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Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 11: Treasure Mothers

April 24 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Proverbs 31:10-31
Several years ago when I was a minister of music I was discussing with the choir the songs we could sing to honor our mothers on Mother’s Day. We burst into laughter as one of the men suggested “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. You may remember the lyrics: “I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole. No one could steer me right but Mama tried.” Although some children rebel in spite of godly parents, we must never cop out with a “kids today” mentality that surrenders children to the world before formative parenting really begins.
As we turn to the Bible we find trustworthy directions that help turn children into God-honoring adults. While fathers are commanded to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, mothers provide the nurturing and management that demonstrates Christ-like love and sacrifice to her household. Although capable wives (women of noble character) may be scarce in our modern age, Christian wives and mothers should set a standard for their roles that grabs the attention of unbelievers, showing them the desirability of God’s standards.
Mothers who discipline themselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) show their job requires nothing short of hard work. As Proverbs 31 describes, biblical motherhood requires long days of hard work that focus on others more than self. When my wife and I went through premarital counseling, the pastor told my wife that she would either make me or break me. We soon learned that in marriage, family and ministry a godly woman makes her husband more than he would be without her. If she refuses God’s direction, she will prove to be a liability.
In addition to all the hard work my wife does, I’ve also noticed that she cares for others better than I do (Proverbs 31:20), just one part of her beauty that increases over time (Proverbs 31:30). The wife who runs after worldly and selfish standards will despair as her physical beauty fades alongside the other superficial aspects of life. Wife, is your beauty increasing?
4/24/2014 1:56:42 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 11: Hope Expressed

April 24 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Psalm 138:1-8
H.W. Beecher tells of a man who was not rich, but would on a periodic basis go into the courthouse in Boston and post bail for those who appeared to have no friends. It was the testimony of those he helped, that not one ever betrayed him or left him without showing their deepest gratitude. There are numerous reasons why these criminals displayed such gratefulness to this man, however, let me offer three that are applicable to this week’s lesson.
First, these men knew they were guilty of a crime. We do not know the reason why the crimes were committed, but nevertheless the men knew they were guilty. Have you ever been guilty of something and someone treats you with kindness anyway? For example, how many of you have exceeded the speed limit, got pulled over by a police officer, and he only gave you a warning? I have and I was praising Jesus’ name when the officer let me go. I believe when a person knows he is guilty and kindness and mercy is extended anyway, it is hard not to be grateful.
Secondly, these men knew there was a penalty to be paid for their crime. However, because of this man’s generosity and kindness they would taste freedom for a little longer. In my lesson guide for writing this commentary the author writes, “Gratitude arises from the acceptance of all of life as grace – as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand.” In many ways, we are criminals. We all have broken God’s law and are due His just punishment. But God, in His grace and kindness offers infinite freedom from His eternal wrath through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. How can we not be grateful? 
Finally, knowing someone cares about you is a precious gift worthy of a grateful heart. The Bible says, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Roman 5:8, ESV). Being loved by a holy God is the greatest thing to ever happen to us. Let us never forget it.  
4/24/2014 1:52:32 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 4: Live in Moral Purity

April 22 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 5:3-14, 20-23; 6:23-24, 27-29, 32-34
Have you ever noticed how our flesh always seems to want what it doesn’t have? We can be like children who get a new toy, play with it for a while and move on to something else. That selfish and dissatisfied mindset often appears in one’s sexual choices. Dating can become a conquest instead of a search for a future mate. To make matters worse that same attitude can be taken into marriage, and once the new wears off the conqueror hungers for a new conquest.
Solomon warned his son that the allure of a forbidden woman does not begin sexually. She sets a trap with sweet and smooth words (as part of her own conquest) that provide affirmations a husband isn’t getting at home.
He then compares all the “good” things she is saying to all the ways his wife is not using her words to inflate his ego. Solomon warned that this woman is “bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:4). What looks like a ticket to “The Love Boat” will turn out to be a carnal adventure on the Titanic, because “her feet go down to death” (Proverbs 5:5).
When a man and woman are joined together in the covenant of marriage God intends for them to keep their promises to Him and to each other, which is the cure for divorce. To do anything less fails, according to Ephesians 5, to demonstrate the relationship between Christ and the Church. He does not kick His bride to the curb when she fails, because He loves her by grace. To choose adultery means you choose not to share forgiveness, patience, understanding and love with your spouse. Instead of drinking water from your own cistern (Proverbs 5:15), you choose to destroy the cistern and dig another one under the assumption that it will satisfy all your unmet expectations. Instead of playing with the fire of adultery and getting burned (Proverbs 6:27), go stoke the marital fire at home. Remember, you did say, “For better or for worse.”
4/22/2014 1:39:02 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 4: Hope Personified

April 22 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Luke 15:11-32
I recently read a story from a book of illustrations published in 1931 by Harper & Brothers that illustrates the power of God’s love and forgiveness.
The story begins when young John Maynard was attending an old time country school house.
During most of the early days of that school year John was careless with his work. However, during midwinter, the teacher inspired John to take a new start, and he became a distinctly different student making up for his earlier failures.
As the final exams were taken John did exceptionally well. At the end of the year all the parents were invited to the classroom to see their child’s notebook.
When John saw his mom begin to look through his notebook he remembered all those dreary poor marks from earlier in the year. His heart sank as the realities of his past failures were to be known to his parents.
Surprisingly, his mother seemed well pleased with John’s work and invited his father to look with her. Afterwards, John found out that his kind teacher had thoughtfully torn out all those bad pages from his notebook and made it begin where he started to do better.
When I think about that story I am reminded that when a person is willing to repent of his sin and turn to Jesus, our heavenly Father offers a fresh beginning and promises to blot out those old sins and make our record begin with a new start.
I believe our lesson this week also clearly teaches us that God is willing to forgive us of our sin and forget our past failures if we truly repent. Many of us, however, can’t seem to get over our past failures.
Either we think we are too bad for God to forgive us or we don’t understand God’s mercy and grace. If that is you, spend time studying the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The parable speaks volumes about the depth of God’s love – a love that can freely be yours if you will turn back to Him.  
4/22/2014 1:34:20 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 27: Avoid Alcohol and Drug Abuse

April 10 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 20:1; 23:19-21, 29-35; 31:4-7
Solomon’s descriptions of wine as a “mocker” and strong drink as a “brawler” (Proverbs 20:1) warn us that alcohol will make fools of us and get us in fights we never intended. While some Christians will try to justify “responsible drinking,” whatever that may mean, Solomon warned his son that the way of wisdom would lead him to avoid associating with drunks (Proverbs 23:19-20). Not only will the person who drinks be challenged with identifying his own drunkenness, but he will also likely surround himself with one or more people who will become enslaved by alcohol. Solomon described drunkenness as a snake bite that causes its victims to see strange things and speak perverse things. Such people do not remember what happens when they are drunk (Proverbs 23:29-35). 
In Proverbs 31:4-7 King Lemuel’s mother warned him to let the dying and embittered people have the alcohol, but that he must soberly speak on behalf of others. Any Christian who drinks alcohol to relax fails to remember that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not behavior modification created by a strong drink. That’s why Paul exhorted the Ephesians, “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit” (5:18). In other words, whatever you’re full of will control you. While alcohol leads to recklessness, the Spirit leads us to the will of God. Even if you never get drunk or hang out with drunks you add nothing to your spiritual life by drinking alcohol. Conversely, you may destroy your witness. I once heard a man say, “The first time I saw [a respected Baptist man] drink a beer it liked to kill me.” While you may scoff and say that offended people just need to grow up, ask yourself, “Am I drinking to benefit me or someone else?” While abstaining from alcohol doesn’t make you righteous before God, partaking of alcohol reveals self-indulgence instead of self-denial (Luke 9:23). Don’t let your selfishness cause a weaker brother or sister in Christ to stumble (Romans 14:21).      
4/10/2014 12:17:01 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 27: Hope Found

April 10 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Matthew 8:1-13
Oftentimes when people are struggling with feelings of unworthiness, we tend to encourage them to think more positively about themselves instead of going to the gospel.
We might say something like, “Don’t feel bad about yourself, you have great qualities.” Then we begin to list those qualities for them. That might be appropriate under certain circumstances, but I would like to encourage us not to move so quickly in that direction less we miss an opportunity to teach them where real hope is found.
As we look at this week’s lesson we see two individuals that are desperate for help. One has leprosy and the other has a servant who is paralyzed.
The leper I believe was heartbroken over his terrible disease, and the centurion by his own admission felt unworthy for Jesus to enter his house. Many may see their circumstances as a bad thing, but I can’t help to think it was their desperate circumstances that drove them to seek the Savior.
I wonder how many people Jesus passed en route to these men who did not realize they too were in desperate need of a Savior. Sure, they didn’t have leprosy or have a servant who was sick, but they were still in desperate need of Jesus.
Here is the truth – we all are unworthy of Jesus’ sacrificial love. It does not matter if you had a great upbringing or a very difficult one. It does not matter if you went to church all your life or if you were rebellious. We add nothing to the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
The point of the gospel is clearly stated in Romans 5:8, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, the next time you counsel people who feel unworthy, help them to see that they have two choices. They can either let Satan use those feelings to further destroy their lives or they can run to Jesus who provides hope and meets them at their point of need.   
4/10/2014 12:13:16 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 20: Be Amazed by the Resurrection

April 8 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Mark 15:16-20, 33-34, 37-39; 16:1-8
While all the Gospel writers recorded the crucifixion, none of them spoke of its gruesome details. They knew that countless men suffered many of the same physical sufferings as Jesus, but none of them suffered as the sinless Son of God. When Mark described the humiliation of Jesus at the hands of Roman soldiers (15:16-20), he showed how the soldiers’ mockery actually pointed to the true identity of Christ which they were too blind to see. While the crown of thorns certainly brought pain, the Gospel writers did not mention the pain because the crown was meant to accessorize the purple robe and fake scepter as part of the kingly costume the soldiers created to ridicule Jesus. In the midst of their buffoonery, the soldiers tortured Jesus as though He were an ordinary man who thought He was a king. However, the day will come when Jesus will return and be unmistakably identified as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
Jesus’ words, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) reveal one of the most unique aspects of His crucifixion. Although Jesus never ceased to be God the Son, He experienced during the crucifixion an unprecedented break in His perfect fellowship with God the Father because He was bearing the wrath of God toward our sins. As Peter wrote, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds” (1 Peter 2:24).
The tearing of the veil in the temple revealed that we no longer need an earthly priest, because Jesus, our Great High Priest, has forever opened the way to the presence of God and permanently placed the Holy Spirit within every true believer. As we share the gospel and display the fruits of the indwelling Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we invite modern day unbelievers to come to the foot of the cross and the door of the empty tomb and declare, “This man really was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:39b).     
4/8/2014 2:31:57 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 20: But Now ... Victory

April 8 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
In 1990, I was in the infield at Bristol Motor Speedway getting ready to watch a NASCAR race.
Back then, I was a mechanic at a local dealership and spent a significant amount of time following NASCAR. When we arrived at the race, the men I was with wanted everyone to put in $5 and draw names of the drivers.
Whoever drew the winner’s name would get all the money. When they asked me to put in $5 I politely declined and told them I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.
One of the older men told me not to worry that he would cover my money.
They begin to pull out the names and they gave me mine. Although, I never felt comfortable taking the name, God had special mercy on me. The name of the driver they gave me won the race and they gave me all the money.
I probably should not have taken the money, but I was excited and figured God was just teaching them a lesson. However, the reason I tell you this story is not because of the money but because it provides an illustration for our lesson this week.
Let me explain: the winner, if I remember correctly, was Ernie Irvan. His team had worked extremely hard to get ready for the race. He drove hard for his team and, after much fender-to-fender racing, he won. The moment he crossed the finish line I became a beneficiary of his victory. In other words, because He won I won.
Now, as I young man that was exciting, but the truth is nothing can compare to how excited I am about Easter Sunday.
As our text teaches us this week, because Jesus was victorious over sin and death we too can be victorious over the grave.
Indeed, because of Christ’s resurrection, we are no longer slaves to sin but we can daily and eternally enjoy the fruit of His victory. Jesus has done all the work. He won the “race.” We just need to repent and receive His free gift and experience His blessings.         
4/8/2014 2:27:29 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 13: Forge Godly Friendships

March 27 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 22:24-25; 17:14, 19; 26:21; 25:19; 13:20; 14:17, 22, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 19:11; 3:3-4; 16:6; 20:6; 10:12; 11:17; 15:17; 17:17; 18:24; 27:9
The way we define “friend” changes considerably between childhood and adulthood. A child will call someone a friend simply because they like to play together and have certain shared preferences. When I was young I had certain friends that I never got to spend the weekend with because my parents knew they wouldn’t be going to church. Although I held on to similar friendships through adolescence, my early adult years confirmed my parents’ convictions. I wanted friendships built on shared Christian beliefs and foundational principles. As Solomon said, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). My friendships deepened with my convictions, and most of them remain today. We must choose our friends carefully.
Although most people like to stand with the tough guys, Solomon warns that a hot-tempered person promotes foolishness (Proverbs 14:29). A retired pastor once told of a time in his adolescent years when his father would not let him hang out one night in town with a group containing some rather hot-headed boys. He became very angry at his father, but wisdom unveiled her beauty the next morning when the future pastor was not at city hall with those boys paying for the street lights they had shattered.
Even if you aren’t actively involved in your friend’s mischief, you will be guilty by association. One of my fifth grade classmates went to the principal’s office and got a paddling for merely observing the group that hung me on a coat rack. While that incident was relatively harmless, it revealed within the young observer a budding character flaw. The last I heard he was in jail and HIV positive, most likely due to drug abuse. Friendships built on righteousness will yield friends that are closer than brothers (Proverbs 18:24), but friendships built on sin will crumble as sin screams, “Every man for himself!”
3/27/2014 2:13:25 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 13: Hope Needed

March 27 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: 2 Samuel 9:6-13
Growing up, my Dad would tell me stories that he had heard as a young man. Some of the stories were fictional and quite humorous, but all were designed to teach valuable life lessons. One of the stories was about a young country boy who had very little education and was traveling down an old, dusty road.
As he was walking, an older farmer, who was very much a practical joker, came up beside him in a wagon. Although, the wagon was full, the farmer invited the young man to climb atop the cargo and rest his feet while they traveled. The young boy gratefully obliged and jumped up on the rear of the wagon with his back toward the farmer. Not long into their trip the farmer spotted a low hanging limb and thought it would be a great opportunity to have a little fun at the young boy’s expense.
As he approached the limb he quickly dunked his head and grabbed it with his free hand. Because the boy was facing the opposite direction he could not see what the farmer was doing.
The farmer held onto the limb as long as he could causing as much as recoil as possible. At the very last minute, the farmer yelled, “Watch out for the limb!” In perfect timing, the boy turned just in time for the limb to collide with his face knocking him clear off the wagon. The farmer, laughing inside, was amazed at the boy’s response.
After picking himself up from the ground the boy said, “Boy I sure am glad you held onto that limb as long as you did, otherwise it would have probably killed me!”
I guess there are various life lessons we could gain from this story, but the one I would like to leave you with is that no matter what life throws at you, with the right perspective, there is always hope.
Maybe it is hard for you to believe in hope today. My prayer is you will have the right perspective and know God loves you. With Him all things are possible. Don’t ever give up!
3/27/2014 2:06:00 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments

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