Sunday School Lessons

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 6: Unstoppable Opportunities

October 18 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Acts 3:1-10
Do you remember when every carton of milk displayed the picture of a missing child? As a little girl, I was enthralled by those pictures. I remember walking through our local grocery store and staring intently at each little face.
Am I a missing child? I wondered. Do any of those faces look familiar? What about the students in my class? What about the people in this dairy aisle?
My thoughts may seem silly, but I was determined to be heroic. By recognizing a face, I could have saved a life, you know!
I no longer scan crowds in hopes of rescuing someone, but every day I pass by people who need saving. They have not been kidnapped – their circumstances are much worse. They are living without eternal hope.
You see, the lost are all around us, but when is the last time we stopped long enough to notice?
I love the story of Peter and John in Acts 3:1-10. It was afternoon, and they “were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1).
Yet in that very moment, God placed a lame man squarely in their path. The man began to beg the apostles for help. In response, they stopped, fixed their gaze on him, and pointed him to Jesus.
Peter and John are challenging examples to those of us with hectic lives. In the middle of a planned out day, they took the time to recognize an opportunity to share the gospel.
What’s more, God used that opportunity to allow them to share Christ with numerous others.
According to Acts 3:10 the people watching were “filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened” to the lame man.
I don’t know who you will pass by as you check off your to-do list this week, but I am certain no moment is a surprise to God.

He has intentionally placed people in your life who need to know the hope only Jesus gives. And my prayer for you and for me is that we would stop long enough to share it!

10/18/2016 8:22:29 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 6: Being Useful

October 18 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Peter 1:3-11
I don’t know how many times I have been going to do something and found myself not having what I needed. Maybe I was going out for a hunt, or going fly-fishing, or going camping. I arrive at my destination only to realize that I had forgotten something I really needed. In some cases, I could improvise, finding a way to make it work with what I had. At other times, I would simply have to give up my plan, not able to do what I had set out to do.
That kind of scenario need not be the case with regard to our spiritual life and growth in godliness. Peter is writing to a group of people who are experiencing great challenges and persecution. In the midst of those incredible challenges, Peter reminds his readers that they have not been left to themselves to improvise or “do the best they can” to honor God. Rather, God Himself has given them “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
All that God has made available to the believer comes “through the knowledge of [Christ].” As one commentator puts it, “An intimate ‘full knowledge’ of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth.”
It is important to remember, however, that God’s purpose for working in us, is so that He might better be able to work through us.
Paul tells His readers they are to submit to, and cooperate with, the work God is doing in their lives.
While God will be faithful to provide according to His “precious and very great promises,” these believers have a responsibility too. They must “make every effort” to grow in their faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, etc. Peter says if these things are growing in our lives, we will not be “ineffective or unfruitful.”
You see, God is at work in our lives, causing us to walk in greater godliness and usefulness for the work of His Kingdom.

Further, we can walk in confidence, even while living in this sinful and fallen world, knowing we are promised “entrance into the eternal Kingdom.”

10/18/2016 8:20:02 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Oct. 30: Unstoppable Love

October 18 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Acts 2:41-47
After my grandparents retired, they did quite a bit of traveling – Yellowstone, Alaska and Canada, just to name a few. I never joined them on these trips, but I often found myself sitting downstairs with my cousins, watching slideshows and listening to stories of their adventures.
There was nothing special about my grandparents’ basement, but when the lights were turned off and tiny slides were inserted into the projector, something magical happened. A rickety and unremarkable white screen in the corner of an ordinary basement was transformed, brilliantly displaying the glories of some faraway landscape.
Human beings sometimes remind me of a projection screen. In the same way my grandpa projected his slides, God has lavished His great love on us through Jesus Christ.
And, like the screen reflected the slide, we respond to God’s love by reflecting it – loving God and loving others as He has loved us.
According to Acts 2:41-47, the early church expressed their love for God by loving others in a variety of practical ways. Devoting themselves to fellowship and prayer, they strove to meet the spiritual needs of their friends and family. In an effort to meet the physical needs in their community, these men and women sold their “property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need” (Acts 2:45).
Such radical love didn’t escape the notice of those watching from the outside. Instead, it opened doors for sharing the gospel.
The people worshiped and served with sincerity, “And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47).

Today my grandpa’s projector is collecting dust on a shelf. Why view slides when you have smartphones and YouTube? Unlike those slides, however, God’s plan for His followers has not changed. We are still called to respond to God’s great love for us by loving those around us. And as we meet spiritual and physical needs, God will provide opportunities for us to share about His Son as well!

10/18/2016 8:17:41 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for Oct. 30: Alert Living

October 18 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 5:1-11
I am currently preaching a sermon series on spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6. During my time of preparation, I have become increasingly aware of the reality of our spiritual enemy, his deceptive schemes and his hideous desires of stealing, killing, destroying, and as we see in this passage, devouring.
Satan, our spiritual enemy, does not simply want to give you a bad day, he wants to wreck your life, discourage your spirit, destroy your testimony and undo as much as he can of God’s Kingdom-advancing work until God finally brings all things to a final end.
In today’s passage, we see Peter preparing the church for the times of attack that would certainly come. He gave instruction to the leaders of the church, telling them how they must be ready to lead and care for the body of Christ. Peter wanted not only the spiritual leaders to be prepared but those who would follow their leadership as well. So, he gave some specific instruction to the younger followers, as well as general instructions and warnings to the body as a whole. Their ability to withstand spiritual attack would require them to walk both in personal humility and complete dependence upon God.
Their dependence on God, however, did not leave them without responsibility. They were to “be watchful” for Satan’s attacks and to “resist” when they came. Those are not passive words. They are actions these believers were to take.
Like the soldier that has been trained and equipped, we are to stay alert, watching our surroundings for signs of enemy movement, ambush and attack. Our enemy doesn’t bring a full-on frontal attack all the time. He is watching patiently for us to become distracted, tired, discouraged, frustrated and so on.
Then, like that lion on the African plain, he will spring from his hiding place and attack. The good news, though, is this: God has not left us to ourselves. He is with us. His Spirit lives within us. He will enable us not only to be alert, but to stand firm when Satan attacks.

10/18/2016 8:15:33 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 23: Unstoppable Message

October 3 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Acts 2:22-24, 32-33, 36-38
Jesus died for our sins, rose again and reigns as Lord.
“Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.” Statements like this one are plastered on every package of cigarettes, but did you know these warnings were not always required?
Midway through the 20th century and before the medical research available today, cigarette packaging was quite different. Companies claimed smoking relieved asthma, calmed nerves and even lengthened life expectancy.
And smoking isn’t the only activity no longer encouraged. We once covered our mouths when we coughed, but today we cough into our elbows to stop the spread of germs. Babies used to sleep on their tummies, but now we are told they should snooze on their backs instead.
Messages about our health are always changing, aren’t they? For that matter, messages concerning just about everything never seem to stay the same.
Only one message will never be affected by medical research or congressional legislation. Jesus died for our sins, rose again and reigns as Lord. The message Peter preached on Pentecost in Acts 2 is the same gospel we cling to and share today. Jesus is a real man – God in human flesh – who came to earth and performed miracles. Though sinless, He was condemned and crucified, but after three days, “God raised Him up, ending the pains of death” (Acts 2:24). Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. After the resurrection He was exalted by God, and even now He is seated at the right hand of the Father. When Peter finished his sermon that day, listeners responded with a question, “what must we do?” (Acts 2:38). He exhorted them to repent and believe in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what new and surprising headlines will appear tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter. The message of the gospel will always be the same. Just like 2,000 years ago, we are sinners in desperate need of a rescue. And just like Peter explained on that day so very long ago, rescue only comes through repentance and faith in the completed work of Christ.

10/3/2016 2:53:26 PM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 23: When Ridiculed

October 3 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 4:12-19
I recently read a story about a Nigerian Christian man named Habila Adamu. One night members of Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, came into his home and demanded that he convert to Islam and say the shehada: “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the prophet of Allah.” He refused, telling them that he could not because he was a Christian.
Adamu said, “My wife was crying, but I could not deny Christ. I felt powerful, unafraid, I don’t know why.” So, they asked him, “Are you ready to die as a Christian?”
Then, in front of his wife and only son, they shot Adamu in the neck and left him for dead. He was losing a lot of blood, but before he lost consciousness, with both he and his wife believing he would die, he told his wife, “to live in this world is to live for Christ.”
When we hear such stories we are shocked and horrified. We act as if Jesus came to provide peace and comfort here on Earth to His followers. Then, when the “fiery ordeal” of persecution arises, we act as if some surprising situation has taken place. The reality is, however, not only did Jesus not come simply to provide His followers comfort here on Earth, He actually promised the exact opposite would take place.
Jesus said, “And you will be hated by everyone because of My name” (Luke 21:17). Therefore, the issue is not whether or not we will face persecution as Christians, but rather, how we will respond when we do.
Peter counsels his readers, and us, to do three things. First, expect persecution to come and rejoice when it does. We rejoice because of being identified with Christ. Second, glorify God because of this identity, rather than being ashamed. And third, continue walking in obedience to, while trusting in, our faithful God.
When we walk this way, people will not marvel at our power but God’s, and will be drawn to know this God who enables us to trust Him even in the midst of such persecution.

10/3/2016 2:51:57 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 16: Unstoppable Mission

October 3 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Acts 1:4-8, 12-14
The Holy Spirit empowers us to spread the gospel.
If you ever need me on a Friday afternoon, you can find me collapsed on my classroom floor in a heap of exhaustion. You see, I teach math to teenagers, and as much as I love my job, there are many days I can barely stand up and drive home. The duties, the paperwork, the meetings – it can all be overwhelming.
Just last week, as I pondered the events that had filled my days, the Holy Spirit convicted me.
I was allowing my job to consume me, and not once had I even considered sharing the gospel.
My first response was an excuse. I am tired, Lord. I can’t fit anything else into my days. I have no more energy to start another conversation or listen to another person’s problems.
And yet, in that moment, the Lord reminded me that I was exactly right. I don’t have the strength or the power to spread the gospel.
To share Christ, I must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. This dependence on the Holy Spirit has always been Jesus’ plan for the church. In Acts 1, when Jesus speaks to His followers after His resurrection, He commands them to share the gospel, but He also promises the Holy Spirit will come and empower them.
Jesus explains that after receiving this power, they are to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In other words, these followers were to tell others in their own communities as well as in distant lands that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.
I don’t know about you, but there are days and even weeks when I never even consider asking the Holy Spirit to empower me to be Christ’s witness.
I believe the lie that I can succeed in my own strength, and I end up falling flat on my face.
What a difference it would make if we learned to rely on His power instead of ours as we share the hope of the gospel with those around us!

10/3/2016 2:50:21 PM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 16: Equipped to Live

October 3 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 4:1-11
When I was a junior in high school, I went to work for a new Chick-fil-A restaurant that opened near where we lived.
One of the things that stood out to me was the level of in-depth equipping and training for new employees regarding how to do things the Chick-fil-A way. You see, that was crucial equipping as these new employees had one of two issues that had to be overcome.
They either had no previous food service experience and had to be trained from scratch, or they had come with some background in food service and needed to “un-learn” their old ways so they could do things the “Chick-fil-A way.”
The goal of all this, of course, was so every employee represented the company well and delivered the kind of quality product Chick-fil-A is known for.
In similar fashion, when we come to know Christ, we are surrendering our lives to Him, no longer living for ourselves but for God and His glory.
We are representatives of Christ (“ambassadors” – 2 Corinthians 5:20) and His Kingdom to a watching world.
And, Christ has equipped us – through the truth of His Word that guides us and His indwelling Holy Spirit that is transforming us – to live the Jesus way, rather than the old, dead way of our old lives before Christ.
When we are ridiculed for living in a way that seems so foolish to a lost world, we look to the example of, and depend on the strength of, our Savior who gave His life for us.
It is to our heavenly Father we will give an account for how we have lived the new life He gave to us in Christ. And, as we live our lives in service to Him and others – largely illustrated by the way we love others – we do so for the sake of His glory.
We have been equipped to live our lives for the glory of God. The question is, “Are others seeing the glory of God in and through us?”

10/3/2016 2:48:33 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 9: One Great Task

September 20 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Each of us must share the gospel.
Ask any toddler what they want to be when they grow up, and you will most likely receive an enthusiastic response. Children dream of becoming heroic firefighters, dazzling ballerinas or lifesaving doctors, and they have dress-up costumes to prove it!
Unsurprisingly, few people actually end up entering the profession they envisioned when they were three. Many go to work each day, eager to collect a paycheck but unsure if they are doing the job for which they were designed.
No matter where you spend your working hours or whether or not you believe your profession is the best fit for your skill set, as a Christian you can rest in knowing that God has given you a great task. This task is designed specifically for you and is far greater and far more fulfilling than any official job responsibilities ever could be.
All Christians (not just those who have offices in church buildings) are commanded to share the gospel. We are to tell others about the hope we have in Jesus, entrusting what He has taught us “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Sharing Christ in daily life isn’t always easy. We shouldn’t be surprised if people reject the good news or treat us differently because we proclaim our love for Jesus. Instead, we must persevere in obedience even when things become challenging.
We must be willing to suffer hardship in order to tell others about Christ, recalling His ultimate suffering on our behalf.
We are to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” and allow this truth to transform the way we view every detail of our lives (2 Timothy 2:8).

Tomorrow, as you crawl out of bed and report to your job, remember that the task God has given you is much greater than any task assigned by men. Honor the Lord in fulfilling your earthly responsibilities, but don’t forget that your ultimate task is to point others to the hope we find only in Jesus Christ.

9/20/2016 7:24:39 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 9: Always Ready

September 20 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Some time ago I read the story of a Romanian pastor who had been captured and was being tortured in order to get him to tell where other Christians were meeting so they could be arrested as well. After much beating and other forms of torture, they could not get the pastor to break and disclose the location of the other Christians.
As a result, the authorities went and found the pastor’s 14-year-old son and brought him to the prison.
Then, in front of the pastor, they beat and tortured his son, in an effort to get the pastor to finally tell the whereabouts of the hiding Christians. After taking as much as he could, the pastor called out to his son and said, “I love you my son. I must tell them what they want to know.” It was then that the son called back, “No, father. They may kill me. But do not do me the disgrace of giving me a traitor for a father.”
When we hear such a story, we are prone to say this father and son have been “mistreated.” Peter, however, has a different response – “blessed” (v. 14).
Why? Because they are “suffering for righteousness sake.” They are identifying with the one – Jesus Christ – who, for their sakes, suffered for their salvation. They have identified with Christ through believer’s baptism. They are now further identifying with their Lord as they suffer for His sake.
We tend to flee from any kind of suffering – or even discomfort, for that matter.
What could possibly cause one to endure such suffering for the sake of Christ? It is the confidence we have in our sovereign, resurrected Lord who is seated victoriously at the right hand of the Father.
Therefore, when we face suffering because of our identification with Christ, we can do so with gentleness and confidence.
As that takes place, no doubt some around us will take notice. When they do, we must be ready – ready to give an answer when they ask about the living hope that they see in us.

9/20/2016 7:22:14 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

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