MAY 28: LIFE ON MISSION

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.” Nothing can stop a man in love. That’s the message from George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  And it’s the powerful message of Paul writing to the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 9. “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (I Corinthians 9:19).  No matter what, I’ll do it! [Read more…]

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MAY 21: LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Matthew 25:34-40

In the seventh grade, I scribbled a profound thought in my Bible: “You only really believe what motivates you to action.” It was brilliant, and it was stolen from the very lips of my youth pastor, who stole it from Jesus. Matthew records in Matthew 25:34-40 that Jesus told the same thing to His disciples:  You never truly understand the kingdom until you learn to serve the least of its inhabitants. This indeed is the heart of the gospel. [Read more…]

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MAY 14: LIFE AT WORK

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Colossians 3:22-4:1

When I graduated from college, my goal was to be a millionaire by the age of 30.  (Today, at 53, my goal is still to be a 30 year-old millionaire!)  My hard-driving, workaholism dishonored my family and God. As I tried to reconcile my ambitions with God’s Word, I listened to every sermon I could find about God and work. Surely, my work had to matter to God. My problem was that being successful was a “me goal” not a “He goal.” In our passage today, we find that our work matters to God because it glorifies Him and our reward for that is an inheritance. [Read more…]

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MAY 7: LIFE AT HOME

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Ephesians 5:22-28; 6:1-3

My house has a design flaw. When a visitor is in the living room, he or she can see right into the master bedroom if the door is open (we can cover how I learned this in another article). A poorly designed home affects the behavior of the residents. In our passage, Paul writes to the Ephesian church with specifications for a home designed by God. And that design produces the behaviors that glorify God and His church. [Read more…]

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APR. 30: LIFE IN THE CHURCH

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11

A favorite Gary Larson cartoon of mine is one with two deer talking in the forest. One has a marking on the fur of his chest that closely resembles a target. His friend remarks, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” Christians in the first century church must have felt the same way. Their Christianity made them easy marks in a hostile, Roman world. How could a Christian live a victorious life in Christ in that world? Peter’s letter, written to the ‘sanctified elect’ (I Peter 1:1), was intended to encourage just such a life and is every bit as appropriate today in an increasingly hostile world as it was in the first century. [Read more…]

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APR. 23: LIFE IN CHRIST

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Luke 9:18-26

When I was 16 I learned to fly. During a solo cross-country flight one afternoon the radios in my little plane malfunctioned and I had to learn — quickly — how to reenter controlled airspace using light signals from the control tower. By watching the tower, a pilot can see air traffic controllers flashing red and green lights. A steady green light means it’s safe to land, a flashing green light means it safe to head back to land. Red lights mean stay away. A safe landing depended on two things: my ability to identify the lights and my willingness to ignore everything else and obey the lights. [Read more…]

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APR. 16: HE IS RISEN

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Luke 24:1-8, 36-40

It starts like the thin plot of a low budget thriller. Luke relates the resurrection story in characteristically uncomplicated, simple verb statements: they came, they found, they went in, they were perplexed, and they were terrified. “They” were the loyal, all-female band of Jesus’ followers. And they were out early — very early (Luke 24:1). But this early morning drama quickly gives way to the most recognizable statement in Christian history: “He is not here, but he has risen!” Human fear yields to heavenly victory. The resurrection story is a story of immediate transitions.

Oswald Chambers wrote that we should always be ready, as believers, for the surprise appearances of Jesus. Things change quickly near Jesus. Bodies are healed immediately. Storms are calmed immediately. Water becomes wine immediately. The power of a living Lord makes those transitions happen at the right time in the right way at the right speed — immediately. Teachers, point this out to your class members and encourage the hope that the power of the resurrection means that today’s pain and distress can quickly give way to today’s comfort. [Read more…]

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APR. 9: VICTORY SHARED

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Focal Passage: Luke 24:44-49

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeThe summer after my kindergarten year my grandmother taught me to crochet. I practiced and practiced and finally made a little pillow that I proudly took to show and tell in the fall when I entered first grade (I didn’t know back then boys could get beat up for stuff like that)! I meekly stood up and told Mrs. Banner’s class how I did it — and won “Best Show and Tell” for the week. I’m sure the school is still talking about it. But it wasn’t the pillow that won the award. The victory was secured because I understood it enough, and was brave enough, to tell about it.

Rewind the tape 2,000 years. Jesus speaks to His disciples after His resurrection and says, “Gentlemen, it’s time for show and tell — I’m going to show you how it all fits together and you go tell.” That’s the clear message our passage gives. And the message the student should hear should be equally clear: through Christ’s death and resurrection, you’ve won the right to understand and live the promises of God. Why wouldn’t you tell someone about that? [Read more…]

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APR. 2: VICTORY OVER FEAR

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Romans 8:31-39

When my children were small I took them to the animal shelter to pick out a puppy. They chose a small terrier named “Bambi.” Bambi needed shots and a bath so we promised to return later to take her home. By the time the children went back someone else had already adopted Bambi and they were heartbroken. But my 7-year-old son called to put my mind at ease. “Don’t worry, Dad, we got a llama instead!” Before I could have a cardiac event, I heard his older sister in the background say, “it’s a Lhaso Apso!”  I was scared, but one word made a difference. [Read more…]

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MAR. 26: VICTORIOUS FAITH

By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Hebrews 11:1-6

Curious, isn’t it, that the book of the Bible that encourages believers to have faith based on evidence of things not seen is itself evidence of an author not known? The writer of Hebrews uses tactile terms to give believers hope that true faith — concrete faith — pleases God and writes this passage to show that while we enjoy its benefits, concrete faith is mixed, poured, finished, and cured by God.

Engineers know that the key to strong concrete is getting the right recipe — the mix of cement, aggregate, sand, and water. It’s called slurry. The right slurry, poured into well-constructed forms, and finished and cured correctly results in strong concrete.  [Read more…]

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