April 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 12: Look for Qualified Spiritual Leaders

April 25 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 1:1-16
 
Someone described the perfect pastor like this: He preaches exactly 15 minutes, condemns sin, but never upsets anyone. He works from 8 a.m. until midnight and is also the janitor. He makes $60 per week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car ... and gives about $50 per week to the poor. He is 28 years old and has been preaching for 30 years. He is wonderfully gentle and handsome. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his spare time with senior citizens.
 
The perfect pastor smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls a day on church families, shut-ins and hospitalized; spends all his time evangelizing the “unchurched” and is always in his office when needed.
 
All joking aside, finding a qualified pastor is serious business. Paul’s message to Titus was the same as that given to Timothy (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Pastors, also called “elders, bishops and overseers,” are to be blameless, one-wife men, diligent, firm yet loving fathers, spiritually disciplined, humble, generous, hospitable, sensitive, and holy. Pastors are also to know their Bible, and to steadfastly refute those who oppose Christ and the scriptures.
 
Paul knew that Titus had his work cut out for him in Crete – it was an extremely difficult mission field. The reputation of the Cretans is found in v. 12, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Further, Paul referred to those who had opposed him during his time on Crete as “detestable, disobedient, and disqualified” (v. 16b). Moreover, those who were steeped in Judaism were the worst of the bunch.
 
Parishoners, if you are looking for a new pastor, spend much time in prayer for him and his family. Give him your best, allow him to both succeed and fail, and look at his time with you as a journey worth undertaking. If you already have a wonderful pastor, count yourself blessed!
4/25/2013 2:05:14 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 12: Building the Home I Need

April 25 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Proverbs 31:10-12, 15-20, 25-31
 
There is much confusion in our world today. Even as I write this article the Supreme Court is working through the legality of same-sex marriage in our country. The Boy Scouts will meet later this month to decide if they will drop the ban on gay members and leaders.
 
Gender identity issues continue to be a heated topic. Divorce continues to impact lives all over America. People living together before marriage seems to be the norm for our culture. There is no wonder homes are falling apart. In fact, most young people have been so impacted by secularism they do not have a clue what the Bible says about creating a Christ-centered home. Thankfully, our passage in this lesson can take us in the right direction.
 
Proverbs 31:10-31 is often described as the “Virtuous Woman” because it provides an example of a godly wife and mother. The commentator groups the virtuous woman’s attributes into the three major divisions: (1) trustworthiness; (2) responsible; and (3) godliness. Within these divisions I have identified a total of 21 attributes that will help you produce a godly home. These attributes are designated for the wife and mother, but many are applicable to the husband or grandparents. They include: valuable (v. 10); trustworthy (v. 11); godly (v. 12); hard worker (v. 13); interesting (v. 14); selfless (v. 15); wise/thrifty (v. 16); stable (v. 17); planner (v. 18); resourceful (v. 19); compassionate (v. 20); well-prepared (v. 21); takes care of herself (v. 22); she is her husband’s best resume (v. 23); knowledgeable (v. 24); righteous (v. 25); intelligent (v. 26); not lazy (v. 27); excellence (vs. 28-29); not superficial (v. 30); and God-honoring (v. 31).
 
Perhaps, you know a young wife or mother who is seeking God’s wisdom on how to have a godly home. I would recommend the study and application of Proverbs 31:10-31 as a starting point. God is always faithful and will bless her as she lives out His Word.
4/25/2013 2:01:13 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 5: Be Persistent to the End

April 23 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-18
           
One of the most famous speeches given in our time was the 1993 ESPY speech delivered by the late Jim Valvano. Diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer in 1992, Valvano and ESPN united to create the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. Valvano understood persistence, winning against all odds, and never giving up. In 1983 he and the N.C. State Wolfpack won the NCAA basketball tournament, defeating a Houston University team with two future professional hall-of-famers, Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler. Against all odds, Valvano believed in his team. In the ESPY speech delivered just two months prior to his death, Valvano said, “There are three things we should do each day: laugh, think and let your emotions move you to tears. Remember where you came from, where you are, and where you are going.” He ended his speech stating the motto for the V Foundation, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
 
In this text the great apostle and missionary Paul saw the end of his life (v. 6ff). He knew he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Like Valvano, this was a bittersweet and emotional time for him. He lamented those who had abandoned him, men such as Demas, who had put the pleasures of the world above Christ, and Alexander, the coppersmith, who had done him harm. Yes, Luke was with him, but Paul desperately wanted Timothy and the restored John Mark to join him as well. There were personal belongings that Paul wanted and needed, but even more he desired his spiritual family. Together they had traveled the world starting churches and encouraging believers, and Paul wanted them by his side when his physical journey ended. 
 
Paul was addressing two issues: the legacy of ministry and his own fate. Paul knew his legacy would pass through the proven missionary team he had assembled. He needed them to stay on task when void of Paul’s presence. The latter issue was Paul’s own fate. He was determined to end well.
4/23/2013 1:50:29 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 5: Getting My Most Important Relationship Right

April 23 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Proverbs 3:5-8, 13-18, 31-35
 
I have the privilege of being married to the greatest and most godly woman in the world, Beth Wooten. Unfortunately, her “thorn in the flesh,” her burden to carry is being married to me. Nevertheless, we will celebrate 17 years of marriage this summer.
 
When I look back at the early stages of our relationship I am reminded how much I needed God’s guidance. Even when we were dating I remember trying to figure out if she truly liked me. One night while we were dating I began inquiring about the status of our relationship. After a few questions from me, she said, “Bartley, I gave Jesus the keys to my heart a long time ago, and when He is ready for me to give them to another man I will let you know.” That night I went home and wrote in my prayer journal the following words, “I pray Lord you will give me the keys to Beth Mackey’s heart – that I will see evidence of your work. If it is not Your will God I pray you break all desires from my heart” (March 17, 1995). We were married July 27, 1996.
 
One may ask what does your relationship with your wife have to do with Proverbs 3:5-8? For me, it meant everything. In those early days, I lost 20 pounds trying to figure out how to get Beth to like me more. I eventually came to a point where I quit trying in my own strength and simply lived out Proverbs 3:5-6. In other words, I learned that if I trusted God with every aspect of my life, including my relationships, He would guide me every step of the way. 
 
Maybe there is something in your life that you need to give to God. It may not be a relationship issue like mine, but perhaps it is a job situation or financial problem. I’ve learned over the years that if I want God’s best, I must first be willing to make Him the supreme love of my life. Then He will make my paths straight.       
4/23/2013 1:46:55 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 28 – Be Guided in God’s Word

April 11 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-17
           
The famous Chinese Christian teacher, author and leader, Watchman Nee, wrote the following story in The Normal Christian Life. While on retreat, Mr. Nee led a husband and wife to a salvation experience with Christ. Nee told the husband that the Holy Spirit would open the scriptures for him so he could live like Jesus. Winter was approaching, however, and Mr. Nee had to return to Shanghai. Now, before becoming a believer, the man’s habit during the long, harsh winter months was drinking substantial amounts of wine with his meals, often leading to drunkenness. As a new Christian, the man was conflicted. Should he continue drinking wine with his meals? As a means of discernment, the man tried to pray before his meal, and no words would come from his mind or mouth. His wife thought him foolish and told him to go ahead and drink the wine. It wouldn’t hurt. The man, however, chose to listen to the Spirit rather than his wife. God was directing the man to the Bible, and when he read the Bible, he was convinced that his former habit of excessive drinking was not good. He told his wife to take the wine away. Some months later the man was able to visit Watchman Nee in Shanghai.

He told the great teacher what he had learned. In Chinese he said, “Brother Nee, Resident Boss wouldn’t let me drink!” Mr. Nee said, “Very good. You always listen to Resident Boss!”

Watchman Nee often wrote about the difference between the natural man and the godly man. The difference is how we listen to and obey God. In verses 1-9 we have an extensive description of the ungodly man. At least 18 characteristics or manifestations are listed. Timothy is warned to avoid such people; don’t let them have leadership in the church. The godly man knows, relies upon and follows scripture. Verse 16 tells us that “all” scripture is God-breathed. The Bible will teach, rebuke, correct and train the Christian in right thinking, believing and living.
4/11/2013 2:17:10 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 28 – Blessings of Holiness

April 11 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Leviticus 26:3-13, 40-42, 45
 
In Leviticus 26, God promises three blessings for those who walk in His statutes. They include: fruitfulness, His continual presence and restoration. Each of these blessings is contingent on us walking in holiness.

In the first blessing God promises to provide a fruitful harvest (26:3-10). In Israel’s day the need for rain was crucial for the fields and trees to yield its fruit. God promised Israel if they would walk in statutes He would provide the rain and the fruit would come in its season. The New Testament has a parallel thought for those who walk with the Lord. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

In the second blessing, God promises His continued presence among those who walk in His ways (26:11-13). Unlike the pagan gods of Israel’s day, God promised to be with his people if they obeyed His commands. That promise is still true today. The scripture says that Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Third, God promises restoration for those who find themselves in sin and under God’s discipline if they will repent and confess it to Him (26:40-42, 45). I experienced the reality of this promise many years ago in my early 20’s. As a Christian I wanted to have things my way and walked in a season of disobedience. God, in His mercy, disciplined me. There were several months where I felt I was in a spiritual quarantine. As I repented of my sin, God spoke to my heart through His Word. This is what He said, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields a peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). After reading that passage, I knew God loved me enough to discipline me that I might enjoy His very best for my life.

Do you want God’s blessings? If so, it starts with walking in holiness.
4/11/2013 2:09:10 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 21: Be Strong in God’s Work

April 8 2013 by By Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: 2 Timothy 2:1-10, 14-15, 22-26
 
When Denver Bronco’s president John Elway made the decision to pay Peyton Manning $96 million for five years to be their quarterback, I was skeptical. In 2011 Manning had a series of neck operations. He spent a whole year rehabbing, and the Indianapolis Colts believed it was in their best interests to let Manning go.  Until the serious neck injury, Peyton Manning had never missed a start as a NFL quarterback. He missed the entire 2011-12 season, however, and at the age of 35, one wondered if Manning could complete one more game, much less five years. Here is what we know about Peyton Manning: Peyton Manning has a strong, disciplined work ethic; he says that the Lord is his No. one priority in life; he believes in himself; and he understands the position of quarterback like no one else. Peyton Manning knows the definition of the word “strength.”

Paul uses three illustrations from real life to describe the qualities of a strong leader. The first is from the military (v. 3-4). The good soldier expects hardships and focuses on his mission above his personal desires.  The second is the athlete (v. 5). He is not crowned unless he wins competing according to the rules. He can’t run outside his lane; he can’t shove his opponents down; and he can’t use performance-enhancing drugs. The third is the farmer (v. 6). Farmers have a reputation for being hard-working. Because of their many sacrifices, they have a right to benefit from their harvest.

Perhaps verse 15 is the best summary statement for this lesson. I’d highly recommend this verse for memorization. Here is how it might read amplified: “Do your best, be diligent, make every effort to present yourself to God as one stamped with His approval, a faithful worker who has no cause to ever be ashamed of Christ, who correctly preaches and teaches the scriptures.” Paul wanted Timothy to be focused in his work, but to also make sure he built a strong team to help him (v. 2).
 
4/8/2013 2:54:44 PM by By Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 21 – Living in Holiness

April 8 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Leviticus 18:1-5, 20-26; 20:6-8
 
March Madness is gone for this season, and we have witnessed some great college basketball. Could you imagine what college basketball would be like without rules? Some may think it would be great, but once the game started, it would become mass chaos on the court. Just think if it was OK to punch someone in the stomach every time they shot the ball. Or, if was perfectly fine to walk off the court with the ball during the middle of the game. It may be entertaining for a few moments, but it would soon turn into a complete disaster.

The rules of basketball or any other sport are there for the safety of the players and to maximize the enjoyment of the game. The same is true in other areas of life as well. Stop signs are put in place for the safety of the public and facilitate a good driving experience. Speed limits are used to minimize high-speed collisions while providing an adequate driving experience to the car owner. The point is that rules and ordinances are ideally put in place to provide the safest and best living experience as possible.
In a similar way, God has provided rules and statutes for the well-being of His people. There are many individuals that may read Leviticus 18-20 and think that God’s holiness requires too much from His people. They think God’s rules stifle the fun in life and become a heavy burden to the follower. Actually, the reverse is true. God gives his people rules because He wants the very best for them. He wants to maximize the long-term enjoyment and satisfaction because as John Piper has said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God knows that apart from holy living all roads lead to destruction; that reckless living does not satisfy the heart, but will ultimately destroy a person’s life.

How do you view God’s rules and statutes? Do you see them as a burden or do you see them as an act of God’s kindness and mercy?                  
 
4/8/2013 2:51:07 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments