April 2011

Formations Lesson for May 15: God’s Righteousness Incarnate

April 28 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Romans 5:1-11

Our son is an avid windsurfer. It is one of his passions, and he describes his ability level as “expert.”

Avid windsurfers like to live a bit “on the edge.” They savor days with 40 knot winds and white-capping seas.

On a recent February day he took to the water for an afternoon of windsurfing on the Chowan River where we live.

As he was crisscrossing the turbulent river, I thought to myself, “Lord, please be with him because he has no ‘back-up’ plan.” If his board hit him in the head on one of his acrobatic leaps, there was not going to be any rescue boat.

He had no plan-B, and neither did we.

As we get older, we tend to become a bit more cautious in our decision-making.

While I can sometimes be bold, I don’t like to be dangerous. I like having a safety net. I like having a back-up plan.

Sometimes we may be guilty of thinking about the plan of God, beginning with the Incarnation and ending with the Cross and Resurrection, as some kind of plan B, a back-up plan.

We think, “If only we had been better people, if only we hadn’t sinned so much, if only we had given God more sacrifices,” then God would not have been compelled to send His Son. If you have ever thought like this, then know that your thinking was wrong.

God made us and knows our weaknesses even better than we do. God knew that sending Jesus Christ to be the sacrificial Lamb was not an option.

It was not plan B, it was plan A all along. “At the right time” (appointed moment — v. 6) God sent His Son.

The sending of Jesus Christ was the ultimate proof of God’s love (v. 8). God never said we were deserving.

Neither did He say we would have made the same decision. In fact, Paul concluded that our choosing to die for a good person, even a “saint,” would be rare indeed (v. 7).

Paul describes this life as the “reconciled” life (v. 10-11). I like his terminology.

This reconciled life is a life to be lived in “peace with God” (v. 1), but also lived somewhat on the edge.

This life comes at a cost, and there is the expectation that our goal and passion will be spiritual growth and maturity.

The apostle describes this growth process as including the following: suffering, endurance, character, and hope.

Each serves as a stepping stone for the next, bringing us closer to God.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/28/2011 7:10:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 15: Walk with God

April 28 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Ezra 7:1a, 6-10, 25-28; 9:4-6; 10:10-12

In Ezra 7-10 we read about Ezra the scribe, a man who lived in a culture every bit as “pagan” as our own.

Like us, Ezra was in the minority of his society; it did not acknowledge the God of Israel nor did it follow any of His commands. Ezra’s culture followed the Golden Rule in its conduct: whoever has the gold makes the rules. If you think about it, our culture is the same way.

Being a Jew where he was literally a “stranger in a strange land,” Ezra did not have the means to influence society, such as wealth and power. In Ezra 7:6, the reason the king gave Ezra everything for which he asked was “because the hand of the LORD his God was on him.” What made Ezra special or different or unique wasn’t what he had or even what things he did; it was the fact that God was blessing Ezra for who Ezra was. Ezra was “being” obedient and diligent in his service to his Lord, and this defined him.

My passion is to communicate with people. Specifically, I desire to communicate God’s Word as clearly as I possibly can. Every opportunity I have to teach, preach or even speak I try to “leave it all on the field” each time. I can look back over the course of my life and remember all types of events I would just as soon forget (of course, as I get older, I am finding this is becoming easier).

Most of the mistakes and “indiscretions” I made while younger — either while in the ministry or before in the business world — my motive was the same; a strong passion to communicate to the best of my ability.

Yet here is the conclusion to which I have come after “tasting my toes” oh so many times: it isn’t what I say or where I say it, and it isn’t how I say it. What matters more than anything is who I am.

If we think of the people we trust the most in our lives — our mechanics, doctors, pastors, counselors, teachers, and the like — we trust them not because of their wit, or the way they present themselves, but we trust them because of who they are.

Trust cannot be erected on a single post. Trust must be constructed on a foundation that incorporates knowledge, character, integrity (the thing on which character is built) and relationship. Because of Ezra’s relationship with his Lord, his king recognized him as being trustworthy.

We leave the clearest footprints when we walk with God.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/28/2011 7:07:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for May 8: God’s Righteousness Illustrated

April 25 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Romans 4:1-25

Someone once said, “I’d much rather see a sermon, than hear one.”

Yet, living a sermon, or always doing the righteous thing, is most difficult. All of us, if we’re willing to admit it, fall short.

For example, just last week a friend told me a sad story of his former pastor, a tragic case of moral failure.

According to him, it began as flirtation with a much younger lady in his church. He thought she was interested in him; he was obviously interested in her. So he told his wife he wanted a divorce. He wanted to seek another relationship. With his family imploding, he told the new object of affection his plans.

She said, “Buddy, you’ve gotten the wrong idea!” In short order she left town, and the former pastor was devastated by an obsession that had left him family-less. There are no perfect human role models. Our obsessions can do us great harm. Paul would know. Paul grew up as a devout Pharisee. He believed in the law. In his younger days he would have given his life for it. As part of the law, circumcision was a non-negotiable. If you wanted to get into heaven and be counted righteous, you must be circumcised. It was an accepted fact of life. Further, if you were not a Jew and had not been circumcised as a child, you could still “get right with God” by becoming circumcised and adopting the religion of Judaism.

There were hundreds of years of precedent.

But, then came his conversion while on the road to Damascus. From that point onward he had a different way of thinking and believing about many things, including the rite of circumcision.

Abraham was God’s righteousness illustrated. He wasn’t a perfect man. Neither was his wife. They both let God down numerous times.

When God promised this elderly couple a son, they thought God was crazy. When that son did not come quickly, they thought they could come up with a better plan.

Their “better plan” led to the birth of Ishmael, and while Ishmael would be the patriarch of a great nation, it was not God’s plan. Isaac, not Ishmael, was the son of promise and of “faith.” 

The theme of this passage is that Abraham’s righteousness was based upon faith, not circumcision. Young Abram was not circumcised. With his name change, he obeyed God and was circumcised at age 99. Ishmael was circumcised at age 13 and Isaac at 8 days old. But it was never about circumcision. It was always about belief, trust and faith in God.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/25/2011 8:43:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 8: Use Your Influence

April 25 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Esther 4:13-17; 8:3-8

While I was in high school I worked for a gentleman that certainly gave me the most unusual interview I have ever had since then.

After speaking with me and asking the usual questions one would ask a teenager, he took me to another room and sat me at a bench where there was a rather large drawer full of all types of parts and fasteners.

His instructions were very simple: separate all of the parts into the various containers sitting on the bench.

After finishing, I went and told him I was done, just as he had instructed. He came in, studied how I had divided the parts, made a few comments, and then began to dump them back into the drawer they were originally in. After returning everything to the drawer, he smiled at me and asked if I could start the next day.

On the way out he told me I was the first person to have completed the task that year — and it was around the last of May. Looking back I am thankful I did not know the why or what he would do with all of my newly organized groups! 

In the book of Esther we see a similar occurrence. For reasons beyond her knowledge and understanding, Esther had become the Queen of Ahasuerus’ kingdom. Esther didn’t ask for her position and she certainly had not asked for the responsibilities thrust on her. Yet, she was a favorite of the king, a very powerful king who could take a life by merely refusing to extend his scepter.

The moment Esther realized her influential position, she in turn asked Mordecai to have the people fast before she asked Ahasuerus to rescue and protect her people. It’s interesting that God did not expect Esther to exercise her influence and responsibility until she was confronted with it and recognized it. When Mordecai tells Esther in 4:14, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” Esther immediately requests her people to fast.

God does indeed have a purpose for every believer. It is not to find self-fulfillment, reach our “full potential” or to “be all we can be.” Our purpose is to bring glory to the Father by looking and acting like His Son. By using the influence given to us by God’s divine plan, we fulfill our purpose and expand the influence of His kingdom.

In the process, even we might be able to see some people get “saved.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/25/2011 8:39:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for May 1: God’s Righteousness Revealed

April 14 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Romans 3:21-31

There is an old joke that centers around an arrow and a target. It goes something like this. A man wandered through a town and saw a series of arrows perfectly centered in their targets, “bulls-eyes” every time. He thought that someone must have Robin Hood-like skill. So he inquired about it and found that the shooter of the arrows was a young boy. He asked the kid how he did it. He said, “It’s easy, sir. All you have to do is shoot the arrow into the fence, then paint your target around it.” Sadly, that is what we often do. We shoot the arrow, then we justify our target with something that sounds good to us or makes us feel good. Sin is literally “missing the mark.” Sin is doing things our way rather than God’s way. We are all guilty (3:23).

In this passage, we see that God’s righteousness is revealed in two parts: it is revealed through the law telling us that we can’t measure up and through Jesus Christ who voluntarily gave His life for us, what verse 24 calls “redemption.” Bottom line: we can’t earn our way into heaven. In Jewish theology there was this concept of righteousness being weighed on a scale. One’s eternal destiny was predicated upon doing more good deeds than bad. It seemed logical; doing good works helps everyone, does it not? In Paul’s personal life, he had struggled mightily with this doctrine of “good works.” He eventually realized that although he could have boasted forever about his goodness and his commitment to the perfect execution of law, he would have always fallen short. He would have always “missed the mark” by his own efforts. His conclusion was that he couldn’t do enough to deserve God’s stamp of approval — Jesus Christ was the only Just One and the only way he could find and receive God’s righteousness.

As such, Jesus Christ gave Himself as the “sacrifice of atonement” (some translations use the word “propitiation” or “expiation” — v. 25a). This concept deserves explanation. We have all sinned. We have caused God to grieve because of our sin. Our sin deserves punishment, and God’s anger or wrath against sin (and us) is justified. But how can God’s righteous anger be appeased except through punishing us? Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of death (atonement) served as the means of “propitiation,” of appeasing God’s just anger against our sin. And because of Jesus’ propitiation for our sins, those very same sins were necessarily “expiated,” or covered over, deemed “null and void” by God the Father.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/14/2011 9:26:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 1: Overcome Your Fears

April 14 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Joshua 1:1-11, 16-18

In Joshua 1, after God tells Joshua “be strong and courageous” twice (v. 6, 9), he later hears the same phrase from the officers of the people in v. 18. As we serve the Lord we often are confronted by the repetitious working of the Spirit. What makes repetition so effective is, well, its repetition. We usually hear the first time something occurs, but we actually listen the second time. When we are confronted with something a second time, it is at that moment we realize the importance of what is before us.

The first time I rode a roller coaster I believe I completely lost my cool; the way I screamed would have demanded my “man card” be taken from me. It was a rush, and it was scary — yet after it was over I ran back and got in line again! The ride was exactly the same the second time; same track, same seats, everything identical except one: I had experienced it before and I was back for more.

The main difference between the first and second ride for me was that I was excited about what was coming the second time. I lived through the first ride and now the coaster was starting its circuit again. I knew the curves and the hills would be fast, loud and scary. I knew I would most likely be giving up another “man card.”

Yet I had forgotten the trepidation and fear; instead I remembered the adrenaline and thrill. My heart was beating just as fast this second ride as it did on the first, but now I knew the ride was safe and survivable and that I would have a great experience.

It’s no different in our relationship with the Lord. Our first experience with Him is preparation for what He has next. We will scream, cry, laugh and doubt all the way through our experiences as we live with the Lord. Yet, He will turn around and use those events to ready us for the next one and the following one.

Life is not about the journey for the journey’s sake. Life is about our destination; the “journey” is our preparation engineered by the Lord Himself. Our destination is the open, welcoming arms of Christ who is waiting for us to live forever with Him in Heaven. Those outstretched arms, which will welcome us, are the same arms that opened wide on the Cross where He died for us. Those same arms carried our sin, carry us now, and will welcome us for all eternity.

The strength and courage we need to overcome our fears is not our own. It is His.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/14/2011 9:21:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for April 24: Raised With Him Through Faith

April 11 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Colossians 2:8-15  

What are you worth? What do you value?

Recently I had a conversation with a lady who asked me my opinion about an unequal relationship in her life. She has a friend whom she referred to as an “emergency friend.” Her friend only calls her when she is in a crisis — when she is unhappy or despondent. Her friend constantly wants compassion, but doesn’t see the need to reciprocate.  

When I asked her to tell me more about this “friend,” she said the woman is consumed by material possessions. She never has enough, and nothing in her life is making her happy. As we talked, it became very obvious that this woman is obsessively pursuing the wrong goals in life. She could be the “poster child” for Paul’s warning and admonition: Don’t be captive to this world (v. 8)!  

Paul’s hope for the Colossians was that they be “filled” with Christ (v. 10). To prove his point, the key word in this whole passage is “Him” (Christ). We find this reference to Christ’s provisions and Lordship about a dozen times. So, what has He done for us?  

The imagery Paul uses is profound. He speaks of circumcision and baptism and death and resurrection. He speaks of debts being cancelled and a relationship based upon forgiveness and grace. What more could a person hope or ask for?  

When I was in graduate school, there was a small part of my financial obligation that I could not pay. I just didn’t have the money, and when I talked with the dean of the school I stated the obvious.  

Apparently word got out to the right person and within a short period of time I was notified that my debt was paid. It was paid by an anonymous donor. I was free of that debt. Another time while on family vacation with our teenage children, the motor in our minivan blew up. It took about $3,000 to fix it, money that we personally did not have in reserve. Fortunately, my dad had given me some inheritance money some weeks before. Again, the debt was paid by someone else. It makes me think of one of my favorite sayings, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay.”  

Because of what Christ has done, we can experience all the benefits of resurrection. He has made you alive (v. 13), He has forgiven your trespasses (v. 13), He has erased the debt (v. 14), and He has triumphed (v. 15). That is the wonderful, glorious message of Easter!

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/11/2011 8:10:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 24: Encounter the Risen Lord

April 11 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passage: John 20:1-18  

Nothing establishes clarity as does the death of a loved one. The realization that someone is truly gone allows us to truly see the real worth of everything. Worries over jobs, houses and events are burned away through the searing heat of that moment.  

No longer are we confused over the balancing of things and careers. No longer are the projects and the neighborhoods important. We see, either for the first time or we revisit the reminder, the value and necessity of our relationships.  

This is exactly the situation in which Mary, the women with her and the disciples found themselves.

The man they called “Rabbi” and “Lord” was dead.

The heady anxiety of the circumstances from the previous three years had caused them spiritual blindness and deafness; they did not comprehend what Jesus had tried to tell them. Preoccupation with the immediate circumstances caused them to sacrifice an enduring awareness.  

Yet now all they experienced was deep, crushing grief. 

This grief stole their hope and blinded their understanding of Christ’s words in John 10:17, “I am laying down My life so I may take it up again.”  

He was letting them know He was giving up His life, but He would also take it back.  

Yet pain, just as it does with all of us, often has the ability to defeat even the most strongly held beliefs. Everyone is aware of the solid, white line placed along the right-hand edge of the roadway. 

One of its main purposes is to mark the furthest, safe edge of the road. Yet another important responsibility of this particular marker is a focus-point for drivers.  

When driving on a two-lane undivided highway, this line allows us to “see past” the glare of the headlights of oncoming traffic.  

When we are approached on a rainy night by lights that are almost painfully bright, we can focus on that solid, white line which allows us to have a clear view of the roadway on the other side of the advancing lights.  

It is no different with Jesus Christ! Hebrews 12:2 says it best: “Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” It is Christ alone who conquered death once and for all.  

It is Christ, the true “perfecter of our faith,” who can provide us with the ultimate resolution to our grief! Grief is not an end of itself!  

God, through His abundant mercies, has provided His Son as a focus-point on which we may continually gaze so we may achieve victory over all things, including death!

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/11/2011 8:06:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments