January 2018

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 11: The Testimony

January 23 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 22:3-8, 15-22
 
J.D. Greear, a pastor in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., said, “It is one thing to understand the gospel but it is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security.”
 
Greear’s point is that the gospel is not just a message to hear.
 
It is a message to be believed.
 
It is a message that is life-altering. It is message that transforms.
 
For those who accept the claims and work of Jesus Christ on their behalf, their lives are changed forever.
 
In the opening verses of Acts 22, Paul recounts what his life was like apart from Christ.
Describing himself as “zealous for God” he was so opposed to the people of “The Way” that he “delivered men and women to prison” (Acts 22:4).
 
Paul then describes his experience on the road to Damascus where he encountered Jesus Christ who would radically change him.
 
We see his thought process clearly in the book of Philippians.
 
Of his former source of identity and accolades, Paul says he “counts them as rubbish” or dung.
 
The fact that he was circumcised, a Hebrew and a Pharisee were of no concern to him anymore.  
 
Why? Because Paul understood what experiencing the gospel will do for someone.  
 
Not only did it change Paul’s primary source of identity, but God would then use him to bring about His redemptive purpose as Jesus said, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21).
 
You may not have had as dramatic of a turnaround as the Apostle Paul, but if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ then your story is no less miraculous. You have been brought to life.
 
You are no longer chained by the shackles of sin. And God wants to use your transformed life to make other disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
 
The question we must all answer is: have I truly experienced the gospel?
 
And if so, how does God want to use me?
 

1/23/2018 8:40:59 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 11: I Am a Priest

January 23 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: 1 Peter 2:4-10
 
Historically, priests took on the responsibility of going into the presence of God on behalf of many and standing as God’s representative among people. Jesus became our Great High Priest that we might be adopted into the priesthood.
First Peter 2:4 describes Jesus as the living Stone, one precious to the Lord and chosen by Him.
 
By extension, in Christ, we too are living stones “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God … ” (1 Peter 2:5).
 
To offer spiritual sacrifices to God is to deny ourselves and obey Him. Romans 12:1 describes it this way: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”
 
Another example can be found in Hebrews 13:15-16. It reads, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
 
Through Jesus we are free to enter into the presence of God with praise and supplication.
Christ also endowed us with the privilege of representing Him in the world and called us to serve others as He has served us.
 
Our Wonderful Counselor is the sole reason believers are positioned as priests.
 
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
 
As priests we are privileged, but also carry a great responsibility.
 
That responsibility is to take the gospel, our salvation out of darkness into light, to the ends of the earth.
 

1/23/2018 8:39:20 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for February 4: Delivered

January 23 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 20:22-35
 
Charles Spurgeon, the renowned English preacher, once wrote, “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every believer.”
Read that quote again. Think about its implications.
 
If you were to sit down and make a list of all the priorities in your life, would soul-winning be at the top? Do you structure your time and energy around making His name known?
 
As followers of Jesus, we have a task. We have a responsibility. We have a God-given commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). We are stewards of a message that is life-changing and permanently alters the future of those who trust in the person of that message (2 Corinthians 5:17).
 
Perhaps no one understood this better than the Apostle Paul.
 
When speaking to the Ephesian elders in person for the last time (Acts 20:38), Paul said that he “did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
 
He did not shy away from telling them what was of utmost importance.
 
Paul understood that it was his duty to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), regardless of the earthly consequences. Knowing he would have to make a tremendous personal sacrifice through imprisonment and afflictions (Acts 20:23), he did not waver. He did not dither. He boldly and confidently shared the saving work of Jesus Christ.
 
In his book, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, Alvin Reid said that the “only failure in witnessing is the failure to witness.” The majority of Christ followers will go their whole lives without ever leading someone else to the Lord. Why? Because they fail to share.
 
I challenge you. Don’t be in that category. Make a commitment to pray that God would put people in your path to share Jesus with.
 
Make a commitment to boldly share when those opportunities arise. Make a commitment to make “soul-winning the main pursuit of your life.”
 

1/23/2018 8:37:48 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 4: I Am a Minister

January 23 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 3:4-12
 
Several years ago, I was encouraged to make a timeline of my life. I was to choose 20 of the most impactful events in my life, highs and lows, and number them from one to 10 based on the level of impact they had on me. I was to look through the timeline for a theme God might be writing in my life.
 
The theme I identified was redeeming hope.
 
Repeatedly my Savior had redeemed my lowest of lows, and in the waiting time, He had given me experiences that filled me with great hope.
 
Before long, my timeline went back into my desk drawer, long forgotten. It wasn’t until I came across many people with experiences similar to mine that I pulled the dusty page out again. These people had one thing in common: they were looking for hope and redemption.
 
As followers of Christ, we’re equipped with the Holy Spirit and our testimonies to minister about the wonders of God’s love.
 
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient … but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit …” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). We can trust that through Jesus we have all we need to serve God.
 
Further into this chapter of Corinthians, Paul compares the law of the Ten Commandments to the fulfillment of the law through the Jesus’ righteousness. Our attempts to live under the law are futile, holding out temporarily before we inevitably sin.
 
However, God has called us to live through Jesus’ righteousness alone, the glory of which will last into eternity. This is how we serve our Lord and minister to the world.

We have the hope of redemption that the broken world around us longs for. “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we use great boldness of speech …” (2 Corinthians 3:12). Let us minister. Let us be bold.
 

1/23/2018 8:31:02 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 28: Incomplete Picture

January 9 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passages: Acts 18:24-28; 19:1-7
 
“I would tell Him I do the right things” was the response I received to the question, “If you died today and God asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?”
 
I sat there surprised, not by the answer, but because this person and her unbelieving husband had been members and taught in churches before! They had obvious gaps in their understanding of the gospel.
 
That day marked the beginning of a spiritual journey for them.
 
Over the next few months, I went to this couple’s house regularly to teach the gospel more clearly. I came to learn that she was indeed a believer but had an incomplete understanding of salvation. He, on the other hand, would for the first time make a commitment to follow Jesus.
 
This was a 21st century example of what occurs near the end of Acts 18. Readers are introduced to a man named Apollos, who had knowledge of the scripture (v. 24). He was accurate about many of the things he said (v. 25), not unlike the wife in the story above. Yet, there were still things he needed to learn as Priscilla and Aquila’s introduction to the story tells us.
 
They took Apollos aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (v. 26).
 
Each person is in one of two categories: lost or saved. They are either a follower of Jesus or not. If they are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), then our job is to share the gospel with them.
 
For the believer, we have an opportunity to spur them onto spiritual growth; showing them what it means to walk with Jesus more clearly by correcting any misconceptions about God’s Word.
 
The great news is that there isn’t a person on the planet who has it all figured out.
 
Every believer still has gaps in their knowledge and level of commitment. Like Priscilla and Aquila, we can help bridge that gap!
 

1/9/2018 9:23:02 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 28: I Am a Child of the King

January 9 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Galatians 4:1-7
 
My family came to the United States from Mexico when I was two years old.
 
After years of paperwork, interviews, fees and a very important test, my mom took an oath to become an American citizen. I was underage at the time, making it possible for me to inherit citizenship because she fulfilled all the requirements.
 
Her desire of a better life for me set a promise into motion; the only thing I had to do to receive that inheritance was to take my own oath of commitment.
 
Almost two decades after my mom had completed the process, I was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
 
During those 17 years of waiting, I was able to live, go to school and work as a U.S. resident.
Even though I was incredibly grateful for residency, citizenship would offer me freedoms and access to resources I didn’t have otherwise.
 
Galatians 4 makes a very personal connection for me and my experience. “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is the master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world” (Galatians 4:1-3).
 
Before Christ, we were separated from the Father’s inheritance, present in the world, but without access to all God offered.
 
With perfect timing, God sent His Son, “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
 
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins enables us to become children of God. As members of God’s family we are also heirs, inheriting His Holy Spirit, citizenship in His eternal Kingdom, and above all, inheriting God, Himself.
 
The question now is what we will do with our inheritance.
 
Will we keep it to ourselves or show others the way?
 

1/9/2018 9:21:08 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for January 21: Value All

January 9 2018 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 16:16-19; Psalm 139:13-16
 
As sexual assault claims continue to sweep the nation, citizens are having to come to grips with what Christians understand as man’s sinful nature on full display.
 
The act of humans exploiting other humans is as old as sin itself and now stares us in the face on a daily basis.
 
Couple the current climate with the prevalent phenomena of abortion and human trafficking, and society stands at a crossroads on what intrinsic value humans have.  
 
Nestled within the pages of Acts, Paul and Silas are confronted with a similar situation on their second missionary journey in Philippi.
 
Met by a slave girl with a demonic spirit, they are followed by her for several days.
 
She said of these men, they “are servants of the Most High God.”
 
Annoyance finally set in and Paul exorcised the demon out of her under the authority of Jesus Christ.
 
Her owners were unhappy upon hearing news of her recent encounter. Knowing their ability to profit from her abilities has come to an end, they have Paul and Silas turned over to authorities.    
 
Described twice as being owned (vv. 16, 19), this girl was only valued by her profitability – not dissimilar to our current cultural situation.
 
Christians on the other hand, place value on human beings because God places value on them. While the image of God is certainly distorted because of the fall in Genesis 3, it is not fully lost.  
 
Christians with a biblical worldview should echo the words of the Psalmist when they consider the sanctity of human life, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).
 
Standing up for the marginalized and devalued in a society should be the heartbeat of every Christian.
 
May we not see another tragic news story about the reckless abuse of power and become further desensitized, but rather see an individual created in the image of God.

1/9/2018 9:18:52 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 21: I Am Wonderfully Made

January 9 2018 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
 
“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains … at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
 
Augustine of Hippo penned those words over 1,500 years ago, but I believe they are just as relevant today. How often do we see our reflections and forget the miraculous beings God has designed us to be?
 
Psalm 139:1-6 describes our Creator’s omniscience, for He knows our “sitting down and rising up,” our every thought and way. His intimate knowledge of us speaks to how deeply He values every man, woman, and child.
 
We also know God has a plan for each life He created. “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:16). Verse six in this psalm reminds us that we may not always understand the Lord’s purposes, but can trust in His understanding. In addition, believers can stand secure knowing that God is with us. “When I awake,” David writes, “I am still with You” (Psalm 139:18).
 
I’d like to encourage you to take time this week and choose one of three ways you can apply Psalm 139.
 
Consider those that are hardest for you to value, including yourself if needed. Ask God to give you eyes to see those that came to mind in the same way He sees them.
 
God created mankind in His image, but in order to understand what that means about us we must better understand who God is. What are some characteristics of God that Christians are called to reflect?
 
Indications of God’s value for every life flood the pages of scripture. Find three or four other passages in the Bible that support how much each life matters to God. How do these verses show that God values life differently than society values life?
 

1/9/2018 9:14:21 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments