Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 5: Answered!

May 19 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 1:10-18; 26-28
A town was suffering from a severe drought. A local pastor called for a town-wide prayer meeting to seek God for rain. The night of the meeting, the church was standing-room only. The pastor stood behind the pulpit and spoke these words, “You might as well go home. The prayers are not going to be effective.”
Outraged, the people wanted to know why. He replied, “Look around, where are your umbrellas?”
In our study today, we find Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, coming and pleading before God because she was unable to have children. In those days, a barren woman was held in disgrace. They thought that God was punishing her for some unknown sin.
She came to the Tabernacle at Shiloh as the family did each year. Verse 10 says that she was deeply hurt and cried many tears.
She knew the only answer to her dilemma lay in God, and Him alone. Her prayer was made in assurance that God would hear and answer her. 
Verse 18 tells us that when she had finished praying her countenance and spirit was lifted. She had faith that God heard her, and she could count on Him to do what was right.
This speaks to us today, we can come to God in faith with our heartaches, our fears, our desires, our frustrations and be assured that He listens.
He sees beyond just the words that we say, He sees our very being.
He knows what is best for us and what He plans for us. In His way and in His time, we can rest assured that He will respond.
Today, consider, “Where is your umbrella?” When you come to God with your prayers do you trust Him to hear? Do you believe that He can and will answer? If not, what hinders you from having faith in the One you approach?
Confess to Him your shortcoming and ask for His empowering grace to have the faith to believe Him.

5/19/2016 10:39:55 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 5: Transformed in My Worship

May 19 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18
As a child, my favorite board game was Candyland. What little girl does not love a world full of chocolate, lollipops and princesses? Of the hundreds of times I played the game with my mom, my most vivid memory is the day I proudly suggested she draw the first card. I set up the game, shuffled the deck and with a beaming smile exclaimed, “OK, Mom. This time I’m letting you go first.”
Though Mom was initially impressed with my humility, moments later she discovered it was a sham. I had stacked the deck, placing the winning card second from the top. I was allowing my mom to draw first, knowing that in doing so I would win the game.
It is easy to chuckle at my strategy, but this problem of doing right things with wrong motives is not unique to four-year-olds. As Christians, our actions of obedient worship are far too often marred by the sinfulness of our hearts. 
Jesus addressed the motives of his followers in the Sermon on the Mount when He cautioned, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” (Matthew 6:1). He warned that the spiritual disciplines of giving, fasting and prayer do not honor God when done for self-promotion.
Jesus came to redeem every aspect of our lives, even worship. He longs to transform the inner motivation of our hearts so our worship glorifies Him instead of ourselves. When we give, pray and fast in secret, we proclaim to God that He alone is worthy of our worship, and as a result, He lavishes us with an immeasurable reward.
I won the game of Candyland that day, but there was no real reason to celebrate. My reward came, but it was empty. In the same way, unless we allow Christ to transform our worship, our spiritual reward will be empty.
But, praise God, if we seek to make Christ the focus of our worship, He will reward us with Himself!

5/19/2016 10:32:26 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 22: Accepting

May 5 2016 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Acts 10:9-15, 43-48
I’ve raised and sold a lot of watermelons over the years. I’ve picked and culled them to decide their prices and destinations, and some melons haven’t made the cut. They simply didn’t look good to buyers, even though they looked and tasted the same as picturesque melons on the inside.
We tend to accept the people who meet our minimum requirements and reject everyone else, even though God sees the same need on the inside. 
God prepared Peter to share the gospel with Cornelius and his friends and close relatives (v. 24) by giving him a vision of something like a large sheet filled with all kinds of four-footed animals, crawling creatures and birds of the air being lowered from the sky to the ground.
God commanded him, saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” Peter, who had been a faithful Jew, replied, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” God responded, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (vv. 10-14).
God was not merely giving Peter a lesson on acceptable foods.
While the world teaches us to pick and choose people for the sake of personal advancement, the gospel calls us to witness to every person in every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Until we see the beauty of the image of God in all people, we won’t deem them worthy of our time and effort.
Although Peter had felt that way about the idolatrous and unclean Gentiles, God was going to show him the power of the gospel to break every barrier and save Cornelius and his friends and close relatives. Do you long to see God save people who seem beyond hope? We cannot pray for their salvation and refuse to witness to them. Either we will embrace our comfort and forsake the Great Commission, or we will trust God for our security in every situation and take the gospel where He leads us. May He prepare us to say, “By all means, Lord!”

