Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 4: Enduring

July 23 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-8
If we will listen, there are Christians all around the world who can give us insights into an enduring faith. For some Chinese pastors, the seminary of imprisonment is required before one can pastor a congregation. For Christians in Muslim nations, conversion means at least being abandoned and shamed by one’s family – possibly martyred.
While Western Christianity has not faced such open hostility, contemporary morals have shifted so as to be in direct opposition to clear biblical preaching.
In the latter part of his second letter to Timothy, Paul defended the authority of scripture, reminded Timothy of the opposition he was sure to face and commended him to preach the word. Paul’s admonitions are just as true today.
Those of us preaching and teaching the word will give an account before its Author as to the veracity and consistency of our preaching and teaching with the Word of God.
Earlier this year, I preached a series of sermons on the gospel and human sexuality. Some in our community heard about the series and before I even preached a sermon, they condemned it through social media. This experience reminded me that God’s Word has never been popular.

There will always be people to discount and dismiss the Bible.
Biblical ethics will always run counter to self-centered morality.
In that sense, the experience of Paul and Timothy under Roman cultural mores are little different than the experience of gospel preachers in today’s America. But we must not fail or falter.
For we will not answer to the culture. And we will not ultimately answer to our churches. But we will answer to the One who wrote the Bible.
And He is looking for preachers and teachers who endure angst, anger and persecution to communicate the truth of the gospel.

7/23/2019 11:39:51 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 4: Act with Courage

July 23 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 15:1-9
Pastoral ministry can be really hard. In fact, there are all kinds of situations that church members, pastors and others face that would be humanly impossible to deal with if God were not supplying that strength and courage that only He can give. Those times demand that you recognize and depend on God’s strength and walk in a courage that only He can give.
The more dangerous times, however, are when things seem to be going smoothly.
In those times, it is easy to become complacent, or self-confident, rather than continuing to walk in faith and obedience. It is not a courage based on your own strength, but on God’s strength and faithfulness.
Asa had walked faithfully with God. Chapter 14 shows his willingness to go beyond all that the previous kings had done in removing idolatry and trusting God to provide for and protect His people.
God had blessed that faithfulness, as He promised in Deuteronomy 28-29. Now God sent the prophet Azariah (only mentioned here in the scripture) to King Asa to challenge him not to become complacent or over-confident, but rather to go on walking in obedience and in the courage that comes from knowing God is sovereign and in control.
Asa would heed the word of the Lord through the prophet. He walked in God-given courage and went to even greater lengths to lead the nation away from anything that was not pleasing to God, removing any remaining idols and repairing the altar of God.
This lesson is not just important for pastors and leaders. It is important for all followers of Jesus. God, in Christ, has overcome even our greatest enemies – sin and death. His Spirit now lives within us to empower us and give us the power and courage to walk in faith and obedience to Him. Whether in good times or challenging times, our need is the same – to walk in dependence on, and courage from, our great and powerful and faithful God.

7/23/2019 11:37:28 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 28: Diligent

July 16 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:14-26
As Paul continues in chapter 2, he uses the language of reminder. It amazes me that much of the Christian experience is not novel, rather it is repetitive. We don’t graduate from the gospel. The gospel is our entry into the Christian faith, but it is also the conduit toward spiritual maturity.
Paul uses three more metaphors to conclude the chapter. These metaphors emphasize our responsibility to apply the gospel to our daily lives.
We need to embrace the diligence of a faithful student who correctly interprets God’s Word.
We need to embrace the holiness of an honorable vessel who shuns youthful sins.
We need to embrace the gentleness of a servant who teaches the truth while avoiding unnecessary quarrels.
Diligence is the key quality in these metaphors.
Paul charged Timothy to teach the gospel. The student, the vessel and the servant must diligently pursue gospel understanding and gospel clarity. The challenge of any church, any pastor and any teacher within the church is clarity about the gospel.
Today’s church faces the prospects of gospel distortions – prosperity gospel theology, moralistic preaching, manipulated responses and easy believism. Today’s church also faces the prospects of theological divisions on tertiary issues. It is the task of the pastor and church leaders to remain diligently focused on the primary goal of the church – communicating the gospel of Jesus and training others in the gospel.
Paul highlights one of the primary pastoral tasks: discernment in gospel teaching. Paul challenged Timothy to recognize distortions, divisions and distractions that will hamper the church in its mission. Diligence in study, holiness and gentleness is the means by which followers of Jesus will be able to discern these issues and remain faithful to the gospel.
7/16/2019 12:20:11 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 28: Depend on God

July 16 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 14:9-15
In a previous lesson I mentioned doing a preceptorship as a part of my nursing training. During that time, I would work with a practicing nurse, watching what he did to take care of patients. He would gradually hand over more and more responsibility to me until, finally, I was ready to take care of patients on my own. I could always call on him when I needed him for something, but the expectation was for me to do things on my own.
Many people treat their relationship with God like that. They think that spiritual maturity is growing to the point of doing more and more on their own. In reality, spiritual maturity is not becoming less and less dependent on God, but rather growing more and more in our dependence on Him.
We must daily train ourselves to depend on, trust in and walk with Him. We must never see Him simply as our “safety valve” to call on when we get ourselves in over our head. Through consistent prayer and submission, we must keep ourselves in a posture of dependence. That way, when a major crisis arises, we will run the well-trod path to our Father we depend on, rather than responding in our flesh and our own strength, trying to work it out on our own until we become totally desperate.
King Asa was faced with an impossible situation, humanly speaking, facing an army twice his size. Rather than slinking into hopelessness or trying to walk in self-reliance, he responded by taking his situation to God in prayer. He acknowledged that God is the one to whom every person should turn - those with great strength and those with none. He helps “the mighty and those without strength.”
He calls each to depend on Him.
Have you established the daily pattern of depending on God as you submit to Him and seek Him in prayer? Have you beaten down that daily path such that when difficulty comes, you will do what you’ve trained your heart to do, call out to the one on whom your life depends?

7/16/2019 12:17:58 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 21: Focused

July 16 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Paul begins chapter 2 with his restatement of our disciple-making mission, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
In order to lead others to follow Jesus, we need strength and grace. We also need focus. Paul uses six metaphors in chapter 2 to illustrate the focus and diligence we need to teach others to live and share the gospel.
The first three metaphors are found in verses 1-7.
We need the dedication of soldiers, the integrity of athletes and the hard work of farmers.
As we reflect the gospel personally and teach the gospel to others, we must engage in this task well.
If soldiers can be dedicated to their commanding officer to the point of suffering and death, then followers of Jesus must be equally dedicated to their Lord and Savior.
If athletes can compete according to the rules in order to win, then followers of Jesus must faithfully train themselves and others in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If farmers can labor early, long and late in order to have fruitful crops, then followers of Jesus must labor in the strength and grace of Christ and expend themselves for the gospel.
Each of these metaphors implies focus.
Soldiers, athletes and farmers are judged based on short moments of glory: the battle for the soldier, the event for the athlete and the crops for the farmers.
But the quality of those fleeting moments is forged by their focus during the drudgery of suffering, preparation and hard work.
May we be so focused on the gospel. 

7/16/2019 12:15:26 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 21: Pursue Godliness

July 16 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 14:1-8
I would likely never make the decision to run in a race. When I was young, my dad said they should track my speed with a calendar.
However, if I made the commitment to run a race, I recognize some significant things would have to change. I would have to exercise to get in shape. I would have to change my diet – no more Nutty Buddy® wafer bars.
I would have to take off my blue jeans and flip flops and put on running shorts and shoes.

King Asa recognized that committing to truly follow after God meant surrendering completely – being “all in.” 

There was no room for tolerating idolatry or other sin.
Therefore, he tore down the high places and altars that opened the door to false worship. Truly honoring God required intentional pursuit and action.
Such is the same for us today. While we can only receive salvation and follow God by grace through faith in Christ, we are called to work out our salvation – also by grace through faith – with fear and trembling. Part of the pursuit of godliness is putting off every kind of hindrance that gets in the way of loving God completely and following God obediently.
Thus the writer of Hebrews admonishes his readers, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Are you walking by faith and pursuing godliness? If so, what things are you having to tear down? Is social media or television hindering your pursuit of godliness? Will you tear them down? Are you demonstrating a singular worship of God by how you spend your time and money? A life of godliness doesn’t happen accidentally. We must pursue it, even as the Holy Spirit does His work in us, making us look more like Jesus. Will you commit to doing whatever it takes to follow God and to pursue godliness for His glory?

7/16/2019 12:12:40 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 14: Confidence

June 27 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 1:3-14
From the confines of a small, dark, damp prison cell in the heart of Rome, Paul penned the words of what is likely his last letter before his death. Considering the context, Paul’s letter is a beautiful testimony to God’s provision as well as a glorious challenge to its readers.
Paul invested time, effort, energy, lessons, encouragement, example, teaching and suffering into his young protégé, Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy to secure the young pastor’s confidence in God’s Word and to emphasize the blessing and the burden of the entrusted gospel.
The gospel is a glorious burden. We have it – not to hoard – but to share. The gospel is an unimaginable blessing – life, hope, peace, eternity and privilege. The gospel provides us confidence in our spiritual lives.
Following are just a few of the reasons we can have confidence in God and His gospel drawn from the text:

  • Because the gospel is shared relationally (Timothy’s grandmother, mother and Paul), our confidence grows from interdependence not self-sufficiency.

  • Because God gifts us and empowers us, our confidence develops from God, not ourselves.

  • Because God strengthens in suffering, our confidence does not have to be shattered by our circumstances.

  • Because the gospel comes by grace, our confidence does not rest in our own works or own level of righteousness.

  • Because we have the Holy Spirit, our confidence comes directly from God.

Essentially, Paul reminds young Timothy of the difficult times, worries, insecurities and challenges that are sure to come. Yet those hindrances pale in comparison to the promises and hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, when you are tempted to be uncertain or fearful, don’t look inward (at your own imperfections) or outward (at the difficulty of the circumstances) but rather look upward (at the God of the gospel) who grants us confidence.

6/27/2019 1:13:51 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 14: Mentoring: How to Equip and Encourage Others

June 27 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-2; 3:10-17
I was a Registered Nurse before I was a pastor. In my final semester of nursing school, I had to do a preceptorship. I came alongside a particular practicing nurse.
He trained me using a specific set of standards – standard nursing practice and hospital specific standards. He would show me what to do. Then, he would let me do it while he watched.
Finally, he would release me to do it on my own. In a sense, I was his disciple – learning, watching, growing and doing.  
Paul did the same for Timothy, his son in the faith.
After leading him to Christ, he walked with him, taught him and sent him to go and do the same thing with others.
Paul and Timothy weren’t just “hanging out.” They were “hanging out with a purpose.”
Paul brought Timothy close, in the context of relationship, for the purpose of helping him to grow in Jesus and to then be sent out to serve Jesus by making future generations of disciples.
Notice at least four generations of disciples in 2 Timothy 2:2 – Paul, Timothy, those Timothy will teach and those they will then go and teach.
Paul’s discipling of Timothy was not based on Paul’s ideas or preferences, but rather on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul was discipling Timothy by teaching him to “observe all that [Christ] commanded” (Matthew 28:19). Timothy would then go and do the same.
There is no room in following Jesus for spiritual “Lone Rangers.” We all need others to help us grow. We need to help others grow as well.
Do you have someone discipling/mentoring you toward following Jesus? If not, pray for God to help you find someone.
Watch for someone whose life speaks, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Ask them if they would walk along with you and help you to grow in knowing and obeying Jesus. Then, ask God to show you someone for whom you can do the same, for His glory and the advance of His Kingdom.

6/27/2019 1:12:09 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 7: Lasting Investments

June 25 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
Contentment is a biblical expectation, but contentment is not the driving force in contemporary economics. The driving force in our economic system is to get people to spend money.
Commercials, advertisements and companies promise that the next car, phone, tablet or item will make your life easier, better or more fruitful.
I imagine that your experience is like mine.
The next, the new, the better is good for a little while, but it eventually slows down, breaks or loses its novelty. Then we are tempted to try the next new thing.
Paul warned the young pastor Timothy against discontentment, envy and the pursuit of more. One of the signs of personal godliness is the willingness to be content with whatever God has given us and not be driven to pursue more and more and more.
Why does Paul give these warnings and commendations? He wants Timothy and the readers of this letter to know what truly lasts.
Wealth and luxury are fleeting. At best they last a lifetime.
Only what we do with what we have and how we live our lives will last eternally. When we “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness,” we focus on character traits that invest in heavenly rewards.
But let’s not misquote Paul here. Money is not the root of all evil.
Rather, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” If we let money drive us and use us, it becomes our idol. And we don’t have to be super-wealthy for money to become an idol.
Yet, if we use the money (things) God has blessed us with for the pursuit of godliness and God’s glory, then we are making an investment that will last.
Don’t be used by your wealth or desires. Rather, use them for the glory of Christ.

6/25/2019 11:19:39 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 7: The Samaritan Woman: Faith Worth Sharing

June 25 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: John 4:10-18, 28-30
There are few things more exciting than watching new life shine forth from a new follower of Jesus. I had the privilege of leading a man to Christ just a couple of months ago. I met him the next evening to begin discipling him and was encouraging him to begin to tell others about how Jesus had changed his life.
He quickly replied, “I just did that last night!”
He then proceeded to tell me about a guy he saw who was sitting alone and who seemed to be really down. He said, “I just went over and started talking to him. I told him about what my life had been like and how it was different now. I even gave him the little booklet [3 Circles tract] that you gave me.”
No one had yet told my new brother that he should share Jesus with others. I didn’t have to. He encountered the living Lord, received life in Christ and couldn’t help but talk about it.

Such was the case with the Samaritan woman.
In the midst of her sin, which separated her from God and others, she encountered Jesus Christ. She came to draw physical water from a well, but instead received living water from Jesus and received new life in Him. What happened next? She ran back to her village and said, “You’ve got to come meet this One that I have come to know.”
Jesus had not taught her any evangelism strategies, methods or programs. He just gave her new life, and she had to share it.
That’s how God’s Kingdom growth plan works. He transforms lives as people repent, believe the gospel and then He sends them to carry this gospel message of a life-giving Lord to others.
I don’t mean to suggest that evangelism training is unimportant. It is very important.
However, we should never use “I need more training” as an excuse for not sharing what we already know.
Has Jesus changed your life? Are you being intentional about sharing Him with others?

6/25/2019 11:15:35 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

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