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Sunday School Lessons

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



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 6: Exercise Financial Responsibility

March 25 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 16:16; 22:1-2; 23:4-5; 28:20; 30:7-9; 13:11; 15:27; 20:17; 21:6; 22:16; 28:6, 8, 24; 3:9-10; 11:28; 16:8
 
If I had a dollar for every time my dad quoted, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1a, KJV), I could afford a rather nice dinner this evening. He quoted this verse among others to remind me that many things in life are worth more than a dollar. Unfortunately, modern American culture seems to affirm another quote, “It’s all about the Benjamins!” This quest for financial gain leads people to cash in even their integrity to make money. The greedy drug lord enslaves both dealers and clients, and doesn’t care that he is destroying their lives, families and futures. Our country has multiple lotteries and other forms of gambling that destroy more fortunes and futures than they will ever create, because the government’s hunger for money is fed by the citizen’s love of money. Most people who try get-rich-quick schemes get poor quickly, and the few that manage to fulfill their lust for wealth forget that someday soon their money will make wings for itself and fly away (Proverbs 23:5). Often funeral directors and pastors are the only people who see the little drawer in the lids of some coffins. Sadly, some people take jewelry and other valuables to the grave, but they never take them to their final destination, be it heaven or hell.
 
One of the greatest evangelistic challenges we face is witnessing to wealthy people. How do we tell people who want for nothing that they lack what matters most? Jesus did not hesitate to tell the rich, young ruler that he lacked one thing. Imagine his disappointment as he prepared to check the last thing off his self-righteous list only to hear that he needed to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor in order to have treasures in heaven (Matthew 19:22). The Bible says he walked away grieving because he had great wealth. Instead of using his wealth to honor the Lord, wealth had become an idol that kept him from the Lord. He chose what was temporally valuable but eternally worthless.
3/25/2014 11:31:48 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 6: Give Work a Rest

March 25 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Exodus 31:12-17
 
In our passage this week, God commands Israel to keep the Sabbath as a holy day of rest and celebration (Exodus 31:12-18). Although we are no longer under the Old Testament law that does not mean keeping the Sabbath is unimportant. In fact, there is still much disagreement about the nature of the Sabbath and biblical rest in the New Testament among biblical scholars today. Nevertheless, I would like to give several thoughts concerning this issue that could be applied to our lives.
 
First, biblical rest should never be seen as laziness. We live in a society that praises the workaholic and the tendency is to consider a person lazy if they take a day off. God is very clear, in six days He made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed (Ex. 31:17).
 
Now, certainly God did not have to rest, but He modeled for us a way of life that honors Him and benefits us. So when a person does not take time for biblical rest, he is living contrary to God’s design, which is quite foolish.
 
Second, biblical rest is not inactivity. When God gave the Sabbath He had a purpose in mind. He wanted His people to reflect and remember that He alone is the One who provides (Ex 31:13). Without God, nothing is possible. So, taking time away from work not only gives your body an opportunity to rest, but it also gives you the opportunity to actively remember and honor the Lord for His provisions.
 
Third, biblical rest is a gift not a hardship. There are so many recreational sports that conduct their activities on Sundays that many believers are made to feel bad if their children can’t make it to the game. Secular organizations see Sunday worship as a hardship and a hindrance to their objectives. Christians must help our society remember that having a day of biblical rest is a precious gift that must be treasured and not neglected for something less meaningful. What can you do to help the next generation embrace the beauty of biblical rest?
3/25/2014 11:27:28 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 30: Don’t Be a Slacker

March 13 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 24:30-34; 26:13-14; 28:19; 6:6-8; 10:5; 14:4; 21:20; 24:27; 27:23-27; 11:24-25; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27
 
A few years ago I noticed that the Bible has nothing good to say about laziness. As many people in my generation have demonstrated, laziness can become a lifestyle. Solomon reminds us that this problem is not new: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit” (Proverbs 24:33-34). A seminary professor once warned our class that people who seek to avoid one ditch often end up in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. For example, Christians who want to avoid living like their works will earn them God’s favor may be tempted to avoid work altogether. Similarly, Christians who embrace the “You can’t take it with you!” approach to avoiding materialism, may neglect biblical stewardship of their money and possessions. We must faithfully manage even the temporary tools we will leave behind.  
 
Solomon reminded the slacker that hard work is part of life, even for the ant. Ants not only work hard, they work wisely. I come from a line of ancestors who sometimes were known to work an hour to figure out how to save five minutes. While that choice probably seemed like a waste of 55 minutes to many people, they knew that five minutes saved on a process repeated hundreds of times would pay off quickly. Even though ants have no supervisors (as we think of them), they do the right work at the right time to prepare (Proverbs 6:6-8). 
 
Financial author and radio host Dave Ramsey encourages his readers and listeners to “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” He frequently follows that statement with the explanation that people who work hard and work smart can get out of debt and give like never before. Christians who give generously will continue to give, and the ones who hoard will never have enough (Proverbs 11:24). God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), so let us not be slack in our generosity.
 
3/13/2014 1:13:50 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for March 30: Work Your Plan

March 13 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 9:6-13
 
Do you want to make God happy? If you answered yes, listen to this verse: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV). It is evident that the implication for this verse is that a cheerful giver makes God happy. Have you ever considered why a cheerful giver makes God happy? I would like to suggest four reasons.
 
First, the attitude with which you give is an indicator of what is occurring in your heart. When a person gives with a cheerful heart it means they see giving as a privilege and not a burden. When a person gives begrudgingly it means he does not understand who his true source of income is.
 
Second, cheerful givers are a conduit of God’s blessings, not a clog. When you give in God’s name for God’s purposes you are the channel by which God impacts the lives of others. When you are stingy with God’s resources you rob people of God’s blessing.
 
Third, a cheerful giver reflects God’s character better than someone who gives begrudgingly. When a believer gives cheerfully it provides a clearer picture of what God is like than someone who gives with a reluctant spirit. Throughout scripture God is extremely generous. When we ignore His Word and don’t model God’s nature through our giving we do God a disservice and detract from His true beauty. 
 
Finally, God loves a cheerful giver because it gives Him cause to bless the giver. The Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him …” (2 Chronicles 16:9). I believe God is looking for people to bless, and when His people respond in obedience to His Word with a pure heart, He takes great joy in blessing them. 
 
Will you join me in making God happy? I believe it is a decision you will never regret. Start this week by giving with a cheerful heart.  
3/13/2014 1:07:59 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



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