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July 21, 2024: Spiritual Gifts and the Church

FOCUS TEXT: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Romans 12:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

DEVOTIONAL READING: Ephesians 4:11-13

KEY VERSE: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

CENTRAL TRUTH: God gives us spiritual gifts that we may serve the Church.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify their spiritual gifts.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. Gifts Given To Be Used (Romans 12:3-8)
II. Gifts Given for the Common Good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
III. Gifts Given as the Spirit Desires (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

2024-07-15T19:35:50+00:00July 15th, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

July 14, 2024: Worship and the Church

FOCUS TEXT: 2 Kings 23:1-3; 1 Chronicles 16:23-29; 29:6-10

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: 2 Chronicles 6:1-42; Psalm 84:1-12; Matthew 21:12-16

DEVOTIONAL READING: Psalm 96:1-13

KEY VERSE: O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker (Psalm 95:6).

CENTRAL TRUTH: The worship of God is essential to the Christian's life.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list practical ways they can express their worship of God.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. Worship by Reading (2 Kings 23:1-3)
II. Worship in Prayer and Praise (1 Chronicles 16:23-29)
III. Worship Through Giving (1 Chronicles 29:6-10)

2024-07-09T14:37:21+00:00July 9th, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

July 7, 2024: Cooperation in the Church

FOCUS TEXT: Acts 6:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-7

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Exodus 18:13-26; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 2:1-8; 4:1-3

DEVOTIONAL READING: 1 Peter 4:7-11

KEY VERSE: Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind (Philippians 2:2).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Cooperation is a key attitude of the effective church.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list several ways their church can show better cooperation.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. Cooperation by Choice (Acts 6:1-7)
II. Cooperation in Ministry (1 Peter 5:1-4)
III. Cooperation Through Submission (1 Peter 5:5-7)

2024-07-01T17:05:12+00:00July 1st, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

June 30, 2024: The Lord of the Church

PRINTED TEXT: Matthew 16:13-27

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:12-20

DEVOTIONAL READING: Psalm 24:1-10

KEY VERSE: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways to put Christ in His place as Head of the Church.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. The Divine Revelation (Matthew 16:13-20)
II. The Human Misunderstanding (Matthew 16:21-23)
III. The Challenge to Follow (Matthew 16:24-27)

2024-06-24T15:58:38+00:00June 24th, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

June 12, 2024: Example of Unity

Read John 17:20-23.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” (v. 20)

“When I first went out to my mission field in Africa,” related Dr. Green, “the boat carried me up a wide, beautiful river flowing through the jungle, and as night came on, I listened with many misgivings to the roll of war drums. They continued far into the night. The captain of the boat felt uneasy and tried to discourage me from going ashore. I admit I was trembling with fear. But I found that ‘the Lord standeth within the shadows keeping
watch above His own.’ After years of delightful labor, I left the jungle on the same boat. As it came down the river, thousands of these same natives gathered on the shores near their villages to say farewell. As the boat came into sight, they broke into song, but not a war song. A united group of believers could be heard singing, ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.’” Someday, we will stand before God’s throne, singing praises to our King, in a mass choir with believers from every corner of the planet.
The size of the Church will not impress the world. The inward union expressing one mission will impress them. It is a unity of hope for the future, for humanity, and the promise of someday being where Jesus is. The Gospel creates a unity of faith with our
Father, our Savior, our Holy Spirit, and our fellow believers. Me plus three or me plus the Trinity are a formidable force. With God’s help, nothing shall be impossible! (Beverly Tatum)

“Feed the hungry, heal the heart,
Till the morning's beam;
White as wool, 'ere they depart,
Shepherd, wash them clean.”
--- Lyman Brackett

Sheep are necessary for a shepherd, even as a shepherd is necessary for a flock.

2024-06-12T16:28:06+00:00June 12th, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

June, 2024: Beauty: An Essential of Evangelism

“Human beings are moved by beauty. If we want to change the world, we need, first of all, to be able to make people dream about beauty” (Rubem Azevedo Alves). How do you respond to that statement?

We all agree that there is a lot of ugly in our world: attitudes, actions, words, just to name a few. And it is easy for even Christians to get so caught up fighting ugly that we become ugly. The statement above suggests that the best weapon for fighting ugly is beauty. But where, in this world, can a person find beauty?

At the end of the creation account (Genesis 1:31), God reviews everything He has made and pronounces it “Good.” But “good” is a broad word and even more expansive in Hebrew than English. The simple meaning is pleasant; agreeable to the senses. But the meaning changes depending upon what “sense” you have in mind. When the sense is sight, good can easily be replaced with beautiful. For example, Abraham was concerned about losing his wife in Egypt because she was fair to look upon – beautiful (Genesis 12). Numerous examples could be cited to support the idea that beauty is a key concept in the Bible. If you need proof, do a Google search on “the theology of beauty.”

Few people would debate that “human beings are moved by beauty.” Why are roses so highly valued? They are beautiful, as are mountains, lakes, sunsets, etc. God made our world beautiful beyond description! So why have some Christians become such negative people? One answer is that they have become so focused on the ugly that they no longer see the beauty.

Similarly, few people would debate that God made the female sex beautiful in the eyes of men. The women described as beautiful include Sarah, Rachel, Rebekkah, Bathsheba,  Abishag, Vashti, and the heroine of Song of Solomon. Yes, the New Testament talks about Sarah’s inner beauty, and that will be my next point. But the Bible makes it clear that men were moved when they saw the outward beauty of these women (See quote above.) Being moved by the beauty of a woman need not include the lust Jesus spoke of (Matthew 5:28). God made women pleasant to the eye. The beauty is His creation, not theirs. Thank God for bringing that sense of beauty into your life, just as you do when you see a rose or a sunset. Sin takes place when you attempt to cut that rose and take it home with you. That is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:28.

A third area of beauty we can all agree upon is a beautiful attitude! It may be a spirit of forgiveness or graciousness. Perhaps nothing moves a stranger like a genuine smile that conveys warmth and acceptance. A gift, given without a reason, almost always moves the recipient, as does a quiet word at a timely moment. Suppose a woman leaves off the external claims to beauty spoken of by Peter (expensive clothes, jewelry, or elaborate hairstyles) but does not add the beauty of spirit spoken of here. In that case, that person has no beauty at all – nothing with which to move the world.

Let’s go back to the quote from the top: “Human beings are moved by beauty. If we want to change the world, we need, first of all, to be able to make people dream about beauty” (Rubem Azevedo Alves). We often think of evangelism as presenting God’s Word to the lost, and it is. But evangelism is also “making people dream about beauty.”

How do you do that? Is beauty a part of your evangelistic approach? God has made the world in which we live beautiful; despite sin's effects, it still is! When God saw that the man He had made needed a partner, He created a beautiful woman, and He is still in that business. Beautiful attitudes are the exception in our bombastic world and still get attention.

“If we want to change the world, we need, first of all, to be able to make people dream about beauty.”

2024-06-10T16:22:41+00:00June 10th, 2024|Categories: Banner Editorial|0 Comments

June 16, 2024: The Unity of the Church

FOCUS TEXT: 1 Peter 1:22--2:10

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 1:22 -- 2:25

DEVOTIONAL READING: Ephesians 2:11-22

KEY VERSE: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (Romans 12:5).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Christians belong to each other because they belong to Christ.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways that unity can be demonstrated.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. Children in the Same Family (1 Peter 1:22 -- 2:3)
II. Stones in the Same Building (1 Peter 2:4-8)
III. Citizens of the Same Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9, 10)

2024-06-10T16:15:51+00:00June 10th, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

Summer 2024: The Church, God’s People

What is the Church? Is it a building? a religious service?  an institution? a congregation? a denomination? an affiliation? It is all of these, but it is something more. The Church is the Body of Christ, of which He is the divinely appointed Head, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. The Head rules in heaven from the right hand of the Father. The Body works on earth which is the footstool of the Father.

All those who have accepted the Son, who have believed in Jesus, have become members of "the church, which is his body" (Eph. 1:22, 23). This Church is the fellowship of the redeemed, the people of God. It consists of all those in every place in all ages who by faith have been placed into vital, living union with the Head of the Church -- Jesus Christ. Planned by the Father, the Church was founded by the Son and is empowered by the Spirit.

On a narrower scale, it is a local community, since the believer finds himself actually meeting together with those living in his vicinity who profess this same faith-loyalty to Jesus Christ.

The New Testament never speaks of the universal church as the sum total of all local churches. It is a totality of redeemed people, not an organization of local congregations. The New Testament writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, thought of only one church because there is only one Savior and Lord of the Church.

 

 

2024-05-30T17:29:14+00:00May 30th, 2024|Categories: Quarter Topic|0 Comments

June 2, 2024: The Lord of the Church

FOCUS TEXT: Matthew 16:13-27

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:12-20

DEVOTIONAL READING: Psalm 24:1-10

KEY VERSE: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways to put Christ in His place as Head of the Church.

LESSON OUTLINE:
I. The Divine Revelation (Matthew 16:13-20)
II. The Human Misunderstanding (Matthew 16:21-23)III. The Challenge to Follow (Matthew 16:24-27)

2024-05-30T17:27:43+00:00May 30th, 2024|Categories: Lesson Highlights|0 Comments

May 22, 2024: Choose Only the Best

Read Luke 10:38-42.

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v. 42).

Life is filled with details that claim our time and exhaust our energy. At the end of the day, we sag in our recliner with a sigh, having had life dictated to us by the trivia of multiplied moments. In our lesson, Martha busied herself with things that mattered to her and assumed those concerns to be those of Jesus. So she hastily prepared lunch. Her actions were not sinful, but rather, were very well intended. But Jesus said that Mary, who sat at his feet, enjoying his presence and listening to his words, had chosen the “best” part.
Some things have eternal dimensions, while other things are time-locked. Perhaps today, you will meet the challenge of distinguishing between the two. Imagine Jesus sitting in your house, looking over your shoulder, and evaluating your value judgments. Would he say that, like Mary, you have chosen “the best part,” or would He gently chide your well-intentioned efforts by suggesting that you are living life for the “now” rather than the “then?” Lunch won’t matter in heaven, but sitting at the feet of Jesus will. (William Snider)
Engage this roving, treacherous heart.
To fix on Mary’s better part,
To scorn the trifles of the day
For joys that none can take away.
--- Philip Doddridge

“Things which matter most
must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
--- Johann Wolfgant von Goeth

2024-05-22T18:25:21+00:00May 22nd, 2024|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments
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