April 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 13: He Voluntarily Suffered: Be Grateful

April 26 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 19:28-22:65
 
I don’t like pain! When it comes to pain I will try any way I can to avoid or alleviate it.

Even as a child I would try to slip out of the doctor’s office to keep from getting a shot. I personally do not know anyone who enjoys pain. Pain can be physical, emotional or both.

Watching the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” and studying what He went through, I find it hard to conceive how much Jesus must have suffered leading up to His crucifixion.
 
On different occasions He tried to prepare the disciples for what was going to take place.
And, just as we often are, they were too absorbed with their own plans to listen.
 
Those three hours on the cross were the climax of the suffering He endured. He understood how hideous sin really is.
 
He knew what an eternity in hell separated from God would entail.
 
Being Creator, He understood what we are like. He also knew what we will go through in our Christian walk.
 
He gave us a memorial to remember the importance of His crucifixion in the Lord’s Supper.
We look back to what He has done, to our lives today, and to His return.
 
He knew that just like Peter we will disappoint Him, maybe not with words like Peter, but in our daily lives. The things we do or don’t do can cause great suffering and grief in our Savior.
 
He knew all that would happen, and still He did it for you and me.
 
We should be grateful that He was willing and able to suffer as He did. We need to show our gratitude with our lives.
 
First John 3:18 (HCSB) says: “Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”
 
We must come to the place where we seek to not do anything to disappoint Him.
 
We must stand for the truth no matter the stress, humiliation, or pain that we might endure.

Our living out our gratitude comes from our understanding of His willingness to suffer for us.
4/26/2012 2:38:33 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 13: A Legacy of Hope

April 26 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: 1 Samuel 1:10-20, 27-2:1; 12:23-24
           
This Mother’s Day lesson centers on Hannah’s prayer for a son and how prayer and hope work together. Mothers are generally hopeful over what the future will bring in the lives of their children. Hannah would be no exception, yet she was barren. She lived in an era when raising children into adulthood was pivotal for social status, for extending one’s family line, and for supporting an agrarian economy. Hannah likely faced daily ridicule because of her barren womb. She was grieved that she had no heir to give her husband. Her sadness did eventually give way to hope.
 
Hannah prayed to the Lord knowing He can turn disappointment into joy. She cast all her cares upon Him. Hannah’s sadness seemed to disappear quickly (v. 18). God did bless Hannah with a son, Samuel, who became a great leader in Israel. Phillips Brooks once said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger! Pray not for crutches but for wings!”
 
We all face times of doubt, little hope, and sometimes misery. Joyful living is found in daily turning to and resting in the Lord. In actuality, we “control” very little in our lives. Hannah had sorrow as she thought her predicament was incapable of change. What changed? She let go. Her foundation of hope was built through her prayers to God. She built a legacy of hope for generations.
 
At times God allows us to enter a time of disappointment so that we will recognize our need for Him. He is gracious to continue to shape us for our best and for His plans. God’s plans are always bigger than our dreams! Hannah released control over her barrenness and turned it over to God. This time, God gave Hannah her heart’s desire. Are you in a time of disappointment now? What “unchangeable” situation have you grieved over as Hannah did? Was it really unchangeable? Let’s leave a legacy of hope for the next generations by praying to God regularly.
4/26/2012 2:37:14 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 6: Christianity 106: Learn to Pray

April 24 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 17:11-19:27
 
A part of this week’s lesson covers Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is a challenging parable to us about how do we come before God. When we pray – do we come to God with an arrogant, self-righteous attitude – or do we come with humility?
 
Thinking about humility, it is basically self vs. God in our lives. Let us consider this idea using the acrostic words self and God.
 
When we come as the Pharisee did, we come arrogantly before God. We see that the Pharisee came with a superior attitude.
 
He thanked God that he was “not like other men.” We need to see that we are all sinners before God. At our best, we are sinners saved by grace.
 
This Pharisee also came with an ego-centered attitude.
 
Five times he uses the word “I” while only acknowledging God once. He came to talk to God, while the whole time he was focused upon himself. When we come to pray, are we focusing upon God or are we too wrapped up in ourselves?
 
The Pharisee shows his legalistic bent by telling God how good he was because of all the things he did.
 
Do we try to buy God’s favor by doing things?
 
Do we have a list that we seek to keep because we want God to value us?
 
