Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 19: A Refined People

April 7 2015 by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Zechariah 13:1-9
 
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God is a person.
 
We can read page after page in the Old Testament of how God interacted with His people – how He walked with Adam and Eve, how He called to Moses, how He caught Sarah laughing, how He inspired David or how He instructed His prophets.
 
Even still, because God doesn’t manifest Himself to us today in the kind of physical presence we read about, we can be tempted to imagine Him as an abstract, distant being who once interacted with His people in a direct way, but doesn’t anymore.
 
We might even begin to believe that our sins at hand are more real than the seemingly far-off promises of God. We may acknowledge the truth that God is present and sovereign and good, but do we always believe it?
 
Zechariah’s prophecy called to a small Jewish remnant of the Babylonian exile that was re-establishing the Hebrew kingdom.
 
The immediate circumstances were dismal.
 
How could this struggling nation be the people of Almighty God?
 
Zechariah spoke to them to focus their attention not only on the present, but the future: God would restore and refine His people from sin for Himself, and He would fulfill His promises.
 
A pierced Messiah would come to triumph over the sins and idolatry of God’s people, and this Messiah would be a cleansing fountain to remove their sin, making them a pure people dedicated to the Lord. In the fire of suffering, the hand of their loving, attentive God would refine them, and through the work of the Messiah, they would be freed from their sin and idolatry.
 
Jesus Christ, the Messiah foretold by Zechariah, came as God promised. By embracing Him through faith, we are cleansed from the guilt of sin and freed from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God as our promise. In difficult circumstances, we can trust that God is working in our trials to purify us, making us more like Christ.

4/7/2015 3:15:08 PM by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 19: Exalted Like No Other

April 7 2015 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Ephesians 1:7-10, 18-23
 
If one were to take a vacation to first-century Ephesus, one of the highlights would be the Temple of Diana (also known as Artemis). It was one of the “seven wonders of the world.” The temple was a financial boon to the city for centuries. An ancient myth says that Diana was born in the forest of Ephesus when her image of wood fell from the sky. She became known as the “goddess of life,” the mother of everything living and existed everywhere there was life.
 
The temple that housed her shrine was four times the size of the Parthenon in Greece. Because of what she represented to the Ephesians, she was exalted like none other.
Diana was not, however, invincible.
 
Her shrine was destroyed by natural causes and human greed multiple times. Each time it was destroyed, though, it was rebuilt larger and grander than before. Today, however, its only evidence of existence is a rusted sign and abandoned stones.
 
During Paul’s ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19), he battled firsthand the Diana cult. He and his team were no strangers to spiritual warfare. Although they lived in the world of emperor and idol worship, they were unwavering in their proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord.
 
The contrasts of Diana and Jesus are stark. Diana reputedly fell as wood from the sky, was the mother of the fertility cult and became rubble for good around A.D. 400.
 
Jesus left his heavenly home to become fully human, giving His life as a living sacrifice for the salvation of those believing in Him.
 
Today’s scripture text speaks of why Jesus, not Diana, is exalted like no other. In verses 21-23 the apostle Paul rightly positions Christ as “far” above any human ruler or manufactured deity. As history has proven, idols will come and go, but Jesus will remain true and constant for every generation. As God’s exalted One, everything and everyone is subject to Jesus the Christ. As the Church, no one and nothing comes before our Lord.

4/7/2015 3:11:07 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 12: The Promise Fulfilled

March 26 2015 by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Luke 24:13-35
 
All people love to communicate, some out loud and some in quieter ways. Some love to discuss their day, or comment on the final play of last night’s basketball game: “Two minutes more, that’s all they would have needed!”
 
Others might prefer just to listen. Wherever you go, you can hear people talking to one another, see them texting on their phones, or notice them reading something another person has written perhaps in a novel or a magazine. Humans can’t help but communicate with one another.
 
“Words, words, words,” one of my college professors said as he scribbled the same onto the front page of a book of poems he handed me on the last day of class. We are a people of words. 
 
Our God is a God of words.
 
Throughout the Bible, God speaks – He structures the universe with the word of His mouth. He blesses His creation. He curses the ground and the serpent after Adam and Eve’s disobedience. He guides and strengthens. He makes promises and then He fulfills every single one of them.
 
God has always communicated to His people, in the Old Testament through His words to the prophets and priests, in the New Testament through the incarnate Christ and His apostles, and now through the Holy Spirit’s illumination of God’s revealed word: the Bible.

While we don’t always understand, we can trust the Word of God because God is trustworthy. We can believe that if the Word of God claims that Christ died and was raised to new life, it’s true.
 
We can ask God to give us a clear understanding of His Word and how to apply what we know from scripture to a robust and living faith, knowing He will do so through His Spirit.

God is not afraid of our questions. Every thought of ours is apparent to Him, and every prayer is clearly known by Him. In His Word, He has given us sufficient knowledge of Himself – making His character, will and plan known to us. Through the Word of God, Christ will be revealed, worshipped and glorified.

3/26/2015 5:05:15 PM by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 12: Ascended Like No Other

March 26 2015 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Acts 1:3-11
 
One of Mother Teresa’s ministries in Calcutta, India, was an orphanage. Unlike our wonderful Baptist Children’s Homes in North Carolina, the Calcutta orphanage received babies and small children who were often extremely malnourished and diseased.
 
Knowing that every day some of these babies would die, Mother Teresa would roam throughout the facility, identifying every child whom she expected to die that day. She would bring one of the sisters to the dying child, and give her this order: “Wrap the child in a gentle blanket and hold and soothe the child until it dies.” Mother Teresa said that no child should die alone and unloved.
 
Jesus, too, promised that His children would not be alone. The days following Jesus’ resurrection were filled with hope and optimism. Perhaps Jesus would stay with His disciples forever. But they became concerned when they realized Jesus would leave planet earth until the future time appointed by God the Father for His glorious return.
 
Acts 1:3-11 centers on Luke’s testimony of Jesus’ ascension back to heaven. It is a testimony of commandments and promises. Jesus commanded His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Father’s promise (v. 4): the Holy Spirit. Just as they had been previously baptized with water, this time they would be baptized with the Spirit’s presence and power (vv. 5, 8). The fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit would be effective ministry; beginning in Jerusalem and extending outwards to peoples and places where Jesus was previously unknown (v. 8).
 
Jesus’ disciples didn’t fully understand how He would never leave them yet, at the same time, ascend to the Father’s side. Jesus had told them about Him giving them “another Counselor” (John 14:16) who would be with them forever. This Counselor of promise is the Holy Spirit. We could define Him as Jesus unlimited by time and space and human body, and just as Jesus was present to advise and help them in the past, He would do the same in the future. They would never be alone.

3/26/2015 4:57:17 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 5: The Resurrection Declaration

March 24 2015 by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-12
 
What a spectacle! Jesus – the long-awaited prophet, the Messiah – was coming into Jerusalem, the city of David. This, the crowd must have thought, is the moment all will be made right: the Jewish nation will be freed from their oppressors, free to enjoy the blessings of God’s imminent glory as He delivers His people from the Romans. What a day! Men, woman and children line the streets, palms in hand, waving, welcoming – Hosanna, Hosanna! Finally, Hosanna!
 
We pick up the account one week later. The Messiah has died. The One who hushed the raging sea with a word, hung publicly on a cross like a criminal – beaten, humiliated. Crucify Him! Crucify Him! The crowds were ruthless.
 
The Son of Man’s mangled body was laid in a borrowed tomb. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, prepared ointments and spices to anoint the body as needed to be done. But Sabbath was approaching, the darkest in history, and God’s commandment was to rest on the Sabbath, so they rested.
 
At early dawn the next day, as soon as they could, the women went to the tomb with their spices. The stone was out of place; the body was gone. Hosanna, Hosanna!
 
Confused and frightened, the women saw two dazzling men appear – “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen. Remember?” Jesus had told them this would happen.
 
As Jesus told His disciples that He must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, crucified and on the third day rise by the power of His Father, so it happened. His words were true.
 
Today, we also have the Word of God – we know Jesus was resurrected, and He is living today in a real body that is restored and glorified. His resurrection – the raising up of what was dead to what is alive again – reveals the future history of all believers.
 
One with Christ, we will be raised to life after death just as He was raised. He has risen, and so shall we.

3/24/2015 1:23:50 PM by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 5: Resurrected Like No Other

March 24 2015 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
 
Eben Alexander was an accomplished neurosurgeon when in 2008 he was rushed to the hospital with bacterial meningitis. His condition was critical as he lay comatose with no discernible brain activity.
 
Seven days later he awoke from his seeming unconsciousness.
 
Near death experiences and resuscitation stories are numerous. In the life of Jesus we can read about three different times when Jesus raised someone, not just from a coma, but from the dead.
 
Luke describes two of those occurrences. We read about Jesus raising the widow’s son in Luke 7:11-17, and we read about Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter in 8:40-56. In both of these miracles the skeptics were proven wrong, and the affected families experienced indescribable joy. Luke does not, however, describe the remarkable story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Only the beloved disciple, John, chronicles this intimate story. Lazarus was one of Jesus’ dearest friends. He and two sisters, Mary and Martha, had often provided food and shelter for Jesus, and theirs was a special love relationship.
 
But Lazarus would not only die, but remain dead four days before Jesus reached his tomb and set him free from the bondage of physical death. As wonderful and powerful as each of these miracles are, collectively they pale in comparison to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.
 
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joses (cf. Mark 15:40) were the first to arrive at the sepulcher. He describes a violent earthquake, God’s angel rolling back the tomb and sitting on it, and the Roman guards paralyzed with fear. Despite the fear of the soldiers, the women were filled with hope and joy; “Jesus’ body is not here! He has been resurrected, just as He had promised. Come see the empty tomb.” In the following hours and days Jesus made numerous resurrection appearances. Unlike those whom Jesus had temporarily resurrected, Jesus’ resurrection is permanent and eternal, guaranteeing eternal life to all who will believe and receive this gift from God.

3/24/2015 1:20:21 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 29: The Promised Messiah

March 12 2015 by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Zechariah 8:1-8; 9:9-12
 
If the wind is right in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., you can smell the Maxwell plant roasting coffee from Bay Street to the Florida Theater on East Forsyth Street.
 
I usually drive through that area on the way to my parents’ house, and by then, I’m travel-worn and tired. But the simple sight of the lit blue arch of Main Street Bridge and the smell of fresh coffee is enough to wake me up.
 
When Zechariah prophesied to Israel, the people of God were weary. Seventy years of exile were over, and the captives in Babylon were finally allowed to return home. But Jerusalem was in ruins, and the temple was gone.
 
The promises of God’s blessing must have seemed distant. Where was the Messiah?
What do we do now?
 
Because of their sin, God judged them through exile. Rather than turn back to Him, the Israelites continued in their wickedness and idolatry.
 
They refused to listen when God spoke to them through His prophets – even when He warned them. But God kept His promise to deliver them. Seventy years they spent in exile as He said they would, but God provided for their return.
 
In Zechariah’s time, though given the chance to rebuild their nation as a people faithful to their God, they chose to build up their own houses, as Haggai says, and neglected the house of the Lord.
 
So God sent His Word to remind the people of His promises, to show them visions of their true home: the good Kingdom He was preparing.
 
In humility and victory, the Messiah would bring salvation, deliverance, freedom and peace to the world. He would establish righteousness and justice and a people of restoration. God was near. The Messiah was coming.
 
We know God kept His promise: Jesus came and inaugurated His Kingdom. We also know by God’s Word that soon He’s coming back. So we continue His work, here and among all nations, and we don’t stop until Christ returns.

3/12/2015 3:41:45 PM by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 29: Death Like No Other

March 12 2015 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Matthew 27:28-31, 45-50, 54
 
On July 2, 2014, Louis Zamperini died, but it wasn’t the first time he was declared dead. In World War II he spent 47 days adrift in the ocean after his plane crashed. Japanese soldiers captured him and tortured him almost to the point of death multiple times. Zamperini’s grit and spirit kept him alive; unbroken against overwhelming odds.
 
Because of the media efforts of Laura Hillenbrand, Franklin Graham and Angelina Jolie, millions of people across the globe know the Zamperini’s story. The U.S. government once classified him as “killed in action.” Their mistake was understandable. After 97 years, Mr. Zamperini’s body did in fact fail him.
 
In some ways the capture and torture of Jesus bears similarities to the capture and torture of Louis Zamperini.
 
The Gospels tell the story of Jesus being stripped naked, beaten, whipped to the point of exhaustion, mocked and publicly humiliated. The Roman form of capital punishment known as crucifixion was barbaric to the extreme – reserved for the worst criminals on earth. Death was a welcome relief after hours of sun-exposure, loss of bodily fluids and asphyxiation.
 
In ancient Rome many thousands of men suffered death by crucifixion. So, what was different about the death of Jesus of Nazareth?
 
Jesus’ death was far more than a physical struggle. It was primarily spiritual. We see it at Gethsemane, and we see it in Matthew 27:46 when Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1.
 
Jesus was alone. Jesus was forsaken, and not just forsaken by the Sanhedrin and the Roman government and his closest friends. Jesus was forsaken by God the Father.
 
Although Jesus had the power to avoid and avert this horror, it was not to be. Why?
 
Because this was the Father’s plan, and the Father’s plan was to be honored. He who had no sin became sin; our sin. His death was truly like no other.

3/12/2015 3:36:52 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 22: Teachings Like No Other

March 10 2015 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

I first met Robert Stewart just months after I got married. My wife and I were living in Raleigh as she was finishing her last year at Meredith College. I was working and taking classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest; in addition, we were both working in a local church.
 
In order to help the church with its Sunday School ministry, I sought the advice of the Baptist State Convention, which at the time was located in downtown Raleigh. That is where I first met Stewart. Fast-forward about 30 years – I joined a group meeting at Chowan University called the Center for Christian Growth and Development. Now retired, Stewart, Mr. Sunday School, was still investing his time, energy and expertise with this fledgling group.
 
Always the visionary and proponent of teaching the Bible to help Christians and churches grow and fulfill their purpose, one of his favorite sayings was “our task is to punch holes in darkness.” A master teacher in his own right, Robert always sought to imitate his teaching ministry after that of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ teaching style and message were unique.
 
First, he taught with authority. When people compared Jesus’ teaching with that of the religious elites, they recognized Jesus’ message as coming from God alone.
 
Second, Jesus was motivated by love, and He asked His followers to practice love. Third, Jesus’ message called for a response. Jesus’ encounter with the one we call the “rich young ruler” produced a unique learning opportunity. He wanted to follow Jesus and “inherit” eternal life. What must he do? Was obeying the law as given to Moses enough?
 
In this instance Jesus said it was not. Jesus’ required the man to rid himself of all his earthly belongings (treasures). Was Jesus’ demand excessive or unreasonable? We see in verse 21 that Jesus “loved” the man. Jesus genuinely wanted the man’s commitment.
 
Jesus required much of people because their task was difficult, like ours today – “to punch holes in darkness.”
3/10/2015 10:55:03 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 1 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 22: Compassion for the Lost

March 10 2015 by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Obadiah 1:1-4, 10-17
 
The contention between Edomites and Israelites was legendary. Just as Esau and Jacob fought within Rebekah’s womb, so their respective descendants would fight for generations to come.
 
Obadiah might be the smallest book in the Old Testament, but the message is large: because Edom celebrated the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, rejoicing at their expense, God would judge them.
 
Instead of compassion, their hearts were full of pride and false security. The people assumed they had great wisdom, favor and protection.
 
But just as they had done to Israel, so God promised it would be done to Edom.
 Instead of caring for and protecting Israel like a brother, Edom boasted and gloated over the nation.
 
The people joined in ransacking Jerusalem with the intruders when it was weak, stealing goods and capturing survivors.
 
So God sent word through His prophet that He was ready to respond. He punished Edom for its pride and lack of compassion, and He showed mercy to Israel’s remnant. Christians, our God is merciful and He calls his people to act accordingly toward the hurting.
 
When we refuse, when we take pleasure at the pain of others like Edom, we are unlike God. He is just and tenderhearted, always seeking restoration and redemption.
 
Often we forget how merciful He has been to us, how forgiving and kind in our most hateful moments. Every thoughtless word and prideful intention is fully known by God, the One most offended by our sin.
 
Yet, God freely chose to send His Son to die for us and to send His Spirit to dwell within us.
So we do not grow weary in grace, we show compassion to the hurting.
 
We patiently endure, working hard to bring the lost from all nations to salvation in Christ through the proclamation of His holy Word, making disciples and then baptizing them into the restored, eternal family of God. 
3/10/2015 10:52:44 AM by Lindsey Pope, Christ Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



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