A brief overview of Lifeway’s Explore the Bible lesson of II Kings 22:8-20 for Sun., Aug. 28, 2022 “God Moves.” A video version of the overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: Have you ever been cleaning up, or digging through something — and come across an unusual find?
When I was a boy I traded my fleet of model ships for another friend’s baseball card collection. Years later I was digging through the attic and found those baseball cards: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver — and Nolan Ryan’s rookie card! What a great find — and they have just been shoved away in the attic!
But today we are going to look at an even greater “find” — when the word of God was “found” in the Temple of God in II Kings 22!
When John F. Kennedy was president, he was at a dinner one evening when an assistant defense secretary’s wife told him that every night when her husband comes home, she says to him: “How can they say those things about you? Aren’t they all awful!” — referring to the news of the day. Kennedy said to her, “You don’t say that to your husband when he comes home, do you? That’s not what you should do. Find one GOOD thing they say, say, ‘Isn’t that great?’” He said: I know I don’t want to rehash all that negative stuff when I get home; let me hear something positive that I can be grateful for. (Dallek, Camelot’s Court, p. 124)
That’s a good word not only for a husband or a wife, in their relationship, but for ALL of us, ALL the time. It’s so easy with all that’s going on in our lives, and in our world today, to focus on the negative things around us, and if we do, we just get dragged down by it. But a better course is to focus on we we have to thankful for. Being grateful will make a huge difference not only in our daily attitude, but also in the whole direction of our lives. And as Romans 1 shows us, if we are NOT grateful, it will take us down the worst of roads, and to the worst of destinations.
(A brief overview for Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of II Kings 19, for Sunday, August 21, 2022. A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: Ask your group to share some of the most dramatic, or important, or unexpected answers to prayer that they have ever experienced. (You may want to send this question to them in an email earlier in the week, to give them some time to think about it. The contact will also encourage them to be present Sunday.) It might help if you can start off by sharing a significant answer to prayer that you have had.
I’ll share one: last February I was scrolling down Facebook and saw the picture of a man who lives in North Carolina, who I had been praying for, for his salvation, for the last 7-8 years — and I had kept praying for him every week even after we left that church and moved here to Texas. But that day as I looked on Facebook I saw a picture of this man I had been praying for — being baptized at that church! I was delightedly shocked: WOW! God heard and answered that prayer!
God is a God who hears and and answers prayers. In fact, I have had some pretty substantial prayers answered even this week! I know we can’t share every answered prayer, because some of them involve other people — but think of a good answered prayer you can share, and encourage your class members to do the same.
Just sharing the answers to prayer God has given you and others, may be the best thing you do in class that day — and hearing about all these answers will encourage all of you to pray with even more faithfulness, faith, and fervor.
So after you share these answered prayers, you can say something like: our lesson today is about a famous answered prayer God gave King Hezekiah, in II Kings 19.
I remember when I was a boy, growing up at the First Baptist Church of Harrah, Oklahoma, our pastor (Hoyt Aduddell) had just preached one of those messages that sticks with you for some reason. The reason this particular message stuck with us, is that throughout the sermon, which was on greed, he continually used the phrase, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” “Gimme, gimme, gimme” he said, and that phrase was drilled into our minds repeatedly throughout the message. On the way out, feeling quite spiritually mature as an 8-year-old, I remember saying to my dad on the way out: “‘Gimme, gimme, gimme.’ That sounds just like the girls to me.” (I have three younger sisters.) But I’ll never forget: Dad looked over at me and said, “Sounds like all four of you to me!” Dad really put me in my place that day — and I needed it. It’s not just that my sisters were all greedy sinners and I wasn’t. We ALL are greedy sinners, and I needed to include myself in that number too.
The old Puritans said that one of the devil’s strategies is to get us to think that we are an exception. That the things that God has said in His word apply to “other” people, but not us. Somehow we are special. We are an exception to the rule. Other people are sinners but we are not. Or others’ sins are unacceptable, but we have good excuses for ours. Or others’ sins can be forgiven, but not ours — ours are too great. In one way or another, he wants us to think that we are an exception to the rule — which cuts us off from God’s word, and from His grace.
But our verse for today, Isaiah 53:6 reminds us of that none of us are “an exception to the rule,” we are ALL “in the same boat.” All of us have sinned, without exception. And what Jesus did, He did “for ALL of us” — YOU included. But there’s also something you have to do about it, if you want what Jesus did, to be applied to your life.
A brief overview for Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson for Sunday, August 14, 2022, “God Judges.” A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: You could ask your class: “What is something that used to be acceptable in society, but is not acceptable today?” (Or vice-versa, that used to be unacceptable, but IS today.)
— For example: smoking in public places used to be acceptable, but is not today (funny to see old movies where they’re smoking in restaurants, offices, etc.)
— I was reading a biography the other day, and it described how restrooms, and buses, and water fountains used to be segregated between blacks and whites, but of course that is not acceptable, or even legal, today.
You/your group can come up with many examples of how what is “right” or “acceptable” in society might have changed over the years.
But then I would make the point: many things in society change over the years, but GOD does not change in His view of right and wrong. In Malachi 3:6 God says, “I the Lord, do not change.” God’s moral standards of right and wrong do not change. What was wrong morally in Bible times is still wrong today. The sins God judged Israel for in their day, God will still judge today — which leads us to our focus passage in II Kings 17, “God Judges.”
One of my favorite books I read last year was a biography of John Hay, who is little known today, but he was one of the great men of the 1800’s. He began as a secretary for Abraham Lincoln, and served in several presidential administrations all the way through Theodore Roosevelt. A couple of his positions included serving as a U.S. ambassador and also as Secretary of State. He took these assignments very seriously, and he felt the weight of the responsibility of representing our President, and especially our country to nations and peoples overseas.
But we need to understand that as Christians, we have an even bigger responsibility than John Hay ever did: we represent our Lord to the world as ambassadors for CHRIST. Our verse for this morning says:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
This verse tells us that as Christians, we are not just representing ourselves in this world; we are representing CHRIST. And we need to take that responsibility seriously! Like an ambassador, we live in our present assignment temporarily, but we are here to represent heaven, and to share heaven’s message with the world.
(A brief overview for teachers and Sunday School leaders of the Lifeway “Explore the Bible” Sunday school lesson for Sunday, August 7, 2022 from II Kings 12:4-16. A video version of these notes is available at:
INTRO: You could ask your group to name Bible characters who exhibited both GOOD and BAD qualities. (Abraham: had faith, yet lied about Sarah being his sister; David: a man after God’s heart, writer of Psalms — yet committed adultery, lied, murdered over Bathsheba; and so on.)
Then after several of these have been shared, make the point, we are ALL that same way, with qualities good and bad. And this morning we are going to look at a relatively little-known king of Judah who exemplifies this: he was very much a “mixed bag.”
(OR you could do a similar type introduction using contemporary public figures — I’ll share a couple of examples of that later; you could use that either as in introduction, or later in the lesson.)
On the coastline of Japan, there is a little village called Aneyoshi. On a certain spot in the town, there is an ancient stone tablet, engraved with a somber warning: “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes beyond this point.” In 2011 a great tsunami did indeed strike the coast of Japan. Every home in Aneyoshi, which was built above that warning marker, survived — but thousands of others along the coast ignored that warning, and over 29,000 people were killed when the tsunami struck. They ignored the warning they should have listened to.
In our Bible reading in I Corinthians 10 this week, God also gives us some warnings, from the history of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, and if we are wise, we will also pay close attention to His warnings. We can summarize them in 3 “Warnings From The Wilderness.”
(A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson for July 31, 2022. Video version of these notes is available at:
INTRO: In 1776 George Washington and the Colonial army had the British penned in to the City of Boston after Bunker Hill, but things were beginning to get desperate. There had been virtually no good news for 6 months; they were woefully short of supplies of all kinds. Washington was very despondent. But all of the sudden came glad tidings: the American ship Lee captured a British supply ship Nancy just north of Boston. It was the first ship the new American Navy had actually captured. And it was loaded with military treasure: 2500 sets of arms, canon, mortar, bayonets, virtually everything they needed. Washington wrote to his aide-de-camp Joseph Reed, that it was “an instance of divine favor, for nothing surely ever came more apropos.” (David McCullough, 1776, p. 64) America’s founding fathers believed that God was a God who provided for them — and our lesson today from II Kings 7 reminds us that He indeed IS a Provider, not only for our country, but for our churches, and for us personally.
(This is a brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders of Lifeway’s Explore the Bible lesson for Sunday, July 27, 2022)
I’m going to suggest a couple of different ways you could begin this week’s lesson:
ONE way would be to hand your class members a slip of paper, with a question on it. Tell them you will not take up up this paper, and no one else will look at it. But write their honest answer to the question: “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?,’ what would you say?” Give them a minute to write their answer. Then say, I want you to hold onto this; tuck it into your Bible for a few minutes, and we will come back to these later ….
OR you could start by focusing on the military aspect of this story: “Do you have a favorite military hero/leader?” (George Washington; Robert E. Lee; Dwight Eisenhower, etc.) and say that today we are going to look at the story of a man who was a military hero, by the name of Naaman …
You might also share one of my favorite stories: of former general/President Eisenhower, who on his death bed in the 1960’s, asked for Billy Graham to come see him. He had conversed with Graham many times over the years, and Graham had shared the gospel with him. Now dying, Eisenhower said to Billy Graham: “Billy, tell me again how I can know for sure that I have eternal life; nothing else matters now.”
Of course he was right; nothing EVER matters more than knowing that we are washed from our sins, and that we have eternal life.
Dwight Eisenhower had accomplished a lot of things in his life:
Supreme Commander of allied forces in World War II; President of Columbia University in New York; President of the United States! But NONE of these things washed him from his sins or made him right with God. Then you could say: the man in our story for today was just like him: an honored general, but what he needed more than anything else, was the grace of God!
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 here. I am grateful to see these messages read in countries around the world, and pray that God will use His word to help individuals to walk with Him daily, and churches to glorify Him with their worship and obedience.