Teachers’ Overview of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: John 1:1-14, “In The Beginning.”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders, of Lifeway’s Explore The Bible lesson of  John 1:1-14, “In the Beginning,” for Sun, Dec. 4, 2022. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO: A couple of years ago the Nativity Scene in St. Albans, West Virginia got national attention.  The scene was notable, because it included a stable, some sheep, camels & a donkey, and even some “visitors” – wise men – and that was it!  There was nothing IN the stable – no Mary, no Joseph — and no baby Jesus! Interestingly, the two town officials that were contacted had differing stories about why there was no one in the stable.  The parks superintendent said that the Holy Family was left out because of “separation of church & state” concerns. Interestingly, the mayor (the politician!) said it was just a “technical difficulty” – you know, too hard to get all those characters to fit inside the stable! Either way, it was definitely ironic that the One the nativity scene is supposed to celebrate was left out! 

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible”: Micah 7:1-10, 18-20, “Hope Found”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of Micah 7:1-10 and :18-20, for Sunday, November 27, 2022, with the title: “Hope Found.” (A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO: Ask class members: “Do you have a favorite song about the grace of God? And why would it be your favorite?”

(Some may say “Amazing Grace,” or “Grace That is Greater Than Our Sin,” or the contemporary song: “Your Grace is Enough” etc. and talk about WHY those are favorites about His grace …)

Then you can say: today’s lesson deals with how God gives us hope that He will rescue us from our the distress of our sin by His unfathomable grace. 

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

“He Will Hold Me Fast: 5 Reasons Why A Genuine Christian’s Salvation Is Eternally Secure” (John 10:27-29 sermon)

We have SO many blessings to count this Thanksgiving season, don’t we? But surely one of THE greatest blessings we have to give thanks for as God’s people, is the SECURITY of our salvation in Jesus Christ — that “HE will hold us fast” and He will not let us go. 

I remember a man in our church in North Carolina told me one time, that he was SO glad that when he lay down his head at night, he didn’t have to worry whether he was still saved, and right with God. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the gift of knowing for sure that we are saved. The verses we read here in John 10 this morning are among the strongest in the New Testament regarding the eternal security of the genuine believer in Christ. Jesus said:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

These verses contain at least FIVE strong statements from Jesus regarding the eternal security of His sheep:

Continue reading
Posted in Doctrine/Theology, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway “Explore the Bible” lesson: Micah 4:6-8, 5:1-9

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of Micah 4 &5 for Sunday, November 20, 2022, with the title: “Humble Beginnings.” (A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  Ask your group to share a dark, difficult time in their life that God brought them out of.

(EX: We had our first child just after I graduated from seminary, and we hadn’t been called to a church yet, and I only had a part-time job. It was an extremely difficult time. For years we called that our “Dark Year” — since then we’ve had some others! — but God eventually called us to our first church, and brought us out of that “Dark Year.”

You and your class members can share similar stories of difficult times for you/your family, but how God brought you out to better times.

OR you could use a historical illustration: In the early days of the American Revolution, things looked very bleak. The young  American Army had been routed at Brooklyn Heights in the Battle for New York, and the British took the City. The rag tag American army basically had retreat after retreat from the British, and it was winter, and they had almost no covering, supplies, or ammunition. Many believed the young revolution was now hopeless. But God would use a very special man, George Washington, to pull off a surprise attack on the British at Trenton, and the tide of the Revolution had turned. God would use this very special man to bring brighter days in the future for this land.

Whichever way you choose to open your lesson, then I would say something like: Today we are going to look at a very bleak time in the history of Israel; but God promised to send them One who would bring brighter days ahead — not only for THEM, but also for us, and for all who would humble themselves and believe on Him. 

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Sitting Before The Lord” (I Chronicles 17:16-20 sermon)

In the late 1800s, Alexander Graham Bell was a master inventor, producing, among other things, the first telephone. But Bell’s wife Mable was concerned. Once she wrote to her mother that the endless hours he devoted to the telephone frightened her. She said: “He has his machine running beautifully — but it will kill him if he is not careful.’” (Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic, p. 71)

Many of us face similar temptations today — and busy-ness IS a temptation that needs to be resisted. If we are too busy to get adequate rest; if we are too busy to get regular exercise, it will literally kill us — as it has many people throughout history. But we need to realize that the same thing is true on the spiritual level as well. If we are too busy to spend time with the Lord, it will kill us SPIRITUALLY, too. We need to slow down, and take time to sit before the Lord.

In I Chronicles 17, King David wanted to build God a “house,” a temple for worship. But through Nathan the prophet God told David that He never asked him to build Him a house; but He said, “The LORD will build a house for YOU”! And He prophesied that one of David’s offspring would set up a kingdom that would last forever (speaking of the Messiah that would be his descendant, which was fulfilled when Jesus was born in the City of David). This was an amazing promise, and David was humbled by it.

But David’s response to that is what I want us to focus on this morning. Verse 16 says “Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord …” and he began to pray. David’s response here, and the prayer that he prayed, has a lot to teach us:  

Continue reading
Posted in Discipleship, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teacher’s overview of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: Micah 3:1-12, “Leaders Needed”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of Micah 3:1-2, for Sunday, November 13, 2022, with the title, “Leaders Needed.” A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  ONE way you could introduce this lesson would be to ask your class members if they had a favorite president or governor or other political leader – either from modern days, or from history — and why?

(One of mine is James A. Garfield, president of the U.S. in 1881 (he was assassinated in his first year) but he was a real Christian. He once said, “I had rather be beaten in Right than succeed in Wrong.” (Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic, p. 98) And there are many others I could name.)

You and your class members can discuss current and former leaders you admire, and why. 

THEN you could say: This morning our lesson is entitled, “Leaders Needed,” and our passage from the Book of Micah speaks about good and bad qualities of leaders, and how they are accountable to God for what they do.

OR for an alternate introduction, you could take a few minutes and discuss the results of the elections that were held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 all across the country. People may be talking about them anyway, so this may be a good way to plug into that. Then make the transition: “As a matter of fact, today’s lesson deals with “Leaders” — a very appropriate topic for this week!

However you decide to open the lesson, I’d then do a brief overview of the Book of Micah, and the CONTEXT for the lesson this week:

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Greatest Verse in the Bible?” (John 3:16 sermon)

People often enjoy discussing who or what “the greatest” is in different areas of life. A new acronym has arisen in light of that: “GOAT,” which stands for “Greatest of All Time.” The first time I saw that, it was attributed to Tom Brady, who has continued to play into his mid-40s, and has won more Super Bowls than any other quarterback in history, so he has been labeled “The GOAT”: “The greatest of all time.” And others have been called “the greatest” of this or that, in many different fields. 

But what about the Bible? We are reading through the Bible together this year. What might be the greatest verse in the Bible? What would you say that it is? Poll after poll, survey after survey, consistently say that ONE verse is considered to be the “the greatest verse of scripture” in the Bible: John 3:16. Is it really the greatest verse? Well, greatness, like beauty, may be in the eye of the beholder, but I think you can certainly make a case that it could be the greatest verse. Why? Let’s look at it.  John 3:16 may possibly the greatest verse in all the Bible because it shows us:

Continue reading
Posted in Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lifeway Explore the Bible: Hosea 14:1-9 “The Restoration Promised”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson for Sunday, November 6, 2022, “The Restoration Promised, from Hosea 14:1-9. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  ??? You could start off by asking your class to share:

“What is a decision you made in your life, that you are very happy that you decided to make?”

(For example, about 12 years ago I decided to have LASIK surgery on my eyes; that was a VERY good decision for me; it has been a real blessing not to have to wear glasses all the time.

Or the decision I made to accept the call to our church in Angleton 4 years ago; we love it here and are so grateful we decided to come.

There are MANY examples that you/your group can share.)

Then I would say: today in our study of Hosea God is asking us to make a decision to come to HIM. If we do, it will be THE best decision we ever made!

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“A Good Servant & The Word” (I Timothy 4:6 sermon)

Years ago Winston Churchill, who was for many years prime minister of Britain, had just published a collection of his magazine articles under the title Thoughts and Adventures (Amid These Storms). In Churchill’s biography, William Manchester writes: “As usual, (Churchill) … sent copies to friends and acquaintances in high places. Opening an envelope bearing the royal crest, (Churchill) read aloud an acknowledgment from the Duke: ‘Dear Winston. Thank you for your new book. I have put it on the shelf with the others.’” (William Manchester, The Last Lion, Vol. II, p. 19) I guess we know what the Duke of Gloucester thought about Churchill’s new book!

As servants of God, what are we to do with our Master’s Book? One thing we know: we are NOT just to “put it on the shelf with all the others”! But what DOES God want us to do with it? Our verse for today, I Timothy 4:6 tells us.

I Timothy 4 opens with a warning against false teachers and their heretical teachings. We are living right now in days just like these verses describe: many falling away from the faith, “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” — that is, doctrines that demons inspire to deceive people with, and turn them away from the Biblical faith.  But God says in verse 6: here is what I want YOU to do. YOU be a “good servant of Christ Jesus” in these times, “nourished on the words of the faith …”, “which YOU have been following,” and “pointing out these things to the brethren.”  Notice there are at least three ways this verse teaches us that the good servant of God will respond to His word: 

Continue reading
Posted in Discipleship, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teachers’ Overview of Lifeway “Explore the Bible” lesson: Hosea 10:5-15 “The Sin Harvested”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson for Sunday, October 30, 2022. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  ??? You might ask your class something like: “Did you ever plant anything that you wished you hadn’t?”  I immediately think of a wisteria plant Cheryl & I had on the side of our house in Tulsa. It had some pretty blooms, and we thought, “Oh this is nice! But that thing exploded and took over, and starting choking out power lines and cables and fences and everything in sight! I started calling it the “demon vine” — and vowed never to have one again!

Our former pastor Rod Masteller moved to our home town, Harrah, Oklahoma, as a city boy, and thought he’d like to grow some okra. But he got tired of it, because it was growing so fast, so he decided to “just plow it all under.” One of the deacons told him: “Rod, you just THOUGHT you had a lot of okra this year! Wait till next year!” He’s gonna reap what he just sowed! 

Many of us have planted something we wished we hadn’t, for one reason or another. This week’s lesson in Hosea 10 speaks about sowing and reaping. Just like Galatians 6 says: “Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” This week’s lesson tells of how Israel sowed seeds of sin and ungodliness, and as a consequence, reaped a great judgment. But even in the midst of that, God expresses His mercy and grace, as we will see shortly.

If you’re having some difficulty with this lesson, I understand that. This is not the easiest text we’ve had! There are references to several historical people and places that most of us aren’t familiar with: “Beth-aven,” “King Jareb,”“Gibeah,” and “Shalman and Beth-arbel” that we need to know, to be able to explain and apply this lesson. We will touch on all of those in this overview.

And we’ll hit some of the highlights of the text; there are some real “gems” in this passage. Many of you have said you like to use an outline to teach from, if so, you could follow one like this:

Continue reading
Posted in Explore the Bible SS lesson overviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments