Teacher’s overview of Lifeway “Explore the Bible”: John 4:11-26 “But Whoever Drinks”

A brief overview for Sunday School teacher and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 4:11-26, for Sunday, January 8, 2023, with the title, “But Whoever Drinks.” (A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  I’ll be teaching the young adult SS class at First Baptist Angleton starting this week. Let me tell you how I plan to begin our class. We’re going to have a “welcome back to Sunday School” breakfast & snacks to open class, and as we eat, I’ll ask everyone: “As we start this New Year, what are some of your goals for 2023?” (You can call them “resolutions,” or some people don’t like that word; you can call them “commitments,” or “goals,” or whatever — but what are some things you feel like God wants you to do in 2023?)  Have some ready to share personally, and ask your group to share as well. 

(EX: I lost a bit of weight the last 3 months, and I’d like to continue that in 2023, and get down to my goal. I’d also like to emphasize reaching and discipling younger adults in our church — hence this class! — as well as reach out to some new neighborhoods that are being built here in Angleton.) That’s me — you share what’s on your heart, and let your group share theirs.

THEN you can say: these are all good goals, and God has some things in His word that should be goals for ALL of us. Our passage for today shows us one: that we should let God use us to reach out to people, like Jesus does here in John 4, in the story of the Samaritan Woman.  

Now, many of you didn’t had class at all the last couple of weeks, because they were Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. So how do you handle our study of John in light of that? You have a couple of options:

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Family Gingerbread House Contest 2022

It’s that time of year! Help us pick the winner of our yearly family gingerbread house contest. Look these over and vote for your favorite on the poll at the end. We’ll end the official voting on Monday night at 8:00!

#1 Merry Grinchmas, Max (Joshua & Libby Breland)

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“The Promise of Christmas” (Zechariah 2:10-11 sermon)

In the 1800s, R.H. Dana was a student at Harvard who got measles, which weekend his eyesight and kept him from being able to read, so he took a job on a sailing ship in hopes of regaining his health. His book, “Two Years Before The Mast,” tells the story of how he joined the ship “Pilgrim” and first began to live and sleep in what sailors call the “forecastle” of the ship. The “forecastle” (pronounced “foke-sul”), is a structure on the front of a ship, where all the common sailors bunk. When Dana moved in there, he said “we now began to feel like sailors.” He wrote “no man can be a sailor, or know what sailors are, until he has lived in the forecastle with them, turned in and out with them, and eaten from the common (meals).” 

What we celebrate at Christmas, is that in Jesus Christ, God left His home in heaven, and came to live in the “forecastle” with the “common people” of this world, that He might be one of us, and die for our sins on the cross.

There are a number of passages we traditionally turn to during the Christmas season: Luke 2, Matthew Chapters 1 & 2, like we read in our service last night. But as many of you know, this year I have taken my messages each Sunday from something we read in our Daily Bible Readings the week before. This week we see a wonderful Christmas passage in our regular reading this week, in Zechariah 2: 

“‘Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ declares the LORD.

This scripture was originally a promise to God’s people who had come back to Jerusalem a little more than 500 years before the time of Christ. If you remember, God had chosen Israel to be His people, to bring His word and the promise of the coming Messiah/Savior to the world. But for generations, Israel had disobeyed Yahweh, and served others gods instead. God gave them warning after warning through His prophets, but they would not repent, and finally He brought judgment on them, and they were carried away into captivity into Babylon, where they stayed for 70 years. But now in Zechariah, according to God’s promise, they had come back to the Promised Land. But they were a lowly bunch, few in number, and oppressed by their enemies around them. Their future didn’t look that bright for them. But God gave a great promise to them here in Zechariah 2:10-11 — the greatest promise there is — that He Himself would come and would dwell among them. God’s promise to His struggling people here was: “I am coming … and I will dwell in your midst” — so He says, “sing for joy”! Let’s look at what God promised Israel, and US, here in Zechariah 2:

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Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: John 3:4-18 “Everyone Who Believes”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 3:4-18 for Sunday, January 1, 2023, with the title, “Everyone Who Believes.” (A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO: ??? Many of us are familiar with Charles Dickens classic story: A Christmas Carol — maybe some of you saw it this Christmas season. The store opens with Ebenezer Scrooge being mean to his clerk Bob Cratchit; he turns down an opportunity to give to charity, and yells “Humbug” at his nephew who invites him over for Christmas. But as many of us know, by the end of the story: he really CHANGED: he sends a huge turkey over to the Cratchits, gives to charity, and goes to see his nephew for Christmas. Scrooge had a big change. 

??? You might follow that up then with the question (or not tell the Scrooge story and just open with the question) “Have you ever known someone who really changed?”

(For EX I had a friend in High School who had been very overweight as many years as we knew her, but one year she showed up at school after summer break and no one even knew who she was. She had lost so much weight, and everyone’s mouth just dropped when she walked into the student lounge. I’ve never seen someone change so much.)

You and your group can talk about people whom you have seen change — and then say: “The same thing can happen spiritually. God can change people through the power of His Holy Spirit. In today’s lesson, Jesus talks about that kind of change, with the famous phrase “born again” — and He talks about how that can happen through faith in Him.

The CONTEXT of this passage, of course, is we are continuing our study in the Book of John. We saw in Chapter 1 how Jesus is the God/Man who came to be “the lamb of God” who would die for our sins, and then He called His first disciples to follow Him. In Chapter 2 He turns the water into wine, the first of SEVEN MIRACLES that form the backbone of John 1-11, and Jesus cleanses the Temple from the people who were taking advantage of others. This brings us to our present chapter, John 3.

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“O Come Let Us Adore Him” (Revelation 4 & 5 sermon)

Christmas celebrations like many of us experience today haven’t really been in existence that long. Many old-time religious folk didn’t believe Christ was born on December 25, so they actually FORBID making it a special day of any kind. The Pilgrims, for example, did not celebrate on December 25; to them it was a work day like any other. In fact, the people who came over to America with the Pilgrims, but who didn’t share their religious views, whom the Pilgrims called the “Strangers” DID celebrate Christmas on December 25, and the Strangers had what was basically a big cricket or baseball game — and the Pilgrim Governor Bradford got mad came and took their bat and ball away and said you aren’t going to play ball while the rest of us are all out working! (Kind of a spoil sport, we might say today!)

In the South years ago, they had a tradition of the Christmas log: they would put this special Christmas log on the fire, and until that log burned completely down, nobody had to do any work. So the servants and slaves would come by, and sprinkle the log with water to keep it from burning up, so they could have more time off!

So as we read history, we see people who have celebrated Christmas in a number of very different ways. But for God’s people, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, and it ought to be about worship:

— When Jesus was born, Luke 2 says the angels sang in worship

— Then the shepherds came, and they worshiped Him

— And when the magi arrived, they too fell down and worshiped.

So the birth of Jesus is all about worship. One of our favorite Christmas songs says “O come let us adore Him.” Christmas is about worship. We read a lot about worship in our daily Bible readings last week in Revelation chapters 4 & 5. So as we close in on Christmas next Sunday, let’s look at what these chapters tell us about worship — and especially where our worship should be focused during this Christmas season.  There are several things for us to remember:

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Teacher’s overview of Lifeway “Explore the Bible”: Luke 2:1-15 “You Will Find”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of Luke 2:1-15, “You Will Find,” for Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022.

A video version of this overview is available at:

A lot of churches are NOT having Sunday School on Christmas Day, Dec. 25 (our church, FBC Angleton is not) but I know some of you are, so I wanted to a least get out a little something to help you if you are teaching class on Christmas Sunday.

INTRO: One way you could begin Sunday’s lesson would be to ask your group to share any interesting stories they have/or that they have heard from friends, about special or unusual circumstances around the birth of a child.

For EX: when we were living in Norman, OK, in 2013, we were up at the hospital just off of I-35 with our daughter Libby, and they had just told us that she had given birth to our first grand daughter. Moments later the tornado sirens went off, and they quickly evacuated the floor we were on. They put Libby and her baby in a storm proof room, and sent the rest of us to the basement, where people from the community gathered as well. We were all crowded together when we heard over the loudspeaker: “Prepare for impact!” It was a scary time for many of us. Thankfully the tornado, which was coming right at the hospital, took a last-minute turn away. But that is one baby delivery we will never forget — for many reasons.

You are welcome to share that story if you like (you can say this happened to a pastor you know!) or probably you, or some class members have a story about some special circumstances in association with the birth of a child. But when you’ve finished the stories, then say something like: “But no birth was accompanied with more exceptional circumstances than the birth of Jesus that we are celebrating today …” and get into the lesson in Luke 2.

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“I John’s Tests of Your Salvation”

Last week Cheryl & I went to the anniversary celebration at Challenger Aviation, Mike Challenger’s aviation business at Hobby Airport. Mike’s wife Mikelle’s dad is on staff at Sagemont Baptist in Houston, and we really enjoyed visiting with him and Mikelle’s mom while we were there. In the course of the conversation, Mikelle’s mom Lori ktold us how Mikelle had made a profession of faith in Christ and was baptized when she was very young — but a few years later she came to her with questions about whether she had really been saved. Lori wisely told her: “I don’t want you to live your whole life with doubts about your salvation,” and so she helped Mikelle make sure that day that she really was saved. I talked to Mikelle about it later and she said, I am not ashamed of that testimony! In fact, she said, “I’m so glad I ‘nailed it down’ before the pressures of high school and then college in California and then marriage and mothering 2 sons, one of which has special needs. Over the past 30 years I can’t imagine having doubts about my relationship with Jesus especially in the darkest of times.”

I really appreciate Mikelle’s testimony, because her experience is very common. Many, many people in our churches ask, “How can I know for sure if I’m really saved?” That’s NOT a trivial question. There is nothing more important than knowing for sure that you have eternal life in heaven. So how can you know? 

Sometimes people say something like, “Well, if you ‘made a decision’ at some point in your life, then you can know that you’re saved. But Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “NOT everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” So you can’t know you’re saved just because you supposedly “made a decision” some time in your past and said that Jesus was your Lord.

So how CAN you know? Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. God’s word gives us the answer. And one of the best places in the Bible where we can test ourselves and get assurance for our salvation is in the Book of I John which we read last week in our Daily Bible Reading. In fact, I John 5:13 gives us the purpose of that book. It says: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.”  John says the whole purpose of this book is to give Christians the assurance of their salvation. And it does that by giving us a series of tests, which we find throughout this book, about things that will be present in the life of a person who is genuinely saved.  So when you read through this book, you will either be COMFORTED, because you see these things are present in your life, or you will be CONVICTED, because you don’t see these things in your life. Are you really saved, or are you not? Let’s look at the tests of the genuine Christian that God gives us here in I John.

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Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway’s Explore the Bible lesson of John 2:11-23.

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 2:11-23, for Sunday, December 18, 2022, with the title: “I Will Raise.” A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO: One way you could open this week’s lesson would be to show a picture of this billboard that has appeared across the country with the big headline:   “Jesus was a vegetarian.”  I’ve seen those on the highway – you might ask your group if any of them they have. 

Then talk about how a lot of people probably see that and think, “Ok. Jesus was a vegetarian.” But was He? 

The PETA website says: “Many biblical scholars believe that Jesus was a vegetarian. Jesus’ message is one of love and compassion, and there is nothing loving or compassionate about factory farms and slaughterhouses …” etc.

But the solid, Biblical answer to that question is NO! Jesus was NOT a vegetarian.

— Luke 24:42-43 specifically says that after Jesus’ resurrection, “They gave Him a piece of broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.” That’s pretty clear. If you believe the Bible, there is no doubt the answer to the question is NO: Jesus was NOT a vegetarian.

(You could also point out that He celebrated the Passover with His disciples; LAMB was one of the primary elements at those Passover meals!)

So the clear witness of scripture is that Jesus was NOT a vegetarian. 

Then you might encourage your group: this morning we are going to look at another passage that shatters many people’s “preconceived ideas” about who Jesus is. But we need to make sure that what we believe about Jesus comes from His WORD, not from just pop culture or our own preconceived notions.  

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Teacher’s Overview of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: John 1:40-51, “Come and See.”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 1:40-51, for Sunday, December 11, 2022 with the title, “Come and See.”

(A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  ??? I might start this lesson by asking if any class members would share how they first came to follow Jesus?

(For example: I personally first responded to follow Christ at a VBS my Aunt Betty was leading in Pittsburgh, PA. She explained the gospel, and I stepped out the aisle of that little church to follow Jesus.)

So you and your class can share a few testimonies like that …

AND/OR you could start the class by sharing an interesting story of someone who came to Christ in a unique way, or by asking your class if they knew of someone who had a testimony like that.

One testimony you could use would be that of Dr. Francis Collins considered to be one of the most effective and ground-breaking scientists in the world, who chaired the Human Genome Project. He began his journey as an atheist, but while he was working in a hospital, he was attending a woman who had exhausted her options for treatment and was going to die soon. This woman had a strong faith, and she said, ‘You know, I’m ready to go. Don’t worry about me.’ And then she said, ‘Dr. Collins, you’ve been so kind to listen to me and care for me and listen to me share with you about my faith. Tell me about your faith. Tell me what you believe.’ Collins later wrote: ’Nobody had ever asked me that question before, not like that, not in such a simple, sincere way. I realized I didn’t know the answer. I felt uneasy. I could feel my face flushing. I wanted to get out of there. The ice was cracking under my feet. All of a sudden, by this simple question, everything was a muddle.’

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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 received 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. The mayor, on the other hand, (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! 

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