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Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 28: God Ordains Restoration

December 16 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passages: Ezra 3:1-7, 10-11; 6:19-22
 
I was recently given a small fiberglass jon boat that had been abandoned. When I got it, it was filled with water, covered in moss, grown up with weeds and full of leaves and sticks. The tires on the trailer were flat and dry rotted.
 
The boat was a far cry from the well-functioning fishing boat it had been made to be. I have stripped it down to the shell of the boat and am getting ready to restore it.
 
How will I know when that mission has been accomplished and a success? When the boat is once again on the lake being used for fishing, the purpose for which the boat was made.
The people of God that had been exiled in Babylon had returned to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple, which laid in shambles after being destroyed. God fulfilled His promise to return His people to the holy city to rebuild the house of worship.
 
Under edict of the king and with the financial resources of the royal treasury, they returned to rebuild God’s house. They faced great persecution during the rebuilding from opponents who tried to discourage them and stop the work. However, they listened to and trusted God’s promises through the prophets.
 
How did they know when the job was complete? When they were once again fulfilling God’s intended purpose for His house – when the people of God were again bringing sacrifices to worship God according to God’s design and command.
 
But the temple was but a shadow of what was to come. While they worshipped God according to His design, the day would come when the fulfillment of that to which the temple worship pointed would be fulfilled.
 
The Son of God would be the once-for-all sacrifice for the sin of the world, and one day, His people would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
 
God created us to know, love, worship and obey Him, so how do we see evidence of those purposes being fulfilled in our lives?
 
When we are worshipping Him and living our lives sacrificially (Rom. 12:1), as He created us to do for His glory.
12/16/2014 1:17:23 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 28: The Shelter of God’s Encouragement

December 16 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passages: Psalm 42:1-3, 6-8; 43:3-5
 
In Donald McCulley’s sermon – “Got Hope?” – he tells of a famous painting by G.F. Watt with the title of “Hope.” The painting pictures a poor woman against the world. Her eyes are bandaged so she cannot see ahead. In her hands is a harp, but all the strings are broken save one. Those broken strings represent her shattered expectations, her bitter disappointments. That one last unbroken string is the string of hope. She strikes that string and a glorious melody floats out over the world; it fills her dark skies with stars. The artist painted a great truth: Even when all else seems gone, you can still have hope!
 
Have you ever felt depressed? If so, then you will find good company in Psalms 42-43. These psalms are about a person who is desperately longing for God’s presence and rescue but is overwhelmed with feelings of depression. Water is a big theme in Psalm 42. This writer is feeling separated from God and he can feel it so much in his soul that he is like a thirsty animal, searching for water. He has a spiritual need in his life: a longing for God’s presence.
 
The psalmist cannot figure out why he is so depressed. He goes on to describe himself as “deeply depressed.” Now the theme of water returns – describing the depression, which he sees as a conspiracy of the waves that cascade over him and drag him to the bottom.
 
Depression is like that. You cannot breathe, cannot see your way out and you feel like you’re sinking fast. Even in the midst, he knows he must continue to look to God’s faithful love at all times.
 
Sometimes all we can do in the midst of depression is keep crying to God.
 
Ponder over two truths from this Psalm. First, depression can happen even to a believer. We are not immune from this struggle. Then remember that ultimately it is God who is our hope. We can trust in the promises of God that no matter what is happening around us, it will be okay because God is in control. God does have a plan, God does love you and he will see you through even this.
 
12/16/2014 1:13:55 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 21: God Provides a Savior

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

Focal Passage: Luke 2:8-20
 
As I read through this familiar passage again, I couldn’t help but think of the words to the song “A Strange Way to Save the World.” The chorus of the song is sung from the perspective of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. He is standing in the stable at Bethlehem, asking: “Why me?/I’m just a simple man of trade? Why him?/With all the rulers in the world? Why here?/Inside this stable filled with hay? Why her?/She’s just an ordinary girl? Now I’m not one to second guess what angels have to say. But this is such a strange way to save the world.”
 
Consider how strange this must’ve been from a human perspective. It began with an unusual announcement to a barren, elderly couple – Abraham and Sarah – about their son who would be the forerunner of God’s messiah. Then came an unusual announcement from an angel to a teenage girl who was engaged to a carpenter – not exactly the expected family line for the birth of a king. This young couple ended up in an unusual, small town and was forced to go to a most unusual birthing place like the stable where a king’s animals might eat. This couldn’t be where the king should be born.
 
Then an unusual heavenly host brought this joyful announcement to simple shepherds who were keeping their sheep on a hillside outside of town.
 
From our human perspective, this whole endeavor seems a most unusual approach, but it was God’s perfect provision of exactly what man needed.
 
