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Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 7: Deliverance is Needed

November 20 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Esther 3:1-9
 
There are daily reports of Christians being persecuted around the world. From name calling and bullying to torturing and beheading, God’s people face the anger and hostility of those who would like to remove any who are a living testimony to God. Sometimes the persecution comes simply due to hatred, other times to jealousy, and perhaps, due to fear. The consistent fact, however, is the persecution of God’s people at the hands of those who do not know Him or follow His ways.
 
This is not a new phenomenon. Almost from the time God created a people for Himself when He cut a covenant with Abram, God’s people have faced the ire of the world. God’s people don’t (or at least shouldn’t) play by the world’s rules. When others bow at the world’s altars or at the feet of the world’s rulers, the people of God stand, knowing they can only bow at the feet of God who alone is worthy.
 
Haman, an Agagite – descendent of the Amalekites – had been given a special position by King Ahasuerus. Most of the people of the kingdom readily bowed before Haman, paying homage to him. Mordecai did not.
 
We don’t know if Mordecai’s refusal – owing to his Jewish heritage – was driven more by his disdain for the Amalekites, enemy of the Jews, or by his commitment only to give honor and veneration to the God of Israel. Whatever Mordecai’s motive, the end result was the same. Haman burned with anger toward Mordecai to the extent that he desired to do away with Mordecai’s people as a whole.
 
What Haman did not understand was the people he sought to destroy were ultimately not Mordecai’s, but God’s. And, God would be faithful to keep the covenant He had made.

While God’s people had rebelled against Him, resulting in God’s punishment of His people at the hands of the Babylonians and Persians, God had neither forgotten them nor forsaken them. Their deliverance would come. Our God is faithful.

 
11/20/2014 11:25:10 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 30: Living Out the Faith

November 18 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 13:1-8
 
I recently had the opportunity to speak to our students at a weekend student retreat. One of the things I have noticed while being around teenagers is that most have a desire not to stand out. You may have the occasional one that will cut up and act in a way that draws attention to himself. But, on the whole, one of teenagers’ greatest fears is to be put on the spot, to stand out and to look different. The reality is, many adults are the same way.
 
The problem with this mentality for Christians is that God desires for our lives to do just that: to stand out. We are to live to a higher standard, not because we are better than anyone else but because our lives have been transformed. The resurrected Christ is the one who the writer of Hebrews has said is the better High Priest who offered His own life as the better sacrifice for sin. Those realities, by definition, make our lives different. If we fail to live in a way that is different from those around us, our lives fail to give testimony to the life-changing power of the gospel.
 
Because Christ has transformed us, we are to gather with believers to “exhort one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). We are not to seek to live distinctive lives in our own strength, but by faith in God – the kind of faith seen in the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us (Hebrews 12:1). In fact, we should live in such a way that other believers around us can see an example of what it means to live a transformed life of faith.
 
This life will be different in every aspect, as the writer of Hebrews points out in today’s passage – in brotherly love, in hospitality, in marriage, in contentment with God’s provision, etc. In the midst of a culture that’s moving farther and farther from God’s design, our lives are to stand out. If we are truly living out our faith in Christ, our lives will look different – showing we live as part of a different kingdom, under the reign of a different king. Living in this way enables us to be the “salt” and “light” God has called us to be.

11/18/2014 9:49:04 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 30: Ministry in the Face of Mental Illness

November 18 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:2-7
 
Recently the world heard of the death of Robin Williams. One thing that has been revealed is the battle he had with depression. The Psalmist speaks about this valley in Psalm 130:1-8 (HCSB).
 
We all go through times when we feel sad, down or blue. Solomon spoke of it in Ecclesiastes, and the writer of Hebrews references it in Hebrews 4:16. Depression is a deeper level of emotional turmoil, and has been said to affect one out of five people. This affects the individual, their family, coworkers as well as others who know the person.
 
Depression can be caused by different factors – stress, fear, loneliness, guilt and anger are to name a few. David spoke of his unconfessed sin as being the basis of his depression in Psalm 38. Elijah on the other hand was depressed following a great spiritual victory (1 Kings 18-19).
 
Medical factors and abnormalities in the brain’s functioning can attribute to this. Understanding all the possible reasons can give us a better understanding of what this disorder is about and how widespread it is. A person needs to seek medical help when struggling with such disorders. Too often in the church we give the glib “Just give it to Jesus” response without any thought to what may be the underlying cause. Telling a person to snap out of it is not going to help.
 