We should do good things – not to earn His favor, but because we are grateful for what He has done for us.
 
Finally, the Pharisee was fault-finding. He gives God a list of the faults of others. Do we constantly keep record of the faults of others around us? Are we keeping a scorecard to compare ourselves to others? Rather than putting others down before God, we need to be intercessors for them.
 
The tax collector understood GOD – grace offers deliverance. When we come before God, we should come because of His grace and mercy. Prayer should be focused on God. Prayer should seek His mercy on ourselves. We must come humbly before God, and then He will hear and answer our prayers.
4/24/2012 7:38:38 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 6: Building a Legacy

April 24 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Deuteronomy 6:1-15a
 
As a child, I was fascinated by ripples. The effect of throwing a rock into a pond is harmless.  Conversely, a tsunami is an enormous “ripple” which leaves loss of life and devastation in its wake. Consider the ripples of a parent’s life. These ripples permanently impact their child. As a parent teaches their child how to live, and by what standards they should live, a legacy is forming. A legacy is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor, predecessor, or from the past. It is left for those behind us when we die.
 
Scripture encourages the believer to build the priceless heritage of a godly life.
 
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses prompts the Israelites to forge a legacy of loving the Lord your God with all of one’s being and teaching one’s children to follow the Lord, His ways, and His statutes. Moses’ words are timeless and true for us today as well. We are to leave a godly legacy for the next generation, and the next, and so on. 
 
Steve Farrar asserts, “In the Christian life, it’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish.”
 
Building a legacy that is worthy of emulation is challenging.
 
It requires tough choices and brokenness along the way. Farrar mentions that it is the rare, exceptional and teachable person who finishes strong. Is there anything in your life which may hinder you from finishing strong?
 
It is never too late to begin doing what’s right. Remember that your example casts a long shadow that will impact generations to come. We finish strong by fixing our eyes on Jesus.
 
Let’s build a legacy of following our Lord and replying on the Holy Spirit to survive life’s ambushes.
 
What is my legacy? What would my spouse and children say about my commitment to God? My friends?
 
My co-workers? What would God say about my commitment to Him?
 
Building a godly legacy for one’s children and grandchild-ren requires us to feast on God’s Word and to live it out daily.
4/24/2012 7:34:07 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 29: Christianity 105: Manage Money Well

April 12 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 13:22-17:10
 
A pastor told the story of a well-to-do man in his community who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. On the day that he was to be baptized, as he was stepping into the water, he suddenly stopped and said, “Wait, I’ll be right back.” The pastor said the man went back and grabbed his wallet. Money had been his god, and now he wanted to submit all to Christ.
 
Money is a great servant but a terrible master. Too often we allow money to become the controlling agent of our lives.
 
Turn on the news and you are bombarded by reports on the economy. If we are not careful we will allow the economy to establish and control our thoughts.
 
We will be looking to the economy for our future security. Who we look to for our future security often is a glimpse into where we really place our trust.
 
Does our view expose us as “professing” Christians while being “practicing” pagans?
 
Much of our unrest and uncertainty about the future stems from where our foundational trust is located. If our hope for tomorrow comes from our bank accounts, IRA’s, 401k’s and other economic sources, we will be constantly fearful. If it rests on the solid rock of Christ – we have confidence in the future.
 
Someone has said that you can tell where a person’s true heart is by looking at his calendar and checkbook. Where do we spend our time and money? Is it to pursue making more money? Is our goal to have one dollar more? Do we spend it all on ourselves and what we want out of life?
 
How much time and money do we spend reaching out, touching and helping those in need?
Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven and hell. Could it be He did this because we are so focused on money in place of what counts for eternity?
 
When we give account for ourselves before God (Romans 14:12), what will we say? Will the ledgers show that we helped or hoarded? Think about it.
4/12/2012 1:23:32 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 29: Jesus Is Coming Again

April 12 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Matthew 24:9-14, 39b-44; Revelation 7:9; 22:12-14
 
Wars and rumors of wars are some of the signs of the end times. Some countries have been experiencing civil war for years leaving refugees and others in their wake. In the midst of suffering and deprivation, many wonder when will the end come.
 
In Matthew 24, Jesus drops a bombshell of information on His disciples sharing that there is a time when nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. He speaks of how the church will be placed in the midst of this conflict. Even so, His promise in verse 13 is that those who stand firm will be saved in the end – a promise brings a secure hope to each believer. Stuart Weber notes that, “Each one who stands firm to the end in spite of persecution, false teaching, and the hardening of society’s conscience would enter into the eternal kingdom of heaven with the Messiah.” What a promise – a promise that only God can deliver.
 
As the end of time draws nearer, what is the church to do? Verse 14 has the answer – the gospel of the kingdom should be preached worldwide as a testimony to all nations. This testimony could win the listener over, and it could also condemn the guilty. The Good News is only good for those who accept it. There is an eternal difference for those who listen and accept it than for those who do not. The Bible says that the end is coming.  
 
Consider the parable of the faithful and wise steward. What does it teach us about readiness, stewardship and judgment? What does it teach us about serving and witnessing to others? Jesus said He is coming again. If you knew that the world was going to end in six months, what would you do, and how would your lifestyle change? No one knows when Jesus will return. Signs are increasingly being fulfilled in our generation. God is on time – never early and never late.  Be alert, be aware, and be ready. How are you preparing for the second coming of Christ? No one knows the day or the hour. Are you ready?
4/12/2012 1:21:40 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 22: Christianity 104: Be Good Neighbors

April 10 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 9:51-13:21
                     
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” For over three decades Fred Rogers opened his show for children with these words. He sought to broaden children’s view of how we work together.
 
A neighbor was more than just the person next door.
 
The old saying was that any two people were separated by six people. Last November because of the social networks, they now say that only 4.74 people separate any two people in the world.
 
Maybe the world is shrinking. So, in this day of Internet and other means, who is my neighbor? If I am to love my neighbor as both the Old and New Testaments teach, who is it?
 
It seems to be human nature to seek to find ways of not doing something. This is not always bad. We seek to “work smarter, not harder.”
 
We have invented machines to do many of the tasks we used to do by hand. My computer’s spell-check saves me from constantly going to the dictionary.
 
However, sometimes we seek to find ways out of doing things we should. God tells us to love our neighbor.
 
So, we try to narrow down the field. Even in Jesus’ day we see this happening. In this encounter the lawyer is basically saying, “Define neighbor.”
 
He, like us, was missing the true intent of what God was saying.
 
Being told to love my neighbor was not a limiting statement.
 
It was not based on the other person. It was an instruction to me. I am to love those I come in contact with.
 
As Mr. Rogers asked the children to be his neighbor, we are to seek out others to be a part of our neighborhood.
 
We are to be the good neighbor.
 
How do we do this? In the parable Jesus told, He emphasized having compassion on those who have needs.
 
We need to step outside our comfort zone and invite others in. But beware, when we do this we must accept the opportunities God presents to us.
4/10/2012 2:00:44 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 22: Jesus Works Through His Church

April 10 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Matthew 16:13-19; 28:18-20
 
A 1986 Gallup poll asked “Who do you say Jesus Christ is?” Eight in 10 Americans affirmed their belief that Jesus Christ is God or the Son of God. Yet only 50 percent of them would affirm the orthodox position that Jesus was in fact God living among men. Some mistakenly affirmed that Jesus was divine only in the sense that He was a man called by God to reveal God’s purposes in the world. If that latter view were true, our salvation would be ineffectual.
 
Twenty-six years later we live in a post-postmodernist culture. A coexist ethos is strong. Syncretism rules the day. Today’s answers to the same poll would yield that Jesus was an ancient philosopher, a powerful religious leader, an influential social reformer, or, if the respondent was very uninformed, that He never actually existed.
 
Matthew 16 records that Jesus conducted His own poll asking, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The answers varied, but Jesus was much more interested in His disciples’ understanding. Peter voiced his conviction and proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” His answer was both correct and God-given. The Holy Spirit has revealed Peter’s discovery to every believer. Our mission is to tell and show others how they can discover Jesus as the Christ, too.
 
Consider these questions for further discussion: Why is Peter still right? What does the title “Christ” mean? How should one interpret the insight (v. 17), power (v. 18), and authority (v. 19) given to Peter? What are the keys of the kingdom, and what do they bind and loose? There is so much here to grasp, more than this article can convey.
 
In Matthew 28, Jesus challenges his disciples (and believers everywhere) with an enormous challenge to make disciples wherever they are.
 
This same Great Commission is ours today. How will you respond to our mission to make disciples? It is the reason we are still here. Be faithful.
4/10/2012 1:58:31 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments