JAN. 3: THE KING’S EXPECTATIONS

By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Matthew 5:1-16

Evangelist Jay Strack tells a story about Chippy the smart mouthed Parakeet who was always an embarrassment to his owner. One day Chippy was accidentally sucked into a Wet-Dri Vac. His owner retrieved Chippy, washed him up, blow dried him and sat him back on his perch. A friend came over and noticed that Chippy was unusually quiet and asked why, to which the owner replied that he had been sucked in, washed up and blown away. At times we all feel that the world has sucked us into its worldly ways, washed us up in its backsplash, and blown us away by a whirlwind of activities. How then do we cope? In the sermon on the Mount Jesus taught us God’s standards and if we follow them we will be able to stand strong against the ways of the world. Professional tennis player Andre Aggassi once said, “Image is everything.” But Jesus said, “Godliness is everything.” In Philippians 2:5 Paul said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, to be able to have a godly attitude that characterizes our life we must continually focus on the “Mind of Christ in us.” [Read more…]

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DEC. 27: THE KING TEMPTED

By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens

ss explore the bibleFocal Passage: Matthew 4:1-10

Temptation is a word that often causes us to shiver because of the connotation attached to it. John McArthur in his New Testament Commentary on I Corinthians says this about the word “temptation” found in I Corinthians 10:13. The basic meaning in Greek is simply to test or prove, and has no negative connotation. Whether it becomes a proof of righteousness or an inducement to evil depends on our response. If we resist it in God’s power, it is a test that proves our faithfulness. If we do not resist, it becomes a solicitation to sin. The Bible uses the term in both ways, and I believe that Paul has both meanings in mind here.” I Corinthians 10:13 is an interesting passage that is often sorely abused and misquoted. Many times the emphasis is wrongly placed, “…but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able… .” Most people have come to think that we are able to withstand any temptation knowing that God knows our limits and He will step in when things get to be too much for us to handle and will bail us out. But what that phrase means is that as Christians we are to constantly seek God through prayer, trust God in all things, and keep our eyes on Jesus. What this does is take the focus off us and puts it where it should be — on Jesus. When that is the case in our lives then we will discover that we can endure far more than we ever thought we could because our focus is in the right place, on Jesus. [Read more…]

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DEC. 20: THE KING WORSHIPED

By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens

ss explore the bibleFocal Passage: Matthew 2:1-12

There is a song that is nearly always sung at Christmas time titled “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” The song assumes three kings based on the Scriptural fact that three gifts were presented to the baby Jesus (gold — royalty; frankincense — priestly role, and myrrh — a burial ointment). A pastor friend of mine, Bill Vest, preaches a sermon in which he states that there was most likely a whole entourage of Magi and servants that could have numbered a thousand or more. He also said that these Magi could have been part of the group that had been tutored by Daniel. If that were the case then they most likely were constantly scanning the skies looking for that special star that would guide them to the one born King of the Jews. These men were also known throughout the Middle East as king makers. Thus when they came to Herod great fear came over him and all of Jerusalem, because he would do anything to keep his throne. [Read more…]

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DEC. 13: THE KING ARRIVES

By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens

ss-exploreFocal Passage: Matthew 1:18-25

If you watch television any at all you most likely have seen the commercial advertising ancestry.com. The company specializes in helping people trace their ancestors in order to discover their roots. The gospel according to Matthew leaves no doubt as to the earthly lineage of Jesus Christ. He begins in chapter 1, verse 1 with these words, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Then beginning with Abraham he begins to trace Jesus’ lineage all the way to Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. There was a total of 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus.

Following the genealogy listing in verses 1-17 Matthew then proceeds to tell how Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary and Joseph followed by a brief word about His birth in verse 25. Luke is the gospel writer who goes into the most detail about Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding it. Luke 1:26 reads, “Now the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” [Read more…]

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DEC. 6: THE WAY PREPARED

By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens

ss-exploreFocal Passage: Matthew 3:1-12

Years ago I was serving a church in another state as associate pastor. One Wednesday I was in charge of the service and before the service someone came in and said there was a man sitting on the steps in front of the Fellowship Hall. I went out greeted the man and discovered he was from another country and had enrolled at Pensacola Christian College.

Before arriving at the school he decided to travel through the Southeast by hitching rides and attending different churches. I invited him to attend the service and then, as being led by the Lord, I invited him to stay the night at our home. Once arriving at the house we served him food and then proceeded to talk about spiritual things well into the evening. The next morning after breakfast I took him to the Interstate where he caught a ride to his next destination. I have never seen or heard from him again. I sometimes wonder if he was perhaps an angel who came to my wife and me at a time in our life when we needed a special Word from the Lord. [Read more…]

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