From the Bible we find the “HALT” syndrome at Elijah’s lowest point. He was hungry – he had stopped eating; angry – actually with God, feeling He was not caring for him; lonely – he left his servant and went out all by himself; and tired – we see him collapse into a deep sleep.
 
We see that God counteracted every one of these characteristics in Elijah’s life. He fed him. He sent an angel to show him he was not alone. The sleep helped to remedy the need for rest. This reminds us of having a real and personal relationship with God. We need to read the Bible and pray every day. Because of his relationship, Elijah could focus upon God and listen to what He had to say. Elijah recognized God’s voice and was able to return in a renewed and strengthened personhood.

11/18/2014 9:45:07 AM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 23: A New Kind of Community

November 6 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:18-24
 
I love going to the mountains. One reason I love to go is because I love to fly fish. I love trying to pull an unsuspecting, hungry trout out from behind a rock or a log in those beautiful mountain streams. Another reason I love to go to the mountains is they remind me of the beauty, majesty and glory of God. The size and beauty of the mountains pales in comparison to the beauty of the God who made them. In this week’s lesson passage we see the tale of two mountains and the one true God.
 
One mountain, Mount Sinai, is described in ominous detail as the writer recounts the giving of the law of God to Israel. The demonstration of holiness, power and might there wrought terror in the hearts of the people – they wanted to stay away from the mountain, and they also wanted God to speak to someone else for them. Their separation from the mountain reminded them of their separation from the presence of God. The law also called for an annual reminder of their failure to live up to the standard of God’s law and the necessity of the shedding of blood as the punishment for their sin.
 
By great contrast, Mount Zion – the place where God’s presence dwelled – was not a place of terror, but great joy and peace. Rather than experiencing separation from God, they could now experience fellowship with God and others because Christ perfectly kept the law and then gave His blood as the payment for their inability to do so. Where the blood of Abel cried out to confront sinful Cain, Jesus’ blood spoke announcing grace and forgiveness to those who would repent.
 
This not a tale of two gods: one who is holy and just, and another who is gracious and merciful. It is the story of the one true God who met for us the just demands of His own holiness through the perfect blood of His own Son. As a result, we must not take lightly the grace of God, living however we please, but rather walking in loving surrender before the holy and righteous God who brought us to Himself and into community with His people.

11/6/2014 12:35:06 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 23: Overcome an Earthly Mindset

November 6 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Genesis 50:15-21
 
There are a number of powerful two-word phrases found in scripture. Each of these phrases is used in context with the power of God. However, there is one such phrase used 45 times that causes my spirit to leap for joy.
 
That phrase is: BUT GOD!
 
This small two-word phrase communicates a tremendous message to all who will hear. It is God’s response to Satan’s challenge. It is the last word. It is “all over but the shouting.”
 
“But God” stands diametrically opposed to the negative roar of the world. Consider that the world says no – “but God” says yes.
 
The world says can’t – “but God” says can. The world says won’t – “but God” says will. The world says stop – “but God” says go. The world says don’t – “but God” says do. The world says defeat – “but God” says victory! “But God” climbs the highest mountain; traverses the darkest valley; and sings songs of victory in the midnight hour. “But God” exclaims, “I’m going to the enemy’s camp, and I’ll take back what he stole from me!”
 
Satan thought he could stop the plan of God. Satan sought to end the Jewish race – because he knew the Messiah would come from them. If he eliminated the nation – God’s plan would be thwarted – and he would win!
 
“But God” had things in control. God would defeat Satan’s plan through Joseph. Acts 7:9 reminds us – “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him.” God has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11). If we could see things from God’s vantage point, we would know who is in control.
 
We need to see things from the Father’s perspective. Satan says defeat, but God says victory! Satan says disease, but God says healing! Satan says you’ve blown it, but God says He’ll forgive! Satan says it’s too late, but God says there’s still time!
 
Satan says wait until later, but God says today is the day! Satan says to roll over and play dead, but God says stand up! Satan says to give up, but God says to reach up! Satan says it’s over, but God says not yet!

11/6/2014 12:29:09 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 16: The Discipline of Suffering

November 4 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-7
 
I enjoyed playing sports growing up. I started playing baseball when I was 5 years old and played through my first year in college. In sports – and our walk with Christ – two elements are necessary for success: endurance and discipline.
 
Endurance was necessary to finish the game strong. It would only come with hard work. Wind sprints, suicides and occasional long runs all worked to enable the athlete to continue competing when everyone else was tiring out.
 
Discipline was also necessary. Though I felt committed to my team, there would be times – either out of laziness or selfishness – that I would fail to give my best. I would occasionally look for the easy way out. When the coach saw this lack of commitment he would hold us accountable, which manifested itself in additional running and conditioning. Our coach was intentional in his discipline of us. He was using it to prepare us to play more effectively, for our good and the good of the team.
 
The writer of Hebrews was challenging his Jewish readers in these ways. He knew they would be prone to spiritual slackness – sometimes even wanting to quit – so he challenged them to run with endurance. He challenged them to lay aside whatever would hinder them or trip them up. He also challenged them to understand that God’s discipline in their lives was both for their good and God’s glory. Far from showing a lack of love, it did just the opposite: it proved God’s love and showed their status as God’s children.
 
During my sports years, certain players stood out as great examples. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to work hard and finish my career strong like they did. Here the writer holds up such examples. The “hard work” of this “great cloud of witnesses” was not simply personal effort, but rather their faith in God (Hebrews 11). The greatest example, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who not only authored their faith, but would also complete it, enabling them to finish the race no matter how tough their race would become.

I am always encouraged and thankful when I listen to youth and adults share about how their lives were radically and positively impacted through the ministry and love they received when they lived in one of our BCH facilities.
 
My purpose in writing this article is to encourage North Carolina Baptists to give a personal gift in support of the Thanksgiving Offering for BCH. The week of specific, intentional prayer for BCH is Nov. 16-23.
 
The offering goal for this special offering is $1,500.000. Giving to support this offering is another way to express your gratitude for all that God is doing through Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. I hope all of our church leaders will make their congregants aware of this opportunity to help support a most important Christian ministry by promoting and receiving this Thanksgiving Offering in their churches.

11/4/2014 1:35:10 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 16: Overcome Bitterness

November 4 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Genesis 45:3-11
 
I love “The Andy Griffith Show.” I always get a kick out of the episode dealing with Aunt Bee’s pickles. She loved to make pickles, however they always tasted like kerosene. The faces of those who ate those bitter pickles always brings out the laughter in me.
 
Bitterness usually means having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid and unpleasant. It has come to refer to a very negative emotion, one that a person has from mistreatment by circumstances or people. Hebrews 12:15 warns about this: “Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.”
 
Bitterness left unchecked will allow hurt and anger to grow until a person’s view of life is overshadowed by pain and resentment. It is destructive on all levels. It grows like a cancer in a person bringing about more harm to the offended, while often nothing to the offender.
 
In the Bible, we find the antidote for bitterness: forgiveness. The Greek word for forgiveness can mean, “to release.”
 
Not all persons in the Bible lived a life free from bitterness. Examples are given in the lives of Cain, Job, Esau, Joseph’s brothers, Naomi and Jonah to name a few. The scriptures show us that those who did not “release” suffered the consequences of other negative effects – rage, malice, envy, slander, hatred and even murder.
 
Joseph shows us (next to Christ) the epitome of forgiveness. As you study his life, he had every reason to develop the “root of bitterness” spoken of in Hebrews 12:15. However, when faced with his brothers in Genesis 45, he does not take retaliation against them, he welcomes and provides for them. He chose an attitude of forgiveness over bitterness.
 
When we display this attitude of forgiveness, we are displaying an eternal view, one that shows the world we understand how much God has forgiven us. One who displays this attitude is not ignoring the fact that they have been hurt. They recognize the pain, however they look at it through an eternal perspective. They seek to live each day as Paul challenged in Ephesians 4:31-32.

11/4/2014 1:29:58 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 9: Faith Defined

October 23 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 11:1-7
 
Faith is one of the most important words in the Christian’s lexicon. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Some folks talk about faith as if it is simply wishful thinking: “I have faith the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl.” Others talk about faith as if it were some kind of magical rabbit’s foot: “If you have enough faith, God will heal you.”
 
The Bible, however, talks about faith differently. One of the greatest chapters in the Bible on the subject of faith is Hebrews 11. In the first three verses we are given insight into the nature of faith itself: “faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.”
 
You may think that he is simply talking about wishful thinking. But, that would be an eternally tragic mistake. When the author talks about the “reality of what is hoped for” he is describing the idea that there are things that exist in the universe which cannot be proven in strictly material terms. To embrace the existence of these realities requires faith.
 
To cite an example of faith, the writer points out that “we believe that the universe was created by the Word of God.” The writer emphasizes that it takes faith to believe the universe sprung forth into existence by the Word of God alone, so that “what is seen has been made from things not visible.” The spoken Word of God is not a physically material thing to be observed. Rather, it is a demonstration of His power and sovereignty that material things spring into existence by His verbal command alone. This is why Satan has sought to deceive us about the Word of God from the very beginning. Remember the question in Genesis 3:1: “Did God really say?” From the beginning Satan has sought to convince us not to believe the Word of God. And, yet, faith is inextricably linked with the Word of God
 
Such faith is demonstrated in the examples of Abel, Enoch and Noah (Hebrews 11:4-7). The vital nature of faith is pointed out in Hebrews 11:6 where we learn that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Indeed, there is no substitute for faith.

10/23/2014 1:01:46 PM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies of Life Lesson for November 9: Overcome Hard Times

October 23 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passages: Genesis 41:28-36, 46-49
 
Christians believe in a sovereign God who never says “oops.” Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. We have a God who is omniscient. The Illustrated Oxford Dictionary defines “omniscience” as “knowing everything,” and the Bible certainly ascribes omniscience to God. God knows every past, present and future action. He knows every human thought and need. That means that when we are faced with hard times, He knew that before we got there. Moreover, the good news is that He is there ahead of us. Over my many years as a Christian (52 years) and as a minister of the gospel (34 years), I have learned and held on to two major truths when facing the hard times in life. First, I have learned that nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing.
 
Jesus said in John 10:28-30 (HCSB) – “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish – ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
 
Anything that comes my way first goes through the hand of the Father, and then through the hand of Jesus. We must remember that no matter what occurs in our life, God has surveyed and approved it to happen.
 
Second, I have learned that everything I endure in this life is designed by the Father to prepare me for loving Him supremely and for serving others effectively.
 
We like to quote Romans 8:28, holding on to the promise that all things work together for our good. However, we need to go to the next verse and understand what that ultimate good is. Romans 8:29 (HCSB) – “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
 
Hard times may not seem logical, dare I say even fair, but we can be assured that when God is directing the affairs of our lives – they are always right. So, let us learn to live, not for just the present moment, we need to live for the future. Receive the hard times as a molding of God’s plan into our perfection in Christ.

10/23/2014 12:54:03 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 2: The Perfect Offering

October 21 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 9:11-15
 
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king punished for his continued deceitfulness. His punishment was to roll a huge boulder up a high hill, only to watch it roll back down. He was confined to continue rolling that boulder up the hill for all eternity.
 
The book of Hebrews talks a lot about how the New Covenant is superior to the Old. One of those ways is in the finality that the New Covenant brings to the religious rituals required under the Old Covenant.
 
Like Sisyphus rolling that boulder, the Old Testament priests were continually making sacrifices; first for themselves, then for the people. Day after day, year after year this went on as a perpetual reminder that the blood of bulls and goats could never permanently resolve their sin problem.
 
The writer of Hebrews tells us that “now the Messiah has appeared” and that changed everything. Rather than requiring the blood of bulls and goats to atone for his own sin, Jesus entered the most holy place by virtue of His own sinless blood. That blood not only allowed Him entrance to the most holy place, but it cleanses completely the consciences of all those trust in Him. The result of that cleansed conscience is service to God.
 
Instead of spending our energy and time in religious ritual, because of Christ, we are free to serve God with a clear conscience. We experience a conscience that is clear, not because of our goodness, but because it has been cleansed with the spotless, sinless, perfect blood of Jesus. A sacrifice was made for your freedom by Christ as He offered Himself on your behalf.
 
Christ Himself mediates this New Covenant. By His death, He sets us free from the sins that were identified and committed under the Old Covenant. What a tremendous blessing!

Do you feel the freedom of having your consciences cleansed by Christ? Do you feel the freedom of no longer having to perform religious duties in order to please God?

 
10/21/2014 11:19:10 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



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