As D.A. Carson so aptly reminds us, “If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.” Go tell the Good News of this Savior! His name is Jesus!

12/4/2014 1:27:06 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 21: The Shelter of God’s Forgiveness

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

Focal Passage: Psalm 32:1-7
 
Someone said life assurance is far more valuable and important than life insurance. I read that not long before Marghanita Laski died in 1988 – a well-known secular humanist and novelist – she said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.” 
 
God designed man to have a need to relieve the guilt he has in life. Guilt is a spiritual issue, not a psychological issue. We try to cope and explain away the mechanism of guilt, while continuing to struggle with it. We seek all sorts of ways to conceal, to release, to endure the pangs and feelings of guilt that is unresolved in our souls.
 
This reminded me of Val Patterson who died on July 12, 2012, due to cancer. He knew the end was coming, so he chose to write his own obituary notice. Through media outlets, this obituary went viral.
 
In this account he said, “Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I am the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest.”

Forty-one years earlier as a teen, he had committed a robbery.
 
Though the police did not catch him, he was never able to escape the voice of a guilty conscience. Just as many today seek to hide or remove this voice, it keeps coming back to cause us pain and remorse.
 
King David said in Psalm 32:1-2 (HCSB): “How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is the man the Lord does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit!” Jesus Christ came into this world to offer us forgiveness for our sins, and to remove them completely from us (Psalm 103:12).
 
It will be no small comfort when we come to the end of our journey to know that our sins are forgiven, and that they are not screaming at us in the corridors of our mind as we pass from this world to the next.

12/4/2014 1:18:38 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 14: God Provides Deliverance

December 2 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Esther 4:6-17
 
Have you ever heard the adage: “Caught between a rock and a hard place?” That statement indicates a situation wherein a person has two options available to them, neither of which is desirable. You likely have been in such a situation at some point in your life. So what will you decide? And, what things will you take into account in order to help you make your final decision?
 
There are many resources you can use when considering your course of action. You can simply weigh the pros and cons of each option and try to determine which has the best outcome or the least undesirable outcome. Hopefully, you will seek God’s wisdom and direction in His Word and in prayer.
 
Esther is caught between that proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one hand, Haman is seeking to have Esther’s people (the Israelites) killed because of his retaliation against Mordecai. On the other hand, Esther has not been in the presence of her husband, the king, in over 30 days. To go before him uninvited could cost Esther her life. To do nothing would mean the death of her people and her death as well. She sought the wisdom of Mordecai. She, along with those around her, fasted and prayed as she approached the necessity of action.
 
While Mordecai challenged Esther to consider the fact that she could have become queen “for such a time as this,” and while Esther risked her life by going uninvited before the king, the real hero in this story is the covenant-keeping God of Israel. God’s providence is seen at every step. His faithfulness is seen in His rescue of His people from the hand of Haman. God made a promise to Abraham to bring from him a great nation – a nation from whom the Savior would come. No earthly tyrant would thwart the redemption plan of our covenant-making, covenant-keeping God.
 
While God may sometimes call us to walk in great faith and trust Him in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances, we can trust Him to be faithful to keep His promises and to providentially work in a way that is both for our good and His glory.

12/2/2014 12:20:48 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 14: The Shelter of God’s Salvation

December 2 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Psalm 27:1-6
 
OK, let’s admit together: There is a power outage, and when you walk into a room you still hit the light switch to turn on the lights. Be honest. Yes, it is human nature. Why? Because we depend upon it. It is always there, most of the time.
 
Moreover, when it isn’t, we feel totally let down. People will fail us, material things will fail, plans will go awry, and all that we see and know around us can fail us when we count on them most. Someone has said that there are two things we can depend upon: “Death and Taxes.” The Bible says that we can be sure of two things (Hebrews 10:27) – death and judgment. The entire Word of God shows us clearly that the one thing that is unchanging (James 1:17) is God.
 
In Psalm 27, David gives us a clear picture that the One he ultimately relied upon was God, and it is God who we can rely upon today.
 
The ultimate reason Jesus came into the world was to “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Moreover, because He is God, we can rest assured that what He has provided is enough. When He completed the work of salvation that day, He provided us an assured guarantee of our safety, security, guidance and rest.
 
David had a desire “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Jesus came and provided the way that anyone “who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
 
I have always loved this verse – it is infinite in it’s scope, and finite in its meaning. Anyone who comes to Jesus and trusts Him is guaranteed eternity in the presence of God. Because of this promise, we do not need to fear the future, we have confidence in what we have and know the security that only God can give.
 
As you consider this truth, do you know the security that comes from a personal relationship with Christ? Have you shared this with others around you so that they too can have security of salvation?

12/2/2014 12:16:31 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



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



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