August 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 15: Authority Acknowledged

August 29 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: John 2:1-16
 
Being a pastor’s wife, parent and social worker have all given me opportunities to consider the role of authority. I have observed struggles over the word “submit” in wedding vows and the increasing use of the psychological diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder for children who resist authority. The issue of authority comes up every day. As a Christian, I choose daily whether or not to submit to the authority of the Lord, Jesus Christ, in my life. Don’t we all want to experience the joy of making this choice in every role we fill each day? 
 
Our Bible study lesson illustrates that the child of God demonstrates that he is acknowledging the authority of his heavenly Father when we obey Him. It is in the following of Jesus’ instructions that the first miracle of his ministry is accomplished. 

A child demonstrates the faith he has in his parent when he jumps into their waiting arms in the swimming pool or places their hand in their parent’s hand as they cross the street. As a Christian, we acknowledge the authority of Jesus Christ in our life when we jump into the place He has called us to serve or we place our hand in His as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We place our growing faith in Him and demonstrate that through actions of trust.
 
The act of genuine worship also demonstrates that Jesus has authority over us. It begins by choosing to be in a house of worship instead of at the lake or in the bed. It continues by committing our full attention to the leaders of worship and participating in spirit and truth (John 4:23). We carry the joy of genuine worship as we leave a building and show, through our daily decisions, that Jesus is our authority. In the July 31 e-newsletter Biblical Recorder there were joyous accounts of obedience to Christ as believers responded to God’s calling to start a Bible study or be politically active to protect Christian values. These believers acknowledged the authority of Jesus in their lives, by their actions.  
8/29/2013 3:15:19 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 15: The Pressure of Partiality

August 29 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: James 2:1-13
 
I enjoy a good crime drama, especially when the profilers go to work. They analyze the evidence at the crime scene and the criminal’s behavior and begin to put together a profile of the unknown subject. In reality these investigators play a vital role in solving criminal cases. Thankfully, the local church needs no such profilers. Tragically, most churches have members ready and willing to provide such dishonorable service. They’re looking for people with the right wardrobe, socioeconomic level, smell, and skin color. They must be clean, quiet and able to behave in church, even if they’ve never attended. James reprimanded the first century profilers, because they treated the undesirables like slaves and became “judges with evil motives” (2:4).
 
James condemned the early church’s choices, telling them they were choosing the people who persecuted other believers and overlooking the people God had chosen. When my brother-in-law moved to a new area to start his own business, his partner told him to go to the biggest Baptist church in the area because it would be good for business. As a man of God, he refused and went to the church where God led his family. This story is just one example of how “impressive” church people may use the church for selfish purposes. Do we desire the poor and blessed or the beautiful and blasphemous? Although we might be tempted to dismiss this problem as a minor sin, James reminds us that such behavior breaks the second great commandment. By so doing, his legalistic readers were breaking a law just as important as those against murder or adultery. Thankfully, we are called to speak and act as believers under the law of liberty. Because we have been freed from sin by the grace of God, we must freely seek to embrace the unwanted members of society. Jesus was criticized for reaching out to the poor, the blind and the lame. While the Pharisees considered them condemned by God, Jesus showed them love and mercy. Which model are you following?
 
8/29/2013 3:10:02 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 8: Jesus Identified

August 27 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 1:29-36, 40-42a, 45-51
 
The titles we give to people communicate a message to those around us. When you call someone your best friend, that communicates such value to the relationship you have with that special person. Jesus was given titles in our scripture passage today that communicate important and meaningful attributes for us to consider. 
 
The title of best friend might mean for you that the person has acted in ways that demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice for your good. They have been willing to act in ways that you would describe as an earthly type of sacrifice. John the Baptist called Jesus the “Lamb of God” twice in our passage to study and that title communicates a heavenly type of sacrifice. A study of the Old Testament provides the background to the significance of this title as Jesus is the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:21; 2 Chronicles 30:15). He became our best friend, for all time, as He took “away the sin of the world!” 
 
Andrew brought his brother, Simon, to Jesus and told him he had found the Messiah who God had promised. Philip added his endorsement of the title Messiah, by stating that Jesus is the one of whom Moses and the prophets wrote (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2). In other words, God said He would do it, and He did! 
 
Jesus, also was given the title, “Son of Man.” By coming to earth and living among people, He was able to demonstrate that we can see God working in our lives. Nathanael was impressed that Jesus could tell him that He saw him under a fig tree, but what is really impressive is that Jesus promised, “you will see greater things.”
 
Today, we can reflect on something really great that we have seen Jesus do and thank Him for it. We can live each day, not just counting on a best friend, but knowing that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Messiah and the Son of Man. And, that these titles mean that we are forgiven, can trust His promises and we can see Him working in our lives each and every day.  
8/27/2013 3:47:28 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 8: The Pressure of Temptation

August 27 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: James 1:13-18
 
I’m amazed to hear people who rarely speak about faith suddenly excuse their sin by saying, “God made me this way.” They are indirectly saying, “You can’t tell me I’m wrong!” James taught his readers that they couldn’t trace their temptation to Him, ultimately blaming Him for their sin.
 
Instead of tempting us, God calls out to us like a fireman in the midst of the smoke and flames of temptation and beckons us to follow His voice. We can never say we have no choice, because God always provides a way of escape       (1 Corinthians 10:13). As Peter said, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Peter 2:9a). Are you looking for His way out, or locking the door behind you?
 
Although we’ve had an unusual year, we know the seasons will still follow a predictable pattern. I already see the leaves beginning to fall from our weeping cherry tree reminding me that autumn is just around the corner and in step with God’s creation order.
 
We must also remember that Satan and his demons want to push us toward the predictable process of temptation. We are carried away by lust, which conceives an evil offspring called sin. When that offspring matures it brings forth death.
 
We can think of several sins that kill people because they are practically dangerous.
However, James’ instruction should steer us from sin’s practical and spiritual harm, fearing especially spiritual death that comes from a lifestyle of sin and rebellion toward God.
Everyone wants to win the challenges set before them. Numerous Facebook users are fighting the battle of Candy Crush Saga.
 
I don’t know what it is, but plenty of people are trying to beat it! Satan wants to play “Let’s Make a Deal” and get you zonked every time.
 
Thankfully the choices of life aren’t hidden in boxes or envelopes. Check out your options and follow the signs pointing to the goodness and mercy of God.    
8/27/2013 3:42:59 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 1: God Revealed

August 15 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16-18
 
How do you show appreciation for someone? There are so many ways from which to choose. You can give gifts, words of encouragement or demonstrate appreciation through service and loyalty. As a wife and as a mom to five children, I have six special people that I like to show appreciation to on a daily basis. Through almost 25 years of marriage and children growing into young adults, it has been fascinating to learn the best ways to show appreciation to each one. I am also aware that we have the privilege to show appreciation to Jesus, each and every day. John 1 provides a beautiful, strong description of Jesus. He is the Word, the light and the revelation of God!

Knowing Jesus is the Word, has always been there and that all “things were created through Him,” is such an encouragement to us as we appreciate His creation. Recently in social media, I have seen a beautiful picture of a double rainbow and adorable pictures of twins. Both these families praised Jesus for the gifts in their lives. How can we not smile and thank Jesus for what He has created?
 
As Jesus entered this world, in bodily form, He came as the light to the world. Light is a gift as it reveals truth and the deeds of darkness and righteousness. We need light and can thank Jesus daily for what He allows us to see. 
 
We can also show appreciation to Jesus for being the revelation of God to us. We demonstrate gratitude for how He has revealed himself when we share a testimony. Our pastor will periodically provide a time to share testimonies during the Wednesday night prayer meeting. At first, some were shy about sharing, but when we all began to see a testimony as an opportunity to share our gratitude for what Jesus has done, we wanted to jump up and share often! So, how can you show gratitude today for who Jesus is in your life?
8/15/2013 1:27:38 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 1: The Pressure of Trials

August 15 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: James 1:1-4
 
I grew up singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,” but it was always easier to sing at church than in the midst of life’s hard knocks. Even as we grow to understand that joy is not altered by circumstances, we are still tempted at times to sing the song through clenched teeth.
 
However, James states that we count it “all joy.” We must learn to find full joy in all the trials God allows us to face. James tells us that the trials are “various,” coming in many shapes and sizes, and that they all serve to produce endurance in the faith that leads to maturity.
 
Referring to himself as a bondservant of the Lord, James reminded his readers that he did not write things that he did not practice.
 
As a slave of Christ, he knew his life, warts and all, belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ and should bring glory to Him.
 
Most people would like to avoid the pressure cooker of trials altogether, and lead a free and easy life.
 
However, a pressure cooker without pressure is just another pan. Whether she was preparing a tough piece of meat or a package of frozen peas, my mother often depended on her pressure cooker to tackle difficult delights.
 
God in His mercy does not place us in a pressure cooker without a regulator. That’s a recipe for an explosion! The regulator allows pressure to build to a certain level so that cooking is accomplished and disaster avoided.
 
God allows us to face enough trials to produce His desired outcome without destroying us by more pressure than we can endure.
 
How have well-seasoned saints arrived at the maturity that marks their witness? They have been tried by fire!
 
Just like steel gains great strength in the fire of the forge, God’s people become mature and complete in the faith by facing and enduring the trials that challenge their faith in God and His Word. The more we find Him faithful the more we trust Him and obey His Word.
8/15/2013 1:24:17 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 25: What’s the Answer?

August 13 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Ecclesiastes 11:1-5, 9-10; 12:13-14
 
John Maxwell once spoke about the time he and some friends were philosophically discussing wealth. They were addressing the question, “How much do you have to have in order to be rich?”
 
One man said $1 million. Another said $5 million. Still another said $10 million. Maxwell said he believed they were all wrong, because the right answer is not a dollar amount, because richness is to be evaluated instead by how we invest in life.
 
What does that mean? It means creating positive relationships, serving others and making the most of the time we have. In other words, richness is not based upon material possessions, but in that which defines and completes who we are as humans created in the image of God.
 
Today’s scriptures speak of three worthy objectives. First, the Teacher tells us to invest fully in life. We are to be giving people. The concept in 11:1-3 is that if the bread (grain) is generously cast upon the water in the flood season, there is a much greater chance of the grain taking root and yielding a bountiful harvest, grain that will help feed the poor and needy.
 
Give God a chance to work. We can’t always see and know what He is doing. Second, it tells us to have a right relationship with God.
 
A consistent biblical theme is for believers in God to “fear” Him (12:13). Fear is the strongest word that could be used to describe the holy respect and reverence we are to have for our Lord. In His sovereignty, God will correctly judge every action, whether good or evil.
 
Third, it provides a model for church evangelism. We should take the command to sow in the morning and the evening to heart (11:6), using whatever means we can to share the Good News with as many as we can without overlooking the opportunity to share Christ with the one. That’s the answer.
8/13/2013 3:40:07 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 25: God Completes the Story

August 13 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-5, 12-14
 

Many Christians under the age of 40 can be heard complaining about an overemphasis on heaven in the songs and sermons of their youth. While the criticism is true on many fronts, the critics must not respond by minimizing the subject of heaven to near insignificance. Who wants to run a race with no finish line? The splendor of eternity with Christ caused the Apostle Paul to proclaim, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Just as Jesus comforted His disciples in preparation for His departure, we must comfort fellow believers with reminders of His promised return (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Whether at the bedside of a dying loved one or taking inventory of what matters in life, we must take heart in knowing that Jesus has prepared a place for His church and will take them home someday.  
 
The concluding chapters of Revelation bring us to a truth often overlooked: we will spend eternity on the new earth. The destruction of the current heavens and earth (2 Peter 3:10-13) will open the way for the eternal heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells and all the effects of sin and the curse (separation, mourning, crying, pain) are absent. While we don’t understand all the details, we know it will be beyond anything we’ve experienced. Paradise lost will become paradise regained! The throne of God and Christ will be the centerpiece, and free access to the tree of life will be granted to everyone. God and His people will enjoy eternal uninterrupted fellowship as they worship Him.
 
As John neared the end of Revelation, Jesus reminded him that there will be no general admission to eternity with Him. By the grace of God we don’t have to worry about getting the price right because Jesus paid it all! However, we must recognize the cost and the reason it was paid. We must “wash our robes” by demonstrating repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.     
8/13/2013 3:35:44 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 18: Is There Any Hope?

August 1 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 9:3-12, 15-18
           
What if you woke up one morning and read your obituary in the newspaper? Would you change anything about the way you lived? This frightening thought actually happened to Alfred Nobel. Dr. Nobel was a Swedish industrialist and inventor. Over his lifetime he claimed 350 patents for various discoveries, but the invention that made him both famous and rich was dynamite. He was enjoying his life of luxury when in 1888 a French newspaper mistook the death of his brother, Ludvig, for Alfred. The obit was headlined, “The merchant of death is dead.” Within the text of the death notice was this sentence, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding the way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible, died yesterday.”
 
Alfred Nobel was shocked into making a serious life reevaluation. He rewrote his will, dictating that upon his death 94 percent of his total assets were to be used to establish five prizes to be awarded to individuals who have bettered humankind. Some were science related, but the most well-known prize became known as the Nobel Peace Prize. It is awarded to an individual who is deemed to have made a significant contribution that particular year toward world peace. Alfred Nobel was proud to be known as one who would give hope to the world rather than death and destruction.
 
In today’s passages the Teacher shares a number of thoughts regarding life. He identifies the fact that life is fleeting. Man does not know the amount of time he has, but it is limited.

There is also the aspect of unpredictability. Time and chance happen to all of us (v. 11).
 
Much like the inner struggle of Dr. Nobel, the Teacher recognizes that wisdom is better than weapons of war, because one sinner can destroy much good (v. 18). Therefore, the exhortation is to make the most of the time you have. Be righteous. Enjoy life and the time you have with your spouse. Whatever you do, do it with passion.
8/1/2013 2:45:13 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 18: Jesus Commissions His Church

August 1 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:6-8; 2:41-47
 
I like a story with a good ending, especially if I pay big bucks to watch it at the theater. Whether the story ends with a good laugh, a meaningful cry, or a profound sense of justice, we like to see that it was worth our investment of time and money. However, most stories prove to be mere entertainment when we get to the end. Once the laughing, crying, or cheering end we sense the need to move on to something else. When we recount the atoning work of Jesus, we remember that we don’t need to move on to something else; we need to move on with what we’ve seen and heard! 
 
Just before His ascension Jesus commissioned His disciples to take the gospel story everywhere. Even before the New Testament was penned, He told them that all of Scripture pointed to Him. As we take up the Great Commission, we must remember to give hearers the whole redemption story and not just a few personal applications. Our International Mission Board missionaries regularly use chronological Bible stories to show that Jesus is the focus of scripture.
 
Like the disciples, we have a tendency to focus on what we don’t know. While we want to cure our spiritual ignorance as much as possible, we will always have a lack of understanding in some areas (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus clarified what his disciples would do: 1) Receive power from the Holy Spirit. 2) Be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. In 2013 our calling remains the same. We cannot shirk our responsibility by putting the work on “professional ministers.” The power of the Holy Spirit still leads pastors and all other members of the body to take the gospel we know and work together for the common purpose of making disciples. When we do, new churches will form that demonstrate the unity of purpose that God’s Spirit provides. May the Holy Spirit give us a fresh anointing and a fresh vision for the work of the gospel at home and around the world!
8/1/2013 2:43:10 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments