April 2018

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 20: Giving Faithfully

April 30 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Are you a faithful giver? Do you love to give? If not, you certainly know someone who does. We all have people in our lives who are great examples of faithful giving.
For me, that is my wife.
She loves to give in order to bless and help others. I have often told her, “Baby, my wallet cannot finance your heart!”
Of course, what she gives away is not supplied by me, or even by her, but God.
He is the one who has both blessed and entrusted us to be stewards of whatever we have.
You have probably heard it said, “God owns everything. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills … and He owns the hills.”
While this is true, practically, God generally pours out His blessings through the lives and hands of His people.
Art Rainer, in his recent book, The Money Challenge, describes God’s people as the conduits through which God’s blessings flow. In this passage, we see that God intended to use the believers in Macedonia and Achaia to provide for the needs of their brothers and sisters in need in Judea.
Paul wants to help these Corinthian believers, and us, to see that because God is the one who has lavished blessings on us, chiefly through giving His Son as the payment for our sin, we should now give faithfully with cheerful hearts, allowing the love and goodness and blessings of God to flow through us to others.
How can we have such a heart to give? In part, we can give like this because God is changing our “wanter.”
Rather than wanting to hoard things for ourselves, we want to give to others as God has given to us.
The greater desire to give should also come from our desire to glorify God through every aspect of our lives – including our giving.
The reality is, we never bear a greater resemblance to our Father who adopted us as His children than when we are sacrificially giving for others.
Will you bless others and glorify God by being a faithful giver?

4/30/2018 1:59:48 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 20: Stand Up and Speak

April 30 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 7:1-10
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, a hobbit named Frodo inherited a magnificent ring from his uncle Bilbo.
According to the story, the evil Sauron forged the ring in order to rule over all the peoples of Middle-earth. Having lost the ring in battle, it eventually came to Bilbo who gave it to Frodo.
At a council, elves, dwarves and men debated the use and purpose of the ring.
Some wanted to wield it. Others thought about destroying it.
Then Frodo bravely offered, “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.”
In the movie adaptation, Frodo spoke up rather quietly but firmly in the midst of a cacophony of arguments and voices. Sometimes, someone needs to speak up.
Esther was divinely positioned as Ahasuerus’ queen to speak up for her people. At this second meal prepared for the king and Haman, she spoke up regarding the evil plot that Haman had envisioned against the Jewish people.
She requested her life and the lives of the Jewish people. She also identified Haman as the scoundrel who was attempting to destroy her people.
While God could have protected His people using other means, He used Esther’s voice to serve His sovereign purposes.
Let’s be clear. God doesn’t need us. God doesn’t need anything. But quite often God positions us in places of influence with other people.
He desires our voices to bring about His purposes. It is not incidental to this narrative or to the biblical storyline that God uses our voices to spread His story.
If we are going to participate in His redemptive plan for mankind, we must do so by standing up to speak – to speak for justice, to speak for forgiveness, to speak for grace, to speak the glories of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4/30/2018 1:57:59 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 13: Becoming New

April 30 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
I have been hard at work trying to refurbish a 14-foot fiberglass boat that I got from a friend.
It was broken down and in need of repair. I have been doing work on the hull, sanding, shaping and so on. The reality is, however, when I get done, I am going to have my same old “Jon boat,” with a little bit of plywood, fiberglass and epoxy added to it.
Many people act like becoming a Christian is simply God doing a little spiritual sanding and shaping on them.
Their idea is, “I wasn’t too bad, but needed a little work. God is taking off my rough edges.”
That is not what the Bible says.
The scripture says I was dead in my trespasses and sin, and that my sin separated me from God.
Here Paul argues that those who come to Jesus by faith – those who are “in Christ” – are reconciled to God.
That means the breach that existed between God and us has been removed through Christ.
Further, we are not just our old selves with a little spiritual filler and paint added. Paul says we have become new creations – the old is gone and the new has come.
It is amazing that God would reconcile us to Himself in that way. But, there is something more amazing still.
He now desires to use us in His mission.
Paul says God has given us the message of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation. God is not only at work in us, but also desires to accomplish His reconciling work through us as we live as new creations, ambassadors of Christ.
We aren’t just patched up; we are new in Christ. Our lives should look different than they once did. We have been given a new mission and ministry – the ministry of reconciliation.
We are God’s mouthpiece to a deaf and dying world. As Paul says, it is as though God is pleading with men through us to be reconciled to Him.
By the power of His Spirit, may we live out this new lifestyle and new ministry for His glory.

4/30/2018 1:56:34 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 13: Stand with Humility

April 30 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 5:1-14
Esther 5 provides a great contrast. In humility, Esther approached the king. In pride, Haman left the king’s presence. In humility, Esther asked for an opportunity to serve the king. In pride, Haman detailed his riches, wealth and prestige.
In humility, Esther honored the king, “If I have found favor,” and “if it please the king.” In pride, Haman built gallows to hang Mordecai.
While Esther recognized the immensity of her responsibility, she carried herself with humility and submission. It has been said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” This chapter illustrates that truth.
Esther knew her role, but in humility put the authority in the king’s hand. Haman could not stop thinking about himself, his wealth, his pride and his prestige. Everything was about him.
To be quite frank with you, most of our conflicts arise when we act like Haman and not like Esther.
Consider church conflict: when a church experiences conflict, it is often because someone did not get his or her way.
The need to have your way is pride. Pride says, “I need to be right. My idea is the best. If I don’t get my way, I’m going to leave.” Humility is vastly different.
Humility solves conflicts often by putting others first. Humility often gives in and it always gives away credit. Humility says, “It doesn’t matter if I’m right as long as God is glorified. The Kingdom of God matters, not my recognition.”
Notice though that humility does not mean silence or self-abasement. Esther took action. Esther spoke to the king. Esther took the initiative. Esther would even propose a solution.

But her motivation was not pride or self-affirmation. Rather, her motivation was the rescue of her people.
The genuinely humble person is willing to stand out for the benefit of others. A few hundred years later, Jesus stood out on our behalf by hanging in humility between heaven and earth.

4/30/2018 1:54:32 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 6: Displaying the Gospel

April 17 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 4:5-18
Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the awesome power of God on display as He raised Jesus from the dead. God’s desire is not, however, for that resurrection power to be highlighted and talked about once a year in a Sunday morning church service in late-March or early-April.
God’s desire is for that resurrection power to be put on display all day, every day, everywhere.
God has ordained that our lives, as followers of Jesus, should be living displays of the resurrection power of the gospel.
Paul begins by telling the Corinthians that we are to proclaim Christ, not ourselves.
We aren’t saying, “Look at me and be like me.” Rather, we are saying, “I am throwing the spotlight on Jesus Christ – the resurrected and living Lord – to help you see that He is what you and I need.”
While we are imperfect displays – Paul calls us “clay pots,” which are fragile vessels – we are nevertheless the objects through which God has chosen to put His gospel and resurrection power on display.
The fact that this power and this gospel is displayed in “clay pots” says the value is not in the container but rather what is on the inside. As God works in and through us, His glory is put on greater and greater display (v. 15).
In general, clay pots were used for simple, practical, temporal purposes. What is amazing about the power of the gospel is that God has chosen to do His eternal, spiritual work through us. So, what do people see when they look at you?
Do they see a simple clay pot, satisfied, in your own strength, to do practical, temporal tasks that won’t last for eternity? Or, do they see a weak, cracked, imperfect clay pot filled with the resurrection power of the living Christ being used by God for His eternal purposes for the sake of His glory?
As a Christian, God has saved you through His Son and empowered you by His Spirit to be a beautiful display of His glory and power. Let’s be faithful displays!

4/17/2018 8:30:33 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 6: Stand Down

April 17 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 4:1-3; 10-16
Haman was angry at Mordecai’s refusal to bow down. But not only did Haman hate Mordecai, he hated all the Jews as well. Wanting to rid himself of Mordecai’s dishonor and the Jewish people, Haman plotted to have all the Jews killed.
Mordecai and Esther messaged back and forth about the proper course of action. From this passage comes the most famous phrase in the book of Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (4:14).
To readers looking backward at the sovereign intervention of God over and over again for the protection of His people, Mordecai’s statement is obvious. But Esther was the one who had to act. The future of the Jewish people depended, at least in part, upon her action. And yet, if the king did not receive her, she could be immediately killed.
Remember how quickly the king dealt with her predecessor, Vashti. But Esther did not act immediately. Notice what she ordered Mordecai to do. She insisted that the Jewish people fast for three days. While the word prayer is not included in the narrative, fasting in Jewish faith nearly always included prayer.
It is safe to assume Mordecai, Esther and the Jewish people fasted and prayed over this dilemma and over Esther’s opportunity.
They stood down. They paused their planning in order to pray. They waited in faith-filled fasting rather than in worry and fret.
Why? I think Esther and Mordecai knew it was entirely possible she had been ordained for this moment, but that did not mean they would act in brazen self-confidence. They stopped to pray.
I think sometimes we are not wrong in our assessments of situations, but we are often wrong in the bravado of our actions. Instead of praying, we plot. Instead of waiting, we work. Instead of trusting, we talk.
Esther and Mordecai give us an example we would be wise to follow – stand down, fast, pray and trust.

4/17/2018 8:28:58 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 29: Enjoying God’s Comfort

April 17 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 1:3-14
Enjoying God’s comfort – what an interesting combination of words. We know what it means to enjoy something. We can think of our favorite activity, or our favorite ice cream, and how much we “enjoy” those things. When we think of comfort, we might think about a faithful friend’s shoulder to cry on.
So when we think the comfort is from God, well … who wouldn’t want the comfort of the Lord? But it is about that time we realize the painful truth about comfort – we only recognize true comfort when it comes alongside suffering and pain.
So, even if the best way for us to experience God’s comfort is to be in the midst of suffering of some kind, I doubt we, as Christians, are simply looking for opportunities to suffer. Quite the contrary, we often are seeking to get out of a painful situation as soon as possible.
Author and pastor John Piper says that Christians often miss opportunities to allow God’s glory to shine through them in their time of distress. Rather than allowing for God to manifest His strength in our weakness, we allow our weakness to be on display as we squirm like a worm in hot ashes, trying to find the quickest way out of our immediate un-comfortable situation.
In so doing, we miss out on a great opportunity to demonstrate God’s faithfulness as we “enjoy” or rest in God’s comfort, even in the midst of very painful circumstances.
My buddy Bryan is a great example of one who enjoys God’s comfort – even in the midst of painful circumstances – because he knows that during those times God is working to demonstrate His power and glory.
During a recent hospitalization where Bryan’s heart stopped seven times in 24 hours, he was immediately seeking to testify of God’s comfort and goodness as soon as the breathing tube could be taken out of his throat. Did his circumstances change? No. Was God’s comfort on display in Bryan’s situation for others to see? Absolutely!
May we enjoy God’s comfort in our suffering – for God’s glory!

4/17/2018 8:27:16 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 29: Stand with Conviction

April 17 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 2:21-3:6
Mordecai, though a Jew in a foreign land, was loyal to his king. Overhearing a plot against the ruler, he promptly informed Esther who reported the planned crime.
Mordecai’s loyalty to the king came from a deeper source. He would not compromise his faith in God.
When Haman was paraded through the streets, Mordecai would not bow. He would not worship a man. He would only worship God.
These two mini-narratives in the book of Esther remind us that it is always right to do the right thing.
Mordecai’s conviction reminds me of another man a few centuries later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not content to stand idly by under Adolf Hitler’s evil Third Reich, Bonhoeffer actively opposed the Nazis. Bonhoeffer held his Christian faith firmly and even served as a spy for the German resistance.
Eventually, Bonhoeffer was captured and sent to prison. While at Flossenberg prison, Bonhoeffer was executed. He was only 39 years old.
The doctor at the prison commented about his execution, “Through the half-open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer.
“At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps of the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost [50] years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
How was Bonhoeffer able to die with solemnity and peace?
I believe the clue is the same as Mordecai’s strength.
Standing with conviction begins by kneeling in prayer.
We can pray with that same boldness and conviction because Christ died to give us the right to pray.

4/17/2018 8:22:32 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 22: Understanding Love

April 3 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
We all know that the motivation behind an action is very important.
Think about the daughter who stomps down the hallway, slams her bedroom door and then cleans her room, just to get mom and dad off her back.
Even if you go find the room cleaned neat as a pin, you are hardly consoled knowing the motivation behind the action.
Consider also the husband who “serves” his wife in some way, doing so only for what he hopes to get in return.
There is little consolation for the wife, not because the act of service isn’t appreciated, but because the motive for the act is clearly evident.
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 – which some believe is a hymn or composition Paul wrote and included in this letter, under the leading of the Holy Spirit – he did so to instruct the Corinthian believers regarding the motive of their heart from which their acts of service to God and one another should flow. Paul didn’t desire only to see right actions but rather to know that those actions were coming from a right heart, one that had been transformed to love like God loves.
The Corinthian believers had demonstrated their ability to act in self-serving ways – for example, by bringing lawsuits against other believers and by acting selfishly even at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11).
Paul is exhorting them to let the transforming love of God be the motivation that drives all of their acts of service to God and others.
We will not “naturally” act out of a motivation of love – particularly a love that looks like God’s love for us.

It will have to be supernaturally accomplished – as the Spirit of God does His work first in us and then through us.
In fact, as the Holy Spirit transforms us to act out of love, we see evidence of His other fruit as well – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
May our love for God motivate us to lovingly serve God and others, all for God’s glory!

4/3/2018 7:58:03 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 22: Be Ready to Stand

April 3 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Esther 2:5-10, 15-17
Sometimes it is easy to have present-day bias. We think that today’s culture is more advanced than previous cultures. Or we think that today’s culture is more evil than previous cultures. Or we think that politics today could not be any worse.
Of course today’s politics are filled with corruption, partisanship and intrigue. Even a cursory glance at any major news network will reveal the perversion and corruption of too many politicians, but our culture and the nature of politics today are not really that unique.
King Ahasuerus of Persia was known for his selfishness, disregard for others and immorality. Perversely dismissive of his first queen, Vashti, the king needed a new queen.
The suggestion for finding a new queen pleased King Ahasuerus. Virgins from across the kingdom were brought to the harem, pampered, then sent to spend the night with the king. The story of Ahasuerus and Esther is neither a fairy tale, nor a model of biblical morality. But the story of Esther should give us confidence in the Lord.
Behind the immorality and the machinations of king and court, God is accomplishing His purposes. God is working through the integrity of Mordecai. God is working through the humility of Esther.
We must be careful not to judge Esther’s conduct in the same manner we would criticize the king. Esther really had no choice but to present herself at the king’s proclamation, but Esther stood out. She stood out precisely because she acted out of humility. She was not governed by queenly ambition. She knew who she was, a Jew, and knew who God was. As a result she found favor with everyone she met.
That favor is very important to the story as God was poised to use the humble character of the new queen who stood out to keep His promises to His people. The lesson for us – we can stand up and stand out for the Lord because He is sovereignly orchestrating events, even behind acts of immorality and corruption. 

4/3/2018 7:55:46 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

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