January 2019

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 10: Tempted

January 30 2019 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 39:3-12, 19-21
I was recently challenged to throw a Christian bachelor party for my best friend. One of the first ideas to come to mind was to take him to an arcade. What guy doesn’t love video games, right? (Within moderation, of course.) What I love about an arcade game is that whether you win or lose, play well or poorly, there is never a loss of joy. The gameplay itself brings a satisfaction separate from any points or tickets you might win as a result. In other words, the blessing is not dependent on you but on the game itself.
It would be easy to read Genesis 39 and believe falsely that God is blessing Joseph because of his faithfulness. A closer read reveals that God blesses Joseph with success because He is God.
He has a plan, He has graciously included Joseph in that plan, and God favors him and causes him to prosper to advance it for His glory. Joseph’s faithfulness is in response to God’s favor, not as an attempt to receive it.
Verses 9-10 read, “There is no one greater in this house than I … How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?
God has blessed. How can I repay Him with rebellion and disobedience?
Further proof that Joseph’s faithfulness is not the cause of God’s blessing is seen in verses 19-21. After Joseph has withstood temptation, he is still imprisoned. Yet, God was working to accomplish His redemptive plan.
Believer, you are highly favored of the Lord, but such favor is pure grace and mercy. You cannot earn it, and you do not deserve it.
The proper response to God’s gracious favor is faithfulness in the midst of temptation and an understanding that to be faithful is to ensure a certain amount of suffering for His sake. Still, there is a satisfaction separate from the blessings of this world and immune to trials, the eternal, insurmountable joy found in Christ Himself.

1/30/2019 9:17:33 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 10: When Marriage is Questioned

January 30 2019 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Genesis 2:18-25
In 2004, Daniel R. Heimbach, ethics professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a book titled True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis. His book is considered to be the standard for helping believers understand the importance of the Christian sexual ethic.
In the first part of his book, he describes the potential danger of moving away from what God intends regarding marriage and sexuality. Interestingly, his book was written over a decade ago, but much of what he describes is already occurring today.
Since the topic for our lesson this week is about marriage, Heimbach’s thoughts are important for us to consider. I have modified his information, but the thrust of the argument belongs to him. I highly recommend his book.
What could happen if Christians do not stand strong on the biblical position of marriage? First, if the sanctity of marriage is compromised, promoting sex without boundaries occurs. When sex occurs without boundaries, the importance of procreation is threatened. Sex becomes about self-gratification only and not about creating a family.
When the importance of the family is weakened, respect for authority is not taught.
When there is no respect for authority, the laws of government are not followed, which leads to further breakdown of the society. When the society begins to breakdown, crime, murder, riots, poverty and violence begin to occur. As these things occur, the social structure will eventually collapse.        
When you think about these negative consequences, it is important for us to resist the temptation to conform to the world’s vision for male and female relationships. God’s plan is always best. The Bible teaches us that God created marriage to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime.
If we want a strong, healthy society, it begins with strong, healthy marriages that produce strong, healthy families.
If we abandon God’s intention for marriage, then we can expect long-term moral failure and the corrosion of a great nation. Instead, let us turn back to God’s plan for marriage and experience His blessing.

1/30/2019 9:17:23 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for February 3: Accept It

January 22 2019 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 37:5-11, 19-27
I have often heard people say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The idea here is that when chance circumstances are not what you would like for them to be, you make the most out of the situation. On the surface it seems like a good notion. However, the Bible teaches something altogether different – that God is sovereign over our circumstances and that while evil may come at the hands of sinful men, His plans cannot be thwarted, and He will turn all things for our good and His glory.
Consider Joseph. Joseph did not choose his dreams, God did, and his brother’s efforts to prevent God’s plans actually fulfilled them instead. They do eventually bow down to Joseph in Egypt.
Of course the plan was not to have all of them bow down before their favored relative. No, Joseph was sent ahead of them to preserve them as a people from the famine. This would also preserve the line of the Messiah to come through Judah’s offspring, a Messiah whose story also illustrates God’s sovereign use of evil to advance His purposes.
Acts 2:23-24a says, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again …
Evil men committed evil acts against Jesus, but God had predetermined that these things would take place for His glory and the salvation of His people. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). Such knowledge brings great hope and comfort to the believer.
Therefore, in your service to the Lord, do not become prideful or prone to despair. He has placed all of us in unique situations, He uses all of us differently, and He even uses those who would seek to destroy us to accomplish His will.
Be faithful to walk in a manner worthy of your calling.

1/22/2019 11:25:20 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for February 3: When Substances Take Over

January 22 2019 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:15-21
Many years ago, I took a planning seminar to help me get organized. In the seminar, I learned it takes at least 21 days to develop new patterns of behaviors in a person’s life. They argued that if a person wanted to change bad behavior (stop procrastinating or quit eating too much), he or she must replace the bad behavior with good behavior (better planning and exercise).
If the person kept doing the good behavior for at least 21 days straight, it would become a habit in that person’s life. Although I took that seminar more than 20 years ago, I still think I am working on the 21 days.
This week’s lesson focuses on the dangers of substance abuse and why believers should allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives and not drugs or alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (ESV). In the passage, the Apostle Paul is exhorting believers to live under the control of Holy Spirit and not anything else.
Over the years, I have ministered to dozens of individuals struggling with substance abuse. We often recommend they attend a place called Hebron Colony, a Christian residential facility near Boone, N.C. They have an approach that is very effective in helping men break free of alcohol and drug addiction that is reflective of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18.
Basically, they teach the men first to find their identity in Christ, and secondly, they teach them how to replace old habits with godly habits. In other words, instead of focusing on what you cannot have (drugs or alcohol), focus on what you do have, which is a relationship with Christ.
Over a period of 12 weeks, men begin to understand what it means to allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives.
In the end, they realize God offers something far greater than any substance can provide – and they are willing to fight for it!

1/22/2019 11:25:08 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for January 27: Assurance

January 10 2019 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 35:1-15
At the end of Genesis 34, the patriarch Jacob faces a tough situation. His sons, Simeon and Levi have just avenged the rape of their sister Dinah by Shechem, son of Hamor. They have sinned and thus have brought reproach upon the name of Jacob who fears retribution at the hands of his enemies. In chapter 35, God brings assurance.
Have you ever worked on a home project with your spouse? This, of course, means the husband has decided it can’t be too difficult, and he can figure it out without instructions. At some point the wife has noticed, and much to his chagrin, she decides to help.
In the end, what usually happens? More often than not, assurance doesn’t come until someone wises up and looks to the creator who has given clear instructions for construction (she told you so).
Jacob finds assurance in the God who appeared to him following his own sinful actions toward his brother, Esau. This assurance produces faithful action on Jacob’s part.
He takes God at His Word and takes action as a demonstration of his faith. He purifies himself and his family and he joyfully obeys God’s instruction to return to the land He had promised him.
Second Peter 1:2-3 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
We, too, face difficult situations, some of which are the consequences of others’ sins.
God offers us assurance that though we are often fearful, He is always faithful.
He’s given us all we need for life and godliness. Knowing this, we can walk by faith. We can flee sinful distractions and pursue holiness. We can obey God’s commands joyfully as we cherish the eternal promises of scripture offered to us in Christ.

1/10/2019 10:07:35 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 27: When Circumstances Overwhelm

January 10 2019 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Psalm 42:1-3, 6-8; 43:3-5
As a young Christian, I was reading through the Bible when I came to Proverbs 24:16, which says, “The righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (ESV).
At first, I got kind of frustrated and said, “God, that is not fair! Why does the righteous person have to fall so many times, but the wicked seem to stumble less?”
It is important to note during this time, it seemed like I was the poster-child for this verse.
My life as a Christian was one step forward and two steps backs. But, after I began studying the verse more closely, I realize that when the righteous man falls, God picks him up, dusts him off and helps him keep going.
However, when the wicked man falls, he is down for the count.
He has no support to help him overcome his calamity.
When you couple this verse with the truth found in Psalm 42-43, you realize God lifts us up when our circumstances pull us down.
Sometimes our struggles are self-imposed, but other times we have no control over them.
Either way, it is important to trust that God will see you through no matter the outcome.
I have a young friend who was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome after falling in an exercise class in college.
We were hoping the effects of the concussion would be short as we prayed for him at our church. In fact, many of us were discouraged that for three years this young man basically had to stay at home battling numerous neurological problems.
During that time, I am sure he had similar thoughts as the Psalmist, “My soul is cast down within me, [but] By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:6, 8).
Thankfully, my friend did not grow weary during this difficult time; and, in God’s provision, my friend has become an example of the truth found in Psalm 42-43 as he serves our church today.

1/10/2019 10:02:42 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for January 20: Protect and Serve

January 9 2019 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Genesis 1:27, 9:1-7; Matthew 5:21-22
Several years ago a friend of mine and I were discussing the differences between humans and animals. She mentioned that she and her husband had a dog after they married, and that he was precious to them both. Then, they had their first child. One day that precious dog behaved like dogs do. He angrily nipped at the baby. In that moment, the contrast between the value of an animal and the value of a child shone in her heart. Within 24 hours the dog was gone from her home.
So, what made the difference?
Genesis 1 teaches us that God created everything and pronounced it “good.” This fact gives every created thing intrinsic value. Yet, verse 27 says that God created mankind uniquely in His image and according to His likeness.
While theologians differ regarding the precise interpretation of this verse, at the very least it means that we are special among God’s creatures. We possess value that no other created thing possesses.
Consider the Bible’s teaching with regard to the taking of life.
After the Flood, in Genesis 9:1-7, God explicitly permits the killing of animals for food.
However, in this same passage, God pronounces judgment upon the individual who would take the life of another human being.
His reason is that man is created in the image of God. To kill an animal is not an affront to that image. To kill one’s fellow man is.
Jesus takes this even further: “… everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court” (Matthew 5:22).
How one views and treats his fellow man, even when explicit acts of evil do not follow, is eternally valuable in God’s economy.
For believers, this means that every human life, from conception to death, from both sexes, and from every race among men, deserves to be protected and served.
In this we bring great glory and honor to the Father who created us all.

1/9/2019 10:36:31 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 20: When Life Is Expendable

January 9 2019 by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church

Focal passage: Exodus 1:16-17, 22-2:9
The point of our lesson this week is that life is a gift from God, and we are to protect and preserve it. In the first chapter of Exodus, Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all boys during birth that were born from Jewish women (1:16).
Because the midwives feared God more than Pharaoh, they refused to follow his orders and many babies were spared. Ultimately, through these circumstances Moses was born, hidden in the Nile River and eventually became the vessel God would use to free Israel from their bondage in Egypt.
Could you imagine if Moses would have been killed by the Pharaoh’s plan? Certainly, God could have raised up another child, but the point is that every life is valuable, and we must protect each one.
God has a plan for each child, and to live in such a way that devalues any life, especially the unborn, elderly or handicapped is the greatest tragedy of any society.
Being the father of two sons, one with autism and the other with a severe learning disability, there is nothing more important to me outside of Christ than making sure they are treated with dignity and respect.
At the same time, I am trying not to spoil them so they can maximize their potential for Christ.
Some people may look at our situation and think of it as a hardship. Not me! I have received more joy and excitement from our experience together than words can adequately express.
That does not mean there are not challenges; it is just that the challenges are different.
My boys may not fit the normal pattern for most American kids, but what is most important to me is that one day they will stand before God and He will say, “Well done my good and faithful servants.”
Every person deserves an opportunity to honor God because every life is important. It does not matter if they are elderly, have a disability or are even unplanned. God has a plan for each of us; we should embrace it!

1/9/2019 10:35:58 AM by Bartley Wooten, pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church | with 0 comments