Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 30: Being Responsible

June 19 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 5:1-8; 17-21
On Sunday morning before our worship services, several deacons gather in my office to pray. Nearly every week, one particular deacon arrives in my office with an update and a prayer request from the church members he is responsible for. He’s called them, prayed with them, visited them and is ready to share with us what is going on in their lives. He’s fulfilling his calling as a deacon.
As Paul detailed to Timothy the care of widows and elders in the church, he brought attention to one of the pastor’s key responsibilities. The pastor is the overseer of church ministry.
Whether it involves music, ministry, pastoral care, preaching, the nursery, evangelism and so on, it is the pastor(s) or elder(s) who are responsible to make sure that church ministry happens and that people are cared for.
That doesn’t mean that the pastor is the only one to do the ministry. Rather, he is to oversee the ministry of others within the congregation for the care of the congregation.
Evidently, Timothy’s church was experiencing some controversies regarding how widows were cared for. This type of conflict was also what led the first church to select deacons (see Acts 6:1-7). Being responsible for ministry means knowing what is going on, thinking through controversies, listening to others and developing solutions that reflect love and compassion.
Being responsible does not mean always being in control or having to have things your own way. For a pastor to be pleasing to Christ, he must make time for study and preparation in the preaching and teaching ministry (5:17-18). But he cannot neglect the oversight of other ministries.
Pastors who bear their responsibility well will lead others to serve and lean on servant leaders to minister to others. If you are pastor, heed Paul’s advice here. If you are a church member, ask your pastor how you can help bear the burden of ministry in your church.

6/19/2019 10:05:10 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Less for June 30: The Poor Widow: Faith that Gives

June 19 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: Luke 12:13-21; 21:1-4
In cultures of plenty, like ours, it is easy to forget key truths. First, we forget where all that we have comes from, acting like our material possessions have come simply from our own hard work. Second, we forget what “needs” are, confusing them with “wants.” Third, we forget that material things are one day going to burn and will not last for eternity.
These “forgets” happen because we so easily take our eyes off of God and put them on material things. When we do, we have a distorted view of God and material things. Such a distorted view will often result in us holding onto material things and using God, rather than holding onto God and using material things for His glory through sacrificial giving.
When we recognize that God is the giver of all we have, we don’t mind giving away what He has given to us.  If He can provide what we need once, He can and will do it again. Such was the faith response of the poor widow who “gave all she had.” She gave out of worship and obedience. God had enabled her to give because He had given her something to give.
This reminds me of the believers in Macedonia that Paul holds up as an example to the Corinthians – “… for in a severe test of affliction … they gave … beyond their means” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).
Their faith had been tested by their own current hardship, but they demonstrated faith to give, in spite of that hardship. They gave because God had given to them, and they wanted God to use them to bless those who were lacking in Jerusalem.
A rightly ordered faith in God through Christ results in at least three key things: an eternal view of life; contentment in what He has provided; and, a readiness to give sacrificially as He has so richly given to us.
I have seen this lived out in many places around the world where believers have almost nothing. May God give us the grace to walk this way, and give this way, as well.

6/19/2019 10:01:53 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 23: Staying On Course

June 19 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-13
Doctors receive a lot of education. Rightly so. They practice medicine with the aim of helping and treating diseases and ailments of the body and mind. I want my doctors to be well-read, well-studied and diligent life-long learners. After all, they are to assess my health and well-being. In other words, I would like them to have applied themselves well and studied very hard in medical school. I don’t want a doctor who had the typical study habits of a high school student. I want my doctors to have advanced study skills.
Do your spiritual study habits and skills reflect the advanced study of doctors or the distracted study of a typical high school student? Too many of us today are easily distracted. We are losing the ability to think deeply and concentrate intently. With technology and social media controversies merely fingertips away deep concentration and application of God’s Word is often neglected.
While the categories and controversies might be different, Timothy’s challenge was no less important. Legalism and theological minutia were distracting the leaders of the church and tempting Timothy to be distracted. Paul admonished his protégé to point out the truth, give attention to teaching the word and train others in the truth. Paul taught that staying the course of Christian ministry was hard work that required discipline, effort and attention. As Paul finished this thought to Timothy, he encouraged him to pay close attention to himself and to his teaching.
Paul’s advice is astonishingly simple and powerful. If we are to stay the course in our ministries and callings, we will not do so by flirting with controversies, by succumbing to distractions or by getting too close to temptations. Rather, staying the course requires attentiveness to our theology and to our Christian living.
Many begin the Christian journey well. But those that end well are attentive to God’s Word in study and application. 

6/19/2019 9:59:41 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Less for June 23: Abigail: Intervening Faith

June 19 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Samuel 25:2-3, 14-17, 23-28, 32-35
I remember well a spring afternoon in high school. Rumors had been flying about a fight that was going to happen after school. One guy had been talking with another’s girlfriend and now he had to pay. The rumors proved true.
As the young man came out of the building, the boyfriend was waiting on him. What was about to happen was obvious, and we knew it was wrong. And yet, no one intervened. No one gave a warning or stepped in to talk the boyfriend down. As a result, one young man ended up in the hospital with a concussion, and the other faced criminal charges.
Those preventable outcomes happened because no one intervened.
This week’s lesson is once again about faith. In this case, it is specifically about a faith that intervenes; intervenes in a way that is for our fellow mankind’s good and for God’s glory.
Nabal had lived up to his name, acting foolishly by withholding provisions from David and his men, despite the fact that David and his men had protected Nabal’s wealth and livelihood.
David was about to take rash action – planning to kill Nabal and his men. Abigail’s faith in God and love for others drove her to action – sparing the life of her foolish husband and sparing David from the life-long consequences of a foolish response.
When facing difficult situations that require confrontation, the easy response, in order to avoid personal conflict, is to do nothing. However, as is often the case, the easy response is not necessarily the right response.
Because we love God and His truth, we should desire what God desires. Because we love our fellow man as ourselves, we should desire what will be for his good and for God’s glory. That will sometimes call on us to take intervening action, even at the personal risk of embarrassment, conflict or harm.
Does your faith in God sometimes drive you to intervene, for the good of others and the glory of God?

6/19/2019 9:56:42 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 16: Setting the Example

June 3 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Good leaders prioritize well, execute tasks and communicate vision. Great leaders set an example for others.
First Timothy 3 outlines the expectations for the two offices in the church – pastors and deacons. In my experience in church life, I’ve heard many stories and watched many pastors.

Sometimes churches treat pastors and other leaders unfairly. Sometimes pastors and church leaders fail to lead by example and damage their churches.
Paul describes for Timothy the character of those who will lead the church in the role of elder and those who will serve the church in the role of deacon.
When viewed as a list of character traits for church leaders, I think we get the correct interpretation for who elders and deacons are to be.
Competencies matter for pastors and deacons, but competencies alone do not qualify one for office.
In a conversation recently, a pastor friend shared that a nearby church called a man because they “liked the way he talked.”
But now the church is divided, and it is possible the pastor will resign soon. Character counts.

Pastors and deacons must exhibit godly character because they are to set an example.
I’ve always believed that the best pastors will be good husbands and fathers who admit their flaws and imperfections but strive for holiness.
The same could be said of deacons and any other church leader for that matter.
One’s ability to communicate or teach is important, but dishonesty, immorality or arrogance will undercut one’s credibility in an instant.
To church members, have high expectations first for the character of your leaders, then explore his competencies. To church leaders, prioritize your character. Submit yourself to the Word of God. Pursue personal accountability. Learn from your critics. Seek to become like Jesus.
Then, by all means, improve your competencies. But beware lest your competencies and gifts take you farther than your character can keep you.

6/3/2019 11:17:25 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 16: Hannah: Faith that Prays

June 3 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 1 Samuel 1:1-2, 9-11, 17-18, 26-28; 2:1-3
As a pastor, one of my greatest frustrations is to hear someone facing a difficult situation say something like, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray,” as if they have exhausted all of the good options and are now left with prayer as a less desirable, but last available, response. God often quickly brings conviction upon my own heart, however, when I get too critical about such comments.
He quickly reminds me how, even as a pastor, it is very easy to slip into a practice of self-sufficiency where I can spend much of my time preparing and planning and, by contrast, precious little time praying – unless, of course, I have come up on a difficult situation where it seems that prayer is my only remaining option.
There is no doubt that Hannah was in a very heavy and painful situation. She was a broken-hearted woman who had no children, but desperately longed for them. In her case, there was nothing she could do to remedy her painful circumstance. In that time of great distress, she chose not to wallow in self-pity or to walk in self-sufficiency. Instead, she took her situation, by faith, to the only one who could give hope. She acknowledged God for who He was – the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One, her solid Rock. She trusted Him as she asked. She praised Him when He answered.
God desires that we walk by faith and that we demonstrate that faith as we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer should not be a last resort, all else has failed, kind of endeavor. It should be the consistent practice of our lives – praising God for who He is, declaring our faith in Him, and asking Him to do what is necessary in our lives, both for our good and His glory.
Are you walking with God, by faith, in consistent, dependent prayer? Are you casting your cares on Him, knowing He cares for you? As a grateful child of a faithful Father, do you intentionally stop to give Him thanks as you see Him answer?

6/3/2019 11:12:35 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 9: On Mission

May 28 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
In his book The Generals, Thomas Ricks relates the changes that took place in the United States Army leadership during the 20th century. Beginning with World War I, Ricks describes shifting philosophies that worked or didn’t work during the century’s conficts. In WWII, George Marshall developed a teamwork leadership model and implemented a strategy with the clear purpose of working together with all the allies to defeat the Axis Powers.
Clear mission with a clear strategy resulted in success. In contrast, Army strategy and leadership philosophy in Vietnam faltered.
The conflict lacked a clear mission, failed to develop adequate leadership, experienced stateside political distraction and did not hold officers or enlisted men to the high standard that had been set in previous conflicts. It is unsurprising then that WWII is remembered as a victory and Vietnam is not.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-15, Paul advocates a similar approach to pastoral leadership. Our mission must be prioritized – God desires the salvation of people through Jesus Christ (vv. 4-6). We should pray for government officials so that distractions and geopolitical difficulties will not inhibit the spread of the gospel (vv. 1-3). We should carry ourselves with an attitude of prayer and peace so that anger and quarreling will not distract from the mission (v. 8). We should not focus on outward appearances, personal image, nor allow gender and theological divisions to hinder the mission (vv. 9-15).
In short, Paul admonishes Timothy to keep his priorities straight. Major on the gospel. Keep minor issues from becoming major distractions. The implications of 1 Timothy 2 are vital for pastors and church members.
When we pray together faithfully, the priority of the gospel takes center stage. When we focus on the gospel, we necessarily focus less on our image, our platform or our opinions. When we organize our church leadership upon a biblical framework, we operate out of God’s expectations and can more faithfully live on mission.
Are you clear about the mission of the gospel? Or are you living distracted?

5/28/2019 1:22:43 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 9: Deborah: Encouraging Faith

May 28 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: Judges 4:1-9; 5:1-5
I will never forget my friend William*. He was very outgoing with a magnetic personality. He would not, however, have considered himself a spiritual leader. You can imagine his surprise when I came and asked him to pray about teaching adult Sunday School.
Someone had observed in a men’s study that William asked great questions and made insightful comments from his own time of studying God’s Word. I was overjoyed when, not that much later, William was not only leading an adult Sunday School class but also leading a men’s Bible study that involved nearly 100 men.
God allowed me to use my faith in Him and the influence He had given to me to call someone else to greater faith in, and service of, Him for the advance of His Kingdom. Afterward, we had the opportunity to rejoice together at all we had seen God do and to praise God for what He had done. Such was the case with Deborah. As judge and prophetess, she was a faithful servant of the one true God, even during the time of the judges – a period marked by the rollercoaster experiences of idolatry and disobedience, followed by repentance and God’s deliverance, followed by further idolatry and disobedience. Deborah not only walked by faith in God and in faithful service to Him, but she also used her influence to call others to an active faith as well, seen in her enlistment of Barak. She was also quick to sing praise to God, then, for His powerful work.
This is a repeating pattern we see in God’s work throughout scripture. God does His work in and through one of His faithful servants who then uses his or her example and influence to call others to faithful service to God as well. As a result, God’s Kingdom is advanced, God receives glory, and those who have been used by God praise Him for what He has done. Who has God put in your life that you could encourage toward greater faith and obedience for God’s glory and the advance of His Kingdom?
* Name changed

5/28/2019 1:21:24 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 2: Entrusted

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

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 1:3-17
I’ll never forget those first few hours with our firstborn son. My wife and I were eagerly anticipating the birth of a child we had been praying for and preparing for. We hoped we were ready. In the hospital room it hit me. I’m responsible for the well-being and development of this little boy. God entrusted me with him.
Being entrusted is not the same as being given a gift. When we receive a gift, it is ours, but when we are entrusted with something, we remain responsible to the giver. We remain responsible because the gift still carries value for the one who gave it. In a similar, yet astoundingly more important way, we as followers of Jesus have been entrusted with the gospel.
Paul shared the gospel with Timothy, mentored him and appointed him an elder in the church. Then he entrusted Timothy (1:18) with the gospel. This meant that the gospel was not Timothy’s possession, nor was it Paul’s possession. The gospel belongs to God. Yet, we’ve been entrusted with it, and we are responsible for what we do with it.
What we do with the gospel reflects not only on us, but on the true owner of the gospel – Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of Timothy, Paul reflects on our responsibilities that flow from the entrusted gospel. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to love others with a pure heart. A failure to love is a failure to reflect the gospel. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to sound doctrine. Timothy faced the challenges of people who would major on minors, get bogged down in speculative arguments and minimize the Old Testament law. Without the foundation of the law and sound biblical doctrines which underscore human sinfulness, the gospel cannot be good news. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to our Savior. Jesus saved us from our sins and privileged us to serve him. As His followers, we are now responsible to the One who entrusted us with His Good News.

5/23/2019 11:32:15 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 2: Rahab: Courageous Faith

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

Focal passage: Joshua 2:1-14
Perhaps you have heard the adage, “The same sun that melts wax hardens clay.” I thought about that statement as I read Joshua 2, considering the radically different response of Rahab as compared with the people of Jericho. They had been confronted with the same awesome force – the obvious power of the Almighty God of Israel. And yet, their responses could not have been more different.
The hearts of the people of Jericho melted within them, like wax in the noonday sun, like chocolate on the dash of a hot car. The heart of Rahab, however, galvanized into confident courage. What was the difference?
On the one hand, the people of Jericho didn’t respond with faith in the God of Israel. They were simply overcome with paralyzing fear because of His mighty power. They knew they had no hope of overcoming this one who had the power to part the Red Sea and they were terrified. On the other hand, Rahab saw the same power of God on display and responded with reverential fear (awe) and faith – recognizing Him as “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” And this fear (reverence) of God and faith in God led Rahab to action.
Rahab’s faith in the one true God overflowed with courageous action. She was not crippled with fear regarding what the men, or even the king, of Jericho might do to her. Whatever fear she could have had toward them paled in comparison to her fear of, and faith in, the true God of Israel. Rahab’s courageous response was not simply a demonstration of human boldness in a trying situation. It was an overflow from a heart of faith in the one true God. The writer of Hebrews leaves no doubt when he includes Rahab in the famous “hall of faith” chapter, noting that she acted “by faith” in God.
Do others see you walking with confident courage because of your faith in the one true God? Ask God to help you flee from the fear of man and to walk in courageous faith for His glory.

5/23/2019 11:30:14 AM by Randy Mann, pastor Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

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