December 2016

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 15: Created for A Purpose

December 27 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Jeremiah 1:4-10
 
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah to remind him that God created him, planned for Jeremiah to serve Him and would equip Him to do what He called him to do. He encouraged Jeremiah to not see himself as only a youth and to not be afraid.
 
God speaks the same message to each of us today. He created us, He has plans for us to serve Him and He will equip us in how to serve Him. God’s design of each of us, before we were born, communicates clearly the value of each human life.
 
This past Fall, I had an amazing experience participating with a group who demonstrates their understanding of the value of human life, specifically the unborn. The organization, Love Life Charlotte, partnered with churches to “create a culture of Love and Life that will bring an end to abortion in Charlotte in 2016.” (lovelifecharlotte.com).
 
I participated in a prayer walk at the site of the largest abortion clinic in Charlotte. We participated in week 29 of a 40-week event. We prepared with worship, instructions, then began the prayer walk to the site, listening to the same worship filled music play list.
 
Once at the site, we experienced opposition. We continued to pray, the leaders of the event encouraged us and shared words of testimony. The encouragement was valuable as we were the target of words, signs and actions that mocked us, ridiculed us and so very sadly, mocked the power and name of Jesus.
 
The resistance to the Sanctity of Human Life was felt tangibly by our group. As we walked away from the clinic to continue a loop around the area, we had the privilege of walking by the mobile ultrasound unit available to any woman heading to the clinic. This unit offers life and hope for those who have the courage to stop there first.

There is a place for each of us to get involved with those who need the love of Christ to remember that their life is valuable. What is God calling each of us to do as we prepare for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday?  
 

12/27/2016 7:13:35 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 15: Challenged

December 27 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Proverbs 24:11-12; Mark 10:46-49
 
Our son lives in Baltimore, where there is a noticeable homelessness problem. Some months ago my wife and I went up to visit, and on an occasion when we were walking to get some lunch, passed by a female apparently asleep on the sidewalk.
 
As we placed sandwich orders, our son ordered two subs. Why? He took one of them to the woman, who unfortunately refused the sandwich. We were, however, very proud of our son who valued the homeless woman the same way he valued his closest friends.
 
Jesus valued everyone. He did not look down on anyone because of the color of the skin or the content of the bank account. When Jesus encountered the blind son of Timaeus, it was not surprising that Jesus would grant his request for healing. Furthermore, we see that Jesus did not listen to the crowd who found Bartimaeus’ pleas embarrassing.
 
Jesus responded to need, not public opinion.
 
He also responded to faith, Bartimaeus’ faith that prompted this thankful man to begin a new journey following Jesus (Mark 10:52).
 
The principle of “rescuing” (Proverbs 24:11a) the most vulnerable and helpless among us comes from God Himself. We are to be a compassionate, forgiving and loving people.
 
However, “rescuing” does not mean that evil or the evildoer should not be punished by a fair justice system. Biblical Israel was a nation of laws. Likewise, we also live in a nation of laws; our hope is that these laws will keep us safe and free. Ultimately, though, we trust that God will be the final arbiter of justice (24:12b).

Valuing all people means we are to do what is right, leaving the results to God. Our son could not make the homeless lady eat. But he could, and did, try to help her. To him, she was not a problem to be avoided. Likewise, Bartimaeus and the countless others in need were not problems, but opportunities.
 

12/27/2016 7:10:58 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 8: God’s Word is Truth

December 27 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:153-160
 
Paul acknowledged in the book of Philippians that serving is often done in a partnership with others (1:5; 4:15), and there is joy for all involved.
 
Both the giver and the receiver benefit from the act of giving.
 
Our lesson writer challenges us to join God in His work of giving for the benefit of others.

One of the privileges of being a church member is we are often presented with numerous opportunities to give. There are ministries that need time, talents and financial resources.

As we look at each opportunity, it is helpful to consider Paul’s words regarding how much it meant to him to see believers giving to the glory of God.
 
Our pastor recently preached a sermon on giving that was so full of joy and warmth that a 92-year-old woman in the church commented, “I have heard many sermons on giving, and that was the best one I have ever heard!”
 
There were three fine points to the sermon and appropriate illustrations.
 
But, I don’t think that was what brought the woman to encourage the pastor.

I think it was the joy that was evident in the pastor as he shared from Exodus 35 that we should give together, give freely and give obediently.
 
He reminded us that giving isn’t something we have to do, but that we get to do.

We set the example for our children when we say, “we get to give our offering today,” rather than, “we have to give our offering today.”
 
Do we find ourselves giving, but with fingers having to be pried open from a tightly closed fist?
 
Or, are we freely giving with hands open wide?
 
As you consider the lesson, take a moment to list all the ways you can readily remember how you have benefited from the giving of others. Then, make a list of the ways you can quickly think of how you are freely giving to others.
 
If you observe that one list is rather short, prayerfully consider how God is leading you to give with joy.

 

12/27/2016 7:07:24 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 8: Challenged

December 27 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Joshua 24:14-28
   
Joshua 24 details Joshua’s last verbal address to his people. It was a review of Israel’s history as well as a covenant renewal. The challenge found in the covenant renewal was for the people to make their allegiance to God absolute.
 
Any and all other gods were to be destroyed – physically, mentally and spiritually.
 
This covenant was identified and validated by writing it down and by erecting a stone memorial next to their sanctuary.
 
As we contemplate Joshua’s challenge to his people, it is appropriate that we address our own spiritual condition. We, like Israel, face the challenge of trying to serve God and Jesus faithfully in a world filled with a multitude of other gods. Generally we think of these “gods” as things like money or ambition or relationships or habits. But a god could be anything toxic to our well-being.
 
Pastor Bill Ray tells the story of Betty, whom he describes as one of the happiest members of his church. But Betty was not always “happy.” After 18 years of marriage her husband ran off with another woman. That other woman was her sister. She was so devastated and bitter that she vowed, “When I die, I’m going to be cremated, and send the ashes to my sister with best wishes!”
 
Fortunately, Betty did not die an angry woman. Sometime later Betty visited her son and went to church with him. The preacher’s message was on forgiveness, and it spoke directly to Betty’s heart. Following the service, Betty talked with the pastor about the grave injustice she was living with.
 
The pastor challenged Betty to go to her sister and seek forgiveness.
 
Wisely, Betty did. And not only did she forgive her sister, but she forgave her ex-husband as well.
Being challenged in our faith is a good thing. Because Israel listened to their leader Joshua with their heart, they chose wisely. ­­
 
May our allegiance be that of Israel who vowed, “We will worship the Lord our God and only obey Him” (v. 24).

 

12/27/2016 7:04:22 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for January 1: God’s Word is Always Relevant

December 13 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:89-96
 
Our passage this week begins with the word “forever.” What does that word mean for us today? It may no longer apply to happily ever after, job security and mortgage, but does apply to God’s Word. His Word is relevant today, tomorrow and forever.

Many have tried to question the relevance of scripture to certain politically correct subjects. However, Psalm 119:89 explains that God’s word is “firmly fixed” in the heavens. In other words, it is not shaken or insecure.

The same truth we learned as children, we now teach to our children and grandchildren. Its relevance is true today as His “faithfulness endures to all generations.” I had the privilege of homeschooling our children for a period of years. One of my favorite approaches to teaching scripture and character building was to look for teachable moments. A teachable moment is a God-given opportunity during everyday life to teach a valuable lesson. The lesson might be found in nature, a conversation or even something broken at home.

Homeschooling provided many special memories and aided in a smooth transition to educating our children when we went overseas. The idea of homeschooling however was a new one to my generation. One of my sisters and two sisters-in-law blazed the trail for me and shared with me how to begin the big responsibility.

As you ponder tradition in your generation of family members and perhaps the next generation you have raised, is there a way that you are seeing how relevant God’s word is to all generations? Is there something new and different that you need to begin because God is giving you the opportunity? Take time to consider what you want to pass on to the next generation that will change for the better.

Take time to reflect on Psalm 119:93, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.”

What words of life do you need to share with the next generation? Your life has been changed by following scripture, and you have a gift of eternal significance to give others through your testimony.
 

12/13/2016 10:49:38 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible lesson for January 1: Settled

December 13 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passage: Joshua 22:1-8
 
From 1986-’96 my family lived in Virginia, but in January 1996 I took a ministerial position in North Carolina. Since it was the middle of the school year and my wife was a public school teacher, she and our two children remained in Virginia until June while I was living mostly in North Carolina.
 
Our family was unsettled. We had a plan for all of us to be permanently together, but it would take some transitioning. In the meantime we had to make decisions regarding the house in Virginia and a future residence in North Carolina.
 
What seemed relatively simple became quite complex.
 
Our house did not immediately sell, so we rented it out for a year. Then we decided to purchase land and build a new house, meaning that while we had an unsold home in Virginia, we became renters in North Carolina.
 
Moving into our new home during Christmas 1998 was a glorious time. We were finally “home.”
 
The nation of Israel led by Joshua was composed of 12 tribes. These tribes, represented by the original sons of Jacob, consisted of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Their goal was to fully inhabit and settle this land to be called Israel.
 
To do this most effectively, all of the tribes needed to work together, and the ones who sacrificed the most were the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. Their promised territory was to be on the eastern side of the Jordan River, however, the settlement plan called for these two and one-half tribes to forego their settlement until all the lands west of the Jordan had been fully conquered. Our text describes both exhortation and blessing to these eastern tribes; exhortation to obey God no matter what, and blessing upon their settling in their new “homes” (vv. 5-7).
 
Settlement comes with its own unique challenges. Because rivers, like state lines, can divide, their settlement required extreme diligence to keep the family, Israel, together.
 

12/13/2016 10:47:34 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life lesson for December 25: God’s Living Word Saves

December 13 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35
 
When God makes a promise, He always keeps it. The Old Testament promised a Savior, and Psalm 119:41 speaks of this promise.
 
The psalmist equated God’s steadfast love with the promise of salvation.
 
In Luke 1:30-35, the promise begins to be fulfilled as the angel explains to Mary that she will “bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus … the Son of the Most High.”
Mary gave birth to a son, fully human, so that we could each receive the salvation through Son Jesus, who is fully God.
 
As we study this lesson this week, we may be in Bible study with those who have experienced broken promises.
 
The idea that God makes promises and keeps them might be a hard concept for them.
When our most familiar experience has been that someone makes a promise and then fails to keep it, we may struggle to trust God.
 
One way we can make a real impact in our work environment, neighborhood or even a church committee is that if we say we are going to do something, we do it.
 
Are you that kind of person?
 
One of my daughters and I met my parents at a theme park this past week. It is a park full of music and my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, finds joy in the music.
 
So, we love to take her there.
 
After parking the car, I was riding on the tram up to the front gate. The tram guide shared that the park had been voted “Friendliest Park” for the fifth consecutive year. I smiled and thought, yes, that has been our experience, and we love it here.
 
However, when we took my mom in a wheelchair through what we thought was the right door in a theater and were fussed at by an usher, I thought, what happened to the friendliest park?
 
When people fail us and our expectations are not met, it is disappointing. But, isn’t it great that God never fails? We can always count on Him to save and that is a great message to share.
 

12/13/2016 10:46:05 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible lesson for December 25: Savior Announced

December 13 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-38
 
The Christmas season is the season of miracles, and young Mary needed one. She was six months pregnant, not fully married and totally perplexed about her future. She had more questions than answers: Would Joseph complete his marital vows, or would he send her away? Did she really want to have this baby? Would she have a future?
 
Her miracle was that God intervened. He sent His messenger angel Gabriel to her with wonderful words of comfort. She was told to rejoice because she was favored by God. The child growing inside her womb was the promised Messiah. A new eternal Kingdom was coming with the birth of her son, Jesus. He would be called the Son of God. After Gabriel’s shocking and amazing announcement, Mary made her peace with God. Yes, she agreed to be God’s servant, and to experience God’s unusual and unexplainable plan for her life.
 
Anyone who has ever faced a problem without identifiable answers can appreciate Mary’s dilemma. Anyone who has ever experienced God’s intervention in a time of crisis can appreciate Mary’s joy. Sometimes we need to “let go and let God.”
 
Christmas provides Christians opportunities to help others in need. Perhaps God might be saying, “Be the intervener; be the agent of Good News to someone in your church family or community.” For those who seek to model the humility and compassion of Christ, Christmas can be a time of doing less for ourselves and more for others globally.
 
Some years ago a church I served was blessed to have a retired Baptist pastor and his wife as members. Malcolm and Jenny Lind Fuller were “salt of the earth” Christians. One of their Christmas traditions was to take the money they might have spent on themselves and give that amount to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Christmas is the season for miracles. God provided for Mary and Joseph, and God will provide for you and yours. Share the best news in the world!
 

12/13/2016 10:43:03 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments