December 2018

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 13: When Races Collide

December 20 2018 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Ephesians 2:11-22

Given the context of Ephesians 2:11-22, it is difficult to understate the magnitude of the grace that has been extended to those who are in Christ. Naturally, the implication of one receiving such grace should be to reciprocate it to others, even if they are from a different race or background (vv. 11-12).
 
In other words, because believers are saved by grace they are free from self-justification as it relates to their imperfections. That means their acceptance into God’s family is not based on who they are, where they came from or how good they try to be before God, but on receiving, by repentance and faith, the gift of salvation that comes only through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
 
With that in mind, you can see how extremely hypocritical it would be to apply a standard of acceptance to others in the covenant community that you yourself are not being held to by the head of the community, namely, Christ.
 
Furthermore, not only would it be hypocritical, it would also be supremely arrogant to place a standard of acceptance on other believers that is different from what God has given in His Word.
 
Tragically, some churches do place a different standard of acceptance other than what God intends. The Apostle Paul makes it clear, however, in Ephesians 2:11-22 that Christ’s work has broken the barrier of racism, and He is forming one holy people that together will be bring greater glory to God.
 
When thinking through Paul’s words there are several questions that can help us move forward in achieving what God intends for the church. First, “Why does racism exist in churches?” Most believers will admit it ultimately exists because of sin, but does skin color or ethnicity really matter, or is there a fear of the culture of the church changing when new folks arrive that do not look like us?
 
Second, “If there is a fear, how can we combat that fear as a church without being racist or compromising God’s Word?” Finally, “What steps can I take personally to help love all people regardless of race?”

12/20/2018 3:58:39 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 13: Reconciled

December 20 2018 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 33:1-15
 
The man shifted uncomfortably in his pew as he replayed the argument over and over in his mind. He had been wrong, and he had spoken to his wife in a sinful manner. Now, the ushers with the communion elements were drawing closer. His wife stood coldly beside him.
 
Neither had been able to muster the will to even sing the praise songs, and much of the sermon was lost on them. How could he partake of the bread and the cup, a symbol of his unity with Christ and Christ’s bride, without reconciliation? Would she even forgive him?
 
Perhaps no greater human schism is recorded in scripture than that which occurred between Jacob and Esau, brothers and twins at that. Their reconciliation almost always brings tears to my eyes. If you think about it, there is some poetic irony here. You just have to ignore the chapter divisions to see it.
 
God tells Jacob in chapter 32 that he has wrestled with God and with man and has prevailed. Jacob responds with the acknowledgment that God has been gracious to him. Though he himself did not erect a memorial, his dislocated hip socket would serve as a memorial in and of itself to God’s grace.
 
Then, virtually the same scenario plays out between Jacob and Esau. Jacob is confronted, this time by his brother who graciously forgives. Jacob humbly acknowledges this act and seeks to memorialize it with a gift from his own treasure.
 
In sinning against Esau, Jacob had sinned against God. Now, having reconciled with God, he could be reconciled to his brother.
 
Our reconciliation with others flows from our reconciliation with God. We can both give and receive forgiveness, because we have been forgiven in Christ. This should be the pattern for every Christian, that as we wrong one another, and we will, we confess our sins to God that we might celebrate our reconciliation with Him and so be reconciled again and again to one another.

12/20/2018 3:55:10 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 6: Transformed

December 20 2018 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 32:24-32
 
Do you remember the moment when God saved you? For many it is very low-key, perhaps the result of a private conversation during Vacation Bible School as a child or a chat with a counselor at summer camp as an adolescent. For others, it’s big and emotional and public, often times because of the nature of the life they have lived up to that point.
 
Whatever the circumstance, that moment is equally powerful and equally transformative, and God can bring it about anywhere and whenever He wants so long as the Spirit moves through the proclamation of the gospel. It is a moment you will never forget.
 
Now, imagine wrestling with God!
 
Even though God had called Jacob much earlier, the patriarch’s encounter with the living God in Genesis 32 is a decisive moment in his life. It is one that he will not soon forget either, as God endows him with a physical reminder of the event.
 
At Peniel, Jacob realizes that not only is God faithful in making and keeping His promises but He is gracious as well.
 
Jacob has prevailed not because of any inherent righteousness in himself but because God has graciously preserved him, that through him God might accomplish His sovereign purposes.
 
