February 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 17: Honor God in Your Service

February 28 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: 1 Timothy 3:8-13; 4:6-16
 
The word “deacon” means “servant.” In Acts 8 we have testimony to the life of a servant. His name was Philip. On the one hand he was a deacon based upon his selection by the leaders of the early church. On the other hand his life as a deacon was authenticated by a lifestyle of service and obedience to God. We are introduced to Philip as an evangelist in Samaria, deep in enemy territory. The Samaritans, however, appreciated the time and testimony Philip gave them, and great miracles occurred. The “official” preachers, Peter and John, would show up later and verify Philip’s service and ministry. Then God did an unusual thing with Philip. He sent the deacon out into the desert and told him to wait. Wait on what God would do next.
 
Philip was obedient and God sent an African man to him who was hungry for the Truth. This royal official would experience salvation, would be baptized by immersion, and would go home to Ethiopia with great joy in his heart. In the meantime, Philip would be whisked away by God to his next assignment. By all appearances, Philip was as faithful to God at home as he was on the mission field. His daughters were also recognized as women of great faith and teachers of God’s truth. 
 
The standard for church leadership is high. The bar for godly living is virtually the same for the deacon as it is for the pastor. Timothy was exhorted to “train” himself in godliness.
 
When we watch professional athletes in their prime, their bodies are chiseled and honed for excellence. Too many of them, however, quit their training before middle age and look pudgy in their later years. The spiritual plan advocated by Paul doesn’t quit. It looks ahead to the life that is to come (4:8b) and sets a high bar or standard in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (4:12). As part of the church leader’s personal discipline, he should hunger for Bible study, preaching and teaching.
 
2/28/2013 4:01:14 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 17: Indifference or Compassionate Action?

February 28 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Luke 10:25-37
 
Compassion should never be confused with irresponsible giving. Sometimes in our society it is difficult to know how to help those in need. Consequently, if we are not careful we can become indifferent trying to figure it out. For example, we see folks on the side of the road holding up signs asking for money. When our car gets close to them we pretend to be preoccupied or look the other way. Sometimes we get angry because we think they are playing on our emotions and trying to manipulate us to give. Or, perhaps you think they are just too lazy to get a real job. Regardless of how you feel I think this week’s lesson can give us some important insight in our decision-making next time we encounter a person in need.
 
Many of us know Luke 10:25-37 as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There are at least three points about this parable that are applicable for us today. First, the Samaritan recognized there was a legitimate need (Luke 10:30, 33). Secondly, he had compassion on the person in need (Luke 10:33). Thirdly, he was responsible in giving to the person in need (Luke 10:33-55).
 
In the first point it was evident to the Samaritan that the man desperately needed help. Sometimes for us it is not so evident if someone genuinely needs help. Therefore, the Christian has to go beyond simple observation and investigate the need more thoroughly.
 
Secondly, the Samaritan had compassion on the man. Compassion is rooted in God and our love for God (Luke 10:27). Compassion for the Christian always moves the person in need closer to Jesus Christ.
 
Thirdly, the Samaritan gave responsibly as he helped the man. In essence, he had the man’s well-being in mind. Helping someone requires great wisdom. Just giving someone money may enable that person to live a life of destruction. The Christian has to go further and help the person make the right decision that leads to a closer relationship with Jesus.
 
None of these suggestions are easy to fulfill, but with Christ, all thing are possible.    
2/28/2013 3:57:06 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 10: Please God in Your Worship

February 26 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
           
Recently my plumber initiated a conversation with me about church life. He addressed the issue of generational worship, and I shared some observations. While the term “worship wars” is probably much overused, it describes the reality that the senior adult crowd and the 20-somethings (as well as other age-groups) probably have different expectations and desires for “worship.” Because of this reality, we’re seeing more and more churches employing multiple worship services scripted by markedly different styles, each seeking to reach a particular niche. It’s a reality of the 21st century. The great danger is putting style over substance. If our worship becomes “us-focused,” can we really say we’ve worshipped?
 
In this passage, we see the person of our worship: God, and Jesus His Son, the mediator between humanity and heaven. We also see God’s purpose in worship; our experiencing salvation through knowing The Truth and all that is true in God. A third facet of pleasing worship is praying in total surrender. Surrender of our will in favor of God’s is symbolized by our uplifted hands. 
 
In his day Paul and his ministry team also dealt with the issues of culture and style. The Gentile pagan culture of the Roman world was filled with cultic prostitution, institutional slavery, and an “anything goes” mentality. Therefore, Paul wanted females to dress modestly and men to live righteously. Exterior attitudes, appearance and behavior matter.
 
Yet, Paul wanted his worship leaders to know that real change comes from the inside out. Radical transformation  emanates from a relationship “in” Christ, a phrase Paul used more than 200 times. While clever marketing and production can aid our worship, authentic Christian faith and worship always places substance over style, and can best be described as what happens when we humble ourselves before the “worth-ship” of God.   
2/26/2013 2:43:11 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 10: Half-Hearted Interest or Total Commitment?

February 26 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Luke 9:20-26, 57-62
 
C.T. Studd lived from 1860-1931. The majority of his life was spent on the mission field to China, India and Africa. He is perhaps most well-known for his life’s motto, “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As a young man, C.T. left England in February 1885 following Hudson Taylor into China.
 
Giving up the ease of his family’s wealth, C.T. sought to comfort his mother as he left for the mission field. He wrote: “Mother dear, I do pray God to show you that it is such a privilege to give up a child to be used of God to saving poor sinners who have never even heard of the name of Jesus.”
 
I believe in many ways C.T.’s life reflected the focal passage of our lesson. Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses and forfeits himself?”
 
Can you imagine someday standing before our Savior, having lived the bulk of our lives focused on our own material gain and comfort; wasting precious moments on temporal matters that will make no difference in eternity? Jesus’ words are calling us to life that is fully committed to Him.
 
Are you taking up His cross daily and following Him? Reflect on the following quote from C.T. Studd and ask yourself. “Whose call am I following?”
 
C.T. writes: “Last June at the mouth of the Congo there awaited a thousand prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, waiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door to them, for rumour declared that there is an abundance of gold.
 
If such men hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ’s soldiers are deaf to the call of God? Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?”
2/26/2013 2:39:55 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 3: Follow Sound Doctrine

February 14 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 1:3-17
 
We who are Baptists owe much to Balthasar Hubmaier. Who? Hubmaier lived in Switzerland and Austria in the early 1500’s. He and some like-minded friends held revival meetings near Zurich. They also led prayer meetings in private homes. Those who experienced regeneration (a salvation experience in Christ) were baptized. Having instituted believer’s baptism, they proceeded to celebrate their membership into the fellowship of Christian community and faith by partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The organized church of that day was outraged. They called Hubmaier and his friends Anabaptists, a term of ridicule and derision.
 
In fact, Hubmaier was a true Baptist. He considered “infant baptism” invalid; his adult baptism was his only authentic and recognizable baptism. For the rest of his short life, Hubmaier would start churches founded on the scriptures, not upon the traditions of any state instituted church. For his efforts, Hubmaier would be burned at the stake in Vienna on March 10, 1528, and his wife would be drowned in the Danube River. Balthasar Hubmaier was willing to risk his life on the principle of following sound doctrine.
 
As Paul wrote this pastoral letter to his protégé Timothy, he urged the younger church leader to stay away from heresies. False doctrine was a constant foe to the young evangelical church. While numerous forms of heresy abounded in Paul’s day, the two dominant enemies to the faith of the Ephesian congregation were the most extreme forms of Jewish legalism and Greek gnosticism. One extreme (Jewish) said one could only please God by obeying every minute detail of law; the other extreme (Greek) said that since the body was separate from the spirit, one could do as one pleased and not be guilty of sin.
 
Since Paul had spent his formative years preaching the extremes of Jewish legalism, he knew of what he spoke. He admitted he had been the worst of the worst, a blasphemer against Jesus, a persecutor of the Way, and a most arrogant and prideful man. His message to Timothy: stay true to Christ at all costs.
 
2/14/2013 12:22:27 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 3: Tradition of God’s Word?

February 14 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Matthew 15:1-11, 17-20
 
Every church has a culture. For example, the way a church approaches corporate worship or how it does ministry is often an indicator of the culture. There can be a variety of factors that drive the culture.
 
Sometimes it is religious tradition that drives the culture of the church. Other times it is influential people
in the congregation. Of course, the ultimate factor that should drive the culture of the church is the Word of God. Unfortunately, many churches have minimized the role of the Bible and made it subservient to the opinions and thoughts of its leadership.
 
This is not new to us today. Even in Jesus’ day the religious leaders had substituted their traditions for God’s commands and felt it necessary to impose them upon the Jewish community (Matthew 15:1-2).
 
However, when the religious elite attacked Jesus about his disciples’ dietary practices he quickly rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocritical lifestyle. He pointed out that their traditions had become an end in themselves and although they honored God with their lips their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:8).
 
What lessons can we take from Jesus’ words? First, God’s Word must always be our authority source, not the traditions of the past. Do not misunderstand me. Traditions are important and can be helpful, but they should never take precedence over scripture. Second, we should evaluate our traditions in light of God’s Word. I’m certain in the beginning the Pharisees had honorable intentions. As time passed they allowed their traditions to override God’s commands, and consequently their hearts grew far from Him. If we are not careful, this too could happen to us. We may think we are worshipping God, but in reality we are simply going through the motions of a religious tradition. Finally, we should know that God’s intention is to change us from the inside out. In other words, true Christian growth does not come from external activity, but by the inward transforming power of God’s Word on the heart. What is driving your worship – tradition or God’s Word?  
 
2/14/2013 12:19:00 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Feb. 24: Pursuing Those Who Need to Hear

February 12 2013 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passages: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 4:1-11
 
As we have already seen in the book of Jonah, the prophet’s rescue from death prefigures the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 12:39-40). In chapters 3 and 4, in the repentance of the Ninevites we are reminded of God’s grace toward us as we respond to the gospel.
 
In these passages we see the Ninevites repent in response to the preaching of Jonah, who had been raised from imminent “death” in the bowels of the fish.
 
When Christ was raised from actual death He called the whole world to repent and believe in Him (Matthew 28:18-20). In other words, Christ is the true and greater Jonah that came to our “Ninevite” world proclaiming the Good News of God’s grace.
 
We must constantly remind ourselves of God’s grace in our own lives. As we continue in the faith it becomes easy to grow in our own self righteousness.
 
We tend to look down on others with condemnation like Jonah did on the Ninevites. “They don’t deserve the mercy of God!”
 
Well, let us be reminded that God’s mercy is shown abundantly in the gospel and in the salvation of sinners who deserve nothing (Rom. 9:30-31; 11:30).
 
That is exactly who we are. We are sinners who deserve nothing, but God in His good providence has called us by His Spirit to Himself.
 
Therefore, let us go and proclaim the Good News of the gospel to our fellow Ninevites! We need to pursue those who need to hear.
 
Remember the words of Paul in Romans 10:13-15; “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?

And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!”
2/12/2013 2:37:49 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Feb. 24: The Reward of Endurance

February 12 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
 
This past September I ran my first half-marathon. Correction, I ran and walked my first half-marathon. Early in the race I was really proud of myself. I had passed a couple of ladies about my same age. As I passed them I thought to myself, “They will never make it the full 13.1 miles.” Fast forward about an hour and a half later at mile marker 10 where I was shuffling my feet like Mr. Magoo. The same two ladies that I passed earlier ran by me at the same pace they started with when they began the race.
 
It was like the tortoise and the hare. At that moment I was reminded of the biblical concept that the race is not given to the swift, but to those who endure to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 2 Timothy 2:12).
 
The Christian journey is a lot like running a long-distance race. You can be the fastest sprinter in the race, but if you can’t make it to the end you forfeit the right to any rewards.

In a similar way, Christians must also endure to the end of their race. The Apostle Paul explained to Timothy that if we die with Him [Jesus], we will also live with Him; and if we endure, we will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:11-12). In essence, Paul was telling Timothy that living out the gospel requires great spiritual endurance.
 
What does that endurance look like for the Christian?
 
Earlier in the passage Paul gives Timothy three examples of endurance. They include a soldier who is singularly focused on his commander’s orders – not distracted with civilian affairs; an athlete who runs according to the rules – disqualification is not an option; and the hard-working farmer who leaves no room for slothful living.
 
Perhaps you are like me. Sometimes the race seems hard and you wonder if you will finish well.
 
Thankfully, we serve a God who is always faithful, even when we struggle. Because of the risen Christ we have all we need to make it to the finish line (2 Timothy 2:13).
2/12/2013 2:36:45 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments