January 2017

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 12: Growing with Joy

January 25 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 3:12-21
 
The spiritual giant, Paul, acknowledges that even he had not perfected following Christ. He realized that it is a process as we move toward the goal of a full understanding of obedience to Christ.
 
He points out that there always has been and there always will be, those who make different choices. It is up to each individual believer and to the church to keep our focus on our “citizenship in heaven” (v. 20).
 
We can find joy in the growth process. A child most likely gets discouraged when he struggles to ride a bike or tie his shoes, and as parents we respond. We don’t sit back and just tell our child to give up! Instead, we encourage them to keep trying and to maybe look for new ways to accomplish the task.
 
Paul is encouraging us. We can know that day-by-day, as we “press on” (v. 12), we can do it with joy.
 
One way to take joy in this journey is to follow the example of mature believers. There is a couple in my church who recently celebrated 60 years of marriage and ministry as together. They have served side by side from the time of seminary, in churches and now in numerous roles in our church.
 
They each have joy in their eyes and voices as they share about their Savior. They tell funny stories about living on practically nothing during the seminary years and stories of warmth as they share about the latest grandchild who they are influencing for the cause of Christ.
The wife shares the gospel with those God places in her path at the grocery store and the doctor’s office. The husband ministers weekly to the senior adult choir.
 
If you compliment them for their service, they very quickly direct the praise and glory to God. It is beautiful and inspiring!
 
They will also let you know they “eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (vv. 20-21).
 
They demonstrate growing with joy!
 

1/25/2017 10:39:14 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 12: Compromised Potential

January 25 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Judges 16:4-6, 13-20
 
Len Bias was an All-American and all-everything college basketball player. For years he had terrorized his Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. Bias so impressed Boston Celtics great Larry Bird of his potential that Bird recommended that Celtics general manager Red Auerbach draft Bias as the overall number two pick in the 1986 NBA draft.
 
Auerbach did, and the Celtics’ world celebrated. Tragically, two days later Len Bias was pronounced dead, presumably as a reaction to a cocaine overdose: compromised potential.
 
Samson would be the last of Israel’s judges. His rise from obscurity to greatness is well known. Manoah’s wife was barren, but God intervened by sending His angel to her with the message that she was to birth a son, and this son would take the Nazarite vow – no alcohol consumed, nothing unclean eaten and uncut hair.
 
The boy was born, was given the name Samson, and God blessed him (13:24).
 
Samson’s life was defined by his biceps and riddles. No one was a match for the mighty and witty Samson. He infuriated his enemies to the point that the Philistines stayed awake at night plotting his demise.
 
They watched Samson and discovered his greatest weakness was women. Therefore, when Samson hooked up with the beautiful and persuasive Delilah, they believed she could deliver Samson for them. And she did.
 
The story of Samson began with such promise – a loving family, the blessing of God, extreme ability and strength. All Samson had to do was keep his vow, his promises to God.
 
But in his search for pleasure, he wasted God’s gift.
 
Potential is an elusive word. We all have it, but we don’t all reach it. Len Bias reached his potential while at the University of Maryland. It was assumed he could reach even higher potential as a Celtic. It didn’t happen.
 
Samson, likewise, was the poster boy for “potential.” He had it by the bucket loads. Unfortunately, his faith and commitment to God didn’t match his potential.
 

1/25/2017 10:36:13 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 5: Following with Joy

January 25 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 2:1-11
 
Paul challenges us to consider that the path to living in real joy is by following Christ. To follow Christ means to demonstrate humility, then we find joy.
 
This approach to finding joy is of course countercultural. Our culture proclaims that temporary measures, such as a purchase of a new car or taking a certain vacation will bring joy. These momentary fixes are all about supposedly meeting our needs and giving us what we deserve. After all, we have worked hard or proven ourselves worthy of such things.
 
However, as Christians, we understand that we only actually deserve an eternity apart from God due to our sin.
 
True joy comes from the amazing gift of eternal life that we receive through the grace extended to us in the saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Out of that realization, we want to obey Christ and experience true joy.
 
I AM SECOND, is a movement that has helped many individuals consider who or what was being placed first in their lives. The iamsecond.com site states they “inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.” Each person who shares on their site has come to the realization that instead of placing Jesus first in their lives, they had sought to meet their needs through allowing other things to take precedence. The list of celebrities, sports icons and television faces includes Chip and Joanna Gaines, Darrell Waltrip and Josh Turner. Each testimony concludes with the celebrity stating their name followed by “I am second.”
 
Perhaps we could reflect on what we might share in a similar testimony. After all, following Jesus is a 100 percent commitment. As the familiar hymn reminds us, “… the world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back.”
 
Following Jesus gives each believer love for others and purpose in each day. As we love others, we find many opportunities to practice humility as we strive to follow the example of Jesus. This leads to true joy.
 

1/25/2017 10:33:57 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 5: Timid Warrior

January 25 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passages: Judges 6:11-16, 25-32
 
Michael Oher became nationally known following the debut of the movie “The Blind Side.” The teenage Oher was encouraged to play football, where he initially proved to be a very large but very timid warrior. He did not want to hurt his teammates or anyone else.
 
Another issue perplexing the young Oher was family. If he accepted the very generous offer of the Tuohy family, would he be betraying his race and friends? Still later, after he had proven to be a mighty warrior on the high school gridiron, he wrestled with the decision of what major university to play for.
 
Would his decision be to please the Tuohys, himself, or both?
 
Likewise, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was trying to protect his family’s wheat crop from the Midianites, Gideon was identified as “mighty warrior.”
 
Gideon responded, “Who me? You must have the wrong guy. I’m the last person you should choose” (v. 15).
 
Then the Lord tasked Gideon to do something that would take real guts and real faith. He was commissioned to tear down the altars of Baal and Asherah (Gideon’s name means to “hack or cut down.”)
 
But these particular objects were not the idols of a foreign enemy or a benign neighbor. These altars belonged to his father. And while Gideon could understand that his father was wrong to have erected and worshiped these false gods, he knew there would likely be severe consequences for himself if he obeyed God.
 
He could lose his life.
 
In fact, Gideon was so petrified by the thought of obeying God that he demolished his father’s altars at night when no one could see his actions. The next day was reckoning day.
Fortunately for Gideon, his father loved him more than the idols and declared that if Baal and Asherah have power, let them punish Gideon.
 
The jump from “timid” to “mighty” comes when God’s children have the courage to risk an uncertain future for a certain God.
 

1/25/2017 10:31:52 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Jan. 29: Sharing with Joy

January 10 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 1:12-21
 
Paul took the time to reassure the readers of his letter that even though he is in prison, he is okay. And not only okay, but that good things have come from the hardship. In Philippians 1:12, he asserts, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
 
What could possibly produce more joy in a believer than coming to that realization?
 
As we study our lesson this week from Philippians 1:12-21, we see that Paul gives us examples of what to do and what not to do. Paul encourages the believers to share Christ with joy, no matter what their circumstances. Therefore, at the top of the do list is share Christ with joy.
 
He points out however that there are those who have chosen to share Christ with wrong motives.
 
At the top of the not to do list is to not share Christ out of envy, strife or rivalry. However, Paul is very quick to remind all believers that even though some have wrong motives, that was not to keep the believers from sharing Christ with joy.
 
Today, we can recognize that a key to joy is as Paul stated, “what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel.”
 
So, let’s think for a moment about those experiences in your life when you felt something “happened” to you.
 
We could consider one category of life experience as loss. A list of losses that happen could include miscarriage, death of a loved one, job loss, a broken relationship or property loss. Paul’s list included the loss of freedom by being imprisoned.
 
He said, “my imprisonment is for Christ.” Can we now place our life event in the same phrase by replacing “imprisonment” with it? For example, the loss of my grandmother happened to me and “my loss is for Christ.” Can we then consider if Christ has been honored in some way through that loss?

As Paul stated, “but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored,” (verse 20). Then, we demonstrate to others that we can share Christ with joy, no matter what.
 

1/10/2017 2:18:11 PM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Jan. 29: Willing Servants

January 10 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passages: Judges 4:4-10, 12-16
 
About 15 years ago I started a church preschool day care ministry. It wasn’t my idea, but I was tasked with the job of designing it, staffing it and getting it up and running.
Over time this particular ministry became quite successful, a true benefit to the community, even though I was not around to personally witness that growth.
 
The true success of that ministry, and any ministry, is a team of willing servants who love their job(s) and get things done.
 
This week’s biblical story seems to defy stereotypes. Israel was a strong patriarchal society. Usually men led and women worked quietly in the background.
 
But here things are different. Deborah is the sitting judge over Israel, a wife, a prophetess, and a wise counselor. Barak, a man, is the commander of the Israeli army, but reluctant to take the fight to Sisera, the Canaanite army commander. For whatever reason, Barak insisted upon Deborah going to the battlefield with him. Deborah reluctantly agreed, with a warning and prophetic word that Barak would not get the satisfaction of killing the evil Sisera.
 
Instead, that honor would go to a woman.
 
In a few days the battle erupted. God threw Sisera and his powerful army into massive confusion, and all of his warriors died except himself.
 
Sisera slinked away to the tent of Jael and his wife, famished and exhausted (see verses 17-22). He mistakenly thought they were his allies. As he dropped into a deep slumber, the unnamed, but willing, wife of Jael slammed a tent peg through his skull. As one of my professors once remarked, “Sisera died of a splitting headache!”
 
For Deborah and Barak, victory came because of a team effort. Apparently Barak was able to leave his ego behind, and Deborah was willing to do something not in her job description.
 
And the unnamed wife was able to keep her fears in check as she did what was necessary to defeat the evil in her home. All were willing servants.
 

1/10/2017 2:15:10 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Jan. 22: Praying with Joy

January 10 2017 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Philippians 1:3-11
 
Paul set the example of praying with joy in verse 4 when he tells the church at Phillipi he is “always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer” (Phil. 1:4).
 
This is significant because Paul was able to make this statement while imprisoned in Rome.
 
He provides this example to us that no matter the circumstances, we still can experience joy in prayer.
 
Our lesson writer provides a simple approach to pray with joy.
 
We can find joy in what God has done in the past, what God is doing right now and what God will do in the future.
 
As a parent of five young adults, I find so many things to pray about!
 
I find this approach to praying with joy to be very applicable as I pray for each of them.
 
As I reflect on the past experience of raising children, I find such joy in the ways God has provided for, developed and matured each one.
 
I find joy in praying for what God is doing right now as I enjoy the maturity and spiritual fellowship with each adult. Then, I find joy in anticipation of all God will do in their lives as adults in the years to come.
 
There is something so key in finding joy that we see the big picture that God’s got this, in every time of life – the past, the present and the future.  
 
Depending on your season of life, you may find that you reflect more on the joys of the past, than the joys of the future or vice versa.
 
Paul’s days of traveling on missionary journeys were over and he could have focused his thoughts on what he was not going to be able to do anymore, but instead, he found joy in what he believed God would do in the lives of the believers in Phillipi.
 
He prayed that they would be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (verse 11).
 
May that be our focus too!

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Interested in writing lessons? Email seth@brnow.org.)
 

1/10/2017 2:12:07 PM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Jan. 22: Rebellion’s Cycle

January 10 2017 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal Passage: Judges 2:11-19
 
Trivia Question: What do Pharaoh, Korah and Jonah share in common? Answer: They all rebelled against God.
 
There are many cycles in life, and the cycle of obedience to disobedience to punishment to repentance leading back to obedience is one of them. It was a common cycle experienced by biblical characters and the nation of Israel. Following the death of Joshua, God “raised up” judges to govern and counsel. These men, and one woman, did not inherit judgeship. Neither were they elected by the people.
 
They were specifically chosen by God. Further, judges were not career politicians. They were ordinary people with varying degrees of leadership skills that God could and would use. They also seemed to serve regionally, rather than nationally.
 
The problem wasn’t, for the most part, the judges. The problem was the people.
 
Whenever they disobeyed God and His appointed judge, bad things happened. It was the classic case of action and reaction, cause and effect. The rebellion is seen in verses 12-13, where a significant number of Israelites “went after” and “bowed down” to the Baals and Ashtoreths, abandoning God. God’s reaction is evidenced in verses 14-15, where God’s “anger burned” and He “handed over” and “sold them” and “brought disaster” upon the rebels.
 
Rebellion and its ensuing cycle is not limited to bad people. Israel as a nation rose and fell many times, and sometimes when she fell hard enough, she would repent and experience restoration (cf. 18b). God chose judges, but God was the ultimate Judge. God never approved of rebellion’s cycle; it caused Him much angst. He would have preferred that His people always behave obediently and righteously.
 
Pharaoh’s rebellion led to the first “million man march,” right out of Egypt. Korah’s rebellion led to an earthquake of deadly proportions. Jonah’s rebellion led to three days in the belly of the great fish. And of the three, only Jonah was open to repentance and restoration. The cycle of rebellion is to be avoided like the plague.
 
 

1/10/2017 2:08:17 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments