A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 9:24-38, for Sunday, February 12, 2023, with the title: “You Have Seen Him.”
(A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
??? The Leader’s Guide has a good opening question: “What’s your favorite photo, and why?” (Maybe have your group show their favorite photo on their phone!) After talking about that for a while, then you could introduce today’s story, about the man born blind.
OR: ??? You could begin class by asking you group: what’s one of the best salvation testimonies you have heard?
??? OR open class by sharing your own salvation testimony
??? OR line up one of your class members, or someone else from church, to share their testimony to open the lesson time.
Then say: today we are going to look at the testimony of another man whose life was changed by Jesus: the man born blind in John Chapter 9…
My car’s Owner’s Manual is not my favorite book ever to read — in fact I can’t say I have ever read it all the way through. But I am also really glad that I have it when I need it — like when I had a flat tire and needed to know where the stuff was to change it — especially that special socket for the lock nut that you can’t get your tire off without — I was really glad I had the owner’s manual to help me with that when I needed it. Well, today’s session may be somewhat like my Owner’s Manual. This 4th session of Discovering FBCA has some technical details that may not be the most exciting, but they are important and necessary to the “nuts and bolts” of our operation as a church.
This is the final session of our “Discovering FBC” class; if you have been in attendance for all 4 sessions, then you will be eligible to apply for church membership after today’s lesson. If you have NOT been at all of the previous class sessions, then you just need to make up the sessions you have missed — you don’t need to take them in order. (Get with me and we’ll set up a way to get that done.)
Tonight’s session will cover some of the “nuts and bolts” of the ministry at First Baptist, things like our Constitution & By-Laws, budget and finances, and our missions giving. And if the Lord leads you to, at the end you can fill out an application for church membership.
A brief overview for Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 8:3-18, for Sunday February 5, 2023. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: There’s a pretty good intro in the Student book about the darkness at Mammoth Cave – and then you might ask your group to share times of darkness they’d experienced/when they needed light – and you might share one too.
OR I might personally focus more on the first part of this lesson with the adulterous woman; if so I would begin with a story like this (If you did not use it in our lesson on Hosea 1)
Major General Dan Sickles served in the Union Army in the Civil War. “Sickles had been a state senator and then member of Congress … he had his sights fixed on the presidency … And then he killed Philip Barton Key. Son of the man who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Key … handled certain legal business for Sickles, and Sickles in turn helped to persuade President Buchanan to reappoint Key as United States attorney when his term expired. Key became friendly with Mrs. Sickles, had assignations with her in a shabby flat on Vermont Avenue in Washington, and one day was shot dead by Sickles on the sidewalk bordering Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Having killed him, Sickles walked down he street and surrendered his revolver and his person to Attorney General Black.
A generation ago, a group of people in the town Cheryl & I grew up in decided to start a new church. Their first service was held in the home of one of the members. The adult worship service met in the living room, and the class for children was in one of the bedrooms. One of the families had a little girl, who just could not get it in her mind that they were really “at church.” In her little preschool voice, she protested: “This is not a chu’ch; this is Twoy’s house! A chu’ch doesn’t have a bed. A chu’ch doesn’t have a couch and a fireplace. This is NOT a chu’ch!” People laughed at that little girl’s misunderstanding about what a church is — but the truth is, a lot of adults have similar misconceptions: many people think that the church is a building, when in fact the church is really not a “building” at all, but the PEOPLE God has saved and gathered, and the ministries they perform together.
So today we begin Session 3 of “Discovering First Baptist Angleton”, and we want to familiarize everyone with our church ministries. And you will have an opportunity to fill out a survey sheet indicating how God has gifted and inclined you for service in the church. One of our most important goals today is for YOU to discover YOUR place of ministry here at FBCA!
A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 7:14-29 for Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, “He Sent Me.”
(A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: One way to begin the lesson this week would be to ask your class: “Can you think of a time, in the Bible or in your experience, when God did things differently than people might have expected?”
(There are many examples from scripture: God sending Israel through the Red Sea, and the wilderness, instead of the direct route to the Holy Land. God calling a fearful Gideon to lead His people in Judges instead of some brave warrior; God calling little David instead of the impressive Eliab to be king of Israel, etc.)
(One experience from my own life: I had a minister of music friend ask me about 5 years ago if it was ok if he put my resume in at his church. I told him, I’d love to work with you again, but I’ 60 years old, and I’ve just come off of being out of the ministry for 2 years sick; that’s not usually the kind of guy churches are looking for at the top of their list! But as everything unfolded, me to FBCA: not high on the list: 60 & sick! But it was God’s will, and He has blessed these last 4 years.)
You and your group can share more like this.
How many times is it just like that: God’s plan, God’s ways, are way different that anything we expected. (That’s one of the reasons why we need to be careful how we pray: let’s don’t get I the habit of telling God how we think He should do things!) He OFTEN/usually does things differently than WE would have: including when it came to sending Jesus!
God’s ways are different than man’s. Isaiah 55:8-9 says: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” God’s ways are different than Man’s — and we see that spelled out in several ways in John 7 this week.
— Not long ago, the news reported about a child who had an illness that could have been easily treated with medication, but he died because his parents did not believe in calling doctors or using medication.
— During World War II, Japanese kamikaze pilots flew to their death on suicide missions, because they believed that if they died while fighting the enemy, they would go right to paradise.
— Muslim terrorists today do the same thing, thinking if they die while on “jihad” they’ll earn maidens and servants and pleasures forever in Paradise.
You know what all these have in common? They’re all based on what these people believe. Some people claim that what you believe in your religion really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re sincere — but these kinds of examples, and many others, show us that it DOES matter very much what you believe. Beliefs have consequences.
So this second session of Discovering First Baptist is one of the most important, as it covers what we believe as a Baptist church. And as dramatic as some of those examples I gave just a moment ago are, the consequences of our beliefs in the spiritual realm are even more important. What you believe will make the difference between going to heaven and going to hell. It very much matters what you believe. So we DO take doctrine seriously. Having said that, all doctrine does not carry the same weight of importance:
THE “THEOLOGICAL TRIAGE”
Al Mohler, the president of our Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, has a concept he calls “Theological Triage”. Many of you know what a “triage” is. Whenever there is a tragedy, they separate the patients into groups: those that are most critical and need immediate help, vs. those that are superficial and not as urgent. Dr. Mohler suggests that doctrines are like that. Everything we believe is important. But some teachings are more essential to our faith than others.
(A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 6:26-40, for Sunday, January 22, 2023. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: MAKE/BUY BREAD FOR YOUR CLASS THAT DAY!
Then discuss: “What’s your favorite kind of bread?”
(Cornbread; sourdough bread!, monkey bread, bran rolls; cinnamon rolls are a kind of bread … etc.) Share your favorites.
Then at the appropriate time you can say: Today in our study of the Book of John, we’re going to see how Jesus said that HE is the “bread” of life.
CONTEXT: Book of John
John 1: the Person & Work of Christ: “fully God and fully Man” (John 1:1 & 1:14) and “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Chapter 2 has the first of the 7 Signs that John 1-11 is built around.
Chapter 3 is Nicodemus’ famous visit and John 3:16
Chapter 4 = how Jesus reached out to the Woman at the well, and we need to do the same w/others
Chapter 5 Jesus healed the man at Bethesda, but legalists began to fight against Him.
NOW Chapter 6 opens with Jesus feeding the 5000. In :15 they wanted to make Him King, so He withdrew to the mountain alone.
So in :16+ Jesus walks on water and meets the disciples. The crowd meets Him on the other side, and in :25 they ask Him: “Rabbi, when did You get here?” This brings us to our focus text, beginning in :26.
About 300 A.D., a man named Marius Victorinus told a friend of his by the name of Simplicianus that he was now a Christian. He said he wasn’t going to church, and wasn’t going to tell anyone about it, but that he now counted himself as a Christian. Simplicianus told his friend: ‘I shall not believe it, or count (you) as a Christian until I see you in the Church of Christ.’” (Confessions, VIII, ii, 4, quoted in Brown, Augustine, p 95)
Simplicianus’ words to his friend were strong. But there is some wisdom in them. NO, Church membership does NOT save you. Let’s be clear about that. It is only faith in Jesus that saves. But church membership IS a vital element in a person’s Christian life. Yes, technically you could be a Christian and not be a member of a local church — but that’s kind of like saying you’re in the army, but you aren’t part of any particular regiment. If you’re in the army, you’ve got a specific place where you serve. And it should be the same way in the Christian army too. We need to belong to a local church, where people know us, and we know them, to whom we are accountable, and with whom we are actively serving in particular ways in God’s army for His Kingdom purposes.
So today we are beginning this series: “Discovering First Baptist Church,” which is the class that all new members will go through. Our church council suggested that we all go through this together, and I thought that was a great idea.. This will be a good review for all of us who are already members, and make sure we are all on the same page, and it will also serve as Class #1 for any of us who are interested in joining our church.
A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, over Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 5:5-16 for Sunday, January 15, 2023, with the title, “Pick Up Your Mat.”(A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: “Who is someone in our society who might be considered divisive or controversial?” (Some could include: Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lena Hidalgo/mayor Houston, Franklin Graham; Whoopi Goldberg, etc)
After you/your group have mentioned some of these and why, then I would = I’d add another: JESUS is very divisive and controversial! Jesus Himself said “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) — He is divisive. All through this book of John we see John write: “there arose a division because of Him.” Then = In today’s lesson we see controversy arise as some legalistic people take offense to Jesus’ ministry. Let’s look at what He did, and how we do not want to be like them!
A couple of years ago they conducted a survey of Americans which asked what they would do, if they knew the world was coming to an end soon. Two of the very top responses given were: 1) to go out and get drunk, and 2) go on a trip to Las Vegas. I was amazed — but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. That is the kind of attitude you should probably expect from a person who doesn’t know God: “eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow we die.” But the Christian person, on the other hand, should have an entirely different attitude. Jesus is coming back. The end is near. We don’t know when, but it is closer than it has ever been before. But even if the Lord doesn’t come back in 2023 — and perhaps He will NOT — we should still live our lives this year in a way that will honor Him as He watches what we do. So what should we, as those who claim to be God’s people, do this year in light of that?
We don’t have to just “dream up” an answer; God’s word gives us directions for this very case in I Peter 4:7-11. This passage begins with the phrase: “The end of all things is at hand” (or “is drawing near.”) And then he follows that with several admonitions about what we should we do when the end is drawing near — which I think are also things we should commit to do as we face a brand new year:
A Southern Baptist pastor for almost 35 years, I currently serve as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Angleton, Texas, and post my weekly sermons on this site, as well as a brief overview for Sunday School teachers of the weekly Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson.