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Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 28: Watch Out!

September 11 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 3:7-15
 
It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is an axiom that is all too accurate today. Indeed, we see it in our world on a regular basis. And, the older I get the more I find myself shaking my head at decisions that have already proven to be disastrous. Sometimes those decisions are made by folks in the church, with terrifying consequences.
 
The writer of Hebrews was sending a letter to a group of Christians who were about to make a terrible decision. As unbelievable as it may seem, they were actually considering turning their backs on the salvation found in Christ, in favor of returning to Judaism. The writer of Hebrews saw this for exactly what it was: hardening their hearts, just as their forefathers had done. In Hebrews 3:7-11, he uses Psalm 95 as a reminder to them of the tragic consequences of doing such a thing.
 
If they followed the example of their forefathers they would reveal that they have not known God’s ways and they would not be allowed to enter His rest.
 
The writer of Hebrews is unafraid of warning them clearly. He minces no words as he tells them (v. 12) that it is possible to be in the assembly of the saints, but have an unbelieving heart that would lead you to “fall away” from the living God.
 
Dare I say that we need more of that in our midst. We need more warning that if you depart from the saints by turning your back on the salvation offered in Christ, you are falling away from the living God. Such warnings are not incompatible with God’s grace, but demanded by it. 
 
But, the writer of Hebrews also knows that there is a powerful aid available to help us stay faithful to Christ. That aid is the encouragement and exhortation of our brothers and sisters in Christ. He calls us to an urgency about the message of salvation that is too often lacking. An urgency to respond “today” as long as it is called “today.”

9/11/2014 10:24:31 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 28: Connected Through Words

September 11 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:25-32
 
Our words matter. Do you believe this? I’m sure you do because you can think of an instance where poorly chosen words, either spoken by you or someone else, have caused hurt and or even damaged a relationship. On the flip side, you can also probably still hear the words of those that have spoken blessing over you, or as we read last week, have spoken “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
 
Over the past couple weeks, the apostle Paul has focused on the corporate implications of what it means to be the Church, i.e. the need for unity and maturity. This week, Paul hones in on the individual and the responsibility that each church member has with one another. He clues us in on this by addressing “each one” or “each of you” (v. 25) to speak with integrity. Each person within the body must put off falsehood and speak truthfully.
 
He also gives instructions in verse 29 to speak with the purpose of building up others. The old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all,” actually parallels Biblical truth. Only speak what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, so it may benefit those who listen. Have you viewed what you’re about to say through that perspective before?
 
Not only do “reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18),” they also grieve the Holy Spirit. Remember in the beginning of Ephesians 4 that we, as the Church, are called to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit (v. 3). A rash word is not only divisive in the body, it also grieves God. Therefore, in order to fully edify others with our speech, we must speak kindly, compassionately, and with grace. We must rid ourselves of the unwholesome talk that comes out in the form of bitterness, anger, slander and instead demonstrate grace by forgiving others, just as we have been forgiven (v. 31-32). Remember, our words do matter. We can choose to speak life over someone or death. James, the brother of Jesus, said, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness… This should not be” (James 3:9-10). How can you use your words to demonstrate both love for God and others this week?

9/11/2014 10:10:03 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 21: Why One of Us?

September 9 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 2:14-18
 
Back in November 1995 a song called “One of Us” made its way into the Billboard Top 40. The song was by a relatively unknown artist named Joan Osborne. It was her first top 10 hit and the only one of her career. What is interesting is the content of the song. The title is the end of a question that is asked throughout the song. That question is “what if God was one of us?” The song wonders what it would be like if God were one of us. How would we respond to him? What kinds of things might he do?
 
The Bible has answered that question definitively. In Hebrews 2:14-16, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was, in fact, God in the flesh. He became “one of us” so that He might destroy the one who holds the power of death. It was necessary for Jesus to “share” in our humanity in order to reverse the effects of the Fall. Adam had failed and plunged all humanity into corruption. Only one who was “like us” could rescue us and defeat the enemy that had defeated Adam.
 
In Hebrews 2:17-18 we learn that Jesus also had to become like one of us so that he could become our high priest. Because He took on human flesh, He is a high priest who is merciful. While we are often tempted to think of Jesus’ divinity, it is His humanity that allows Him to empathize with us.
He understands what it means to face weakness, doubt, difficulty, hunger and temptation. Fortunately for us, He faced those things and overcame them. Because He is our perfect high priest, He is able to make atonement for us. But, as our high priest, Jesus did not offer an animal, but Himself as the perfect Lamb of God.
 
What if God was one of us? He was. God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, the God-man. And because He did, the one who became like us was able to deliver us. And, because He became like us, He is able to help us when we are tempted.
9/9/2014 10:23:35 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 21: Connected in Growth

September 9 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16
 
Church members need one another in order to grow in Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic book Life Together stresses the importance of community: “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray.”
 
Our passage this week begins in verse 11, where we learn that the “He” is Christ (v. 7), who has gifted those in His body with specific callings – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – for a specific purpose. They are to use their gifts to equip the saints for the work of ministry (v. 12). It’s important to note that the Greek word for “ministry” in this verse is diakonias. (Other translations may render it “service” because of the root word, diakoneo, which means to serve or to minister). It may be tempting, at first glance, to take the view of “leave it to the professionals; to those in vocational ministry.” Especially for someone who reads the specific callings and thinks, “Okay, that doesn’t include me [sigh of relief].” Well, actually it does.
 
The original language shows us Christ has gifted what we would deem as “leaders” [or even “professionals”] in the church to equip us to do ministry. That’s also the purpose Paul has given for the specific giftings.
 
Not only does he give a purpose for the various callings, Paul also lists reasons for our works of service – so the body of Christ may build up to maturity, to complete unity and into the fullness of Christ (v. 12-13). We are to strive and support each other as we grow toward spiritual maturity.
 
The last portion of our passage emphasizes the need for teamwork with the use of the first person plural, “we are to grow up” (v. 15). We are supporting ligaments, dependent on one another to grow and build up the body into Him who is the Head, Christ. Are you in community with other believers? Are you viewing your ministry with the purpose Paul outlines in this passage? Name three people in your life who God has used to equip you. Then list three people who you can minister to and support in their journey toward spiritual maturity.

9/9/2014 10:18:16 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 14: Pay Attention

August 28 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4
 
About 10 years ago I decided to take my family to the Dominican Republic for our summer vacation. We picked a resort with a nice area for swimming, kayaking or using boogie boards. I decided the boogie board was my best bet at enjoying a little recreation in the calm waters of the bay. I found it very easy to swim with the boogie board and so I ventured out farther and farther from the beach. Then I had a terrible realization: I had drifted about 300 yards south of where I had entered the water. I made it back, but it taught me an important lesson about the danger of drifting.
 
The writer of Hebrews has the very same concern. He is not concerned with swimming at the beach, but with the drift of faith. He calls on followers of Christ in Hebrews 2:1 to pay more careful attention to what they have heard in order to avoid drifting away from their faith. Notice he is concerned they are already drifting, which is why he calls on them to pay more careful attention to the truth of the gospel. They needed to put in practice what they had heard in a more intentional way, in order to avoid the drift of faith. The same is true for us. To simply hear a sermon or Sunday School lesson, but fail to put it into practice puts us at risk for drifting away.
 
He then reminds them that just as there were consequences for disobedience under the law, there are consequences for ignoring the great salvation provided in Christ. The writer of Hebrews does not have an understanding of salvation as a casual glance at the cross or “praying a prayer.” He understands the message of God’s grace to be life transforming and a message that demands our full attention.
 
He tells us that God has testified to the truth of the gospel by signs, wonders, miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We testify to the truth of the gospel by living it out with careful attention to what we have heard. Fortunately, my lack of attention on the boogie board only cost me some sore muscles. A lack of attention to the truth of the gospel has much more severe eternal consequences.

8/28/2014 12:17:35 PM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 14: Connected in Unity

August 28 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:1-6

 
This week, the apostle Paul transitions into applied ministry and describes how believers are connected in unity. In Ephesians 4, Paul gives us practical ways of how we can remain functionally united. Because we all know that staying unified takes work – especially when sinners are dealing with other sinners!
 
First, Paul counsels the church to humbly accept one another. He urges them to be patient and bear with one another in love (v. 2). Next, he charges the church to strive for unity in the Spirit. How are they to do this? By allowing the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15). He then expresses the “oneness” of God in verses four through six: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God.
 
Do not miss how Paul incorporates the Trinity in His depiction of unity. He mentions the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. All three persons of the Godhead unified in the unfolding of His perfect, divine will.
 
Our bodies are made of many cells. Positionally, the cells within our bodies are united because they are all within one body. Yet, functionally, they can sometimes be at odds. Allergies, disease and inflammation can result because the cells within one body do not cooperate together. Instead, they attack one another, which eventually destroys the whole body.
 
Think of the magnificence displayed when those cells within your body work together; when they unite to fight off an infectious illness or bind up a wound. Back away from the microscope and view this in light of the body of Christ. King David said in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Jesus said of future believers, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).
 
Our “oneness” within the body of Christ reflects the glory of our Triune God. How can you pursue unity with other believers this week?

8/28/2014 11:58:29 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 7: Who is Jesus?

August 26 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 1:1-4
 
“Is that your final answer?” Few questions struck fear into the heart of game show contestants as that question from the wildly popular “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” On the show, contestants work their way toward winning $1 million by correctly answering a series of questions in a multiple choice format. Once the contestant settled in on their answer, the host would ask, “Is that your final answer?” The question became so ingrained culturally, that TV Land included it in their 2006 show “The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases” special.
 
In the book of Hebrews we discover that God has answered that same question with a resounding “YES.” Jesus is God’s final answer. Hebrews is one of the most helpful books in the New Testament at helping us understand how all of the Old Testament ultimately points us to Jesus. Even in the opening verses of the book, that theme is clear and unmistakable.
 
The first two verses of Hebrews chapter one tells us that God, in the past, has spoken in various ways. He has used prophets, dreams, visions, intercessors and even creation itself to speak of His glory. But now the anonymous writer says, in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. Indeed, we are in the “last days” because God has given us His final answer.
 
The writer tells us about God’s Son (v. 3-4). He says He is the exact representation of God’s being. Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. He tells us that Jesus sustains all things by His powerful Word. Why does the earth stay in orbit around the sun? Because the Son tells it to. He tells us the Son provided purification for our sins and then sat down at the right hand of God. He sat down, because His work was done. It was completed. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. Everything else in the Bible has been pointing forward to the day when God would speak clearly and finally. He did so in Jesus. Jesus truly is God’s final answer for us. But He did not win $1 million, He won the salvation of everyone who would believe in Him.

8/26/2014 11:25:28 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 7: Connected in Christ

August 26 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 2:17-22
 
A cornerstone is not just any part of a building. It is the stone that holds the whole structure together. The apostle Paul makes this point in relation to Christ in Ephesians 2. Christ is not just a facet of the church. He is not just one block that is next to another stone of worship music or a brick of preschool ministry. He is the “chief cornerstone” on which the church was built (v. 20).
 
Many of us tend to view church like we do other organizations or clubs. We approach it with a “me-centered” mentality. What can the church do for me? What can my church give me? If I tithe regularly (or more than the person who sits in the pew next to me), doesn’t that mean that I have more of a say in the color of the carpet or the lights on the stage? Since I volunteer my time with the student ministry, should I not be given a gold-level status as a church member?
 
Our passage in Ephesians 2:17-22 brings us back to the beautiful simplicity of the gospel. Just like the church in Ephesus, we have to be reminded that it is nothing that we have done – and nothing that we can ever do, pay for, serve, make – that will earn us an entry or advantage in the body of Christ. Membership in the church is a privilege that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. It is centered around Him and what He has done.
 
In the verse preceding our passage (v. 16), Paul describes how we have reconciliation with God the Father – through the cross of Christ. It is only through Jesus that we have access to God (v. 18). Jesus made peace with God through the cross so that all who place their faith in Christ are no longer estranged, but instead are welcomed into the family of God (v. 19).
 
According to John MacArthur, the cornerstone is vital because it sets the foundation and squares the building. Just as a capstone unites two intersecting walls, Christ connects and joins us together in Him. Have you set your foundation and squared your building on something other than the chief cornerstone?

 
8/26/2014 11:20:42 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 31: Be Ready for Tribulation

August 14 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passages: Daniel 9:20-27; 12:9-13
 
“I don’t know” are some of the most significant words I have ever said in a ministry context. It is a phrase that brings a humanity and equality to the relationship between pastor and church member. For example, our ladies group had been immersed in a Precept Bible Study on Revelation in early 2011. At the same time, the “Arab spring” was occurring in Egypt and Libya. Standing in the breezeway of the church, one of the ladies in the class asked me if I thought the events in Egypt were tied to end-times biblical prophecy. My response was “I don’t know.” I think the same principles I shared with them apply to the passages under consideration this week.
 
First, pray for understanding. I don’t mean to pray that God will show you all of the details of the future or to pray that you will understand how all of the events in world history fit a prophetic timeline. It is doubtful that any of us could handle such knowledge. Which may be why God has kept it under wraps. Rather, do what Daniel did in Daniel 9:20-23. He confessed his sin and the sin of his people and prayed for understanding.
 
Second, prepare for difficulty. Regardless of your understanding of the end times, the universal witness of the scripture is that mankind grows more sinful, not less sinful. As mankind grows more sinful, those who embrace a biblical worldview become more marginalized (at best) and more persecuted (at worst). Do not focus on marginalization, but become familiar with and pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who are facing genuine persecution and death for their faith. Pray for their faith to be strengthened.
 
Finally, keep living for the life of faith. Don’t quit. Because so many who speculate on the “times and seasons” prove to be wrong, it can become easy to question whether the Bible is true at all. Though we don’t know all the details, Jesus is returning. In the meantime, we keep serving Him. Just as Daniel was told to keep living (Daniel 12:9-13) until God brought the events of His prophecy to pass, so should we.
 

8/14/2014 9:41:59 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 31: Our Work with Creation

August 14 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Leviticus 25:1-7
 
God blessed Adam and Eve saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Many scholars refer to this verse as the cultural mandate. God has tasked mankind with stewardship of the earth. He has given us responsibility over His creation.
 
This mandate has been interpreted in multiple ways. One extreme could almost be considered the worship of nature. The opposite end may take the command as a power play; humans are at the top, and any creature or natural resource can – and should – be exploited for our benefit. A biblical approach falls somewhere in the middle of these two. Sure, God has given us the earth for our benefit but not for our abuse or manipulation. And we should care and nurture the earth but not to the obsession that we view it as its own god or force, independent of its Creator.
 
In Leviticus 25:1-7, the Lord gives instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai to relay to the Israelites. Essentially, God’s instructions for how to care for the land are modeled after His pattern of creation. He tells His people to cultivate the land for six years (v. 3). However, in the seventh year, they should observe a Sabbath for the land (v. 4). Observing a year of Sabbath not only stewards the land well but also demonstrates trust in God as the ultimate Provider. God not only promises to provide for the land owner during that Sabbath year, He also promises to provide for the manservant, maidservant, hired worker and sojourner; the livestock and wild animals (v. 6-7).
 
“Sabbath,” designed by God in creation, is a time of rest and cessation from work. It is a designated “holy” period to reflect on all that He has done (Genesis 2:2-3). God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites (v. 2). How can you be a good steward of what He has given you? Make time this week to rest, give thanks and acknowledge His provision in your life. Then use the provisions He has given you to help meet other’s needs.

8/14/2014 9:22:32 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments



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