February 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 11: A Unique Person: Praise God

February 27 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 2:3-20
 
A pastor tells of a time that Billy Graham attended his church’s morning service in Florida. When the minister saw Graham, he said his entire focus during the sermon was to impress him. He watched as Billy nodded at the points he made, and laughed at his jokes.
 
At the end of the service, the pastor was at the door shaking hands as usual. Billy Graham took the minister’s hand and smiled. “Wonderful message,” he declared.
 
That minister said he was elated, until he sensed God’s voice speaking – “That’s all the reward you will get for that message.”
 
Too many times we are focused upon what people think, rather than focusing upon what God desires. It is when we are obedient to the desires of God that we truly praise Him. Mary and Joseph both accepted God’s will, but more than that, they both were faithful to it.
 
When we are faithful to what God has called us to be and do, we become an example for others to follow. We must admit that often following God is hard. When everyone around us is doing what the world says is OK, we feel like we are standing out like a sore thumb. Yet our sticking to what God calls us to often opens the door to minister in ways we may never imagine.
 
I worked for 26 years in a secular school system in an extremely “politically-correct” environment.
 
During that time, I stayed true to my beliefs and worked according to them. The director of the division became very aware of my beliefs through my work efforts. For the last 10 years of employment, every time there was a death or crisis, he would personally call me to go and minister to the family and co-workers. God was glorified because I remained steady.
 
Each one is provided individually unique ways to bring glory to God. Some do this by the words spoken. Some can sing for His glory. However, everyone is provided with opportunities every day to praise God by how we live in the experiences of our lives.
2/27/2012 2:22:19 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 11: I Call on You

February 27 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Psalm 86:1-13, 15-16
 
Have you ever needed a lifeguard in a pool, lake or ocean? Ever wish you could be one? Lifeguards are heroes. They save hundreds of thousands of lives annually. They bear an abundant amount of responsibility. They answer the cries of those who need help. David needed saving; he needed a lifeguard to save him from his enemies. 
 
In Psalm 86 David is crying out to God for help. He desires the gift of God’s tender mercy. David is in trouble (v. 7) and is attacked by a band of ruthless men, his foes (v. 14, 17), who want to take his life (v. 13). David calls out to God to save him from this calamity and appeals to God’s tender mercy, compassion and goodness.
 
Steven Lawson defines mercy as “the deep heart feeling of benevolence that God has for his own, especially in their troubles.
 
Flowing from his all-compassionate heart, mercy is God’s infinite kindness and unending favor toward his people whose lives have been ruined by sin or stressed by trials” (Psalms, Holman Old Testament Commentary, 62).
 
Knowing that God’s action cannot be separated from God’s character, David reached out to the Lord in prayer.
 
He drew near to God, knowing that God was an ever-present help in times of trouble.
 
Nearly 150 years ago in our country, the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, once stated, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” 
 
David reminds us of how wonderful God is. He hears the cry of the needy (v. 1); His nature is to bring joy, forgiveness, and mercy (v. 4-5, 15); and His nature and His ways are like none other (v. 8-10).
 
Those who seek after the Lord recognize that He is the one who provides mercy in times of need. He is our reservoir of all that we need – forgiveness, mercy, compassion goodness, and grace. Seek Him daily.
2/27/2012 2:17:02 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 4: A Special Baby: Rejoice

February 15 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 1:1-80
 
Before our first child was born, we had chosen not to know the gender. What was important in our minds was the fact that this child (for whom we had waited 11 years) was a part of us, our family. When the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!” my wife and I were overjoyed. That which we had prayed and waited for – we now saw and held.
 
Even greater joy comes over the entrance of God into time and space in the form of a baby – God becoming the form of a man. For centuries, the writers of the Old Testament had given us promises that the Promised One, the Messiah, would come.
 
And now the great historian Luke records His birth, life, death, burial and resurrection so we can know the truth.
 
Luke, a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul was a medical doctor, and a great example of a first-century historian. In reading Luke 1:1-4, Luke attests to the fact that many written accounts about Jesus were already in circulation. These came from the disciples and many other eyewitnesses.
 
Luke in turn verified them, and proceeded to produce a summary report for a Greek named Theophilus.
 
Luke provides the most information for us on the events leading up to and including Jesus’ birth.
 
