August 2014

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 14: Pay Attention

August 28 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4
About 10 years ago I decided to take my family to the Dominican Republic for our summer vacation. We picked a resort with a nice area for swimming, kayaking or using boogie boards. I decided the boogie board was my best bet at enjoying a little recreation in the calm waters of the bay. I found it very easy to swim with the boogie board and so I ventured out farther and farther from the beach. Then I had a terrible realization: I had drifted about 300 yards south of where I had entered the water. I made it back, but it taught me an important lesson about the danger of drifting.
The writer of Hebrews has the very same concern. He is not concerned with swimming at the beach, but with the drift of faith. He calls on followers of Christ in Hebrews 2:1 to pay more careful attention to what they have heard in order to avoid drifting away from their faith. Notice he is concerned they are already drifting, which is why he calls on them to pay more careful attention to the truth of the gospel. They needed to put in practice what they had heard in a more intentional way, in order to avoid the drift of faith. The same is true for us. To simply hear a sermon or Sunday School lesson, but fail to put it into practice puts us at risk for drifting away.
He then reminds them that just as there were consequences for disobedience under the law, there are consequences for ignoring the great salvation provided in Christ. The writer of Hebrews does not have an understanding of salvation as a casual glance at the cross or “praying a prayer.” He understands the message of God’s grace to be life transforming and a message that demands our full attention.
He tells us that God has testified to the truth of the gospel by signs, wonders, miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We testify to the truth of the gospel by living it out with careful attention to what we have heard. Fortunately, my lack of attention on the boogie board only cost me some sore muscles. A lack of attention to the truth of the gospel has much more severe eternal consequences.

8/28/2014 12:17:35 PM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 14: Connected in Unity

August 28 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:1-6

This week, the apostle Paul transitions into applied ministry and describes how believers are connected in unity. In Ephesians 4, Paul gives us practical ways of how we can remain functionally united. Because we all know that staying unified takes work – especially when sinners are dealing with other sinners!
First, Paul counsels the church to humbly accept one another. He urges them to be patient and bear with one another in love (v. 2). Next, he charges the church to strive for unity in the Spirit. How are they to do this? By allowing the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15). He then expresses the “oneness” of God in verses four through six: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God.
Do not miss how Paul incorporates the Trinity in His depiction of unity. He mentions the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. All three persons of the Godhead unified in the unfolding of His perfect, divine will.
Our bodies are made of many cells. Positionally, the cells within our bodies are united because they are all within one body. Yet, functionally, they can sometimes be at odds. Allergies, disease and inflammation can result because the cells within one body do not cooperate together. Instead, they attack one another, which eventually destroys the whole body.
Think of the magnificence displayed when those cells within your body work together; when they unite to fight off an infectious illness or bind up a wound. Back away from the microscope and view this in light of the body of Christ. King David said in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Jesus said of future believers, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).
Our “oneness” within the body of Christ reflects the glory of our Triune God. How can you pursue unity with other believers this week?

8/28/2014 11:58:29 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 7: Who is Jesus?

August 26 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 1:1-4
“Is that your final answer?” Few questions struck fear into the heart of game show contestants as that question from the wildly popular “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” On the show, contestants work their way toward winning $1 million by correctly answering a series of questions in a multiple choice format. Once the contestant settled in on their answer, the host would ask, “Is that your final answer?” The question became so ingrained culturally, that TV Land included it in their 2006 show “The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases” special.
In the book of Hebrews we discover that God has answered that same question with a resounding “YES.” Jesus is God’s final answer. Hebrews is one of the most helpful books in the New Testament at helping us understand how all of the Old Testament ultimately points us to Jesus. Even in the opening verses of the book, that theme is clear and unmistakable.
The first two verses of Hebrews chapter one tells us that God, in the past, has spoken in various ways. He has used prophets, dreams, visions, intercessors and even creation itself to speak of His glory. But now the anonymous writer says, in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. Indeed, we are in the “last days” because God has given us His final answer.
The writer tells us about God’s Son (v. 3-4). He says He is the exact representation of God’s being. Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. He tells us that Jesus sustains all things by His powerful Word. Why does the earth stay in orbit around the sun? Because the Son tells it to. He tells us the Son provided purification for our sins and then sat down at the right hand of God. He sat down, because His work was done. It was completed. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. Everything else in the Bible has been pointing forward to the day when God would speak clearly and finally. He did so in Jesus. Jesus truly is God’s final answer for us. But He did not win $1 million, He won the salvation of everyone who would believe in Him.

8/26/2014 11:25:28 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 7: Connected in Christ

August 26 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Ephesians 2:17-22
A cornerstone is not just any part of a building. It is the stone that holds the whole structure together. The apostle Paul makes this point in relation to Christ in Ephesians 2. Christ is not just a facet of the church. He is not just one block that is next to another stone of worship music or a brick of preschool ministry. He is the “chief cornerstone” on which the church was built (v. 20).
Many of us tend to view church like we do other organizations or clubs. We approach it with a “me-centered” mentality. What can the church do for me? What can my church give me? If I tithe regularly (or more than the person who sits in the pew next to me), doesn’t that mean that I have more of a say in the color of the carpet or the lights on the stage? Since I volunteer my time with the student ministry, should I not be given a gold-level status as a church member?
Our passage in Ephesians 2:17-22 brings us back to the beautiful simplicity of the gospel. Just like the church in Ephesus, we have to be reminded that it is nothing that we have done – and nothing that we can ever do, pay for, serve, make – that will earn us an entry or advantage in the body of Christ. Membership in the church is a privilege that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. It is centered around Him and what He has done.
In the verse preceding our passage (v. 16), Paul describes how we have reconciliation with God the Father – through the cross of Christ. It is only through Jesus that we have access to God (v. 18). Jesus made peace with God through the cross so that all who place their faith in Christ are no longer estranged, but instead are welcomed into the family of God (v. 19).
According to John MacArthur, the cornerstone is vital because it sets the foundation and squares the building. Just as a capstone unites two intersecting walls, Christ connects and joins us together in Him. Have you set your foundation and squared your building on something other than the chief cornerstone?

8/26/2014 11:20:42 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for August 31: Be Ready for Tribulation

August 14 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passages: Daniel 9:20-27; 12:9-13
“I don’t know” are some of the most significant words I have ever said in a ministry context. It is a phrase that brings a humanity and equality to the relationship between pastor and church member. For example, our ladies group had been immersed in a Precept Bible Study on Revelation in early 2011. At the same time, the “Arab spring” was occurring in Egypt and Libya. Standing in the breezeway of the church, one of the ladies in the class asked me if I thought the events in Egypt were tied to end-times biblical prophecy. My response was “I don’t know.” I think the same principles I shared with them apply to the passages under consideration this week.
First, pray for understanding. I don’t mean to pray that God will show you all of the details of the future or to pray that you will understand how all of the events in world history fit a prophetic timeline. It is doubtful that any of us could handle such knowledge. Which may be why God has kept it under wraps. Rather, do what Daniel did in Daniel 9:20-23. He confessed his sin and the sin of his people and prayed for understanding.
Second, prepare for difficulty. Regardless of your understanding of the end times, the universal witness of the scripture is that mankind grows more sinful, not less sinful. As mankind grows more sinful, those who embrace a biblical worldview become more marginalized (at best) and more persecuted (at worst). Do not focus on marginalization, but become familiar with and pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who are facing genuine persecution and death for their faith. Pray for their faith to be strengthened.
Finally, keep living for the life of faith. Don’t quit. Because so many who speculate on the “times and seasons” prove to be wrong, it can become easy to question whether the Bible is true at all. Though we don’t know all the details, Jesus is returning. In the meantime, we keep serving Him. Just as Daniel was told to keep living (Daniel 12:9-13) until God brought the events of His prophecy to pass, so should we.

8/14/2014 9:41:59 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 31: Our Work with Creation

August 14 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Leviticus 25:1-7
God blessed Adam and Eve saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Many scholars refer to this verse as the cultural mandate. God has tasked mankind with stewardship of the earth. He has given us responsibility over His creation.
This mandate has been interpreted in multiple ways. One extreme could almost be considered the worship of nature. The opposite end may take the command as a power play; humans are at the top, and any creature or natural resource can – and should – be exploited for our benefit. A biblical approach falls somewhere in the middle of these two. Sure, God has given us the earth for our benefit but not for our abuse or manipulation. And we should care and nurture the earth but not to the obsession that we view it as its own god or force, independent of its Creator.
In Leviticus 25:1-7, the Lord gives instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai to relay to the Israelites. Essentially, God’s instructions for how to care for the land are modeled after His pattern of creation. He tells His people to cultivate the land for six years (v. 3). However, in the seventh year, they should observe a Sabbath for the land (v. 4). Observing a year of Sabbath not only stewards the land well but also demonstrates trust in God as the ultimate Provider. God not only promises to provide for the land owner during that Sabbath year, He also promises to provide for the manservant, maidservant, hired worker and sojourner; the livestock and wild animals (v. 6-7).
“Sabbath,” designed by God in creation, is a time of rest and cessation from work. It is a designated “holy” period to reflect on all that He has done (Genesis 2:2-3). God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites (v. 2). How can you be a good steward of what He has given you? Make time this week to rest, give thanks and acknowledge His provision in your life. Then use the provisions He has given you to help meet other’s needs.

8/14/2014 9:22:32 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for August 24: Live to Win in the End

August 12 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Daniel 7:7-18
I have two hobbies that clash: watching NASCAR and riding a motorcycle. They clash because racing (typically) occurs on a Sunday afternoon, which happens to be a great time to ride. So, I’ve begun recording races while I go ride. This, too, has a risk: someone text-ing me about the winner of the race before I watch it. My reaction to such a text is telling. If I get a text, and my favorite driver has won, I still watch the race. But, if a driver I do not care for won, I do not watch it. Apparently, if I think the outcome of the race is good, I watch the recording with joy, anticipating my driver’s victory.
In Daniel 7 we read about a vision given to Daniel of things to come. This section of scripture is a key portion of biblical eschatology and has been pored over meticulously by scholars. Yet, there is still significant disagreement as to Daniel’s precise meaning and the timing of the events. Rather than attempt to revisit all of the various theories, let’s focus on what this passage teaches clearly. 
First, verses 7-8 describe a great beast that devours and crushes its victims. It is a terrifying, powerful and frightening. These verses remind us that evil will persist until the consummation.
Immediately after we are introduced to the fearsome beast, we are reminded (v. 9-12) God is the ultimate judge. A beast that puts panic in the hearts of people is no match for the God of the universe. What a great comfort! Rather than fret about which world leader might be the anti-Christ, we can rest in the confidence that every living being is under the authority of God. Rather than worry about the details of the end times, Daniel 7:13-14 remind us that the Lord Jesus was given authority and dominion over all peoples and that His kingdom will never be destroyed. Therefore, we can serve Him with confidence, regardless of the circumstances that may occur around us. All of the kingdoms of this world will eventually go into the dustbin of history (Dan 7:15-18), but not the Kingdom of Christ. His is an eternal Kingdom. So, let’s live our lives with joy, knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ has won!

8/12/2014 9:38:31 AM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 24: God’s Work of Creation

August 12 2014 by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student

Focal Passage: Psalm 104:1-5, 24-30
Psalm 104 is book-ended with praise to God. The psalmist says, in both verse 1 and 35, “Bless the LORD, O my soul” (ESV). He is giving glory to God for the work of His hands, the creation of the world. Everything in creation is the work of our God, who loves us. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth … God saw all that He had made and it was very good” (Genesis 1:1, 31).
In Psalm 104:1-5, the psalmist highlights how God has created out of His power and majesty. He wraps Himself in light, stretches out the heavens like a tent and makes the clouds His chariot. He has set the earth on its foundations; what He has created cannot be moved.
Verses 24-30 emphasize God’s wisdom in creation as well as His provision for all He has made. The psalmist praises Him for his vast works: from the waters to the mountains to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; to the sea teeming with creatures, the sun and the moon, the roaring lion and the laboring man.
Yet, the psalmist makes it clear that God did not simply create and then abandon His work. God is not “the watchmaker” who created and then left the world to run on its own. No, He is intimately involved in sustaining His creation. In verses 27 and 28, the psalmist describes how each living thing looks to God for provision “to give them their food at the proper time.”

I love how several translations emphasize the continual action of the verbs in verse 28, “When You give … When You open Your hand …” The psalmist recognizes that it is not a matter of if God will provide; it is a matter of when.
How do you need to apply this scriptural truth? Remember, you are His creation. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). He has not abandoned the work of His hands. He will continue to sustain you and provide for you, just like He will for the butterfly and the bear.
Let us give thanks to our loving Creator this week and say, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!”

8/12/2014 9:27:20 AM by Hilary Ratchford, writer, Southeastern Seminary student | with 0 comments