5/5/2016 11:06:15 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 22: Redeemed From An Unbelieving Past

May 5 2016 by Rob Pochek, pastor, First Baptist Church Park Street, Charlottesville,Va.

Focal Passage: Acts 26:9-20
The name Jeffrey Dahmer still brings a shudder to many people. Dahmer was a serial killer in the Milwaukee area, responsible for the death of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. His crimes were too unspeakable to recount here. What is noteworthy, however, is what happened shortly after his trial and imprisonment. Dahmer requested a Bible prior to his incarceration, and just two years after his trial concluded, he professed faith in Christ and was baptized. Just six months later, he was beaten to death by fellow inmates.
The reaction of many Christians to the news that Dahmer had made a commitment to Jesus Christ was disbelief.
I can recall hearing people question the legitimacy of his conversion and some going so far as to suggest that God could not (and would not) forgive someone like him. For those of us who are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ, such an attitude must not be allowed to take hold.
The testimony of the Apostle Paul reminds us that there is no one beyond the grace of God. Indeed, Paul’s testimony is not unlike that of Dahmer. While he was not a serial killer, per se, Paul admits to having a hatred of Christ followers that resulted in his all out effort to destroy them (Acts 26:9-11).
We know that he oversaw the killing of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and that he was on his way to do harm to believers in Damascus when he was converted (Acts 9:1-3).
The Apostle Paul’s conversion was so shocking that Ananias, the believer the Lord called upon to minister to Paul, was reluctant to believe it (Acts 9:13-14).
Only the Lord knows what happened in the heart and life of Jeffrey Dahmer. Did he repent and trust in Christ alone for his salvation? Only God knows for sure.
But, the story of the Apostle Paul reminds me that there is no one beyond the grace of God. That, after all, is what makes it grace. And, come to think of it, grace is exactly what you and I need too.

5/5/2016 10:59:39 AM by Rob Pochek, pastor, First Baptist Church Park Street, Charlottesville,Va. | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 15: Bold

May 3 2016 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Acts 9:36-43
Have you ever noticed that many Christians seem to want to do big temporal things and small eternal things? If you check the average Christian’s bucket list, you’ll find many of the same endeavors included on lost peoples’ lists. What is our obsession with skydiving, extreme mountain climbing, marathon running, travelling the world, and others? Most of our ancestors never did any of these things, yet they still lived full and meaningful lives. Aside from the experience and the adrenaline rush, do these challenges really change us? The answer depends on the kind of change we are seeking.
While Peter ministered in Lydda, two men from Joppa came to escort him, without delay, to the bedside of Tabitha, their deceased sister in Christ. When Peter arrived, he found a group of widows tearfully displaying the garments she had made.
He could have comforted them during the wake and proceeded to preach the hope of the resurrection at her funeral, but God had other plans.
The exhortation to come without delay revealed that the believers in Joppa hoped for a miracle. Peter sent everyone out of the upper room (as Jesus did in Matthew 9:25), and proceeded to kneel and pray.
He then said, “Tabitha, arise,” and God brought her back to life.
Peter helped her to her feet and presented her alive to the mourners. The wake had become an awakening!
Although we live in a different time under different circumstances, God still calls His people to be instruments of His power.
If we desire to see our churches rejuvenated and God’s glory put on display as we’ve never before seen it, then we must begin to take bold steps of faith. Consider a spiritual bucket list consisting of things that will bring glory to God.
Here are a few possibilities: witnessing to a lost person you keep avoiding, going on a mission trip, caring for neglected people, putting your money toward the Great Commission.
Wouldn’t you rather meet Jesus with these experiences than a photo album and memories of an adrenaline rush?

5/3/2016 10:50:53 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 15: Redeemed From Devastating Failure

May 3 2016 by Rob Pochek, pastor, First Baptist Church Park Street, Charlottesville,Va.

