August 2017

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 10: Confrontation

August 22 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Exodus 7:1-13
 
In Arthurian legend, Sir Lancelot enjoys the favor of the King as one of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur’s closest companion. Yet, in a selfish display of betrayal, Lancelot takes Guinevere the Queen for himself. In spite of all that his lord had done for him and all of the status that accompanied being a knight of Camelot, he came to value something more.
 
That which we prize above all else is what we will exalt to a place of worship in our lives. However, there is one and only one who is worthy of such honor, namely God, and He will share His glory with no one.
 
All that He is and all that He has done throughout the history of man has been for the knowledge and display of that glory. Israel’s deliverance from bondage under Pharaoh is the Old Testament’s greatest example of God displaying His power that His people might worship and serve Him.
 
Both the simple obedience of Moses and Aaron and the stubborn hardening of Pharaoh’s heart make way for the sovereign hand of God to move for His glory. Judgment and deliverance work toward the same end but with drastically different consequences for those involved.
 
God will accomplish His sovereign purposes in creation and redemption. His glory will be known and shown throughout the earth. We stand to be a part of that glorious display, either through simple obedience and freedom in Christ or through the stubborn hardening of our hearts and judgment.
 
In light of who God is and all that He has done for us in salvation, it is only reasonable that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him.
 
As we trust in the Spirit’s power to renew our minds and transform us, we live by faith through simple obedience to His commands, trusting that He who began a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
 

8/22/2017 9:55:39 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 10: Demons

August 22 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: Mark 9:17-29
 
As a child, I loved pickles, and I don’t know if you are like me, but a new jar of anything – especially pickles – can be hard to open. I would often turn to my father to help me open the jar because I was not strong enough.
 
The topic of this week’s lesson, dealing with unclean spirits, is also an area in which we must turn to our Father for help.
 
It’s an issue many of us are deeply uncomfortable with – probably because it exposes our weaknesses – but it is a conversation that we must not be reluctant to deliberate. Demonic forces are real, and they seek to destroy every aspect of our lives.
 
In our passage from Mark, the scripture says, “[the unclean spirit] often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.”
 
Like the boy, demons want to destroy us.
 
They desire to see us fail, to become ensnared in a web of sin that destroys hope and causes a lifetime of struggle.
 
Fortunately, we can seek our strength in Christ and the knowledge that he has the authority to destroy demons.
 
As a child of God, we must seek Christ urgently.
 
Just as I had to turn to my father to open a pickle jar, we must also turn to Christ to help overcome the attacks of Satan and his demons. A wise man once told me, “Sometimes we get so caught up in theology that we forget ‘Kneeology.’”
 
The disciples were confused as to why they were not able to cast the demons out, because they knew a lot about demons and had also witnessed them being cast out.
 
However, they missed a key aspect. They needed Christ’s power.
 
I knew the mechanics of how to open the jar of pickles, yet was unable. I had to turn to someone greater than myself. This text is a reminder that some things can only be accomplished through prayer. There is spiritual warfare all around us, and we should constantly be in prayer to Christ, the defeater of death and the devil.

8/22/2017 9:53:53 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 3: Reluctance

August 22 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Exodus 3:4-14; 4:13-16
 
Little Susie gazes at the pack of German Shepherd puppies to decide which one she’ll take home as a pet.
 
“That one, Mom,” she said, pointing. “She’s the prettiest.”
 
The nearby law enforcement officer shopping for a sidekick, however, locks in on another pup.
 
He thinks, “This one isn’t much to look at, but he stands a little taller than the rest. He has a knack for herding and sometimes heading off the others. He’s also adept at getting the most milk when feeding. One day, with the proper training, he will make a fine police dog.”
 
Each master looks for skills and characteristics that align with the purposes of their companion. But in either case, each pup will need training to make them capable of fulfilling their tasks.
 
Moses, like the alpha pup, possesses the skillset to confront Pharaoh and to deliver the Israelites from bondage. Raised as a prince of Egypt, and now working as a shepherd, he is well acquainted with confronting the enemy and herding the masses toward safety.
 
But without the calling and empowerment of the Master on his life, he possesses neither the desire nor the ability to do so. Even then, his reluctance to accept God’s call nearly cripples him. Yet, God reassures Moses by rooting the mission in His own person, presence, purpose and power.
 
God’s providence has positioned each of us to obey the Great Commission in our given contexts. Thusly, He calls each of us to perform a specific task in the kingdom work.
 
Whatever God has asked us to do, we can rest assured that He will be with us and that He will give us the help we need to accomplish that task. When we are tempted to resist the call, we need only remind ourselves of the person, presence, purpose and power of God in our lives. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (NASB).
 
Remember that “His good pleasure” is our one overarching purpose, and like Moses, when all is accomplished, we will “worship God at this mountain” for all eternity.
 

8/22/2017 9:46:44 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 3: Satan

August 22 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: Revelation 12:7-12
 
One of my all-time favorite sports is football. The game requires a lot of preparation, and a huge part of each team’s plan is to study the opposing team’s game films. Coaches do this to learn what formations and techniques of deception their opponents utilize. The church’s greatest opponent is Satan, yet they often either talk too much about him or not at all.

Unfortunately, it’s not a game, and we are often not properly prepared.
 
“The dragon, the ancient serpent” is the one who tries to deceive us. Just like a quarterback, we must know him and his playbook, and that his favorite route is one of deception. His tactics haven’t changed, and he likes to put us in a position where we question God’s Word and His goodness, just as he did with Adam and Eve.
 
He twists God’s Word to deceive us and persuade us to question God’s love: “Does God want what’s best for us?”
 
When we fall for Satan’s deception, he then throws out accusations, which deplete our spirit of hope and strength. It makes us feel like we are not good enough for God, or that our sin is something God could never forgive us for. It’s not true.
 
There is hope in Christ.
 
We do not have to be deceived by Satan. Christ’s work on the cross has already defeated Satan’s ultimate “game plan.”
 
Satan, unlike Christ, is not omnipresent. His hands are tied. The book of Revelation teaches us that Christ will return and will finish Satan off for good.
 
We know that Satan is able to trick us, to provoke us to jump offside. What we must do, as followers of Christ, is get in the Word of God. We need to examine how Satan operates to know his “plays” of deception.
 
The more we submit to God and resist the Devil, the more and more his tactics will no longer affect us. The more we turn to God for strength to resist the Devil, the more prepared we will be for our opponent’s deceptiveness.

8/22/2017 9:40:41 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 27: The Longing

August 7 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 42:1-11
 
Psalm 42 offers a highly personal, introspective look into the author’s life. His desire is for the Lord, but he wants more of God. Do you ever find yourself parched for the Lord’s presence?
 
Because of our sinful condition, most everyone can relate to this psalm. We are limited in our understanding of God and His work, His sovereignty and His movement.  God’s ways are higher than ours.
 
I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked, “Why you?” in relation to my cancer diagnosis. My usual response is, “Why not me?” or “Better me than someone who doesn’t know Jesus.”
 
Over the course of this journey there have been times of struggle and times where I have wondered what God was doing. I have wondered where He was.
 
In times of despair, I encourage you to read the Psalms or write a list of ways God has been very present in the past. In Psalm 42:4, we are told of a time when the Psalmist remembers going to the house of the Lord with thanksgiving. In hard times it is vital to remember the good things that God has done. It is good to seek out biblical counseling when our depression goes on to long.
 
The Psalmist tries to strengthen his soul’s position by saying, “Why are you down cast, O my soul? Why so disturbed in me. Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5 & 11).
 
Putting our hope in God can be challenging at times. Yet God’s Word is powerful, and there are many verses that will lift you up. Here are a few of my favorites: Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 1:18-20, Romans 15:13, Psalm 52, Psalm 56:3.
 
I pray you will be encouraged by God through His Word. No matter what trial or tragedy you are facing today, remember that God is with you, and He will never leave or forsake you.
 

8/7/2017 4:57:03 PM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 27: Right Here, Right Now

August 7 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: Mark 5:1-2, 8-15, 18-20
 
There is something very exciting about going on a foreign mission trip. It seems adventurous and perhaps even risky.
 
We may be tempted to think that we are being bolder for Jesus when we share Christ in a far-away land.
 
From our perspective, it may seem much less exciting to walk over to the guy across the street whose dogs keep you up at night and tell him about Christ.
 
And, though you’ve got some friend or family member that needs to know Jesus, you break out in a cold sweat every time you consider talking to them about putting their faith in the Lord.
 
We find a similar apathy to local witnessing in Mark’s Gospel.
 
Mark tells us about an intense encounter between Jesus and a man who was possessed by demons.
 
While there are many interesting details about this encounter, we find that Jesus drove the demons from this man and that just like many contemporary believers, the man had his sights set on a far-away mission field. As Jesus was departing the region, the formerly demon-possessed man wanted to go with the Lord.
 
However, Mark writes, “But He [Jesus] would not let him; instead, He told him, ‘Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.’ So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed” (Mark 5:19–20).
 
The power of this man’s testimony was in the fact that everyone had known him before.
You don’t have to go far to share how Christ has changed your life.
 
You will find at least two advantages of sharing your testimony in your own community.
 
First, your testimony is more powerful if people can see that Christ has changed you or that
God has brought you through difficulties in life.
 
Second, you already have a relationship with the people with whom you are sharing the gospel.

So while we cannot forget the mandate to do missions, keep in mind that when the disciples were standing on the Mount of Olives, Jesus told them the first place they were to be His witnesses was “… in Jerusalem and Judea” (Acts 1:8).
 

8/7/2017 4:48:25 PM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for August 20: The Protector

August 7 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 141:1-10
 
Over the course of my life most of my prayers have been prayers of petition. I believe many of you would probably say that is true of your prayers as well. As I have grown in my faith, elements of praise, thanksgiving and confession have been added, but even still, the plea of my heart is almost always involved.
 
David begins his prayer with an offering of praise in Psalm 141. He desires for God to collect his prayer as if it was an offering of incense. Why? David longs to please God even in his prayers and writings.
 
In verse three, David beseeches God for His protection. First, David asks for protection from his own sinful ways: his mouth, heart and actions. Next, David wants God to allow him to receive instruction and correction from the righteous – much like Hebrews 12 encourages us to accept God’s discipline. We all need correction at times. Third, David wants nothing to do with wickedness. Can you say the same about yourself? Or do you enjoy the choice morsel of gossip or the inappropriate television show?
 
David closes this Psalm seeking God’s protection and promise. David knows who has granted him success and safety and he will continue to seek that refuge from the Lord. He also knows that there are traps all around him, temptations to snare him and evil people who want to ruin him. It is the same for us today.
 
There is wickedness in us, otherwise known as our sinful nature and the evil of the world lurks around us too. But God is immutable. If He was our refuge in the past, then He is our refuge in the present and the future. He does not change. His character remains the same. No matter what we face, we can turn to God and obtain help for the situation.
 

8/7/2017 4:46:55 PM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 20: A Passion to Share the Gospel

August 7 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11, 14-21
 
When someone has passion about something, you can usually identify what that passion is in a matter of moments. Walk into a neighbor’s house and see what adorns their living room – are there pictures of grandchildren? Mounted deer heads? Antiques? Sports paraphernalia?
 
Listen to a person’s conversation and hear what they talk about the most (perhaps it’s golf, money, vacation, work or their faith).
 
We talk about and make much over the things that we love. If we are passionate about something, we’ll talk about it.
 
Paul was a passionate man, but his passion was for the Lord Jesus Christ and to make Him known. God has given us all unique personalities, talents and gifts, but regardless, He expects us to share the gospel.
 
If you are not excited and passionate about sharing the gospel, I challenge you to spend more time thinking about what the gospel actually is!
 
First, Paul was motivated to share the gospel by the “fear of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Paul wasn’t saying that we should be afraid of God, but that because we have so much awe (respect) for God, we should be obedient to do what He has asked us to do. Moreover, we respect God because of what He has done for us. After all, it is “Christ’s love that compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), and “we no longer live for ourselves” (2 Corinthians 5:15) as Christians.
 
If God has done so much for us, our love for Him and our love for others should lead us to seek to persuade others to be reconciled to God.
 
After all, God has given us a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). To reconcile means to bring two parties together into harmony.
 
A while back, I had the opportunity to intervene in a family dispute. There were two members of a family who were estranged. I love both of them, and God was able to use me to say something to one that caused him to reach out to his relative. As a result, they were reconciled and are again communicating with one another.
 
It was joy to me to see this happen, but it’s an even greater joy when we are instrumental in practicing our “ministry of reconciliation” (sharing the gospel) and seeing a rebellious sinner be reconciled to God.
 

8/7/2017 4:45:03 PM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments