Sunday School Lessons

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 11: One Great Purpose

August 23 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Isaiah 43:1-7
 
For U.S. Marine Jason Thomas, Sept. 11, 2001, began just like any other morning as he dropped off his daughter at her grandmother’s house. He was completely unaware of the disaster occurring just miles away at the World Trade Center.
 
In those hours after the towers collapsed, however, James Thomas became a hero. He heard the tragic news, donned his uniform, turned his car toward the terror and joined the rescue effort. Thomas saved the lives of at least two officers that day.
 
On this 15th anniversary of 9/11, we honor the heroism of Jason Thomas.
 
We also understand with gratefulness that this Marine was doing exactly what he had been trained to do. He was living out his purpose as a Marine, saving lives and defending the United States.
 
Because of our identity as Christians, we too have a specific purpose. We may not wear a uniform, but we have been created for a reason. God reminds the people of Israel of this purpose in Isaiah 43:1-7.
 
As Christians, we can celebrate that these same promises are true for us as well.
 
We were made to be in relationship with God. In Isaiah 43:1, he says, “I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” God desires intimacy with us, and we belong to Him.  
 
What’s more, God longs for us to enjoy His love, declaring, “you are precious in My sight and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). God doesn’t just want an army of robots. He loves us and wants us to love Him in return.
 
But our purpose doesn’t stop there. God’s great love compels us to action. We are intended to bring God glory, honoring Him in the way we live our lives and use our resources.
 
Marines like Jason Thomas have a purpose. They are trained to defend and protect the United States. As Christians, God has created us for something far greater.

We will find our greatest joy and contentment in life when we choose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
 

8/23/2016 8:24:57 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 11: Be Holy

August 23 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 1:13-25
 
As I am writing this lesson, the Olympic Games are going on in Rio de Jainero, Brazil. As you watch these Olympic athletes compete, one word that should come to mind is “pursuit.” There is a clear goal and an intense focus and pursuit of that goal – namely a gold medal. Those athletes know they must stay focused and give their all at all times. Distraction means disaster. Half-hearted efforts mean definite defeat.
 
As Christians, we are called to pursue holiness – to be holy, even as God, our Father, is holy. We will not, however, drift toward holiness any more than a car that is left in neutral will roll uphill. Furthermore, while we are pursuing holiness, our enemy is seeking to squeeze us into the world’s mold – that lifestyle that Peter describes as the “passions of [our] former ignorance.”
 
Now that we are children of God, our lives should no longer look like they once did, but rather should look more and more like our Father. In other words, our conduct should match our confession. Though we will never achieve sinless perfection here on earth, we are nevertheless to pursue looking more and more like our Father.
 
Our God has not only commanded that we be holy, as He is, but has also provided the only means by which that can happen. He, by His grace and mercy, has ransomed us at a great price – the blood of Jesus Christ, His own Son. Therefore, the overwhelming response of our lives should be pursuing holiness and living in fear (reverential awe) before the One who is both the righteous Judge and also the gracious justifier of our souls.
 
One of the key ways this transformation of life and growth in holiness will manifest itself is by the way we love one another.

As God changes our hearts to look more like His, we will love as He has loved us. Are you pursuing holiness, through God’s power, living with a reverential fear before Him? That is why He purchased us at so great a price. Therefore, be holy!
 

8/23/2016 8:21:41 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 4: One Great Creator

August 23 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Psalm 33:6-9, 13-15; Colossians 1:15-17
 
When I pulled that ceramic candy bowl out of the moving box, I recognized it immediately.
You see, I had decorated the dish over 15 years ago but I still remembered how crooked my strokes had been and how my attempt at a red apple ended up looking more like a rotten tomato. That bowl was my creation, however unimpressive it might be.
 
Human creativity is a gift from God and a way we reflect His image.
 
Our often feeble attempt at creativity reminds us of the magnificence of God’s creation. God did not fashion you or me at a paint-your-own pottery bonanza.
 
He made everything from nothing. The heavens and the earth were created “by the word of the Lord” and “by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
 
Can you fathom it? God spoke, and the world came into existence.
 
But that isn’t all.
 
God didn’t just create this world and move on to other projects. In the same way I know my pottery because I painted it, God knows each of us intimately because He is the one who made us. He has fashioned our hearts, and He understands us to the very depth of our being.
It can be tempting to think of only God the Father as our Creator, yet the Bible is clear that Jesus was instrumental in creation. As the uncreated One, “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). All things hold together precisely because Jesus ensures that they endure.
 
If you were to see my candy dish today, you would probably smile and say something nice about my effort.
 
At least she tried, you might think. And yet, when we stop our busy lives long enough to mediate on the miracle of creation, we have no other option but to worship and “tremble before the Lord” (Psalm 33:8).
 
The One who formed us out of nothing and knows us intimately is the same one who took our sin upon Himself at Calvary.

Our response can only be to “stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).
 

8/23/2016 8:19:50 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 4: A Living Hope

August 23 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 1:3-9
 
Whenever you build some kind of structure, you must make sure you first get the foundation right. Failure to do so will ensure disaster, particularly when severe storms and powerful winds blow against the structure.
 
The early believers to whom Peter is writing – the dispersion or “the scattered ones” – may well have felt like they had “both feet firmly planted in the air,” due to the persecutions and tribulations they were facing.
 
Peter begins his letter by reminding them of the sure foundation of their faith, one that should demonstrate, even in the midst of the challenges they were facing, “a living hope.”
This hope about which Peter reminded them did not originate with them, nor was it dependent on them.
 
God Himself, by His grace and mercy, through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, brought this salvation to them. Further, it was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that was the foundation of this “living hope.” And, it was by God’s power that they were being guarded until the last day.
 
These believers who were under fire had received this salvation through faith in Christ and were continuing to walk it out by faith in Him. This salvation that came through faith in Christ resulted in a “living hope” that would accomplish two realities.
 
First, it would result in unshakable joy in their lives, even in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances. Second, their faith that had been refined and proved to be genuine through trials would result in praise and glory to God.

Is the hope you have in your life determined by the circumstances in which you find yourself? If so, when difficulties come pouring into your life, and pour in they will, others will see a “dead wish” (i.e. “I wish things were different”) rather than a living hope. May others see a “living hope” demonstrated in our lives as we walk by faith in our resurrected and living Lord.
 

8/23/2016 8:16:02 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 28: Love Gets Involved

August 9 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Luke 10:25-37
 
Imagine you were given only three minutes to prepare to share Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan with a friend. What would be your main point? Would you vividly describe the dangers of traveling alone from Jerusalem to Jericho? Would you focus on the lowly status of Samaritans in Jewish culture? Would you contrast the kindness of the Samaritan with the disgraceful behavior of the priest and Levite?
 
Although each of these is a vital aspect of the story, I fear we are often tempted to neglect Jesus’ primary reason for sharing this parable. You see, an expert in the law wanted to test Jesus by asking how to inherit eternal life. In response, He declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
 
Jesus intended the story of the Good Samaritan to be a practical picture of loving God. Love is not merely warm feelings or a “second hand emotion” as Tina Turner might have us believe. It is a call to action, a call to sacrificial and supernatural love of others.
 
I am certain the priest and the Levite would have professed to deeply love God. Perhaps they would have even pointed to their actions in the synagogue as proof of their love, but in the moment they walked past the injured man those words became hollow. Despite their claims, they ignored a desperate man, a man made in God’s image and loved first by Him.

I have no idea what situations we may pass by today, but I do know we have been called to love others. I have no idea how much that love will cost, but I do know that when we truly understand the costly love God has lavished on us, we must love God by passing that love on to others.
 

8/9/2016 7:44:37 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 28: Victory

August 9 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 30:6-8; 18-25
 
In the book of Job we read, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). Jesus promised in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” I am sure that in reading this, you can be in total agreement. I am sure that you have seen your share of tragedy and trouble.
 
There will always be a right way and a wrong way to handle tragedy in life. The right way of handling tragedy keeps one in touch with God. The wrong way of handling tragedy is without God.
 
Handling tragedy without God leads to bitterness, failure, and perhaps, more tragedy. We have the freedom to choose which way we respond.
 
In our lesson we find David greatly distressed. We can understand why David was greatly distressed. Consider, his city was destroyed, his men’s families had all been taken captive his own wives were among the captives. And now his men want to stone him! I’d be greatly distressed too, wouldn’t you?
 
In studying the life of David, we find that he did not always do what was right. Some of the things that he did in life were questionable at best; others were in completely sinful. But when push came to shove in this event, David knew exactly where to turn.
 
David encouraged himself in the Lord his God! This is what we should do as well. He sought God for guidance in what he should do. And not only did he pray, he followed the guidance that God gave him.
 
When we pray for guidance and God gives it, we need to follow God’s will. As a pastor I have discovered something. Godly instruction and direction doesn’t work if it isn’t followed.
With the help of God, many problems people face could be solved if they would just obey God.

David got help in the person of the One he encouraged himself with. We too can get help with the proper One to encourage ourselves with. Jesus finished the quote in John 16:33 by saying, “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
 

8/9/2016 7:42:10 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Less on for August 21: Give Money Generously

August 9 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Proverbs 11:23-29
 
Every year millions of Americans fill shoeboxes for Christmas. Instead of footwear, we cram our boxes with toys and other goodies and deliver them to organizations that will share them with children around the world. We celebrate the joy of giving and pray those who deliver our boxes will have an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
It is a wonderful way to use our resources to help make Christ known around the globe!
 
But, are we ever tempted to limit our investment in the lives of others to one of these tiny cardboard boxes? When we place our gifts in the donation bin, do we consider ourselves to have fulfilled our obligation to financially invest in those around us?
 
The passage we’ll be studying this week in Proverbs 11 calls us to be generous with all our belongings – not just during a holiday season and not just in foreign countries.
 
We are to be known and identified as generous people. What’s more, Solomon explains that “a generous person will be enriched” (Proverbs 11:25). Our lives will be sweeter when they are characterized by giving.
 
Sometimes we are tempted to hoard our money, making sure we have enough to pay our bills, buy that latte or take our next vacation. The truth is, though, we will never find security in money. Solomon writes, “anyone trusting in his riches will fail, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Proverbs 11:28).  
 
Whatever the balance in our bank account, it belongs to God. He has entrusted these funds into our care that we might use them to make His name great, giving so that the gospel might go forth.

I love packing shoeboxes for Christmas. It brings me joy, and if you haven’t done it, I suggest you start. But if our investment in the lives of others can fit in the place where sandals used to be stored, we are missing out. Forget shoeboxes, I want my whole closet, my whole life, to be characterized by generosity, giving to others what God has given to me.
 

8/9/2016 7:40:02 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 28: Victory

August 9 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 30:6-8; 18-25
 
In the book of Job we read, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). Jesus promised in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” I am sure that in reading this, you can be in total agreement. I am sure that you have seen your share of tragedy and trouble.
 
There will always be a right way and a wrong way to handle tragedy in life. The right way of handling tragedy keeps one in touch with God. The wrong way of handling tragedy is without God.
 
Handling tragedy without God leads to bitterness, failure, and perhaps, more tragedy. We have the freedom to choose which way we respond.
 
In our lesson we find David greatly distressed. We can understand why David was greatly distressed. Consider, his city was destroyed, his men’s families had all been taken captive his own wives were among the captives. And now his men want to stone him! I’d be greatly distressed too, wouldn’t you?
 
In studying the life of David, we find that he did not always do what was right. Some of the things that he did in life were questionable at best; others were in completely sinful. But when push came to shove in this event, David knew exactly where to turn.
 
David encouraged himself in the Lord his God! This is what we should do as well. He sought God for guidance in what he should do. And not only did he pray, he followed the guidance that God gave him.
 
When we pray for guidance and God gives it, we need to follow God’s will. As a pastor I have discovered something. Godly instruction and direction doesn’t work if it isn’t followed.
With the help of God, many problems people face could be solved if they would just obey God.

David got help in the person of the One he encouraged himself with. We too can get help with the proper One to encourage ourselves with. Jesus finished the quote in John 16:33 by saying, “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
 

8/9/2016 7:30:07 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 14: Invest Money Wisely

July 26 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
 
Mark Twain addressed financial investing in his novel Pudd’nhead Wilson when he wrote, “October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.”  
 
Those words were written over 100 years ago, but the topic is still a hot one. Scroll through your cable television channels this evening, and you will inevitably stumble upon a commentator enthusiastically describing the benefits of investing. They claim that if you follow their advice, your finances will multiply and your future will be secure.
 
I’m convinced these men and women are very knowledgeable, but have you ever considered that God’s Word, a much more trustworthy resource, also provides instruction for financial planning?
 
Written by King Solomon near the end of his life, the book of Ecclesiastes contains a great deal of practical wisdom. In chapter 11, we find specific instructions regarding preparing financially for the years ahead. Solomon encourages long term and diversified investing, telling his readers to “divide your portion to seven, or even to eight” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).  
 
One motivation for diversification is the unpredictable nature of the world in which we live.  Only God knows what will happen tomorrow, much less what will happen in several decades, and we would be remiss to place all our resources in any one of these opportunities. They all have the potential to be disastrous.  
 
And yet, Solomon cautions that focusing our attention on this uncertainty can paralyze us.
He writes, “the person who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). Yes, the future is unclear, but we must not stop investing because of fear or despair.  We must press on, working and trusting in “God who makes all things” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).  
 
He alone is our foundation and the One who entrusted us with these resources in the beginning.

7/26/2016 7:40:40 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 14: Protected

July 26 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 25:14-17; 32-38
 
A seminary professor said that if God says something once in His Word be careful about building a doctrine from it.
 
So many cults and heretical teachings are developed from this. He went on to say if God says it twice, take heed to what He is saying. And if He repeats it three times, you can be sure it is important.
 
God says in Romans 12:19, “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Just doing a simple search I found five other places that God says or teaches us the same concept.
If He says it that many times, I think it is safe to say He wants us to see this as highly important.
 
In our Family Memory Verses this week, we find this truth in what David has to say.
In 1 Samuel 25:33, David says to Abigail, “Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand.” David had been consistently refraining from taking any action against Saul.
 
Even though David had been anointed by Samuel to be king, He was waiting upon God to open up the doors to his assuming the position.
 
Even though Saul had frequently sought to destroy David, David still waited upon God.
In this account, Nabal had insulted and snubbed David and his men, and David was ready to take revenge out of selfish motives. David saw the refusal of Nabal to include them in the shearing festival as a personal affront. He was ready to take revenge.
 
Abigail had been an instrument that God used to stop David from senseless bloodshed. God would be the One who would take revenge for David in His own way and time. I am thankful in my life that God has taken matters into His Hand and that I was not personally responsible for selfish revenge.
 
God has a purpose and plan and as believers we need to trust Him to work all things out for the good (Romans 8:28).
 

7/26/2016 7:38:15 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



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