Given the context, this knowledge of God’s gracious preservation will be invaluable to Jacob as he faces Esau, the brother he cheated.
 
God saves and transforms each us to be used in some specific way to further His Kingdom through advancing the gospel. Whether or not that moment was explosive to you, it should be unforgettable, because God’s calling you to salvation was an act of pure grace. His transforming you into the likeness of His Son for His glory is amazing and yet undeserved.
 
This knowledge is invaluable to us as we face the challenges of mission in a fallen world, but “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
 
His gracious preservation will hold until His will in our lives is complete.

12/20/2018 3:53:32 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 6: The Wise Men’s Worship

December 20 2018 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Matthew 2:1-11
 
John Piper shared a powerful story from Stanford Kelly in his sermon, To Finish the Aim of Christ’s Affliction: Called to Suffer and Rejoice. The story is about a Haitian man who lived sacrificially to honor the Lord.
 
Piper writes, “The church was having a Thanksgiving festival and each Christian was invited to bring a love offering. One envelope from a Haitian man named Edmund held $13 cash.
 
“That amount was three months’ income for a working man there. Kelly was as surprised as those counting a Sunday offering in the United States might be to get a $6,000 cash gift.
“He looked around for Edmund, but couldn’t see him. Later Kelly met him in the village and questioned him. He pressed him for an explanation and found that Edmund had sold his horse in order to give the $13 gift to God for the sake of the gospel.
 
“But why hadn’t he come to the festival? He hesitated and didn’t want to answer. Finally Edmund said, “I had no shirt to wear.”
 
Edmund’s story is a great testimony to a believer’s willingness to make great sacrifices to worship and honor the Lord. In like manner, our lesson this week teaches us about the wise men who also made sacrifices to worship the King.
 
In Matthew 2:1-11, the wise men knew something great had happened and they prepared to make the journey to see the Christ-child.
 
Once they arrived they rejoiced and worshipped Jesus. Although commanded by Herod to come back and report the location of Jesus, the wise men obeyed God and did not return.
 
I am sure disobeying Herod came with a potential death threat, but the wise men were willing to honor God and go back home a different way.
 
Their willingness to live sacrificially before God underscores the value we should give to worshipping and honoring God.
 
Like Edmond or the wise men, we would to do well to follow their example to demonstrate Jesus is worthy of worship, regardless of the costs.

12/20/2018 3:51:59 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 30: Home!

December 20 2018 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 31:2-16
 
Have you ever had to make a decision? Of course you have.
 
We make them every day, everything from whether or not to turn on the television in the morning to what we will have for dinner each evening. Have you ever had to make a big decision though?
 
I must confess, there are times when I sinfully envy the person who simply balances the pros and cons and then acts, come what may.
 
This is because I, like many Christians, have made finding God’s will much too difficult.
 
I have failed to trust that where God clearly speaks in His word I am called to obey, and where He doesn’t, I am free to make wise, biblically-informed choices, come whatever His sovereign hand might bring.
 
In Genesis 30, God clearly speaks to Jacob and commands that he return to the land of his fathers.
 
The pretext for the move is the anger of Laban and his sons over the wealth that Jacob has amassed at their expense, but this was all part of God’s plan to fulfill His promises to Jacob.
 
The beloved patriarch, in faith, recognizes this and prepares to obey. In other words, his obedience does not procure God’s faithfulness but rather it is in response to it.
 
Because God has shown himself faithful, I will obey.
 
Life’s circumstances are often difficult, and sometimes the daily grind is too overwhelming for us to bear.
 
However, God has shown us that He is faithful not only through the story of Jacob but in the lives of countless others throughout scripture and history.
 
He has shown us His faithfulness in our own stories as well.
 
Therefore, let us trust Him and faithfully obey in those moments where we are faced with the clear commands of scripture.
 
Let us also trust Him to be sovereign and faithful in those moments when the decisions are unclear.
 
God is with us, and He is directing us. Of that we can be sure.

12/20/2018 3:50:06 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 30: Simeon’s Proclamation

December 20 2018 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Luke 2:25-35
 
I love celebrating Christmas and New Years! To say they are my favorite times of year, is an understatement. When I think about the magnitude of the birth of Christ and what it means to me as a believer, coupled with the excitement of starting a new year brings great joy and hope into my life.
 
Honestly, just getting up every morning brings me hope and joy, but during Christmas time I feel like Simeon in our lesson. In Luke 2:25-35, Simeon was promised he would not see death until he saw the Christ child (v. 26). The Bible tells us that when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Simeon he took Him in his arms and blessed God!
 
Of course, I have never seen Jesus physically, but like Simeon, I praise God that I have encountered the living Christ by faith and have received Him into my life as Savior and Lord.   
 
For many people hope and joy are not a consistent part of their lives. Even as a young Christian, I struggled thinking hope and joy was based on how well I performed for Jesus. If I was doing all the Christian things such as witnessing, having a quiet time and going to church, I thought God loved me more. But, when I failed to do those things I thought God didn’t love me as much, and my joy and hope would dissipate.
 
Over the years, I have learned that God’s love for me is not based on how good I am, but on the finished work of His Son, Jesus. He still wants me to do those things, but His love for me is an act of grace and not of my works. So now, when I set my New Year’s resolutions and do not complete them, I just laugh and laugh and laugh.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to grow as a Christian, but I have tried living the Christian life in my own strength and trust me, I like Jesus’ way a whole lot better.

12/20/2018 3:47:45 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 23: The Angels’ Announcement

December 13 2018 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Luke 2:1-14
 
I recently read an article titled, “Dabo Sweeny to Clemson fans: ‘12-0 ain’t good enough? Then it’s time for me to seek other places.’” Sweeny is the head football coach at Clemson University, and over the years, under his leadership, Clemson has become one of the best teams in college football.
 
In fact, this season, they beat their state revival, The University of South Carolina for the fifth year in a row. What makes the article so interesting is that after the South Carolina game, evidently, word got back to Sweeney that some Clemson fans were upset because Clemson didn’t beat them more badly.
 
Although Clemson did not play their best football that game, they still won and are undefeated.
 
The problem is that some of the Clemson fans have become too familiar with always winning, and they failed to recognize the magnitude of what Sweeney and Clemson football organization have accomplished. Thus, the frustration Sweeney had toward those who were taking him and the coaching staff for granted. 
 
Sweeney’s experience reminds me of the danger that could happen to any believer during Christmas time.
 
Every year we have the privilege of celebrating the birth of Christ. Many of us will decorate the Christmas tree, plan for family visits, attend church services, open gifts, and hopefully, read the Christmas story. The danger occurs when we become so familiar with the routine of Christmas we lose sight of what God accomplished in the birth of Christ and the reason Jesus came to be with us.
 
To use a football analogy, Luke 2:1-14 is like winning the College National Championships – except there is really no comparison. In other words, nothing can compare to what God did for us in sending Jesus to earth that we could be forgiven of our sin and have eternal life. Unfortunately, there will be some Christians this season that will treat God like a few of the disgruntled fans at Clemson. They will complain that the greatest events in human history – namely, the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ – is not enough to make them happy. How about you?
12/13/2018 1:12:08 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for December 23: Promise Kept

December 13 2018 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-38
 
When a couple gets married, they leave the altar with many tokens of the vows just exchanged. Together, each has the other person as well as a host of family and friends to bear witness to the promises made. Separately, each has a wedding ring to spur the memory of their lifelong commitment. Such reminders are necessary, because fallen creatures often break their promises.
 
God does not.
 
God’s promise of redemption begins in Genesis 3:15 following the Fall, when God assures the serpent that a descendant of the woman would come to crush his head. The biblical storyline follows this prophecy through the line of Abraham and the nation of Israel, taking on very specific predictions about who this descendant would be and what he would accomplish. When we read the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, there can be no doubt that He is the one for whom the Old Testament saints were waiting, even though His own did not recognize Him.
 
In Luke 1, the author wastes no time in pointing to the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah.
 
In verses 26-38 there are three specific indicators that this is so: (1) Jesus would hail from Galilee which fulfills Isaiah 9:1-7. (2) Jesus would be virgin-born, a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. (3) Finally, Jesus would be of the tribe of Judah, specifically a son of David, which fulfills the prediction made to David in 2 Samuel 7:8-17.
 
Even still, this knowledge is too wonderful for us.
 
We are often fearful and confused with regard to the commands of scripture, but we, like Mary, can trust in the character and providence of God to keep His promises.
 
Mary did not find favor with God because she was special, she was special because she found favor with God. His grace called her and calls us too, to humbly obey and watch as He fulfills His plan in us and through us.

12/13/2018 1:09:56 PM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments