FEB. 26: REDEEMED AND SECURE

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Ruth 3:8-13; 4:13-17

I love the story of the traveler who pulled his car into a gas station in Kentucky and asked the attendant how far it was to Glasgow.  “28,465 miles,” was the reply.  “I didn’t mean Glasgow, Scotland.  I meant Glasgow, Kentucky!”  “So did I” said the attendant.  “In the direction you’re headed, it’s 28,465 miles.  If  you’ll turn around and go the other direction, it’s only 11 miles!”  The Bible teaches a more serious version of this story: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12 ESV). [Read more…]

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FEB. 26: GIVING WITH JOY

By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Philippians 4:10-20

More is the word that perhaps best characterizes our society — more wealth, more luxury, more significance, more gizmos, and more love.  Sometimes we do not even know what we need more of, we just know we want more. It seems we are always in search of contentment, but never quite finding it.   [Read more…]

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FEB. 19: FAITH THROUGH TRIALS

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage:  Ruth 1:6-18

In seminary we learned to think in terms of “doctrines.”  When we studied a passage, we were asked, “what doctrine is being taught here?  Is the doctrine of God?  Perhaps of atonement?” It’s a helpful approach when studying Ruth 1. We often zero in on verses 16 and 17 with their forceful commitments and conclude that “God is love.” Of course that’s true but there’s a more resounding doctrine.  Ruth 1 tells us about the doctrine of sanctification — how God uses time, trouble, and tenacity to create in us a heart that can be used for His purposes.   [Read more…]

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FEB. 19: PRACTICING JOY

By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Philippians 4:4-9

Do you worry excessively about things you cannot control? Is there a cure to worry? In the conclusion of his letter, the Apostle Paul turns to practical living. His desire is that they move toward holiness in their walk with the Lord. He knew worry would hinder them in this pursuit. He also knew their faith would be tested as they lived and worked in this predominantly Roman colony during the reign of Nero when persecution of the church was reaching a fever pitch.  Therefore, in these verses, he diagnoses the problem that would steal their joy; he prescribes a cure, recommends a recovery program, and makes them a promise they, as well as you and I, can count on. [Read more…]

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FEB. 12: COMPROMISED POTENTIAL

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Focal Passage:  Judges 16:4-6,13-20

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleCornelius Plantinga wrote a delightful little book called Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (Eerdmans, 1995) that every one of us should read. It’s about sin and sin’s opposite, shalom with God.  There, he states, “… shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight — a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed … in other words … the way things ought to be.” God has a way things ought to be, a perfect order and a perfect peace. [Read more…]

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FEB. 12: GROWING WITH JOY

By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Philippians 3:12-21

How beautiful, sweet, and innocent is a newborn baby. For many, we would keep them as babies perhaps for a little longer, and yet we take them to their first doctor’s visit hoping that their measurements and weight indicate growth. Later in life, as their physical maturity increases, the hard work begins of helping them develop their emotional and intellectual maturity. But, the goal is always growth and upward movement.  And, the reward is in the maturity of the child. In fact, life’s greatest moments of celebration regard this maturation process. The first word, their first step, Pre-K graduation, Kindergarten, high school graduation, driver’s license, and college graduation — each is a milestone in the joy of maturity. [Read more…]

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FEB. 5: TIMID WARRIOR

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage:  Judges 6:11-16, 25-32

My wife Cynthia once was arranging a table decoration in the house and asked me, “Is this okay?”  It seemed a silly question because no one on the planet is less qualified to approve table decorations than me and she knows it. I’ve had a full decorating bypass. So how do we respond when asked to do something for which we are so clearly unqualified? We cower; we make jokes; we question the sanity and purpose of the one asking us in the first place. Quickly turning to glance behind me as if she were speaking to someone else, I replied to Cynthia, “Are you talking to me?” [Read more…]

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FEB. 5: FOLLOWING WITH JOY

By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Philippians 2:1-11

There once was a slave in ancient Rome who heard his master was on the liquidation list. Upon learning this news, he quickly put on his master’s cloak and quietly awaited the arrival of the political assassins. When they finally arrived, they killed the slave because he was dressed like his master. In the same way, Jesus Christ took upon Himself the cloak of humanity to pay for your sins and mine upon the cross. His death was no accident. It was planned by God and set into motion before the foundation of the world. Such love demands a response, does it not? In light of His amazing grace, what should our response be?   [Read more…]

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JAN. 29: WILLING SERVANTS

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passages: Judges 4:4-10, 12-16

Even a cursory examination of Israel’s history in the book of Judges will reveal a glaring theme:  Israel had been given the land, every inch of it, and “no man shall be able to stand …” (Joshua 1:5 ESV). This was God’s plan. And as is too often the case, mankind had a better plan. The closing strains of the book of Judges tell us what it was: “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25) even forgetting the Lord their God (Judges 3:7). They forgot God and did their own thing, with predictable results:  the enemy “persisted in dwelling” in the land God had given to His children (Judges 1:35).

And there is the classic struggle in the life of all God’s children. His way which results in promise and blessing or our way which results in constant battle with the enemy. Such was Israel’s existence, such is ours. How refreshing it is when God sends a willing human voice, bold and confident, to speak to us straight from God’s heart. When we first meet the prophetess Deborah in Judges 4 we know little of her background and less of her qualifications. But we know she is willing to go, willing to speak, sitting under the palm of Deborah judging Israel, getting up and going with Barak. Her speech and her actions all testified to her willingness. [Read more…]

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JAN. 29: SHARING WITH JOY

By Justin Randolph
Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Philippians 1:12-21

Wouldn’t it be great if all the lessons of life we needed to learn could be learned without difficulty? I have often pondered in watching my children grow and learn, as well as in reflecting on my own journey, why we so often have to do things the hard way and why we are not naturally bent to learn things in seasons of comfort and relative convenience. Why does it seem that we must experience adversity in order for some lessons to ever be learned?

In the same way, God often uses adversity to mold us and shape us into the people He has called us to be.  Philippians is a prison epistle which means Paul wrote this letter while in chains. Therefore, we must understand that the “prisons” of our life can often provide us with the greatest opportunities and chances for ministry. [Read more…]

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