Focal Passage: Luke 22:54-62; Acts 4:8-13
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the apostle Peter. Perhaps it is because he often spoke without thinking; a bad habit that I share with him. Or, maybe it is because he drew back from associating with Gentiles for fear of the crowd; a tendency to avoid conflict that many of us can identify with. But, if I am honest, it is because he denied the Lord on the night he was arrested.
The soft spot is not for his denial, but for his humanity.
Peter was flesh and bone, just as we are. And he failed our Lord at a critical moment. Sadly, because of the connectedness of our world today, our failures can often be broadcast to the whole world in a manner of seconds.
Just as Peter’s failure was very public and very painful, his failure was not final. Because of God’s grace, our moments of failure do not have to be permanent. While it may be easy to think that we would never have done what Peter did, we need to remember that his failure is a reminder that the strongest among us can fail.
It was, after all, Peter who made the glorious declaration that Jesus was “the Christ, the son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). And yet, later, he would call down curses on himself to prove he did not know Jesus (Matthew 26:74).
But, then, an amazing thing happened.
This same Peter who had called down curses on himself, had seen the risen Lord, been restored by Him, and received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
His horrific failure was now a thing of the past.
The one who cowered before a servant girl’s questions now stood fearlessly before the most powerful religious body in Israel and boldly declared Jesus to be the Messiah (Acts 4:8-13). What a powerful reminder for us that failure does not need to be permanent. But, God’s grace is sufficient to redeem us from our worst failure.

5/3/2016 10:42:08 AM by Rob Pochek, pastor, First Baptist Church Park Street, Charlottesville,Va. | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 1: Obedient

April 19 2016 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Acts 8:26-31, 35, 38-39
By the time Mama or Daddy called the second time, you’d better be on your way.

That rule applied even when I got older and was tempted to pretend that I didn’t hear them.

I remember the day my dad committed a major work safety transgression by cutting a short piece of oak lumber while standing it on its end and running it through the table saw. I watched him start the project and went on about my business.
A few minutes later I heard an abnormal “ching” from the saw blade, followed by Daddy yelling my name in an emergency tone.
I ran at top speed to discover the saw had thrown the timber’s sharp edge into my father’s forehead, leaving a significant gash.
God calls us to witness to people whose situations are often less dramatic, but headed toward much greater tragedy.
Apart from a saving encounter with Jesus, their stories won’t end with bandages, broken bones or even physical death. They will all enter the torment of a Christ-less eternity.
Philip the evangelist was busy sharing the gospel with Samaritans when God sent him to a special assignment on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. He immediately obeyed, without knowing the “who,” and encountered the God fearing treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia.

This witnessing opportunity proved to be, in baseball terms, a lob.
The man already had the Word of God opened to Isaiah 53, one of the most evangelistic texts in the Old Testament, and needed someone to explain it to him.
Luke tells us that, “beginning with this Scripture [Philip] preached Jesus to him” (v. 35). Consequently, the Ethiopian eunuch believed in Jesus and demonstrated his faith by submitting to baptism.
Our God has chosen to save sinners through the gospel witness of those of us who love and follow Jesus.
Pray for your lob today, and aim for the fence!

4/19/2016 9:29:16 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 1: Redeemed From A Critical Spirit

April 19 2016 by Rob Pochek, pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Numbers 12:1-11, 13-15
The 1998 movie “Enemy of the State” was about mild mannered, Washington D.C. area lawyer Robert Dean discovering an extensive world of surveillance carried on by various government agencies. Dean ends up partnering with a mysterious guy named Brill who used to be part of one of those agencies. As Brill is trying to help Dean understand what is happening around him, he tells him that every word of every phone call is being listened to by computers.
For some, the movie was a frightening look into the future. Indeed, some in the movie (and in our culture today) express concern over who is doing the listening. I find that to be fascinating, especially for Christians, because the Bible clearly teaches that God is always listening.
When we look at Miriam and Aaron’s opposition to Moses in Numbers 12:1-11, 13-15, we find the Lord is listening.
Not only is the Lord listening, but He takes decisive action.
Miriam was singled out for discipline likely for being the one to instigate criticism against Moses. Regardless, the critical spirit was born out of comparing themselves to Moses (v. 1).
The Lord acts “at once,” according to verse 4. He brings discipline to Miriam with the intended purpose of restoring her relationship with Moses, and ultimately with the Lord.

While Enemy of the State has to do with governmental intrusion into our lives, Numbers 12 has to do with the intrusion of a different enemy: pride. Their pride led Miriam and Aaron to criticize Moses, the one who intercedes with God on their behalf, without considering that God was listening.
Perhaps you struggle with a critical spirit, too. How can you be free of such a critical spirit? Only by repenting of our pride and turning to the One who intercedes with God on our behalf can we truly become the people God intends us to be.
And, you will find that, just as Miriam was brought back into the camp, “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

4/19/2016 9:18:08 AM by Rob Pochek, pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 24: Selfless

April 7 2016 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Acts 6:1-10
When we think about growing pains in the local church, we usually focus on the need for more parking, classrooms or worship space.
While these physical needs may be the direct result of spiritual growth, they are outranked by the need to minister personally to new believers.
In Acts 6 the growing church had to address its failure to feed the Greek speaking Jewish widows.
To keep the apostles from neglecting the Word of God, the church chose seven men to address a practical need that threatened to cause spiritual division in the church.
Certain church activities have the potential to increase a believer’s pride, but serving behind the scenes rarely does.
These men set the example of what deacons ought to be – servants of the church. Far from power wielding spectators, these men put shoe leather to the gospel and humbly served their aged sisters in Christ.
The pastor who baptized me used to say, “Much can be accomplished for God if it matters little who gets the credit.” In other words, spiritual fruit grows from the lives of believers who are selfless instead of selfish. Praising men is one of the many worldly ideas that have been transplanted into the church. When we move beyond encouragement to make the ministry about trophies, we tempt church leaders to serve for the praise of men instead of the glory of God. If we serve to the glory of God, He will give us heavenly rewards that far exceed worldly commendations.
Stephen was described as “a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (6:5). Because he walked by the Spirit and not by the flesh, he neither sought the praise of men nor recoiled in fear of men. When we desire the praise of men, we will shrink back in fear either of allies who may overshadow us or enemies that could stop us.
When we serve Jesus selflessly, we stop worrying about our pride and the fears fed by it, and get on with His Great Commission.

4/7/2016 11:57:08 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 24: Redeemed From Broken Relationships

April 7 2016 by

Focal Passage: Gen 27:41; 33:1-11
Nicole is an artist living in the San Francisco area. She makes a modest living selling paintings, but Nicole’s adoptive family is wealthy. Her college education was paid for and like the rest of her family she anticipated receiving a fairly sizeable inheritance. Then something happened. Nicole participated in a documentary about the children of the really wealthy, without telling her grandfather. She knew it was a huge risk to be the first person in her family to talk openly about their wealth. And she was right to fear judgment. After all, Nicole’s grandfather is Warren Buffet, one of the richest men on the planet.
After Nicole’s appearances on television promoting the documentary, her grandfather sent her a letter stating: “I have not emotionally or legally adopted you as a grandchild, nor have the rest of my family adopted you as a niece or a cousin.” When asked about the issue a Buffet spokesperson said: “Nicole is not Mr. Buffett’s granddaughter. She is the daughter of a former daughter-in-law of his who was married to his son for only about 10 years.”
Wealth provides little insulation from the trauma of broken relationships. The Bible contains its fair share of broken relationship stories. Brothers Jacob and Esau are one such story of a broken relationship that God restores.
Esau is so angry with his brother for tricking him out of his birthright that he planned to kill him as soon as their father’s death was properly mourned (Genesis 27:41). Jacob ran from Esau and his death threat. After 20 years passed, the two brothers were on a collision course to meet again. Jacob knew his sin. And, in order to demonstrate his understanding of his sin, he extended gifts to Esau and bowed before him when they meet.
Broken relationships cannot be restored until one of the parties is willing take the initiative to show humility toward the other. Because Christ has taken the initiative with us (Romans 5:8), we are able, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to humbly seek restoration when our relationships with each other are broken.

4/7/2016 11:50:27 AM by | with 0 comments

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