July 2019

Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 11: Living with Opposition

July 26 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 1:1-5; 10-16
 
During my ministry I’ve heard many errors stated by church members and attenders: I’d like to be baptized so I can go to heaven; I grew up in church so I know I’m a Christian; God made me this way, so how I feel about myself must be OK; suicide is the unforgivable sin; if I just have faith and pray enough, then God will give me my dreams; I don’t believe God will let those who have never heard the gospel go to hell.
 
Look at the statements closely.
 
They, along with many others I could’ve mentioned, are false claims built upon false teaching that is all too prevalent in today’s churches.
 
In Paul’s pastoral epistles, he charged Timothy and Titus to know biblical doctrine and to teach it well because of the theological errors that abounded then and continue today. But if we teach the Bible as God’s inerrant truth, then we can expect opposition. We can expect to find theological error taught by former pastors, Sunday School teachers, traveling preachers, student camp pastors and television evangelists.
 
I’m not saying that everyone you listen to preaches error or that every error you might hear is a distortion of the gospel that requires immediate and direct correction. But I am saying that a healthy diet of sound doctrine will confront false beliefs and may even instigate theological conflict in the classes you teach and the churches where you preach.
 
Gospel preaching and orthodox theology are not always popular. Paul, Timothy and Titus faced opposition; we will also. That is why we must be students of the Word, interpreting the Bible correctly and faithfully exhorting those around us with the truth.
 
When we face deceivers and opposition by those who are in theological error we “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,” and “give instruction in sound doctrine” and “rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

7/26/2019 11:43:22 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 11: Worship Continually

July 26 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 15:10-19
 
What do you think about when you hear the word worship? For some, that word brings to mind a particular kind of music. For many, the word worship brings up the idea of a corporate gathering that includes music, money and preaching.
 
In many cases, a discussion of worship begins with pointing back to the definition of the old English word meaning to give worth or value to something. While that background can be helpful, it is inadequate. For one thing, we cannot give value to God. His worth is unlimited and incalculable. For another thing, the authenticity of our worship is not determined as much by the value we claim to see in God, but rather the response of our lives in complete surrender and obedience to the One who has ultimate worth. While Asa called the people of Israel to covenant renewal and to a corporate gathering of worshipping God, Asa’s true worship of God was illustrated in all he did outside that gathering as well. His commitment to tearing down places of pagan worship and destroying pagan idols, even those tied to his own family, demonstrated that God had ultimate value to Asa and first place in all his life.
 
Our worship together as the people of God should be a gathered expression of the worship illustrated by our lives every day. I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he commanded the believers in Rome to “present [their] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable act of worship” (Romans 12:1b). Our most clear act of worship is complete surrender and obedience to the One we claim has ultimate worth and first place in our lives. That doesn’t just happen on Sunday. Our words and actions at work should be our response to the worthiness of God. Our willingness to share Christ with those we meet must show that God’s worthiness is of far greater value than our comfort.
 
What does your daily worship – illustrated through surrender and obedience – say about your view of His worth?

7/26/2019 11:38:59 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Aug. 4: Enduring

July 23 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-8
 
If we will listen, there are Christians all around the world who can give us insights into an enduring faith. For some Chinese pastors, the seminary of imprisonment is required before one can pastor a congregation. For Christians in Muslim nations, conversion means at least being abandoned and shamed by one’s family – possibly martyred.
 
While Western Christianity has not faced such open hostility, contemporary morals have shifted so as to be in direct opposition to clear biblical preaching.
 
In the latter part of his second letter to Timothy, Paul defended the authority of scripture, reminded Timothy of the opposition he was sure to face and commended him to preach the word. Paul’s admonitions are just as true today.
 
Those of us preaching and teaching the word will give an account before its Author as to the veracity and consistency of our preaching and teaching with the Word of God.
 
Earlier this year, I preached a series of sermons on the gospel and human sexuality. Some in our community heard about the series and before I even preached a sermon, they condemned it through social media. This experience reminded me that God’s Word has never been popular.

There will always be people to discount and dismiss the Bible.
 
Biblical ethics will always run counter to self-centered morality.
 
In that sense, the experience of Paul and Timothy under Roman cultural mores are little different than the experience of gospel preachers in today’s America. But we must not fail or falter.
 
For we will not answer to the culture. And we will not ultimately answer to our churches. But we will answer to the One who wrote the Bible.
 
And He is looking for preachers and teachers who endure angst, anger and persecution to communicate the truth of the gospel.

7/23/2019 11:39:51 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Aug. 4: Act with Courage

July 23 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 15:1-9
 
Pastoral ministry can be really hard. In fact, there are all kinds of situations that church members, pastors and others face that would be humanly impossible to deal with if God were not supplying that strength and courage that only He can give. Those times demand that you recognize and depend on God’s strength and walk in a courage that only He can give.
 
The more dangerous times, however, are when things seem to be going smoothly.
 
In those times, it is easy to become complacent, or self-confident, rather than continuing to walk in faith and obedience. It is not a courage based on your own strength, but on God’s strength and faithfulness.
 
Asa had walked faithfully with God. Chapter 14 shows his willingness to go beyond all that the previous kings had done in removing idolatry and trusting God to provide for and protect His people.
 
God had blessed that faithfulness, as He promised in Deuteronomy 28-29. Now God sent the prophet Azariah (only mentioned here in the scripture) to King Asa to challenge him not to become complacent or over-confident, but rather to go on walking in obedience and in the courage that comes from knowing God is sovereign and in control.
 
Asa would heed the word of the Lord through the prophet. He walked in God-given courage and went to even greater lengths to lead the nation away from anything that was not pleasing to God, removing any remaining idols and repairing the altar of God.
 
This lesson is not just important for pastors and leaders. It is important for all followers of Jesus. God, in Christ, has overcome even our greatest enemies – sin and death. His Spirit now lives within us to empower us and give us the power and courage to walk in faith and obedience to Him. Whether in good times or challenging times, our need is the same – to walk in dependence on, and courage from, our great and powerful and faithful God.

7/23/2019 11:37:28 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 28: Diligent

July 16 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:14-26
 
As Paul continues in chapter 2, he uses the language of reminder. It amazes me that much of the Christian experience is not novel, rather it is repetitive. We don’t graduate from the gospel. The gospel is our entry into the Christian faith, but it is also the conduit toward spiritual maturity.
 
Paul uses three more metaphors to conclude the chapter. These metaphors emphasize our responsibility to apply the gospel to our daily lives.
 
We need to embrace the diligence of a faithful student who correctly interprets God’s Word.
 
We need to embrace the holiness of an honorable vessel who shuns youthful sins.
 
We need to embrace the gentleness of a servant who teaches the truth while avoiding unnecessary quarrels.
 
Diligence is the key quality in these metaphors.
 
Paul charged Timothy to teach the gospel. The student, the vessel and the servant must diligently pursue gospel understanding and gospel clarity. The challenge of any church, any pastor and any teacher within the church is clarity about the gospel.
 
Today’s church faces the prospects of gospel distortions – prosperity gospel theology, moralistic preaching, manipulated responses and easy believism. Today’s church also faces the prospects of theological divisions on tertiary issues. It is the task of the pastor and church leaders to remain diligently focused on the primary goal of the church – communicating the gospel of Jesus and training others in the gospel.
 
Paul highlights one of the primary pastoral tasks: discernment in gospel teaching. Paul challenged Timothy to recognize distortions, divisions and distractions that will hamper the church in its mission. Diligence in study, holiness and gentleness is the means by which followers of Jesus will be able to discern these issues and remain faithful to the gospel.
7/16/2019 12:20:11 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 28: Depend on God

July 16 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 14:9-15
 
In a previous lesson I mentioned doing a preceptorship as a part of my nursing training. During that time, I would work with a practicing nurse, watching what he did to take care of patients. He would gradually hand over more and more responsibility to me until, finally, I was ready to take care of patients on my own. I could always call on him when I needed him for something, but the expectation was for me to do things on my own.
 
Many people treat their relationship with God like that. They think that spiritual maturity is growing to the point of doing more and more on their own. In reality, spiritual maturity is not becoming less and less dependent on God, but rather growing more and more in our dependence on Him.
 
We must daily train ourselves to depend on, trust in and walk with Him. We must never see Him simply as our “safety valve” to call on when we get ourselves in over our head. Through consistent prayer and submission, we must keep ourselves in a posture of dependence. That way, when a major crisis arises, we will run the well-trod path to our Father we depend on, rather than responding in our flesh and our own strength, trying to work it out on our own until we become totally desperate.
 
King Asa was faced with an impossible situation, humanly speaking, facing an army twice his size. Rather than slinking into hopelessness or trying to walk in self-reliance, he responded by taking his situation to God in prayer. He acknowledged that God is the one to whom every person should turn - those with great strength and those with none. He helps “the mighty and those without strength.”
 
He calls each to depend on Him.
 
Have you established the daily pattern of depending on God as you submit to Him and seek Him in prayer? Have you beaten down that daily path such that when difficulty comes, you will do what you’ve trained your heart to do, call out to the one on whom your life depends?

7/16/2019 12:17:58 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 21: Focused

July 16 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
 
Paul begins chapter 2 with his restatement of our disciple-making mission, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
 
In order to lead others to follow Jesus, we need strength and grace. We also need focus. Paul uses six metaphors in chapter 2 to illustrate the focus and diligence we need to teach others to live and share the gospel.
 
The first three metaphors are found in verses 1-7.
 
We need the dedication of soldiers, the integrity of athletes and the hard work of farmers.
 
As we reflect the gospel personally and teach the gospel to others, we must engage in this task well.
 
If soldiers can be dedicated to their commanding officer to the point of suffering and death, then followers of Jesus must be equally dedicated to their Lord and Savior.
 
If athletes can compete according to the rules in order to win, then followers of Jesus must faithfully train themselves and others in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If farmers can labor early, long and late in order to have fruitful crops, then followers of Jesus must labor in the strength and grace of Christ and expend themselves for the gospel.
 
Each of these metaphors implies focus.
 
Soldiers, athletes and farmers are judged based on short moments of glory: the battle for the soldier, the event for the athlete and the crops for the farmers.
 
But the quality of those fleeting moments is forged by their focus during the drudgery of suffering, preparation and hard work.
 
May we be so focused on the gospel. 

7/16/2019 12:15:26 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 21: Pursue Godliness

July 16 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 14:1-8
 
I would likely never make the decision to run in a race. When I was young, my dad said they should track my speed with a calendar.
 
However, if I made the commitment to run a race, I recognize some significant things would have to change. I would have to exercise to get in shape. I would have to change my diet – no more Nutty Buddy® wafer bars.
 
I would have to take off my blue jeans and flip flops and put on running shorts and shoes.

King Asa recognized that committing to truly follow after God meant surrendering completely – being “all in.” 

There was no room for tolerating idolatry or other sin.
 
Therefore, he tore down the high places and altars that opened the door to false worship. Truly honoring God required intentional pursuit and action.
 
Such is the same for us today. While we can only receive salvation and follow God by grace through faith in Christ, we are called to work out our salvation – also by grace through faith – with fear and trembling. Part of the pursuit of godliness is putting off every kind of hindrance that gets in the way of loving God completely and following God obediently.
 
Thus the writer of Hebrews admonishes his readers, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
 
Are you walking by faith and pursuing godliness? If so, what things are you having to tear down? Is social media or television hindering your pursuit of godliness? Will you tear them down? Are you demonstrating a singular worship of God by how you spend your time and money? A life of godliness doesn’t happen accidentally. We must pursue it, even as the Holy Spirit does His work in us, making us look more like Jesus. Will you commit to doing whatever it takes to follow God and to pursue godliness for His glory?

7/16/2019 12:12:40 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments