February 2018

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 11: Glorifying God

February 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“That is not what that was made for!”
I don’t know how many times I have heard that said to me through the years. Since I was young, I have been bad about doing things with whatever “tool” was available to me, whether that was the objects intended purpose or not.
I might use a fishing pole to get something off of a tall shelf.
Sometimes I might use an otherwise good tool for a destructive purpose – like taking a hammer and chipping the tiny front edges off of my mom’s piano keys. (Yep, I really did that!)
As Paul was writing to the Corinthian believers, seeing some of the ongoing sinful actions of their lives – gluttony and sexual immorality – he was saying to them, “That is not what you were (re)made for!”
Could their stomachs be used for gluttony? Sure. Could their bodies be used for sexual pleasure, even immorality? Definitely. Paul tells them, however, that is not the reason God made them – to satisfy their physical, temporal desires. God made them, in fact, re-made them, for His glory.
Because these Corinthian believers had surrendered their lives to Christ, God had forgiven their sin, given them new life and set up residence in them by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Far from being instruments for sin, their bodies were now temples of the Holy Spirit (6:19) – the place where God’s presence dwells. They could never justify opening
up the doors of those temples for the pleasure and service of their spiritual enemy.
Our lives no longer belong to us. We have been bought with a price – the blood of Jesus (6:20). We should, therefore, use our bodies for what they were (re)made for – the glory of God.
Paul would similarly tell the Roman believers – “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:19).

God has made us new for His glory! May our lives glorify Him in all things!

2/20/2018 8:53:08 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 11: Our Healer

February 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Exodus 14:29-31; 15:22-27
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you were in the Bible? Maybe you put yourself in the place of a disciple walking with Jesus? Or maybe an Old Testament hero like Moses or David or Daniel?
At times I’ve wondered what it would be like to have existed in one of the Bible stories. There is actually a place for us in the Bible, although it’s not very flattering.
Truth be told, we are much like the people of Israel. Israel had just witnessed God sending plagues upon Egypt – 10 of them. Israel had walked across the Red Sea on dry land. Israel had watched as God destroyed the Egyptian army with walls of Red Sea water. Even after those miraculous acts, Israel grumbled and complained faithlessly when they found a pool of bitter water in the wilderness.
At Marah, Israel tested the Lord. Aren’t we much the same? We have been redeemed, protected and provided for by God only to faithlessly grumble when something doesn’t go our way.
If we find ourselves in the Bible, we are not the heroes, but the sinners. That is the point.
Years later Jesus would face a similar situation to the people of Israel. He was also in the wilderness. Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the temple and show off God’s protection.
Jesus replied, “Do not test the Lord, your God.”
Jesus referenced the very text where Israel tested the Lord. They failed to trust God. We’ve done what they did. And that is why Jesus came, faced temptation, succeeded and ultimately went to the cross.
We cannot obey our way into wholeness. We will never deserve the healing we need. But the healing and provision we need is available. It is available because Jesus refused to test the Lord, because Jesus obeyed perfectly when we disobeyed, because Jesus substituted His wholeness for our lack.
Will you trust the perfect, risen Lord for your healing?

2/20/2018 8:50:22 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 4: United in Christ

February 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10-25
When you think about someone joining a country club, there are several things that could entice them to membership. Many join for the golf course. Others, though, might join because they like the clubhouse and look forward to the lunches, dinners or parties they will enjoy. For others it might be the teaching professional or the swimming pool.
Because these members have come together for very different reasons, it is easy for them to experience discord. The swimming pool crowd thinks money should be spent on the pool. The golf crowd wants to spend money to replace the grass on the greens. After all, if the golf course wasn’t there, there would be no country club.
It is easy, then, when the discord builds for some to leave and go find another country club to join – one with a better pool, or golf course or clubhouse, or whatever fits their desires.
This kind of discord is expected in a country club, but it is grievous when demonstrated in a church.
For the church in Corinth, the division came not because of the swimming pool or the clubhouse, but because of various personalities there to whom different members gravitated.
Paul writes clear and challenging words to correct this church, telling the members that they are there neither because of those men nor for them.
The reason they are part of the church is because they all have one, unifying thing in common: they have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
In these verses, and the three chapters that follow, Paul repeatedly reminds them they have been made one in Christ, unified by the Spirit of God. They are acting like “fleshly” people and spiritual babies (3:1), rather than “Spirit-filled” people.
These believers were “God’s building” (3:9), built on the foundation of salvation through Jesus Christ.
God’s desire was for them to walk in unity in Christ.
God’s desire for us, His people today, is that we do the same.

2/20/2018 8:47:42 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 4: Our Provider

February 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Genesis 22:1-14
Felt needs are important. We work in order to earn money to provide shelter, food and clothing. Day to day we are hungry, thirsty, tired, frustrated, disappointed, discouraged, and we act to meet those needs. But sometimes, our felt needs can overwhelm us.
In our text, Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham and Isaac had a need – a need they felt. Abraham responded, “God will provide.” Do you have Abraham’s kind of faith in God’s provision?
Søren Kierkegaard, a Dutch philosopher/theologian of the 19th century, famously interpreted Abraham’s faith in this text as a “blind leap.” In Kierkegaard’s estimation, Abraham closed his eyes, stepped out and happily landed in a place of God’s provision.
I believe Kierkegaard’s claim is glaringly wrong. Abraham’s faith in God’s provision was anything but blind. God led Abraham, forgave Abraham, cared for Abraham and gave he and Sarah a child far after their days of childbearing were past. Abraham’s faith in God’s provision was based on years of God demonstrating His faithfulness. In that desperately poignant moment when Isaac was tied down on the altar, Abraham trusted God to the point of obedience. Then God stopped him and showed him a ram caught in a thicket.
This story teaches us two things about God’s provision. First, there is nothing we can sacrifice, give or do to earn God’s provision. It is important that we see that Abraham and Isaac still sacrificed, still worshiped.  
Second, we access God’s provision through faith. It was Abraham’s faith in God that led him to obey. If we want to experience God’s provision, we must have faith. God has already provided on the grandest of scales. He gave us just what we needed when He sent Christ to the cross. We access His provision by faith. And when we believe in the provision of God through Christ, we have a basis for trusting God to provide our felt needs as well (Romans 8:32).

2/20/2018 8:43:50 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 25: Always on Mission

February 6 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 28:17-28
One of my responsibilities at the church where I serve is to train disciple-makers. Each semester I lead a class on how to fulfill the great commission Jesus gave to His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). During our 12 weeks together, I use a phrase over and over that goes something like this: “We stand on the shoulders of the saints who have gone before us and were faithful to their God-given task.”
Think about it. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are saved because at some point someone shared with you the life-changing message of Christ.
In His sovereign plan, God appointed a time for you to come into contact with someone who had what you needed. In a sense, you stand on their shoulders.  
In the last chapter of Acts, Paul explains to the local leaders how he ended up in Rome.
From a heavenly perspective, it was because God knew he would come in contact with people who were eager to hear the message he was proclaiming (Acts 28:22).
Paul wouldn’t have had this audience if the circumstances hadn’t turned out the way they had.
God was working even in the midst of the struggles and trials Paul was facing.   Because some accepted this message, he now had saints that were standing on his shoulders, because he was faithful in sharing what had transformed him.
The same is true for you and me.  As you finish your study in the book of Acts, if you have taken away anything, my prayer is that you’ve developed a passion and commitment for personal evangelism.
You are a steward of a message that has eternal consequences. And because of a parent, grandparent, pastor, Bible study teacher, friend, co-worker, sibling or even a total stranger, your position with God is one of peace (Romans 5:1) and not wrath (Romans 1:18). Now, go! Go and make disciples of all nations!

2/6/2018 8:01:54 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 25: I Am a Light

February 6 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Ephesians 5:8-14
Christine Caine, an activist against human trafficking, spoke at a conference when I was in college and shared a story I’ll never forget.
Caine and her daughter, Sophia, were shopping for a flashlight. Sophia was thrilled with the one she’d chosen and, itching to go home, said to her mother, “Let’s go find some darkness!”
Their new flashlight was no use under the bright store lights; it would only serve its purpose within the contrast of darkness.
Believers have a new identity as “children of light” that are called to walk in obedience to the Lord as they learn what is pleasing and acceptable to Him (Ephesians 5:8-10). This means that anyone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior remains in darkness.
Just like Sophia’s flashlight was indistinguishable among the incandescent store lights, missing its objective, the light Christ placed in us does not fulfill its intention when it fears exposing the darkness. Ephesians 5:11-13 reads, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things that are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”
There was a time when we, too, were in darkness. Because of the Fall, everyone was born into sin, and whether we were 7 years old or 52 when we believed in the Lord, there was a time when there was no light in us either. Even still, having tasted the sweet salvation of Jesus Christ, we are not exempt from falling into sin. This understanding should lead us to humility, compassion for those in darkness and a deep desire to see the lost be found.

May we long to hear the Lord say unto others as He has graciously called out to us, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).

2/6/2018 7:56:59 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 18: Answering Critics

February 6 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

This time last year, my wife and I were driving home to Kentucky to visit my side of the family, when just 20 minutes into our trip the transmission began malfunctioning. Leaving a red light, I pushed the gas pedal, but the car would barely move. It would take a couple miles to reach the speed limit of 55.  
Deciding to continue on for another 30 miles, thinking the issue would resolve itself, we drove until we came to another stop. To test whether or not the issue was still there, I slammed on the gas, only to have the car move at a snail’s pace. I told Ashley that we had a serious issue and needed to turn around.  
The word repent means to have a change of mind or to turn. After admitting we had a problem, we had to turn around. This is exactly what Paul proclaims as he makes his case to King Agrippa in Acts 26. He said, “repent and turn to God.” Stop living a self-ruled life and allow God to rule. Of course, this message is not always met with joyful acceptance (Luke 21:17). Paul was almost killed by the Jews (Acts 20:21) and Festus said he was “out of his mind” (Acts 20:24). Yet Paul did not back down. He continued to try to persuade Festus and others to follow Christ.   
The same should be true for you and me. When we share the message of Jesus, it is important that we don’t shy away from telling people they must repent. In fact, this should be something we should be used to doing ourselves as followers of Jesus.  

Martin Luther’s first of 95 theses said the entire life of the believer should be one of repentance. It should be something we practice daily. Thus, our familiarity with repentance allows us to communicate the gospel from a posture of humility. And when we are rejected, we don’t give up. We continue praying the world would “become as we are” (Acts 26:29).

2/6/2018 7:43:53 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 18: I Am Just Passing Through

February 6 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: 1 Peter 2:11-17
After 16 years of growing up in Colorado, I attended a university in Kansas and lived in the Sunflower State an additional two years post-graduation. Through a series of noteworthy events, too perfect to be coincidental, I felt led to move to North Carolina.
It’s been four trips around the sun since I made it to Durham, still, my reference to “home” has more to do with my audience than location.
More often than not, Colorado is home. When I’m catching up with college friends, we share Kansas as “home.” During vacation, North Carolina is the home I miss.
Scripture explains that none of these temporary areas are the true dwelling place for which we were made.
First Peter 2:11 calls us “sojourners and pilgrims” reminding us to abstain from the temptations of this fleeting abode in an attempt to point others to what is eternal.
Life has a way of reminding the believer that we were made for another world – another home.
During these times, we can recall 1 Peter 2:13-17 regarding our responsibilities on this side of heaven. We are to submit ourselves “to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13-14, 16).
The purpose of these responsibilities is to show love and honor to others. “… Yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
We can pray for those we’d rather condemn, ask God for humility when it’d be easier to prove our point, and love God and one another more than anything the world offers us.

By doing so, the broken world can deny but not evade that we were made for Someone greater.

2/6/2018 7:40:03 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments