you living by faith in, and love for, Jesus Christ, illustrated by obedience to Him? Will your lasting legacy be a line of committed followers of Jesus who saw Jesus in you?

8/8/2019 10:44:44 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 18: Living with Integrity

August 6 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 2:1-15
On a Twitter account recently, someone posted the back cover of a book written to remind pastors of the dangers present in ministry. Three of the ministers who recommended the book are no longer in ministry. The advent of social media has made it easy to watch these happenings from a distance. As a pastor, I can tell you that falling away from the faith is not confined to celebrity pastors.
I’ve watched once faithful church members drift from church based on moral or ethical failings or just a pattern of lazy spirituality. These experiences can be disheartening. But let me draw a contrast.
The other day I had the privilege of sharing a meal with several older pastors. They reflected on their ministries and their ministry heroes. They are older ministers who remained faithful. We should all aspire to be older Christians.
Paul encourages the older men and women in Titus’ church to teach and train younger believers.
What is the difference between those who fall and those who are faithful? Paul writes, “and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech” (Titus 2:7-8). It seems to me that integrity in one’s teaching and conduct is what makes it possible to be faithful.

If you’re like me, you can already draw out inconsistencies between your life and your doctrine.
That’s why Paul grounds his command for integrity not in legalism, nor in our character, but in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).
Paul is not demanding that we “do better.” He’s reminding us that we are not righteous, good and holy. But in Christ and in his gospel we’ve been made righteous, and we can be trained to be men and women of integrity.
Even when we fail, the gospel teaches us that God already knows our sin. We have grace so we must repent and return to Christ. Moreover, the grace that grounds our faith is also that grace that grows us in faithfulness and integrity.

8/6/2019 11:14:19 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 18: Remember God’s Faithfulness

August 6 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 16:1-13
How easily we forget! Every Monday morning, the trash collectors come to my house to get our trash. You would think with that being a weekly occurrence, it would be easy enough to remember. Yet I still forget. While that is a fairly simple and insignificant example, it can remind us of how easily we forget and the importance of being diligent to remember bigger, more obvious things – in particular, to remember God’s faithfulness.
Israel, the people of God, were notorious forgetters. They would see God at work doing great things in their midst and then immediately forget God’s goodness and faithfulness as soon as the next challenge would arise. We clearly see this pattern as they left Egypt. It is no wonder that the whole book of Deuteronomy largely consists of God’s call to His people to “remember” Him as they are going in to possess the land He promised to give them.
King Asa had experienced God’s power and faithfulness. He had seen God give Judah victory over enemy forces that were much more numerous and powerful. And yet, when King Baasha of Israel came against him, rather than turning to His all-powerful and all-faithful God, he instead resorted to bribing an enemy king for assistance. God even, in His grace, confronted Asa by means of the prophet, Hanani. Rather than responding in humility and confession, Asa responded in stubbornness and pride.
Lest we too quickly throw rocks at Asa, we need to remember how easily we forget. We shouldn’t have to think very hard to remember a particular demonstration of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. I immediately remember a specific occurrence of His financial provision for our family while in seminary by means of an unexpected check. Most of all, God has demonstrated His grace and faithfulness through sending Jesus as Savior, just as He promised He would do. I pray I will remember, and walk in light of, His faithfulness when new challenges arise. I pray you will too! He is faithful. We can trust Him. May we never forget His faithfulness.

8/6/2019 11:12:32 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 11: Living with Opposition

July 26 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 1:1-5; 10-16
During my ministry I’ve heard many errors stated by church members and attenders: I’d like to be baptized so I can go to heaven; I grew up in church so I know I’m a Christian; God made me this way, so how I feel about myself must be OK; suicide is the unforgivable sin; if I just have faith and pray enough, then God will give me my dreams; I don’t believe God will let those who have never heard the gospel go to hell.
Look at the statements closely.
They, along with many others I could’ve mentioned, are false claims built upon false teaching that is all too prevalent in today’s churches.
In Paul’s pastoral epistles, he charged Timothy and Titus to know biblical doctrine and to teach it well because of the theological errors that abounded then and continue today. But if we teach the Bible as God’s inerrant truth, then we can expect opposition. We can expect to find theological error taught by former pastors, Sunday School teachers, traveling preachers, student camp pastors and television evangelists.
I’m not saying that everyone you listen to preaches error or that every error you might hear is a distortion of the gospel that requires immediate and direct correction. But I am saying that a healthy diet of sound doctrine will confront false beliefs and may even instigate theological conflict in the classes you teach and the churches where you preach.
Gospel preaching and orthodox theology are not always popular. Paul, Timothy and Titus faced opposition; we will also. That is why we must be students of the Word, interpreting the Bible correctly and faithfully exhorting those around us with the truth.
When we face deceivers and opposition by those who are in theological error we “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,” and “give instruction in sound doctrine” and “rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

7/26/2019 11:43:22 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 11: Worship Continually

July 26 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 15:10-19
What do you think about when you hear the word worship? For some, that word brings to mind a particular kind of music. For many, the word worship brings up the idea of a corporate gathering that includes music, money and preaching.
In many cases, a discussion of worship begins with pointing back to the definition of the old English word meaning to give worth or value to something. While that background can be helpful, it is inadequate. For one thing, we cannot give value to God. His worth is unlimited and incalculable. For another thing, the authenticity of our worship is not determined as much by the value we claim to see in God, but rather the response of our lives in complete surrender and obedience to the One who has ultimate worth. While Asa called the people of Israel to covenant renewal and to a corporate gathering of worshipping God, Asa’s true worship of God was illustrated in all he did outside that gathering as well. His commitment to tearing down places of pagan worship and destroying pagan idols, even those tied to his own family, demonstrated that God had ultimate value to Asa and first place in all his life.
Our worship together as the people of God should be a gathered expression of the worship illustrated by our lives every day. I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he commanded the believers in Rome to “present [their] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable act of worship” (Romans 12:1b). Our most clear act of worship is complete surrender and obedience to the One we claim has ultimate worth and first place in our lives. That doesn’t just happen on Sunday. Our words and actions at work should be our response to the worthiness of God. Our willingness to share Christ with those we meet must show that God’s worthiness is of far greater value than our comfort.
What does your daily worship – illustrated through surrender and obedience – say about your view of His worth?

7/26/2019 11:38:59 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

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