July 2016

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 14: Invest Money Wisely

July 26 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
Mark Twain addressed financial investing in his novel Pudd’nhead Wilson when he wrote, “October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.”  
Those words were written over 100 years ago, but the topic is still a hot one. Scroll through your cable television channels this evening, and you will inevitably stumble upon a commentator enthusiastically describing the benefits of investing. They claim that if you follow their advice, your finances will multiply and your future will be secure.
I’m convinced these men and women are very knowledgeable, but have you ever considered that God’s Word, a much more trustworthy resource, also provides instruction for financial planning?
Written by King Solomon near the end of his life, the book of Ecclesiastes contains a great deal of practical wisdom. In chapter 11, we find specific instructions regarding preparing financially for the years ahead. Solomon encourages long term and diversified investing, telling his readers to “divide your portion to seven, or even to eight” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).  
One motivation for diversification is the unpredictable nature of the world in which we live.  Only God knows what will happen tomorrow, much less what will happen in several decades, and we would be remiss to place all our resources in any one of these opportunities. They all have the potential to be disastrous.  
And yet, Solomon cautions that focusing our attention on this uncertainty can paralyze us.
He writes, “the person who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). Yes, the future is unclear, but we must not stop investing because of fear or despair.  We must press on, working and trusting in “God who makes all things” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).  
He alone is our foundation and the One who entrusted us with these resources in the beginning.

7/26/2016 7:40:40 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for August 14: Protected

July 26 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 25:14-17; 32-38
A seminary professor said that if God says something once in His Word be careful about building a doctrine from it.
So many cults and heretical teachings are developed from this. He went on to say if God says it twice, take heed to what He is saying. And if He repeats it three times, you can be sure it is important.
God says in Romans 12:19, “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Just doing a simple search I found five other places that God says or teaches us the same concept.
If He says it that many times, I think it is safe to say He wants us to see this as highly important.
In our Family Memory Verses this week, we find this truth in what David has to say.
In 1 Samuel 25:33, David says to Abigail, “Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand.” David had been consistently refraining from taking any action against Saul.
Even though David had been anointed by Samuel to be king, He was waiting upon God to open up the doors to his assuming the position.
Even though Saul had frequently sought to destroy David, David still waited upon God.
In this account, Nabal had insulted and snubbed David and his men, and David was ready to take revenge out of selfish motives. David saw the refusal of Nabal to include them in the shearing festival as a personal affront. He was ready to take revenge.
Abigail had been an instrument that God used to stop David from senseless bloodshed. God would be the One who would take revenge for David in His own way and time. I am thankful in my life that God has taken matters into His Hand and that I was not personally responsible for selfish revenge.
God has a purpose and plan and as believers we need to trust Him to work all things out for the good (Romans 8:28).

7/26/2016 7:38:15 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for August 7: Manage Money Diligently

July 26 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Proverbs 31:13–21
Act responsibly with what God has given you.
The way in which we use (or don’t use) our resources really does matter to God.
It may seem silly, but I’ll never forget the moment I tossed an American cake mix into the trash with tears in my eyes.
I was serving as a missionary in Central Europe and pre-packaged baking items were expensive. I hoarded them for special occasions.
On this particular day, I realized I had been so cautious with my stash that the items were far past their expiration date and could no longer be consumed safely. By saving the mix, I had completely missed my opportunity to enjoy its deliciousness and share it with those around me.
In Proverbs 31: 13-21, we read of a virtuous woman who did just the opposite with her everyday resources. Her example reminds us that we must humbly steward our God-given possessions, not allowing them to be used frivolously or go to waste.
The woman was quite enterprising; she looked for wool and then worked it with “willing hands” (Proverbs 31:13).
She brought food for her family, rising early to make sure each person had what they needed.
This virtuous woman was so determined to use her resources wisely that the writer explained, “her lamp never goes out at night” (Proverbs 31:18). She knew the resources at her disposal and managed them thoughtfully and responsibly.
Cake mixes hold very little allure for me today; I see hundreds of them every time I enter a grocery store. And yet, those boxes never cease to remind me that each gift we have is meant to be used wisely for the Kingdom, not hoarded away behind a kitchen cabinet.
We have been given so much more than treats in a pantry. Whether it is skills, talents, financial blessings or even time – each is a gift from our Heavenly Father. He has entrusted us with these resources, and we are to use them responsibly, just like the woman described in Proverbs 31.

7/26/2016 7:35:34 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for August 7: Blinded

July 26 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 22:6-17
As I sat down to write this article, I saw an online article in Christianity Today (June 24, 2016) by Ed Stetzer about an upcoming legislation in California that would restrict fully faith-based education to seminaries only. This would impact all Christian colleges and universities in the state. And, in turn, it will set a precedent that will probably affect Christian colleges and universities in all states.
We are living in a day and age in America where standing for Christian values and moral values are creating opposition at all levels.
Being able to share openly without any fear of persecution and opposition may be coming to an end. Our Founding Fathers saw the importance of God in creating this nation; He is being slowly pushed out. And in turn, we may be facing opposition strictly by doing what is biblically correct.
In our lesson this week, Saul and his army were pursuing David even though he had not done anything worthy of such treatment. He went to Ahimelech, the priest, and sought supplies and aid. Ahimelech provided help. When Saul heard of it he accused Ahimelech of participating in a conspiracy against him. Because of Saul’s accusation, Saul demanded that the priests be put to death. Saul ordered his men to kill them. They, however, would not obey because the priests were the Lord’s anointed. They had chosen to obey God rather than man (see Acts 5:29).

The Bible is filled with examples of the truth that the world is not a friend of God. Often believers are called to stand up for what is right, even when everyone around them seems in opposition. The days of being looked upon favorably by the government and those around us may be ending. We need to be aware and awake to the changes happening around us, and prepare to stand for God and His Word no matter what others may do. As Southern Baptists, we are called by God to build His Kingdom. Are we willing to take a stand for Him today?

7/26/2016 7:30:55 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 31: Earn Money Productively

July 12 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Proverbs 6:6-11
Work isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.
It was a hot summer day, and I had decided to splurge for ice cream. As I approached the drive thru window to pay for my treat, the young man behind the glass observed me open my wallet and contemplate my options.
Should I hand him cash or card? I quickly chose cash and passed him my $5 bill, but he immediately voiced his disappointment. “Couldn’t you have given me the card?” he asked. “Counting change is too much work.”
After a few laughs, we struck up a conversation, and I learned my cashier was finishing high school and had grand dreams of becoming a millionaire. Subtracting pennies was not the life he wanted. Forget working – this kid had no plans for a job. He simply wanted to be rich.  
As I drove away, I was irritated by the young man’s mindset.
How could he possibly become rich if he wasn’t willing to count change? And yet, the Lord gently convicted me of own selfish tendency toward laziness. I have never dreamed of becoming a millionaire, but there are definite times I would prefer to stay in my pajamas rather than head to work.
According to Proverbs 6:6-11, work is not a curse. It is an integral part of God’s good creation. Even the tiny ants along our sidewalks are examples of the necessity and value of work as they gather food and prepare dwelling places. God encourages us to work wisely, and He also reminds us that with laziness comes consequences. When we choose not to work, quite often “poverty will come like a robber” (Proverbs 6:11).  
Work may not always be pleasant, fun or even easy, but it is something God has designed for us to do and it is often the means by which God provides for our needs.
Instead of viewing work as a terrible drudgery keeping us from enjoying life, God wants us to view work as a gift from Him and a means by which we can honor Him with our lives, even if all we are doing is counting change.

7/12/2016 10:15:49 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 31: Faithful

July 12 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 18:1-5; 20:35-42
I read the account this week about an English publication that had a contest offering a prize for the best definition of a friend. There were thousands of answers submitted. Some spoke of one who multiplies joys and divides grief.
Another submitted that a friend was a watch that beats true for all time and never runs down. Maybe you can come up with a number of ideas of what the best definition of a friend is. Webster’s dictionary defines it as a person whom one knows well and is fond of.
Today, many of us talk about the number of friends that we have on Facebook.
I looked to see what my account said I had. It says that I have 1,365 friends. That is amazing. In fact, I have never met the vast majority of them. Many became friends because of other friends that I have.
In the lesson we are studying, David had a true friend in Jonathan. From the time that David killed Goliath, Jonathan was ready to stand by his side. Jonathan was a warrior, and he saw a warrior’s heart in David.
He also saw one who would be true to him.
David and Jonathan developed a deep lasting friendship that went past family ties.
This week’s Family Memory Verse of 1 Samuel 18:3 says, “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as much as himself.”
Jonathan was willing to set aside the possibility of being the King of Israel in lieu of David becoming the king. When Saul sought to kill David, Jonathan was willing to take up for David. Later, after Jonathan met his death, David sought to find any of his kin that David could honor because of his friendship with Jonathan.
Back to the original story that we started this article with, the definition that won the prize from that English publication was that a friend was someone who comes in when the rest of the world goes out.

I think that sums it up pretty well, how about you?

7/12/2016 10:13:43 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 24: Make Agreements Cautiously

July 12 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Proverbs 6:1-5; 22:7

Avoid financial obligations that could sink you.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word slavery? Some of you may think of the Israelites, forced to build bricks and work fields in obedience to Pharaoh.
Others of you may mournfully recall the men and women torn from their homes and treated as less than human during the early years of the United States.
Then again, you could be considering the more than 35 million people enslaved today, manipulated through threats and violence and often denied basic human rights.
Slavery in every form is appalling and must be condemned by followers of Jesus as we pursue justice and fight to rescue those in need. And yet, have you ever considered that this picture of slavery, of precious humans being forced to live and work in bondage, is the exact picture used in scripture to describe living in financial indebtedness? As the author of Proverbs 22:7 states, “the borrower is a slave to the lender.”
We live in a culture where debt is expected and at times even encouraged. To acquire what we think we need to live the life we think we deserve, we borrow and spend what we do not have. According to scripture, when we do this, we are essentially choosing to live as a slave.
True, no one will beat us with whips as arrive at work tomorrow morning, but in a very real sense when we are in debt, we become the slave to the person that lent us money. Paying back what we owe takes precedence over all other opportunities.

God calls us to flee this slavery “like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand and like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:5). He has intended us for freedom – freedom to live the abundant life He promises, freedom to serve Him and freedom to use the blessings He gives us to bless those around us. Oh that we would repent of our own willingness to enslave ourselves to fulfill our own selfish desires and instead trust the One who promises to provide all we need.

7/12/2016 10:11:38 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 24: Delivered

July 12 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 17:32-37, 42-50
We are enamored with the “underdog” stories. They range from the “Hare and the Tortoise” of Aesop to the Rocky series. The main storyline is of the battle between good and evil.
However, these stories are further emblazoned with the show of sheer determination overcoming insurmountable odds. We see in the stories that life is seldom fair.
It is encouraging to see that those with ingenuity, effort and heart can sometimes overcome the odds.
We all love the idea that anyone can achieve the impossible dream, or at least exceed expectations.
One of my favorite movies is “Rudy.” This is the story of a kid whose ultimate goal is to play football for Notre Dame. Rudy has to overcome the daunting obstacles of his dyslexia and physical size, but manages to win the hearts of those around him to achieve his dreams. It is like a modern David versus Goliath.
One thing that most of these “underdog” stories are missing that the David versus Goliath account has is that the confidence of David was not in his dream, his ability, his stamina or his ingenuity.
David’s confidence was in God.
Even when Goliath taunted him in the valley, David didn’t list all of his accomplishments.
David said “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies – you have defied Him. Today, the Lord will hand you over to me” (17:45-46).
God calls His followers to be faithful and stand against those who are in opposition to God and His people.
If we are trusting in anything other than God, we are doomed to fail.
He will give His people the success that He has planned when we trust, work and give Him all the glory. Our nation can be called back to God, if His people trust Him, pray, stand and make Him known. We may feel like the “underdog,” but in Him we can see the Goliaths fall.
7/12/2016 10:09:18 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments