February 2014

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 16: Listen to Wisdom’s Invitation

February 27 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 8:1-6, 17-21, 32-36; 9:12-18
 
If wisdom could speak verbally, I’m sure it would have said, “Hey dummy, don’t do that!” many times in my life. Although Solomon knew wisdom had no vocal chords, he personified it with written words to guide his son. We’ve all heard something like, “When God closes one door, He opens another one,” but Satan likes to bring frustration and defeat with a few doors of his own. As Solomon introduced wisdom’s invitation he reminded his son that wisdom would call to him at every common place and intersection of life. While life brings major events and intersections, such as graduation, marriage, childbirth, etc., most of them are seemingly small and very common. Many people don’t make tragic errors at the big intersections, but may be ambushed by the deceptively ordinary instances of life. Whether watching a movie, reading a magazine, connecting through social media or having a private conversation, both wisdom and folly offer alternatives that can change your life. While wisdom shouts for you to run away, folly tells you to watch awhile, chat online without your spouse’s knowledge or commiserate with your opposite sex coworker. 
 
Wisdom calls out to inexperienced [lit. “simple”] (8:5) and foolish people to lead them away from disaster and toward the paths of righteousness. As Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). If we remain naive to Satan’s schemes, we will fail to see that he uses anger, disappointment, jealousy, pride, vanity and many other avenues to beautify folly and the sin it entails. Solomon noted that wisdom requires intentionality: “Anyone who listens to me is happy, watching at my doors every day, waiting by the posts of my doorway” (8:34).
 
Instead of waiting for wisdom to tackle us or folly to wave a red flag, we must listen, watch and wait for wisdom to be revealed. If something or someone claims to be wise, don’t just read the label, trace the source (James 4:13-18).
2/27/2014 1:24:07 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 16: What We Work For

February 27 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
 
Just as Paul used the example of the Macedonian churches, who gave out of their poverty, to challenge the believers in Corinth to excel in the grace of giving, I would like to provide a few practical exercises to help us move forward in using our money for Kingdom purposes.
 
First, personalize God’s money. Because God owns all things, He allows us to manage His money while on earth. I have learned that when I assign God’s money a name it forces me to clarify its purpose. For example, if I have cash in my pocket, but have not personalized it I may spend it on things that are unhealthy for me like too many sodas or candy. I believe we spend money more frivolously when it is not given a purpose. We could easily take the $5 a day we spend on coffee each month and sponsor a pastor in Haiti who lives on $150 a month.     
 
Second, practice giving like God gives to you. How often does God bless you in spite of your unfaithfulness? Several years ago, I decided since God gives to me even when I don’t deserve it that I would try to model that by tipping waiters and waitresses 20 percent of the bill regardless of their service. Sometimes, that has been challenging when the service is bad, but I always try to use the opportunity for Kingdom purposes.
 
Third, practice random acts of kindness with God’s money. I love going to church with $5 in my pocket, and I pray for God to show me who I could bless. There is a lot of fun in being God’s secret agent. When you give on God’s behalf, people get excited because they know God was thinking about them, regardless of the amount. You can also pay for people’s food in the drive-thru line behind you. Please know your generosity can be a powerful witness to the gospel of Christ.      
 
There are numerous other examples we could apply to our finances. Just remember, make your money count because you will be held accountable for your money.       
 
2/27/2014 1:17:40 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 9: Learn Wisdom’s Benefits

February 25 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passages: Proverbs 1:33; 2:5-12, 16, 20-22; 3:1-8
 
How we respond to someone’s commands has everything to do with his or her level of authority in our lives. More than 30 years ago Southern Baptists began to take a formal stand on the inerrancy of the Bible and prevailed by the grace of God. However, belief in biblical inerrancy means little without an equally firm stand on biblical authority. In Proverbs 2:5 Solomon told his son that the pursuit of wisdom would bring the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.
 
We cannot know God apart from His Word, but we will never take heed to His Word unless we fear Him. While “fear” refers to our need to stand before God with reverence and awe, it does not remove our need to live in dread of His judgment.
 
The writer of Hebrews warned, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31), and that we must serve Him “with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire” (12:28-29).
 
In Proverbs 2:8-9 Solomon explained that God guards the paths of justice and allows His people to “understand righteousness, justice, and integrity – every good path.”
 
Consequently, true justice flows from the fear of the Lord, yet many proponents of Protestant liberalism cry out for social justice and say little or nothing about the fear of the Lord.
 
The wisdom that Solomon prescribes in this chapter allows us to understand that someone may campaign merely for an understanding of fairness that embraces socialism instead of the fear of the Lord that leads to eternal life through Christ.
 
Before Solomon penned the famous words of Proverbs 3:5-6, he exhorted his son to not forget loyalty and faithfulness. He told him to tie them around his neck and write them on the tablet of his heart (3:3).
 
To maintain these marks of wisdom we must do more than own a copy of the Word of God; we must possess it by hiding it in our hearts so that we will not sin against God (Psalms 119:11).
2/25/2014 1:14:27 PM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 9: Who We Work For

February 25 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Ephesians 6:5-9
 
I have a dear friend at our church named, Billy. He has very little formal education and works part-time as a custodian at a local flea market. Billy is not the type of guy who will probably teach Sunday School or be out front in a leadership position.
 
In fact, he oftentimes shrinks away from large crowds and does very little to draw attention to himself.
 
Over the past couple of years Billy has taught me more about Ephesians 6:5-7, than any commentary or scholar. The passage says, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (ESV).
 
Not long ago we had a strong storm in our area and Billy was to report to work later that morning.
 
However, instead of clocking in at the normal time Billy arrived several hours earlier to assess the damage at the Flea Market.
 
His primary responsibility was to make sure the trash cans were empty and the grounds were picked up.
 
But on this particular morning, due to the strong wind, one of the port-a-johns had turned over and was without any toilet paper.
 
Billy cleaned the port-a-john and restored it to an upright position. Next, he went back home, got some of his own toilet paper, drove back to the Flea Market and installed it in the port-a-john. Now, some of you may have a hard time appreciating Billy’s attempts to render service with good will as to the Lord. If that is the case, may I tastefully recommend going to a Flea Market and wait to use the restroom until you get there. Next, pick a port-a-john that has no toilet paper. I’m certain Billy’s selfless act of service will become more creditable.
 
Are you willing to go the extra mile that others may benefit? Billy did because Christ makes a difference in his life.
2/25/2014 1:07:29 PM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 2: Seek Wisdom’s Way

February 13 2014 by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford

Focal Passage: Proverbs 1:1-19
 
I was raised by parents who regularly quoted pithy old sayings to their children. My mom used to say, “There’s no fool like an old fool!” She usually said that when she heard about something outrageous an older man had done when he should’ve known better. Solomon’s words of wisdom to his son find as much, or more, application in our 21st century world as they did in his day. Solomon wanted to impart wisdom to his son because young people are naturally inclined toward foolishness.
 
Reading the opening verses of Proverbs we find the character traits that accompany the wisdom Solomon aims to teach, including discipline, righteousness, justice, integrity, shrewdness and knowledge. Some of these qualities are pursued often from a purely secular perspective. To counteract such a dangerous shortfall, he declared, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7a). To raise a child to possess selectively such traits as discipline, justice and integrity without the fear of the Lord is to raise a well-polished pagan. We must raise our children to embrace all the characteristics of wisdom and godliness, and wear them as the honorable jewels of God’s grace demonstrated through godly parents (1:8-9).
 
Many of the Proverbs of Solomon transferred wisdom from abstract concepts to practical life situations. We need look no further than Proverbs 1:10-19 to find living examples of miscreants being lured into theft and murder. Such sinners destroy themselves and others.

When my sisters and I were young we learned to never offer the “Everyone else is doing it!” justification for our mistakes or future plans. While other kids were warned about following crowds as they jumped off high buildings, our Baptist deacon father would reply, “If everybody else took a free ticket to hell, would you take one too?” Needless to say, the discussion was over. 
2/13/2014 10:04:52 AM by Troy Rust, pastor, Florence Avenue Baptist Church, Oxford | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 2: Good Work

February 13 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Genesis 1:28; 2:8-9, 15-17
 
Have you ever heard of the term “pre-evangelism?” It is the idea of tearing down barriers that may inhibit someone from trusting Christ. For example the use of apologetics could be seen as pre-evangelism. When a Christian breaks down an unbeliever’s arguments against the Bible it may open the door to share the gospel with that person.
 
With that in mind, I believe how Christian works can also be a form of pre-evangelism. Let me explain. When I was in seminary in Louisville, Ky., I worked at FedEx during the second shift. There were several other believers that worked with me, and one of them was fairly vocal about being a believer – and rightly so. However, it seemed every night that this young man would spend more time and energy trying to get out of work than he would actually be working. In fact there were numerous times when he should have been working but was caught hiding in a bathroom stall drinking a soda and eating a candy bar. I tell you this story because this young man genuinely wanted to tell the other guys about Jesus, but he had long disqualified himself by the way he worked.
 
Tragically this young man did not connect the privilege to work with God’s created order and the power to witness. In Genesis 1:28, God gave Adam and Eve the responsibility to subdue and have dominion over all the earth. Granted this task was much easier before they rebelled, but nevertheless, God instituted work as a part of being created in His image.
 
When a Christian has a poor work ethic, he detracts from that image and provides a poor reflection of God’s greatness. Therefore, contrary to public opinion, “work” is not a dirty, four-letter word. It is a wonderful gift given to us by our Creator to magnify and bring glory to Him. So if you are ever tempted to take the shortcut and skip out on work remember there is more at stake than just your paycheck. It could make an eternal difference.
2/13/2014 9:59:26 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 23: Follow with Renewed Purpose

February 11 2014 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 21:3-7a, 15-17, 20-23
 
There are guarantees in life, and one for me is that I will make mistakes. Whether it be forgetting an important ingredient at the grocery store or saying the wrong thing, a family member is certain to be aware that mommy messed up. Even more certain, God is aware of my sinfulness and the mistakes I make. Our lesson asks some pertinent questions for when we realize that we have sinned and need to ask God for forgiveness.   
 
The first lesson question is, “What are you fishing for?” In other words, what are you seeking? As we develop spiritually and realize we took a detour there must be a reason for making that choice. Perhaps it was for approval, success or selfishness. It is important to take time to reflect on these detours and ask God to show what tempted you to take the wrong path. The reflection is important because that is how we learn from our mistakes
 
In John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Simon Peter questions to help him refocus on that which is important: “Do you love me?” Peter needed to return to his first love. Jesus asking the questions gave Peter the opportunity for repentance, and we have the same opportunity. Ask yourself, “When it gets right down to it does my action or attitude demonstrate love for Jesus?” When the answer is no, then we need to repent and make a change. 
 
In John 21:20-23, Peter asks a question, “Lord, what about this man?” Our lesson question is, “What about others?” Jesus takes the opportunity to instruct Peter, and us, that we don’t need to be worried about the spiritual life of someone else more than our own spiritual growth. We have plenty of matters that need attention in our own spiritual inventory. We will make mistakes, but the wonderful truth of the gospel is that we can ask for forgiveness, be restored and live in victory.
2/11/2014 9:25:23 AM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 23: If God Is Good, Why Is There Suffering?

February 11 2014 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Job 30:26-31; 42:1-6
 
The life of Dr. Helen Roseveare has changed the way I view suffering. As a young girl growing up in England during World War II, Helen would often ask the question “Is it worth it?” Her question revolved around the idea of comparing the cost of an action to the benefit the action would bring. If the cost was greater than the benefit she would deem the action not worth the effort. When she had entered the university to study medicine her Christian friends took her to a Bible conference and that evening she gave her life to Christ. After medical school Helen gave her life to mission work.
 
In 1964, while serving as a missionary in the Congo, her village was overtaken by rebel soldiers, and Helen was taken captive, brutally beaten and raped twice.
 
She has told her story to thousands of people explaining that during that horrific event, she contemplated if the price being paid to tell others about Jesus was worth it. In a very unique way, as the rebel soldiers were taking her to do unspeakable things to her body, God spoke to her heart and said, “The question is not is it worth it, but am I worthy of it?” God changed her thinking at that moment from looking at the cost of her suffering to the privilege of suffering
 
Think with me for moment. Could it be that God wants us to see suffering as a means of glorifying Him? Could it be that God wants you to see your sickness and hardships as an opportunity to magnify Him? I’m certain, as we see in our lesson, Job struggled while suffering, but when he came into the presence of God it no longer seemed to matter.
 
In fact, the Bible says, when Job saw God he despised himself and repented (Job 42:5-6). We must ask ourselves, “Are we willing to trust God no matter our circumstances?”
 
I pray we can be like Helen, and count all of life as a privilege, especially our suffering.    
2/11/2014 9:16:16 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments