April 2017

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 7: Do I Have the Strength?

April 18 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptists Church

Focal passage: Matthew 26:36-46
 
Since I was a young teenager, I have always enjoyed working on cars. As I look back on those years, some of the cars I owned would be worth a lot of money today.
 
I had a 1955 Chevrolet, a 1970 Camaro, a 1969 Volkswagen camper van with a pop-up top and several others. I loved those cars and thought someday I would work for a large car manufacturer designing engines.
 
In fact, I had enrolled at North Carolina State University pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, hoping to get a job with General Motors. Things were going well, but God began to shift my desires during the middle of the semester.
 
I was involved in my local church on the weekend and went to a Christian campus ministry during the week. Through those ministries, God began shaping my heart for full-time Christian ministry.
 
However, it was not an easy transition.
 
I remember feeling all alone. Even though I had the support of friends and family, no one could make the decision for me. It was in moments like those that I reflected on passages like Matthew 26:36-46 where Jesus willingly submitted to the Father’s redemptive plan.
 
Jesus did not have to go to cross, but as He prayed He chose to yield His heart to the Father’s will and ultimately gave His life for you and me. Not that I would ever compare my decision to what Jesus went through, but His life of obeying the Father is a model for all believers to emulate. It is through Jesus’ example that believers are encouraged to willingly accept God’s direction and will for their lives.
 
Ultimately, after a lot of prayer, I decided to forego my dreams of working on cars and gave my life to full-time Christian ministry. Now, over 20 years later, I could not imagine doing anything else. Through that experience I have learned that God calls each of us to a particular work and the greatest thing we can do is yield our lives to His will and watch Him use us.  
 

4/18/2017 8:34:27 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptists Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 7: Life at Home

April 18 2017 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:22-28; 6:1-3
 
Recently, I went through a time of personal and professional stress. I was dwelling on financial concerns, an imminent church renovation project, on-going ministry and study requirements, along with trying to work through some important family decisions.
 
The stress and frustration that I experienced revealed several pressure points – attitude, energy and family. I tended to be short, snappy and easily irritated.
 
I took out my internal stress on my wife and children. In short, I treated those I love the most very poorly.
 
After a helpful conversation with a friend, as well as a time of confession to my family, I was able to correct some of my behavior.
 
Have you ever allowed your stresses to create tension in your family? Have you ever been guilty of taking your spouse, your children, your grandchildren or your parents for granted?
 
There are no more important relationships than those of our immediate family members. They are the closest people to us. They know us for who we really are.
 
You may be able to fool your colleagues at work or your fellow church members, but you will not fool those who live with you.
 
Your Christian life begins and ends in your home – literally.
 
As I have presided over funerals of church members, it is very apparent which people lived their Christian life at home. Family members will speak of the quality of one’s Christian life by relating what influenced them.
 
Sure, we all have flaws and faults. None of us are perfect.
 
But at the end of our lives, those who know us best will remember not the quality of our work, the amount of our paychecks or our public influence. Rather, they will remember our love, our integrity and our character – or the lack thereof.
 
In Ephesians 5 and 6 Paul teaches that family relationships must be grounded on love, respect and honor. Jesus modeled these relational qualities to us and for us.
 
So, how is your Christian life at home?
 

4/18/2017 8:31:40 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 30: How Do We Remember?

April 18 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptists Church

Focal passage: Matthew 26:17-30
 
Growing up, I had a coach who played a large role in helping me grow as young man. Coach Archie Fritz invested in me, both on and off the field.
 
During football, he pushed me perhaps harder than any other player – he had faith in me to get the job done. Off the field, he made sure I was not getting in trouble. Even when I got hurt in a car accident after I had graduated, he came to the hospital.
 
For years I wanted to get him something to let him know I have not forgotten all he did for me. I had a sense of urgency to honor him because I knew as time passes, memories can fade. If a person is not careful, the things that are important can become accidentally less valuable.
 
Another example of this is when 9/11 occurred. I can remember where I was on that morning and the magnitude of the event, but over the years the impact of that tragedy had faded in my mind until I recently visited the memorial in New York City.
 
After walking around the memorial and visiting the museum, I was freshly reminded of all the lives that were lost and the brave men and women who made tremendous sacrifices to help others.
 
As we think about our focal passage in Matthew 26:17-30, Jesus teaches us that His sacrifice is to be remembered through the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.
 
Jesus knew that believers need some tangible way to be reminded of His sacrifice on their behalf.
 
We can be forgetful people and important things require consistent visible reminders to make sure their value is not lost. I can think of no greater event than the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is a privilege to remember his ultimate sacrifice. So, the next time you participate in the Lord’s Supper, do not treat it as just another religious function of the church.

It is a reminder of the greatest sacrifice in human history – a sacrifice given for you!   
 

4/18/2017 8:28:54 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptists Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 30: Life in the Church

April 18 2017 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11
 
Life is a glorious thing, especially when contrasted with the alternative. Living things move, act and grow. Dead things cease to do anything. To be alive in the church requires activity –more accurately, ministry.
 
Churches in America are too often full of spectators instead of participators.
 
First Peter 4:10 states, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

Life in the church is to be marked by love and by service.
 
Note Peter’s words, “as each has received a gift.” There are few things more wonderful in the life of the church than to watch someone serve in their giftedness.
 
There are few things more difficult in the life of the church than watching someone serve in their area of weakness. Life in the church thrives when people serve in their strengths – think the beauty of a choir full of good singers.
 
Life in the church struggles when people are serving in their weaknesses, or not serving at all – think of a church where the pastor alone is responsible for all of the ministry. Peter echoes the rest of the New Testament regarding the giftedness of every Christian.
 
Each believer has a unique gift and calling for the building up of the body of Christ. When we are using our gifts for the growth of the church, life in the church blossoms. When we fail to use our gifts, the life of the church begins to wane.
 
I’m sure you understand the importance of a lively fellowship of believers intent on worshiping Jesus and spreading the good news – the church. We believers make up the church and are responsible for helping church life to thrive by using our gifts to serve others.
 
So, where are you serving?
 

4/18/2017 8:23:00 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible lesson for April 23: What about the future?

April 4 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Matthew 24: 36-51
 
When I was in basic training many years ago at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, I had the privilege of being the dorm chief of my flight. I was excited because it was an honor to be responsible for the fifty men in my group when the drill instructor was gone.
 
At the time I was chosen, I did not know it would require so much. One of my duties was to pull the last shift of guard duty from about 3 a.m. until 5 a.m. My responsibility was to make sure that no unauthorized personnel entered our dormitory. At no time during my shift could I sleep.
 
In fact, the drill instructors would plan surprise attacks and think of creative ways to distract me. They would often send other drill instructors from different flights to our dormitory to try to trick me in letting them in the building.
 
When I would refuse they would have a few choice words and threaten to inflict much pain on my life. Overtime, I realized the key to success was to be alert and never get distracted.
 
When I think about our focal passage in Matthew 24:36-51, I reflect back on my basic training experience as a dorm guard. Jesus told the disciples to always be on the alert for his return.
 
In essence, Jesus was preparing the disciples for His death by pointing to His return. He reminded them not to get distracted, but continually look for His return, especially, since no one but the Father knows when that will take place.
 
In a similar way, just as I always had to be prepared in basic training, we must always be prepared for the return of Christ.
 
At the end of my basic training experience the drill instructor pulled me aside and complemented me on a job well done. I appreciated his words, but what I am hoping for more is that when Jesus returns he will find me ready to go and he will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” How about you?

 

4/4/2017 1:54:24 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for April 23: Life in Christ

April 4 2017 by Chris Hefner, Pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Luke 9:18-26
 
One of the more fascinating exchanges in the New Testament happens in this passage of Scripture. Jesus asked his followers what others were saying about him. They offered a variety of answers – John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets.
 
These answers were not somehow related to Eastern mysticism or reincarnation. Rather, people were associating Jesus with an Old Testament prophet or the forerunner of the Messiah, identified in the Old Testament as Elijah. Then Jesus made the question personal to his followers, “Who do you say I am?”
 
This question is one of the most important questions we could possibly answer. C.S. Lewis observed concerning Jesus’ identity, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
 
Jesus claimed the power of God, the authority of God and to be God.
 
Jesus’ claim to be God underscores every other perception of who he is. Also, we must not read a postmodern viewpoint into this question. Who we say Jesus is has no bearing whatsoever on who Jesus actually is.
 
Jesus was not, with his disciples or modern readers, giving us the authority to define who he is to us. Rather, Jesus asked his disciples, and by extension readers today, to acknowledge his true identity.
 
Peter’s correct answer emphasizes this point. Peter accurately identified Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). Jesus confirmed his identity by commending Peter’s answer. Jesus then demanded wholehearted devotion, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
 
Jesus’ identity, as the Messiah Son of God, grants him the right to demand our unfettered allegiance.

My identity – your identity – is predicated on Jesus’ identity as Lord and Messiah. We must follow him.
 

4/4/2017 1:52:12 PM by Chris Hefner, Pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible lesson for April 16: Where is Jesus?

April 4 2017 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Matthew 28:1-15
 
The Apostle Paul wrote these words about resurrection, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).
 
In other words, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not occur, Christianity is just another empty religion. However, this is not the case, as we see in our focal passage: Jesus was raised from dead and is alive and well (Matthew 28:1-15).
 
Can you imagine arriving at the tomb with Mary and hearing the angel say, “… I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)? How exciting that must have been for those early followers of Jesus!
 
Did you know there are over three hundred verses about the subject of Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament? In their book, Immortality - The Other Side of Death, Gary R. Habermas and J.P. Moreland, write about the importance of the resurrection. They describe the resurrection as a sign for unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40) as well as the answer for the believer's doubt (Luke 24:38-43).
 
The resurrection also validates that Jesus' teachings are true (Acts 2:22-24). It is the drive behind evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20) and a believer's power to live the Christian life (Romans 6:4-14, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10).
 
The resurrection even addresses the fear of death (John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58) and is a model of the believer’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
 
I don’t think importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ can ever be overstated.

It radically changed the early disciples’ lives and it can radically change our lives today. It is by far the greatest event ever to occur in our world and we should thank God every day for it!
 

4/4/2017 1:50:01 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for April 16: He Is Risen

April 4 2017 by Chris Hefner, Pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-8, 36-40
 
On a Sabbath evening many years ago, Jesus’ disciples slept fitfully, if at all. Disturbed, frightened and worried – they could not understand. Their Master, their Rabbi, their Teacher, had been crucified. He was supposed to be the Messiah. He was supposed to lead Israel to an unsurpassed political glory with them as his lieutenants and generals.
 
But now, they thought, that was not to be. He was dead. He had been taken, mocked, cursed, beaten, bruised and executed.
 
Jesus had told them over and over, both in metaphor and plain speech, “I will rise again.” Despite Jesus’ statements, they did not understand.
 
In some ways, we shouldn’t be too hard on them. Resurrection is an amazing prospect. It is not normal. Men don’t rise from the dead. People just don’t walk out of a tomb.
 
But all that was about to change.
 
Sometime early on Sunday morning, Jesus stepped out of that borrowed tomb and everything changed. Sorrow became surprise. Worry became wonder. Fear became faith.
 
All of this changed because death had given way to the Lord of Life. Death could not contain the author of life – Jesus Christ himself.
 
John Stott summarized Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection this way: “The resurrection was the conquest confirmed and announced. We are not to regard the cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. Rather, the cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed, and demonstrated.”
 
Jesus’ resurrection was God’s exclamation point on the victory Jesus won on the cross. In the weeks leading up to Easter, we should ponder pensively the depth of Christ’s suffering on the cross.
 
On Easter Sunday, we must proclaim powerfully his victory over sin and death. On Good Friday, we should consider carefully the meaning of Christ’s cross and the extensiveness of our sin. On Easter Sunday, we confess courageously the glory of Christ’s resurrection.

This Easter make sure you declare the good news of Jesus Christ because his resurrection changed everything!  
 

4/4/2017 1:47:10 PM by Chris Hefner, Pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments