Curtis HallJerusalem was destroyed because of bad leadership.

As we have studied the book of Jeremiah we see spelled out how kings came and went who were evil. Their example in disregarding the will of God was replicated among the people. Like a breath of fresh air, we looked at the life of King Josiah and his marked determination to reverse the tide of idolatry and wickedness that flourished under the leadership of his forefathers. As he led in righteousness the people followed.

In spite of their favored status as a nation, their miraculous deliverance from bondage and their mighty triumphs against their national foes, God’s people forsook Him to worship and serve idols. Yes, the people were culpable in these crimes against heaven, yet had those in leadership been true to their calling, the destruction of Jerusalem would have never happened. (more…)

Victory in the Wilderness – Lesson 6

“I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Views of Rev. Martin Luther King, as he was stabbed in chest with letter opener.

Image: Vernoll Coleman/NY Daily News/Getty Images

In his famous Mountain Top speech, Dr. King recounts the impact of that moment.On September 20, 1958, as he sat signing autographs for his book, Martin Luther King Jr was stabbed and nearly killed. He was whisked to the hospital with the blade of the knife still stuck in his chest. It would take a delicate and laborious operation to remove it. So close was the tip of the blade to his aorta that he was told that if he had merely sneezed before it was removed, his life might have ended.

“And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution…”

“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent… I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.”

Dr. King’s survival of this assignation attempt paved the way for the advancement of the civil rights movement. His victory as it was, would unlock victories for masses of others. What he suffered and endured would have ramifications far beyond what he could have ever imagined. I’m so glad he didn’t sneeze.

This week we study another dastardly attempt on a life. The temptation in the wilderness story is more than a match of wills. Satan’s assault on Jesus concerned the entire human race. Each temptation was weighted with eternal consequences.

The Bible records that after forty days of fasting Jesus is confronted by Satan.

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:2-3

We could spend our time together dissecting the implication of Satan’s words. That same seed of doubt is what he used on Eve and sadly, what he often successfully uses on us. But our primary interest now is on the response of Jesus.

“But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4

In this profound response we gain much insight. The Deuteronomy text referenced the time in the sojourn through the wilderness by the Children of Israel. They were hungry and had zero means of providing food on their own. Zero.

They were given manna and the significance of this food is found in the same quotation:

“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know…” Deuteronomy 8:3

God provided for their needs by giving them something that had never existed before. He was not dependent on what was. This was a demonstration that they could place their complete confidence in Him. And it is here where Satan attempts to get Jesus.

If Jesus had turned the stones into bread it would have signaled a lack of confidence in His Father’s provision and care. Instead of relying on God to make a way out of no way, Jesus would have set an example for men that when the going gets tough, don’t wait on God. And this one deviation from complete confidence in God would have spelled the eternal ruin of man.

I’m so glad He didn’t turn the stones into bread. If had turned the stones into bread He would not have been able to reward the leper’s complete faith in him when he said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Matthew 8:2

If had turned the stones into bread He would not have been able to say to the centurion whose heart was broken and in anguish over the sickness and eventual death of his servant, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.” Matthew 8:13

If had turned the stones into bread He would not have been able to say to the woman with the 12 year long ordeal of bleeding, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.” Matthew 9:22

In each chapter of the sacred Word of God we find assurances of God’s love and care for us. And in the story of a wilderness encounter with the enemy of man, we find in Jesus our example of complete confidence in God’s love and care for us. I’m so glad He didn’t turn stones into bread.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does it mean to have complete confidence in God?
  • Is being able to repeat scriptures the secret to overcoming temptation? Why yes or no?
  • Explain what it means to “live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
  • What, if any, is the difference between knowing facts about God and having faith in God?
  • What is the difference between faith and presumption?
  • How can one know if what they are attempting to do is outside of the will of God?
  • Is gaining the victory over appetite simply eating healthfully? Explain your answer.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: It is easier to gain the victory over temptation if you can control your appetite. Explain your answer.

We close this week’s lesson on Victory in the Garden with a text that sums up our faith relationship with God.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School. 

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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Controversy Continues – Lesson 5

Curtis HallThis week we look at how some monumental Bible characters played important roles during times of crisis. The author of this lesson week’s lesson pointed out how each of the persons in the lesson was instrumental in a period of deliverance needed for God’s people.  But what was it about these characters that led to their being used by God?

Using David as an example for all of our subjects, his encounter with Goliath was a clear example of courage. Even in the face of tremendous odds against him and with the potential to lose his life in the battle, David showed remarkable courage as he faced off against Goliath.I believe it is courage. They had courage to do the unusual in times of difficulty. One definition of courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

But what brought David to that moment in history? Why did he risk life and limb to fight a giant warrior? That answer is in our second definition of courage which is “the courage of one’s convictions, the confidence to act in accordance with one’s beliefs.” Listen as David confronts Goliath on the battlefield.


photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Conflict and Crisis: The Judges – Lesson 4

We have a full cast of characters to study this week. Deborah, Gideon, Sampson, Ruth and Samuel. Each found themselves in pivotal positions at times of conflict and crisis. God used them to do extraordinary things. These are heroes of the Bible, but all heroes are first ordinary people just like you and I.

Curtis HallWe begin with Deborah, an influential judge in Israel. After many years of being dominated by a foreign power, the Israelites were crying out to be delivered. She gave the charge of leading the army to Barak. It was no small charge. Not only his life, but the lives of the men he would lead into battle would be at stake. His doubt of victory is shown in his response.Let’s look at the life lessons we can take away from each one of these characters.

And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” Judges 4:8

Her response reveals much about her character and it is here where we will gain our first life lesson.

“So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” Judges 4:9

Lesson one: Only ask others to do what you yourself are willing to do. How easy it is to give others advice and counsel that we are not willing to follow ourselves. How easy it is for us to tell people to attempt lofty things for God, or to make serious changes in their lives yet our own lives are a contradiction to our words. Deborah shows us that she was willing to “put skin in the game.” So should we.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Crisis in Eden – Lesson 2

Curtis HallThey had it made; a perfect world, a perfect marriage, a perfect home and a perfect future. They had everything that we long for today. No cares or worries. No concern for what tomorrow would bring them. Strife, stress, tension were unknown to them. It’s hard to fathom how they could be led to risk everything they had for a mere suggestion that they could have more.

How did Satan accomplish the fall of our first parents? His strategy was really quite simple. It’s one that not only led the sinless pair into ruin, it’s a strategy that today still plagues the sons and daughters of God. There is not a day that goes by that the evil one does not press upon us his devilish plan of attack.

To Eve we see the unfolding of this attack upon her relationship with God. As she found herself standing before the forbidden tree she was instantly subjected to words from our enemy that, once entertained, would prove deadly.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall