JAN. 1: SETTLED

 

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bible

Focal Passage: Joshua 22:1-8

An experienced backpacker will tell you in chilling detail of the dangers of reaching the summit after a long ascent up a mountain. With muscles weakened by fatigue and clothes soaked with sweat, the high country winds above the tree line can bring on hypothermia quickly. The top is no place to forget the rules.

In the 22nd chapter Joshua is dealing with the same human tendency among the children of Israel. The battles have been fought and it’s time to rest. “Go to your tents,” he says, “but don’t forget the rules.”  [Read more…]

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DEC. 25: SAVIOR ANNOUNCED

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Luke 1:26-38

Twenty years ago, on the same week God called me from the engineering business into the ministry, my wife delivered another announcement:  we were expecting our third child. I was terrified — a career change and an unexpectedly expanding family.  At once, natural, human emotions threatened to eclipse the sovereignty of God. That balance is the struggle that makes up the fabric of every human soul. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was no exception. [Read more…]

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DEC. 18: COMMITMENT KEPT

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Joshua 10:6-14

Remember the old western movies with their dramatic musical scores? You could watch with your eyes closed and tell when the plot was about to change. The music became louder and more intense, the action slowed, and everyone prepared for a shoot out. Justice was at hand.

The Bible contains those same pivotal moments. One such moment occurs in Joshua 9:14 where we read that the inhabitants of Gibeon, the very ones Joshua was to clear out of the land, heard Joshua was coming so they came to Joshua incognito and in fear, seeking a protective order. Joshua was wary and “… did not ask counsel from the Lord” (Joshua 9:14) but entered into a covenant with them. Cue the music. This is serious. Three days later when Israel arrived at their cities, they learned the truth:  they had been taken in by imposters, tricked into agreeing not to attack the very people God sent them to attack — all because they didn’t seek the counsel of the Lord. [Read more…]

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DEC. 11: CONQUEST

By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage:  Joshua 6:12-25

Teachers, look at your students. Pastors, look at your congregants, and parents, look at your children. Those are warriors, battle-weary with hearts hurting from skirmishes in a mean, merciless world. What will we tell them?

Joshua faced the same dilemma. As God’s leader he had to tell God’s wearied children how they were to move ahead to a land God had given them. We usually go over the walls; this time we go around.  We usually shout to scare the enemy. This time, we’ll remain silent at first. And instead of the ark being only a part of our worship now it is part of our battle also. In this sixth chapter Joshua told his warriors that God has predetermined the people, the process, and the product.  Their job only was to trust and obey. [Read more…]

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DEC. 4: COMMISSIONED

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Joshua 1:1-9

Before Gordon Bethune became the CEO of Continental Airlines in 1994 he said it was the worst of the worst. Of the nation’s 10 biggest air carriers, Continental was worst in on-time arrivals, worst in baggage handling, and worst in customer satisfaction. With a stock price near $3 per share, a history of bankruptcies, a string of ten different CEOs, and 10 consecutive years of losses, employees were removing the airline’s insignias from their uniforms and refusing to admit where they worked.  (From Worst to First, Gordon Bethune. 1998). To investors and future leaders the place was a badland, a wilderness of unhappy people with no leadership, until the board of directors commissioned Gordon Bethune, a savvy, solution-oriented chief. From there Continental’s story looked up.  Way up. [Read more…]

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NOV. 27: WITH ANTICIPATION

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: II Peter 3:3-13; 17-18

“Arise!” Will that be the loud command of Jesus when the trumpet call of God announces His return in the clouds (I Thessalonians 4:16)? The response to that command will either be “Wow” or it will be “Woe.” For those who have rejected Him it will be “woe!” For those who have received Him it will be “wow!” In II Peter 4:3 Peter tells us “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”

“Above all” means it is a priority matter for us to understand that the presence of scoffers denying Jesus’ return and persons living ungodly lives are signs that we are in the last days.  Well, we must be in the last days for scoffers are everywhere — even in the pulpits and the pews.  [Read more…]

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NOV. 20: ON GUARD

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: II Peter 2:1-3; Jude 16-25

An atheist is a person who denies the existence of deity. A practical atheist is a person who says God is, but lives as if God isn’t. A believer is a person who is committed to God in a personal relationship which determines the spiritual and moral direction of his life. In II Peter 1:19 Peter mentioned “… the prophetic message as something completely reliable …” and advised “… you will do well to pay attention to it.” A person who believes in God should also believe God and really pay attention to the revealed will and purposes of God. The Bible is 66 books that Christians believe to be the record of God’s interaction with man revealing God’s character, His will, His work, and His provisions. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Watch your life and your doctrine closely, persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Not everyone follows this advice.   [Read more…]

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NOV. 13: WITH TRUST

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: II Peter 1:12-21

Had Simon Barjona not taken a chance on Jesus, he would have missed a purposeful life and a grand eternity. Simon did cast his life with Jesus and became Simon Peter who first became a follower, then a disciple, and finally an apostle of Jesus. During three short years of being with Him, he became firmly convinced that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 KJV). After Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven, Peter preached Christ saying: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 KJV). He wrote II Peter anticipating his death.  He wrote his last letter to those who had “obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1 KJV) telling them how to build on their faith seven virtues that would make them useful and fruitful to God and to men. [Read more…]

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NOV. 6: BEING USEFUL

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: II Peter 1:3-11

Only God is indispensable, but every person has practical usefulness. I have never forgotten a sign at the second floor landing of a church. The sign said: “God don’t make no junk.” In the worst of us and the best of us there is potential for usefulness. I Peter was written to God’s elect who were exiles scattered in five provinces, but II Peter is more general in that it was written: “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received faith as precious as ours.” At least one of the reasons Peter wrote this letter was to help gentile Christians understand the nature of the spiritual change they had experienced so they could grow to maximum usefulness to God and others. II Peter 1:3-4 sets forth God’s expectation for Christians to live godly lives through His empowerment; II Peter 1:5-7 shares how effort on the part of believers to use God’s provisions will help them to progress in practical godliness; II Peter 1:8-9 acknowledges the results of God’s provisions and believers’ efforts producing a useful life; and II Peter 1:10-11 reinforces practical godliness as a lifelong journey with blessed results. Let’s examine these four emphases. [Read more…]

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OCT. 30: ALERT LIVING

By Hoyt Wilson
Pastor, Flatwoods Baptist Church, Holladay

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: I Peter 5:1-11

Christians are prone to say “God has promised that victory is ours,” without remembering that there are still battles to be fought.  The world, our flesh, and the devil daily present challenges to faith in God and one must be alert to perceive those challenges. The title of this lesson is “Alert Living.” Peter has already reminded his readers in I Peter 4:7: “… be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” To be alert one must not only be wide awake, but must be aware of what is happening with the intention of being prepared to act. There are several areas of responsibility and relationships that need attention if Christians are to practice alert living. [Read more…]

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