We find here God’s messenger Gabriel instructing Mary on being chosen as the one to bring God’s Son into the world. All of this was to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies.
 
As I pondered this section of scripture, I could not help but consider how it resembled an individual’s path to receiving Jesus as personal Savior. We first must be presented with the truth about Jesus.
 
Often this will lead to sincerely questioning the information given, particularly as it applies to us. As we listen to God’s message, we must surrender to it, and when we do, it produces joy in our relationship with Jesus.
2/15/2012 2:16:54 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 4: I Long for You

February 15 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5
 
Have you ever been spiritually dry or felt distant from God? If so, you are not alone. Many people have wondered where God is in the midst of adverse circumstances. The good news is that He is faithful, He is present with you, and He wants to have a loving relationship with you. You are His child. 
 
To me there is nothing like a glass of ice-cold water to quench my thirst on a hot, summer day. Do you ever thirst for God similarly? If not, what else in your life have you allowed to become His substitute? We need to drink regularly and deeply from Him.
 
Water is the most critical of all nutrients. Animals and humans are 60-65 percent water. Humans have survived without food for weeks, but most humans will die of dehydration after only three to five days. Water is the wellspring of life. Just as water is essential for all living things, a relationship with the Lord is vital. 
 
In Psalms 42-43, the psalmist passionately writes of his desperate hunger and thirst for the living God. He praises Him for his salvation. In times of prosperity and in times of want, he longs to have his relationship with the Lord flourish. The good news is that God is not hiding and wants us to fellowship, commune and dwell at his feet. Jeremiah 29:13-14a says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” Similarly, in Jeremiah 33:3 God says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things ...”
 
Are you thirsty for God? Are you excited about your time alone with Him? Don’t let the things of this world, even the busyness of ministry, keep you from your time with Him. Our lives depend on God. Seek Him often and remember His goodness.

2/15/2012 2:15:32 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Feb. 26: Be Positive

February 13 2012 by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focus Passage: Deuteronomy 33:1-5; 34:1-12
 
In this final lesson in Deuteronomy, the focus is on the man, Moses. The lesson title is designed to encourage readers to be diligent about building a positive, godly legacy. While this is certainly something to be desired, it is important for us to remember how that really happens.
 
As we read scripture, we are prone to look at certain Bible characters and think, “I wish I could just be like him/her.” In fact, sermons can often lead us toward such a response. For example, in a sermon on Moses going before Pharoah, listeners might be admonished to “be like Moses: be willing to face those who oppose God; etc.” 
 
The difficulty with such an admonition is twofold. First, Moses was just a man with clay feet like us. He had killed an Egyptian taskmaster; he couldn’t speak well; and he would disobey God, which would prevent Him from entering the Promised Land. Second, such an emphasis makes Moses to be the hero of the story when, in fact, there is only one hero in the story, God Himself. God chose Moses. God overcame Pharaoh. God led His people out of Egypt (though He did it by using Moses).
 
The point in that story is not “be like Moses” but rather “walk by faith in Moses’ God.” We see this made clear in Hebrews 11. Over and over the writer says “by faith …”: “by faith Abel offered …;” “by faith Noah constructed …;” “by faith Abraham offered up …” And to be clear, the point is not that all of these people had faith, but rather that they had faith in God.
 
I want desperately to leave a godly legacy for my children. I will only do this, however, by calling my kids to walk daily by faith in our great God. I don’t want them to remember me as a man of great strength or who did great things, but as a man of great surrender to a strong God and a man who allowed God to do great things through him.
2/13/2012 4:51:10 PM by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Feb. 26: Center of My Life

February 13 2012 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Colossians 3:5-10, 14-15, 17-21, 4:5-6
 
What does it mean to have Jesus Christ as the “center” of your life? In these passages Paul exhorted the Christians at Colossae to have a Christ-centered character, home and witness. As you might imagine, it’s far easier said than done. Josh Hamilton is an example of a man who represents the struggle. 
 
Josh was born in Raleigh in 1981, and he would later marry a Raleigh girl. Today, however, Josh Hamilton plays baseball for the Texas Rangers. He is recognized as one of the very best major league players. But as a young man, Josh Hamilton came very close to losing out on life. Here is part of his story. In 1999 he was the No. 1 pick in the major league draft. He was paid a $4 million signing bonus by Tampa Bay.
 
But it wasn’t until 2007 that Josh Hamilton made it as a starter in a major league uniform. Why? With plenty of cash and wanting to enjoy the night-life, Josh began consuming alcohol and various drugs, including crack cocaine. Realizing he was an addict, he vowed he would get clean. Baseball had once been his life, alcohol and drugs had become his life, and Jesus Christ would be the One who would give him a new life and set him on a path of sobriety.
 
As a testament to his relationship with Christ, Josh Hamilton joined several other well-known professional sports athletes to share his story through video testimonials known as “I Am Second.” Josh knows that he cannot make it through life without Christ being “first” in his life. In 2009, and again recently, Josh relapsed; he admitted he had messed up. His confession was “I can’t have alcohol. I got away from my relationship with Jesus Christ.” He also has help from family and Christian friends, as well as a sponsor. For us who are Christians, that person is the Holy Spirit.
 
Like Josh, we can’t make it alone.

2/13/2012 4:48:35 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Feb. 19: Be Repentant

February 3 2012 by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Deuteronomy 30:1-4, 6-8, 15-20
 
God revealed to Moses that the people of Israel would turn away from God’s law and, in so doing, face God’s severe punishment (exile). God would not, however, turn His back on His people and completely abandon them. God would call His people to return to Him through faith and repentance, returning to an exclusive love of their covenant-keeping God which would result in obedience to Him.
 
God’s call to His people today is the same: love Him only and obey Him fully. When we do not and our hearts turn away from Him to worship or cherish other things, He calls on us once again to walk with Him by faith and repentance. It is by faith and repentance that we enter a relationship with God through Christ. It is by faith and repentance that we return to right fellowship with God when we sin against Him (Colossians 2:6).
 
There are several ways that believers respond to sin in their lives today. One way is to excuse it. One might say something like, “That is just the way I am.”
 
Or, “I have always been that way.” The problem with this approach is it fails to see the sin as an ongoing rebellious offense against a Holy God and it fails to acknowledge the power of the gospel to transform our sinful hearts. Another problematic way of dealing with sin is to admit it is there, while letting it continue to be part of one’s life.
 
Though some may call this “confession” (by which they mean acknowledging the sin’s presence), it stops short of true biblical confession which will lead to godly sorrow and repentance.
 
The only biblical way to deal with our sin is through true biblical confession and repentance that results in forgiveness and restored fellowship with God (1 John 1:9).
 
This kind of confession views sin the way God views sin and results in godly sorrow, repentance and obedience. Repentance is a decisive change of heart and mind that results in a change in action. We must live a lifestyle of repentance, walking by faith in the Lord Jesus.

2/3/2012 2:54:06 PM by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Feb. 19: Center of My Belief

February 3 2012 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Colossians 2:8-23
 
A few years ago George Barna reported his research that only about 10 percent of teenagers and young adults possess a biblical worldview. What does that mean, and what are the implications for the next generation? Basically, it means 10 percent believe the stories and the teachings of the Bible are true: creation, miracles, prophecies, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, the belief that Jesus Christ alone gives salvation, the belief that Christ will return and the belief in a “real” heaven and hell. One implication of not having a pervasive biblical worldview is that fewer future adults will accept and keep the same belief system of their parents and grandparents. In Paul’s world he encountered, and faced head on, a number of non-biblical worldviews. 
 
There were the libertarians and fatalists who lived by the creed, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die;” that pleasure was the chief goal and end in life. There were also the stoics and legalists who were ultra committed to rules and obligations. And there were Gnostics, who believed the path to heaven and God was found by achieving levels of special intellectual and/or spiritual (mystical) knowledge. Many of the Christians of Colossae had been raised with either no faith, or a synthesis of religious beliefs. Paul believed it was his calling and duty to help them understand the basics or “center” of their new-found Christian belief system.
 
Doctrine is important. Why? Because our belief system determines how we live. In this passage we have both the doctrine of salvation (v. 8-15) and sanctification (v. 16-23) explained. Our salvation is all about Jesus Christ. In verses 8-15 there are over a dozen references to Christ. In teaching biblical sanctification, Paul explained what is essential and what is not in Christian worship practices. The substance (who we magnify) of our worship is Christ. And we are to be wary of following those who put their faith totally in either ascetic practices or ecstatic experiences.
2/3/2012 2:52:57 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments