December 2014

Explore the Bible Lesson for January 11: God Inspires the Work

December 30 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passages: Nehemiah 2:1-8, 17-18
 
I have recently been reading a book entitled Margins. It is written by a Christian medical doctor calling on people to recognize that we live our lives in such a wide-open manner that we don’t even have room for all we are trying to do, much less unexpected things that arise. Even more troubling, in the midst of our compulsively busy lives, we often fail even to recognize opportunities God brings along our path where He desires for us to serve Him in some way that will bring Him glory.

This does not mean that we should shuffle the busyness of our lives to substitute some of our busyness with “doing work for God.” Rather, the need of our lives is to learn to walk in daily fellowship with God, being led by His Spirit rather than the spirit of the “urgent,” so we can hear God when He speaks, follow as He leads and serve in the strength and wisdom which He provides whenever He calls.

We see the above pattern in Nehemiah. Nehemiah was not looking for something to do for God. He was seeking to walk faithfully with the God he knew to be a faithful, covenant-keeping God (1:5) – while in Babylonian exile. We see that the pattern of Nehemiah’s life was communion with God through prayer (1:4,6,11; 2:4; 4:4,9). He sought God’s face and followed when and where God led. Nehemiah knew from his time with God the desire to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (2:12). His intent at that point was to survey the situation (2:12-15), trusting God for the wisdom and strength to accomplish what God had led Him to do. Nehemiah knew God always provides when He is leading and His people are surrendered to His will.

God’s call to His people is always first to Himself, not to a task. God called us to repentance and faith in order to reconcile us to Himself. When we walk with Him in daily fellowship and prayer, led and empowered by His Spirit, He will lead us to serve Him in ways that glorify Him. The question is, “Are we so busy with our plans and agendas – or perhaps even our work for Him – that we fail to hear from Him?”

 
12/30/2014 10:31:13 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 11: The Shelter of God’s Protection

December 30 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Psalm 91:1-4, 9-11, 14-16
 
I still can remember the tragic events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 – how a coordinated group of terrorists brought tragedy to our doorstep. I watched the scenes unfold before my eyes on television. I was at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md., the elementary principal and responsible for a number of young lives. I stood in horror as the second plane flew directly into the second tower. It felt as if I was watching a movie when they collapsed. For the first time in my life in the United States of America, I felt vulnerable, unprotected from the world around me.

With no inscription to allow us to associate Psalm 91, I believe God has given it to us to hold onto in times of troubles. When we seek and need a protective hand, He reminds us that He is there. Verse 1 reminds us that if we live under His protection, we are dwelling with El Shaddai – the most-powerful One. As we spend time in God’s Word, we find that there are a number of names attributed to Him – it is not that there are many different gods; it is to show us the many facets of Yahweh. Each name covers a different feature of our marvelous God.

El Shaddai is one of the best-known compound names of God in the scriptures. It literally means the “All-Sufficient God.” It is used 48 times in the Old Testament, the first time being in Genesis 17:1 – God had appeared to Abraham and was ready to fulfill His promise of making him the father of a mighty nation. His name was given to reassure Abraham that God was all he needed. Job uses this name frequently in the book of Job. It also carries the connotation of omnipotence. He has all-sufficient power.

God has shown Himself faithful in the past. Because of this, we can trust Him for today and the future. He holds all power in His hands and being. This is a blessed thought when we consider our standing with Him. When a person accepts Christ as his Savior, God’s all-sufficient power is able to protect them from ever being separated from Him. He is enough, Jesus is enough.

12/30/2014 10:22:48 AM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 28: God Ordains Restoration

December 16 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passages: Ezra 3:1-7, 10-11; 6:19-22
 
I was recently given a small fiberglass jon boat that had been abandoned. When I got it, it was filled with water, covered in moss, grown up with weeds and full of leaves and sticks. The tires on the trailer were flat and dry rotted.
 
The boat was a far cry from the well-functioning fishing boat it had been made to be. I have stripped it down to the shell of the boat and am getting ready to restore it.
 
How will I know when that mission has been accomplished and a success? When the boat is once again on the lake being used for fishing, the purpose for which the boat was made.
The people of God that had been exiled in Babylon had returned to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple, which laid in shambles after being destroyed. God fulfilled His promise to return His people to the holy city to rebuild the house of worship.
 
Under edict of the king and with the financial resources of the royal treasury, they returned to rebuild God’s house. They faced great persecution during the rebuilding from opponents who tried to discourage them and stop the work. However, they listened to and trusted God’s promises through the prophets.
 
How did they know when the job was complete? When they were once again fulfilling God’s intended purpose for His house – when the people of God were again bringing sacrifices to worship God according to God’s design and command.
 
But the temple was but a shadow of what was to come. While they worshipped God according to His design, the day would come when the fulfillment of that to which the temple worship pointed would be fulfilled.
 
The Son of God would be the once-for-all sacrifice for the sin of the world, and one day, His people would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
 
God created us to know, love, worship and obey Him, so how do we see evidence of those purposes being fulfilled in our lives?
 
When we are worshipping Him and living our lives sacrificially (Rom. 12:1), as He created us to do for His glory.
12/16/2014 1:17:23 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 28: The Shelter of God’s Encouragement

December 16 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passages: Psalm 42:1-3, 6-8; 43:3-5
 
In Donald McCulley’s sermon – “Got Hope?” – he tells of a famous painting by G.F. Watt with the title of “Hope.” The painting pictures a poor woman against the world. Her eyes are bandaged so she cannot see ahead. In her hands is a harp, but all the strings are broken save one. Those broken strings represent her shattered expectations, her bitter disappointments. That one last unbroken string is the string of hope. She strikes that string and a glorious melody floats out over the world; it fills her dark skies with stars. The artist painted a great truth: Even when all else seems gone, you can still have hope!
 
Have you ever felt depressed? If so, then you will find good company in Psalms 42-43. These psalms are about a person who is desperately longing for God’s presence and rescue but is overwhelmed with feelings of depression. Water is a big theme in Psalm 42. This writer is feeling separated from God and he can feel it so much in his soul that he is like a thirsty animal, searching for water. He has a spiritual need in his life: a longing for God’s presence.
 
The psalmist cannot figure out why he is so depressed. He goes on to describe himself as “deeply depressed.” Now the theme of water returns – describing the depression, which he sees as a conspiracy of the waves that cascade over him and drag him to the bottom.
 
Depression is like that. You cannot breathe, cannot see your way out and you feel like you’re sinking fast. Even in the midst, he knows he must continue to look to God’s faithful love at all times.
 
Sometimes all we can do in the midst of depression is keep crying to God.
 
Ponder over two truths from this Psalm. First, depression can happen even to a believer. We are not immune from this struggle. Then remember that ultimately it is God who is our hope. We can trust in the promises of God that no matter what is happening around us, it will be okay because God is in control. God does have a plan, God does love you and he will see you through even this.
 
12/16/2014 1:13:55 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 21: God Provides a Savior

December 4 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Luke 2:8-20
 
As I read through this familiar passage again, I couldn’t help but think of the words to the song “A Strange Way to Save the World.” The chorus of the song is sung from the perspective of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. He is standing in the stable at Bethlehem, asking: “Why me?/I’m just a simple man of trade? Why him?/With all the rulers in the world? Why here?/Inside this stable filled with hay? Why her?/She’s just an ordinary girl? Now I’m not one to second guess what angels have to say. But this is such a strange way to save the world.”
 
Consider how strange this must’ve been from a human perspective. It began with an unusual announcement to a barren, elderly couple – Abraham and Sarah – about their son who would be the forerunner of God’s messiah. Then came an unusual announcement from an angel to a teenage girl who was engaged to a carpenter – not exactly the expected family line for the birth of a king. This young couple ended up in an unusual, small town and was forced to go to a most unusual birthing place like the stable where a king’s animals might eat. This couldn’t be where the king should be born.
 
Then an unusual heavenly host brought this joyful announcement to simple shepherds who were keeping their sheep on a hillside outside of town.
 
From our human perspective, this whole endeavor seems a most unusual approach, but it was God’s perfect provision of exactly what man needed.
 
As D.A. Carson so aptly reminds us, “If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.” Go tell the Good News of this Savior! His name is Jesus!

12/4/2014 1:27:06 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 21: The Shelter of God’s Forgiveness

December 4 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Psalm 32:1-7
 
Someone said life assurance is far more valuable and important than life insurance. I read that not long before Marghanita Laski died in 1988 – a well-known secular humanist and novelist – she said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.” 
 
God designed man to have a need to relieve the guilt he has in life. Guilt is a spiritual issue, not a psychological issue. We try to cope and explain away the mechanism of guilt, while continuing to struggle with it. We seek all sorts of ways to conceal, to release, to endure the pangs and feelings of guilt that is unresolved in our souls.
 
This reminded me of Val Patterson who died on July 12, 2012, due to cancer. He knew the end was coming, so he chose to write his own obituary notice. Through media outlets, this obituary went viral.
 
In this account he said, “Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I am the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest.”

Forty-one years earlier as a teen, he had committed a robbery.
 
Though the police did not catch him, he was never able to escape the voice of a guilty conscience. Just as many today seek to hide or remove this voice, it keeps coming back to cause us pain and remorse.
 
King David said in Psalm 32:1-2 (HCSB): “How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is the man the Lord does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit!” Jesus Christ came into this world to offer us forgiveness for our sins, and to remove them completely from us (Psalm 103:12).
 
It will be no small comfort when we come to the end of our journey to know that our sins are forgiven, and that they are not screaming at us in the corridors of our mind as we pass from this world to the next.

12/4/2014 1:18:38 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 14: God Provides Deliverance

December 2 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Esther 4:6-17
 
Have you ever heard the adage: “Caught between a rock and a hard place?” That statement indicates a situation wherein a person has two options available to them, neither of which is desirable. You likely have been in such a situation at some point in your life. So what will you decide? And, what things will you take into account in order to help you make your final decision?
 
There are many resources you can use when considering your course of action. You can simply weigh the pros and cons of each option and try to determine which has the best outcome or the least undesirable outcome. Hopefully, you will seek God’s wisdom and direction in His Word and in prayer.
 
Esther is caught between that proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one hand, Haman is seeking to have Esther’s people (the Israelites) killed because of his retaliation against Mordecai. On the other hand, Esther has not been in the presence of her husband, the king, in over 30 days. To go before him uninvited could cost Esther her life. To do nothing would mean the death of her people and her death as well. She sought the wisdom of Mordecai. She, along with those around her, fasted and prayed as she approached the necessity of action.
 
While Mordecai challenged Esther to consider the fact that she could have become queen “for such a time as this,” and while Esther risked her life by going uninvited before the king, the real hero in this story is the covenant-keeping God of Israel. God’s providence is seen at every step. His faithfulness is seen in His rescue of His people from the hand of Haman. God made a promise to Abraham to bring from him a great nation – a nation from whom the Savior would come. No earthly tyrant would thwart the redemption plan of our covenant-making, covenant-keeping God.
 
While God may sometimes call us to walk in great faith and trust Him in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances, we can trust Him to be faithful to keep His promises and to providentially work in a way that is both for our good and His glory.

12/2/2014 12:20:48 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 14: The Shelter of God’s Salvation

December 2 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Psalm 27:1-6
 
OK, let’s admit together: There is a power outage, and when you walk into a room you still hit the light switch to turn on the lights. Be honest. Yes, it is human nature. Why? Because we depend upon it. It is always there, most of the time.
 
Moreover, when it isn’t, we feel totally let down. People will fail us, material things will fail, plans will go awry, and all that we see and know around us can fail us when we count on them most. Someone has said that there are two things we can depend upon: “Death and Taxes.” The Bible says that we can be sure of two things (Hebrews 10:27) – death and judgment. The entire Word of God shows us clearly that the one thing that is unchanging (James 1:17) is God.
 
In Psalm 27, David gives us a clear picture that the One he ultimately relied upon was God, and it is God who we can rely upon today.
 
The ultimate reason Jesus came into the world was to “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Moreover, because He is God, we can rest assured that what He has provided is enough. When He completed the work of salvation that day, He provided us an assured guarantee of our safety, security, guidance and rest.
 
David had a desire “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Jesus came and provided the way that anyone “who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
 
I have always loved this verse – it is infinite in it’s scope, and finite in its meaning. Anyone who comes to Jesus and trusts Him is guaranteed eternity in the presence of God. Because of this promise, we do not need to fear the future, we have confidence in what we have and know the security that only God can give.
 
As you consider this truth, do you know the security that comes from a personal relationship with Christ? Have you shared this with others around you so that they too can have security of salvation?

12/2/2014 12:16:31 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments