June 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 8: Truth or Consequences

June 21 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Judges 1:1-3:6
 
We all remember the pictures and coverage of 9/11 in our country. That day symbolized the crisis that our country is facing in the world arena today. How have we gotten from being the country that others admired and looked to, to one that has become the target of hate and distrust? How is it that other religions condemn Christianity because of us? Are we moving into that cycle that Israel faced?
 
This unit on “People in Crisis” could (should) be a massive wake-up call to Christians and the Church in America today. Just because we live in the “Age of Grace” does not negate God’s dealing with people. The Book of Judges can be relegated to the dark halls of history, pertaining to days long ago, or it can speak loudly to us today.
 
Judges is a book of cycles. Actually, the same cycle repeated over and over. The nation of Israel, under God’s favor, became strong and enjoyed peace and prosperity. Enjoying the blessing, they began to take God for granted. They took credit for it. They soon looked at other cultures as having it so good, and brought their beliefs into the land of Palestine. God loved them too much to let them continue on this path. So, He began to judge and discipline them. In small ways at first, increasing in intensity to get their attention. Since they continued on their path, ignoring God, He eventually allowed their enemies to defeat them and oppress them. They looked more to others than to God, so He allowed others to rule over them.
 
In time this oppression drove them back to God, and in His infinite love and compassion, He would send a deliverer to rescue them. And then they would begin to enjoy peace and prosperity.
 
Judges is a book of cycles. The nation of Israel, under God’s favor enjoyed peace and prosperity – and they began to take God for granted. As we look at our churches and our country today – should we take a lesson from this book and turn back before it is too late?
 
6/21/2012 2:34:58 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 8: Victorious

June 21 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Romans 7:20-8:9
 
My wife and I once made reservations for a luxurious hotel where everything should have been ready on arrival. Unfortunately, we discovered that our understanding of arrival didn’t match that of the hotel. We thought we were ready to receive our room keys when they told us we were ready to wait while they found us a room. The same can be said for any Christian who thinks he has arrived spiritually. Such a person mistakenly believes that the only thing he lacks is checking in to heaven, but there will always be struggles as long as we are in this flesh. Paul explained to the church at Rome that even a committed Christian will face the warfare between fallen flesh and a redeemed soul.
 
Many of our churches sing “Victory in Jesus,” but I wonder how often we consider what has been defeated in Christ? Paul tells us that through the finished work of Christ the Holy Spirit has delivered us from our spiritual deadness and any further futile attempts to get to God through our works.
 
Even honorable endeavors like keeping the Law fail because they are attempted in the flesh. Because we have been redeemed we can now walk by the Spirit and avoid the sinful deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). However, we must guard ourselves against quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or we will slide back into fleshly living.
 
What’s wrong with the average church business meeting? It has become a stage for unbelievable carnality. Where are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? When we choose to walk in the flesh we cannot dismiss it based on personality, family tree, etc.
Paul pulls no punches when he tells us that a carnal mind is hostile toward God, cannot submit to God, and cannot please God.
 
In other words, when we operate in the flesh we act like lost people! May we say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a). May our living match our baptismal profession of new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-7).  
 
6/21/2012 2:33:53 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 1: The Decision Dare

June 18 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Joshua 23:1-24:33
 
I remember reading about a young man who was talking to his girlfriend on the phone. She had asked him if he really truly loved her. He replied to her that he did with his whole being. She asked if he was coming over Saturday? He told her he would climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest sea, battle the fiercest beast, and break down the toughest barrier to be with her. Yes, he would be there Saturday – if it didn’t rain.
 
We laugh, yet often we can see ourselves as this young man. We make commitments, but discover that they are shallow.
 
We do this with other people and it’s wrong. But we also do this with God, and that is worse.

Each and every day we are faced with many choices. A recent TV ad says we are faced with 35,000 choices each day – from getting up each morning to what we will eat, or the clothes we will wear, and then the choices at work, school and in our homes. Some of these choices are minor and do not have any major consequences.
 
Others impact our lives for years to come.
 
One choice that makes a major impact is what one does with Jesus Christ.
 
This not only affects today, but all eternity. In these lessons of being daring in leadership, faith, accountability, loyalty and decisions, this one is vital. We must seek to dare to decide for Christ.
 
First, this entails a person making a decision to accept the free gift of salvation and forgiveness offered by God. When one does this they demonstrate courage in taking a stand for Jesus.
 
However, it does not end with that one decision. That is the start of the daily decisions that one must make to follow Jesus as He guides us in this life and eternity.
 
Because it is easy to make a shallow commitment like the young man at the start of this article, we must daily count the cost as Joshua challenges in Joshua 24:15c (HCSB) – “As for me and my family we will worship Yahweh.”
6/18/2012 4:09:06 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 1: Free

June 18 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: John 16:5-15
 
When my mother graduated from high school the class sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Although the song was a hit it never mentioned who would walk with us. Thankfully Jesus has identified our Comforter. Lost people may say that they would follow Jesus if they could see Him, but true believers know that they are temples of the Holy Spirit Who lives within them. In fact, the greatest counsel we receive from the Holy Spirit comes through the assurance of our salvation: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
 
Lack of conviction concerning the things of God is one of the clearest evidences that a person is not in Christ. A person may say all the right things and attempt to work in Jesus’ name, yet be devoid of conviction regarding his own sin, lack of righteousness, and coming judgment.
 
A fellow layman once told my father that there are only two kinds of people who don’t make mistakes: one is in the cemetery and the other is sitting in the corner doing nothing. While this analysis is true regarding outward sins of commission, it doesn’t speak to sins of the heart and mind or sins of omission. The Holy Spirit convicts us not only of sin (what we need to stop doing), but also of righteousness (the things we need to do to bear spiritual fruit). Although we anticipate Judgment Day, we are warned to approach the day with fear and trembling because each one will be “recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). 
 
The Holy Spirit has been blamed for an abundance of heresy and disobedience. However, Jesus reminds us that the Spirit is not self-glorifying but always pointing us to Christ. Some spiritual claims are like a cheap compass. It appears to point north but a comparison with true north shows the compass to be faulty. May we base our ministries on the interworking of the Word of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
 
6/18/2012 4:07:42 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 24: The Loyalty Dare

June 7 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Joshua 13:1-22:34
 
During the mid-20th century one of the most well-know logos was the one used by RCA Victor Recordings. It was a picture by an English artist Francis Barraud of a dog listening to a recording of his owner’s voice. The dog’s master had died, and every time they played a record of his master’s voice, the dog would go and sit in front of the gramophone and listen.
 
This is a picture of what true life-long loyalty is like. It didn’t matter that the dog couldn’t see his master’s face; as long as he heard the voice he would sit and listen. This is a vivid and challenging picture for those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Master.
 
God has given us a recording of His voice in the Bible. When we open it’s pages we get to hear His wonderful voice speaking directly to us.
 
Yet it seems that the dog mentioned above had more sense and loyalty to it’s earthly master than we do to our precious Lord and Savior.
 
True loyalty is not a short-term arrangement. True loyalty doesn’t hinge upon whether we like what we hear. It is consistent at all times.
 
Today, people base loyalty on what is convenient for them. If they are happy, content, and having all their needs met – then they will be loyal.
 
We all know people, who, when things are not going the way they like at church just go down the road to the next one. Soon, things don’t go their way at that one either.

Sadly we can share stories of people who have been committed servants of Christ after many years of service just gave up and quit. Most of the time it is over trivial issues.
 
Caleb in our lesson today was promised by Moses an inheritance in the Promised Land.

He held on to that promise throughout the 40 years of wandering. He never lost faith in God, and even after all those years, he stayed loyal to God. Today, find a senior saint who has stayed loyal and thank them.
6/7/2012 2:09:04 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 24: What Is Your Decision?

June 7 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Malachi 3:13-4:6
 
“What’s in it for me?” Israel asked that question in Malachi’s day, and many Christians today are tempted to do likewise. Programs and dreams of prosperity can cause us to think that the Christian life is about How God and His church can serve us. Like John the Baptist (John 3:30), we must make it our desire to give Jesus a higher place in our lives as we become less. When we do so, the question becomes, “What’s in it for Him?” By seeking God’s glory our spiritual priorities are properly aligned and we discover that His glory blesses us beyond any paltry thing we would seek on our own. He saved us to glorify Him!
 
The Bible reminds us as Christians that we are God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9). As a child of the 80s, I saw certain teen girls wearing airbrushed t-shirts with slogans like, “Property of Billy.” Amazingly, a few weeks later the same girl might be wearing a new shirt declaring a new owner. Before we knew Christ, we had a tendency to sell ourselves to the world’s highest or most influential bidder. When God saved us, our title was transferred for the last time. We belong to God through the saving work of Jesus. We know this not because of a shirt, bumper sticker, or crossed fingers, but because of the fruits of new life in Christ.
 
For Israel in Malachi’s day, true believers’ lives were marked by spiritual discernment and preparation for judgment. They rejected wickedness and anticipated God’s reward of His faithful followers. Believers hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him (John 10:27).
 
Although we live in a time that prizes the bigger, better thing, God continually calls us back to the timeless truths of His Word. Malachi’s contemporaries were directed back to the ancient law of Moses, and told that God would once again send Elijah to call God’s people to repentance and restore their broken relationships. John the Baptist would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13), calling God’s people to repentance and rolling out the red carpet for the Lamb of God Who would provide redemption from sin.
6/7/2012 2:07:36 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 17: The Accountability Dare

June 4 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Joshua 7:1-12:24
 
You see on a lot of commercial vehicles a sign that reads, “How’s my driving?” and includes a phone number. This is supposed to keep the driver accountable. I was reading that in Ireland they have a number of roundabouts instead of traffic lights. People are very courteous and let others in. That is, except for one group they call the “white van men.”
 
They drive unmarked white company vans, and they don’t care what havoc they may cause. Because without a company name or logo, they are anonymous. If God were to place a sign on your back that asked, “How am I living?” what would people say about you?
 
Our culture today (and sadly to say, even the church) has lost a sense of what sin is. The world is constantly seeking to relabel what the Bible calls sin as an illness of genetic defect. Why? Because if the person is “diseased” or has a genetic defect, then what they do is not their fault. They can’t be held accountable for it, can they?
 
Actually, in a sense the Bible pictures us as having a genetic defect – we have a sin nature given to us by our parents. We are born with this malignant growth that resists anything done to it. The only solution is to take it seriously and seek the only true course of treatment that will eventually eradicate it.
 
A person can deny that they have a malignant growth, however denial will not change the course of the disease.
 
Denying our sin nature will not change the results of our destination. It is only when a person accepts the diagnosis and course of treatment that change can come about.
 
Only when we accept God’s diagnosis can we go to the Great Physician and find the final cure.
 
The cure of our disease is very costly. And there is only one physician capable of providing the cure. We must accept the responsibility and become accountable to God – and His remedy. We are held accountable for the choice we make. Accept the cure, or pay the consequences.
6/4/2012 2:57:18 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 17: How Do You Treat God?

June 4 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Malachi 2:7-3:12
 
When an enjoyable task becomes wearisome, we’re probably not doing it correctly. I’ve always struggled to have good form as a swimmer. Consequently, I’ve never enjoyed swimming very much because for me it’s work and not relaxation. While serving the Lord doesn’t always give us comfort or relaxation, it should always bring joy to our hearts. If we sink into “Gloom, Despair, and Agony, O Me” as our Christian theme song, we’ve obviously lost the joy of serving the Lord. Just as a flawed piece of glass gives a distorted view, a sinful life will be marked by a warped view of the high calling of serving Christ. If we take up this attitude we must pray with David, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12a).
 
Malachi declared that God, as a result of His mercy, would not destroy His people but would refine them and cleanse them so that they would once again bring glory to Him. Revival would come via repentance.
 
As a loving parent, God loves His children even in their disobedience and blesses them with undeserved mercy instead of wrath. Yet God’s love is not a license for sin. The people of God must show through repentance that they belong to Him.
 
Israel showed its lack of repentance by robbing God. Cheating on your income taxes is easier to conceal than walking out of the grocery store with a stolen ham, but it is still theft. Christians can attempt to cover their spiritual robbery by saying, “I gave an offering,” when they actually gave God the unwanted leftovers. We can rob God through a variety of means, including keeping money, time, or gifts that should be used for His glory.
 
When we meditate on Paul’s plea to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), we realize that God owns all we possess.
 
Consequently, as Randy Alcorn says, the tithe is the floor, not the ceiling. Any time we cling to possessions we forget that the church should be characterized by self-denial and a willingness to give up everything to serve Christ.
6/4/2012 2:53:22 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments