Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 14: Commands

April 2 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 9:14-27
Missionaries are amazing people. They feel called to go and risk persecution, prison and even death for the sake of the gospel. Well-known author Os Guinness was born in China while his parents were spreading the gospel as medical missionaries.
Two of his brothers passed away in the 1943 Henan Famine when he was a toddler, and his parents were imprisoned throughout his adolescence.
Doubt seems to have settled in during this period of his life due to the amount of suffering he witnessed.
In a biographical profile, Nathan Martin records these words from Guinness, “People often see doubt as the opposite of faith, and that’s not true. The opposite of faith is unbelief. Doubt is a halfway stage.”
He continues, “Like a spinning coin, it’s going to come down one way or the other. Doubt is either going to be resolved and go back to faith or be left unresolved and move on to unbelief.”
The coin for Guinness dropped. It was 1960 when he came to faith.
In Mark 9:14-27, the father’s faith comes to the point of almost failing, but the father is strengthened by Jesus.
The main focus of the passage is a desire for the reader to believe.
There may be uncertainties that come along with belief, but like the father in Mark 9, we should go to Jesus (v. 24), focus on His power (vv. 25-26) and pray (v. 29).
Prayer played a critical role in Guinness’s life. Likewise, the narrative in Mark’s Gospel shifts attention toward Jesus’ power and life of prayer.
These two, power and prayer, help strengthen one’s belief and cultivate a personal relationship with the Savior.
What doubts keep you from a personal relationship with Jesus?

4/2/2019 10:28:27 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 14: God Won’t Forgive This Sin

April 2 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Matthew 12:22-32
One of my favorite characteristics of Jesus is His ability to send shockwaves across multitudes of people. He offered grace and forgiveness in the midst of a culture that coveted religiosity. He destroyed hierarchies among sinners by challenging those who wanted to be first to be last. When others focused on trapping Him, He focused on freeing others.
Our Savior overturned tables outside the temple and washed the feet of the man who betrayed Him.

Matthew 12:22-32 shows that Jesus’ words were equally as astounding as His actions.
These passages begin with Jesus showing God’s power through a miracle. “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw” (Matthew 12:22).
This man could neither see his Savior nor call out to Him, yet the power of God in Christ proved to be greater.
We don’t know how many witnesses were present, but we do know that they were all amazed, which only highlights the wonder of God’s work in that moment.
Knowing the gravity of what they had just seen, the Pharisees attempted to condemn Jesus by accusing Him of casting out demons through the work of Satan. By making these deliberate claims in rejecting Jesus, the Pharisees were clearly committing the unpardonable sin. They committed blasphemy against the Spirit because they rejected the power of the Spirit by which Jesus did everything.
After exposing the flaws in the Pharisees’ accusations, Jesus said something they would surely never forget.
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men … either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).
Committing a sin that is unforgiveable is so weighty that many have wondered if they have ever crossed that line. How does this scripture help us address that concern?

4/2/2019 10:24:45 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 7: Includes

March 22 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 7:25-37
Adoption is a wonderful picture of the gospel. An outsider is welcomed into a family without partiality. The message of the narratives found in Mark 7:25-37 is the inclusion of Gentiles into God’s salvation plan.
There is a Greek woman born in Syrian Phoenicia (v. 26) and a crowd with the deaf/mute man from the region of the Decapolis (v. 31). Mark shows his readers that Jesus’ love has no bias or prejudices.
At the beginning of the book of Mark, Jesus brings salvation to the Jews. Now, we see the same is happening for the Gentiles. Thoughts of “… to the Jew first, then the Gentile” come to mind (Romans 1:16; 2:10; Acts 1:8).
The narratives about the Syrophoenician woman and the man without hearing or speech have similarities. Both demonstrate healing.
Both have individuals advocating on behalf of someone else being healed. Both stories, in connection to verse 15, illustrate the condition of sin within every person (Romans 3:23) and the person of Jesus Christ who makes us clean (Hebrews 10:22).
By comparing the Gentiles (vv. 25-37) to the Pharisees and the scribes (vv. 1-13), we can see a stark difference in their beliefs. With a subtle connection to the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14), we see those who are either included or excluded is determined by the hearer’s response.
On the other hand, the Pharisees nullify their faith (v. 13), while the woman (v. 26) and crowd (v. 28, 32) show their faith.
Verses 14-23 find a parallel in Acts 10, where the Apostle Peter received instructions in a vision from above about how God made clean what was unclean. Following Peter’s dream, Cornelius and his household (all Gentiles) heard the gospel and were welcomed into the family of faith (Acts 10:34-36).
The message of scripture is clear and demonstrated in these passages: the Good News of salvation is for people of every tongue, tribe and nation.
Who can you invite to repent and believe in Him to be included in this loving family?

3/22/2019 12:05:20 PM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 7: Full Contentment

March 22 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10; 12:12-14
I remember the day I surrendered my life to Christ as clearly as if it had happened today. When everything of this world failed me, I was desperate to find purpose and joy.
I didn’t know where else to turn except to a church at the top of the hill, near my college campus.
I wandered inside its doors, fearful that those within would see me as a phony, or worse, as someone who didn’t belong there.
The first time I heard the gospel, it pierced my heart and soul.
God’s love, grace and mercy over me were beyond anything I’d ever heard of or experienced. I knew I was a sinner, but I didn’t know that I had hope despite it.
There was no way I could walk away from something so wonderful, my debt paid in full by Jesus. The contentment and joy that filled me that day could not have been replaced by all the world had to offer.
Nothing else mattered, but Jesus.
As our good Father, God gives good gifts, but His desire is that we enjoy them in the right ways and for the right reasons.
For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:8).
We can enjoy God’s gifts by submitting to Him in obedience.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
This truth is also expressed in John 14:21, 23, “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me… If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:21, 23).

3/22/2019 12:03:39 PM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 31: Sends

March 21 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 6:7-13, 30-32
George Liele, an African-American missionary, is known for sending and being sent to share the gospel with those who had never heard the Good News.
Originally from Virginia, the freed slave and his family made their way to Georgia, where he started two churches in Yamacraw and Savannah.
Eventually, he was forced to leave for Jamaica, but he turned the unfortunate scenario into a missions opportunity.
The Baptist Quarterly noted in 1964 that due to Liele’s efforts, his converts were sent to Sierra Leone, other parts of Jamaica, Nova Scotia and even back to Georgia.
In Mark 6:7, Jesus sent out 12 disciples. The following verses reveal they were to have both a sense of readiness and faith in God’s providence, not unlike what the Israelites experienced on their journey to the promised land.
The missionary task is strenuous and difficult, but it can be described as a new exodus, one whose purpose is to carry the gospel into uncharted territory.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his book 10 Who Changed the World, that Liele “raised up courageous servants of the Lord to lead His people into their Promised Land of freedom.”
The description of John the Baptist’s fate indicates what may lie ahead for faithful Christians bearing witness in the public sphere.
Likewise, Liele was wrongfully imprisoned on multiple occasions.
He experienced several instances of persecution both within the American colonies and the British colony of Jamaica.
The act of shaking off the dust in verse 11 brought a sense of judgment upon the towns that would not hear the gospel. The return of Christ is paired with the idea of rest in Mark 6:31, calling believers to be diligent but spiritually focused as they await His return.
Are you ready for Christ’s return? Will you commit to making disciples among all the nations, despite whatever hardships and trials may come?

3/21/2019 12:11:17 PM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 1 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 31: The Problem with Wealth

March 21 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20
At 8 years old I received my first $20 bill. Most candy at the neighborhood store cost a quarter or less, making me feel like the richest kid alive.
I bought a Double Bubble bubblegum for a nickel and decided I would use the rest of my money sparingly, so it would last. When the lady behind the counter handed me my change, I thought she’d made a mistake. I gave her one piece of paper and she gave me back 19 pieces of paper and a bunch of coins.
My 8-year-old mind wondered if I’d actually gotten richer by purchasing something, which seemed like the greatest deal of all time.
These days I get excited if I can fill my car up with fuel for $20.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, Solomon reveals wealth’s inability to satisfy humankind. “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  
The New Testament puts it this way, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wondered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (Timothy 6:10).
Often, the appeal of wealth is its perception of security, but King Solomon also compares wealth to the wind.
From where we came, we will return, and there is no wealth from this life that we can take into eternity (Ecclesiastes 13-16).
This chapter of Ecclesiastes closes by reminding us that God provides all we need, and we can find contentment in Him. Paul also puts it this way in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know both how to make do with little, and… with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
In what ways can we put Christ before money?

3/21/2019 12:09:15 PM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 24: Restores

March 11 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 5:21–43
Devoting his life to serving a leper colony in Hawaii, Damien de Veuster began his ministry to islanders in 1864. He is famously quoted for saying, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” Mother Theresa noted a few things that stood out about Damien’s ministry: he removed fear from their hearts and gave them “hope in being cured.”
This missionary brought Christ to both a physically and spiritually sick people group. De Veuster himself contracted leprosy not long into his ministry. Although he was unable to physically heal himself or any of the people he went to minister to, he did make himself available to serve and share Christ.
A Greek word that means “to heal” is used twice in verses 28-34. The word can also mean “to save.” The sick woman in the passage responds to Jesus’ healing power by “trembling with fear” and she tells Jesus “the whole truth.”
The language suggests Christ has not merely healed the woman physically. More importantly, He appears to have offered her spiritual healing. Just as Jesus used sickness as a metaphor for sin in Mark 2:17, He uses physical healing as a means to highlight both His power and salvation.

A similar experience occurs in Jairus’ story as well. Jesus’ comment to Jairus in verse 36, “Do not be afraid; just believe,” coupled with the specific act of healing Jairus’ daughter, makes it evident. There is spiritual healing and physical healing.
The people group De Veuster served were brought to faith in Christ. They were restored to a right relationship with God through salvation. Having that same faith, who will you share this salvation with?

3/11/2019 10:42:24 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 24: The Problem with Work

March 11 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 2:18-23; 3:9-13
Several months ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is getting ready to retire. He began building his company at a young age and had spent the last 40-plus years investing time, energy and heart into it. His company had grown beyond his wildest dreams, but after spending almost two-thirds of his life in his work, all that effort would suddenly end.
My friend was at odds with how he would transition out of his life’s work. Should he sell his business? Would someone be interested in taking it over? And what was he going to do during retirement?
Solomon also considered his work in Ecclesiastes 2:18-23.
He had invested a lot of time, money and thought into the kingdom he had built, but recognized that one day it would all be passed on to someone else. “For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it” (Ecclesiastes 2:21).
King Solomon recognized his life’s work was a futile if he was not serving God. “I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts …” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).
Colossians also speaks to this by saying, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will received the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You served the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:17, 23-14).
Fortunately, my friend recognizes that all his work has been a gift from God. As he has prayed through this new season, he practices laying down his dreams, his accomplishments and his future before the Lord.

3/11/2019 10:40:04 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 17: Unites

March 11 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 3:23-35
In C.S. Lewis’ classic book, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we find the Pevensie children making their way to Aslan, the lion. As the story progresses, the children learn Aslan has the power to restore life to all those who were turned to stone by the White Witch.
Throughout Lewis’ story, the reader also learns that Aslan is who he says he is. As for the beginning chapters of Mark, the increasing testimony of Christ’s work – in both word and deed – culminates in this passage. The main point here is that Christ is who He says He is, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
From a literary perspective, Mark 3:22-30 may seem out of place. But Mark appears to include the section to emphasize two ideas: (1) the difference between Jesus’ friends and family and the scribes, and (2) to explain the “unpardonable” sin.
Jesus demonstrates the seriousness of attributing or assigning Christ’s lifesaving power, through both word and deed, to Satan. In Narnia, that would be akin to saying Aslan’s power to restore came from the White Witch. It simply does not make sense. If Satan was behind all that Jesus had done, then it would go against everything Satan tries to accomplish.
In previous chapters, Jesus has displayed Himself through His power. He drove out demons, was tempted by Satan for 40 days and healed people. Jesus also demonstrated His authority through conflicts, which led up to the current passage, where He closely identifies Himself with the people of God.
Verses 31-35 should not lead us to believe Jesus teaches that family relationships are unimportant. Instead, He is simply pointing to a higher priority. That higher priority is “the will of God.” In these verses, Mark identifies Jesus as the One who is unified with both the Father and the people of God. How might you demonstrate such unity in your life this week?

3/11/2019 10:37:23 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 17: The Problem with Wisdom

March 11 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17; 7:23-39
As a kid, I loved to learn but also recognized that more knowledge could lead to more opportunities. As I’ve grown older, applying knowledge in a way that is wise has become even more important.
Wisdom is a characteristic for which King Solomon is known.
Yet, as one of the wisest men in history, he considers wisdom, on its own, to be void.
In Ecclesiastes 2:16, Solomon compares those who are wise to those who are foolish. “For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!” Without Christ, the wise, like the foolish, will perish.
Knowledge and wisdom are gifts from our Father, but He has also created us with finite minds.
King Solomon confesses that, even as a wise man, there is much wisdom and knowledge he doesn’t have. “All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, ‘I shall be wise’; but it was far from me. As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out? I applied my heart to know, to search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.
We know God to be the only one who has all knowledge and wisdom. Solomon understood that God gives wisdom to those who please Him and live righteously (Ecclesiastes 7:23-29). As Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit when we trust in Jesus as our Savior, making it possible for us to please God and follow Him.
Ephesians 3:19 puts it this way, “… to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” The love of Christ is beyond our understanding, but it has the power to change our lives, and the lives of others, forever.

3/11/2019 10:35:05 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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