June 2016

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 17: View Money Properly

June 28 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Proverbs 23:4-5; 30:5-9
Contentment and security rest in God, not in money.
Imagine you are about to scale your first climbing wall at a local gym. Slightly nervous about the dangers of dangling 50 feet in the air, you diligently inspect your harness to ensure your safety. With buckles fastened and cords tight, you bravely begin your ascent, comforted by the high quality of your security measures.
Nearing the top, you come to a disturbing realization. The hooks on your harness may appear to be perfect, but they were never connected to your partner’s rope on the ground. The impressive straps around your waist provided only a false sense of security. They were pointless, and any protection you felt during your climb was in fact a complete delusion.
Security is paramount when climbing a wall, but these gyms are far from the only places security is important. Turn on your television this evening or listen to the radio on the way home and you will inevitably be bombarded with numerous messages about finding inner peace and security. According to these voices and many others, accumulating wealth and material possessions is the ultimate key to contentment. Save for retirement and invest wisely, they tell us, because this is the only way to find peace in an ever-changing world.

According to Proverbs 23:4-5, such a strategy will always be fruitless. We should never wear ourselves out in attempt to gain riches, because all our earthly wealth and possessions will eventually disappear. While it is true that God very well may use money to provide for our needs and allow us to bless others with our abundance, trusting in money for true contentment is like placing our trust in a climbing harness without attaching it to the rope. It will inevitably end in disaster. True hope can only be found when we find our refuge in the God who made us, loves us, and promises to provide for us.

6/28/2016 8:27:16 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 17: Anointed!

June 28 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 16:4-13
Have you checked the labels on your grocery items lately? You may be getting less than you thought. According to 1992 U.S. News & World Report, some manufacturers are starting to sell us the same size packages we are accustomed to, but they are putting less of the product in the box. They are still doing that today.
For example, you used to be able to buy sugar in 5-pound bags. The last time my wife bought it at our local store, she came up short with her canning recipes.
After checking out the bag, she found that it was now a 4-pound bag. Same size bag, less sugar.
How something appears doesn’t always show us what’s really on the inside. That’s true with people as well. We can wrap ourselves up in the same packaging every day – nice clothes, big smile, friendly demeanor – yet still be less than what we appear to be. We tend to be quick to judge people by appearance, before we get to know them. In our account this week, we find that even Samuel the prophet of Israel was guilty of this.
God sent Samuel to anoint the person who would replace Saul. Anointing in the Old Testament was a rite of inauguration of a person into one of the three typical Jewish offices: Prophet, Priest or King. Samuel knew from God he was to go to the house of Jesse and anoint his son to be the next King of Israel. Apparently, not knowing which son, Samuel had some preconceived ideas of what the King would look like. However, his ideas were not God’s ideas. Samuel was looking at the outward appearance while God was concerned with the inner man. With God’s guidance, Samuel was led to a young man named David who was a man after God’s own heart. David was the king that God meant for Israel, even though the people had used their standards to choose Saul.

Waiting for God’s guidance and direction is always better than our own. We must learn to trust Him and wait on Him.

6/28/2016 8:24:27 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 10: Transformed By My Choices

June 28 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Matthew 7:13-27
Over the past several weeks, I have spent hours researching used cars on the Internet. The time has come for me to replace my vehicle, and I am diligently exploring my options. Would I prefer a manual or automatic transmission? How important is the latest technology? What color shows the least amount of dirt? How much do I want to pay? And the list goes on …
It is amazing how much time and energy I have devoted to this decision. I realize my car choice will impact the next few years of my day-to-day life, and as a result, I want to be wise and informed.  
Jesus asks his followers to make an important choice as well – not about which car (or donkey cart) to buy, but about which road to take.
Enter through the narrow gate,” Jesus declares, explaining in Matthew 7:13-14 that we must choose between two gates and the paths beyond them. One gate is broad and wide, leading to a well-traveled path, yet this path ends in destruction. The second gate, the one commended by Jesus, is narrow, giving rise to a difficult path, but it “leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:14).
This illustration reminds us that we must each make a deliberate choice to follow Jesus. Truly following the One who gave His life for us, surrendering our hopes and dreams to His Lordship, is like entering the narrow gate. It is rarely easy and can be difficult and lonely, but only on this difficult path will we ever find overflowing and abundant life.
I have invested innumerable hours in car research because I believe buying a vehicle is a significant decision. And yet, no matter what car I choose, in a few years it will be scratched up and outdated. The choice I make about my next car may be important, but it pales in comparison to the choice we must each make to follow Jesus. The choice of a new car may change my drive to work. The choice to follow Jesus will transform my eternity.

6/28/2016 8:20:56 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 10: Judged

June 28 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 15:7-15; 22-23
There is an account of a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. In a heartbroken state, he recounted how it happened. He often took his dog with him when he worked outside. That particular day he left the dog in a clearing and commanded him to stay and watch his lunchbox. The faithful dog understood and did exactly that.
As the fire spread in the woods the blaze soon spread to the clearing where the dog was. True to his nature, he did not move in obedience to his master’s word. The owner then said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.” How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!
The point in this passage of 1 Samuel is that God expects us to obey Him. We can often confuse the good for the best. Saul, in our account, wanted to worship God by offering the sheep as sacrifices to Him. It sounded like a good motive. The problem is that God had told them to destroy all things. Sacrificing to God was a wonderful worship desire. But, their disobedience negated the importance of the worship. How could they truly worship the One whom they had blatantly disobeyed?
Saul’s disobedient act would come with consequences. He would eventually lose the kingdom, and it would bring about his demise. God wants His children to learn from this account. Disobedience is sin in the eyes of God. Sin brings consequences, no matter the motive we might think we have. There can be forgiveness for the sin, but the consequences will remain. If you wreck your car while driving drunk, God will forgive the sin, but your car will still be wrecked.
We need to learn from the past accounts that God has saved in His Word to help keep us from falling in the same patterns and sins. We can be spared some very harmful results if we take His Word to heart. Obey, that’s the way.

6/28/2016 8:13:45 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 19: Transformed in My Possessions

June 6 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Matthew 6:19-24
They say you will never see a hearse towing a U-Haul, but few of us live as though we actually believe this to be true. Just consider for a moment how much we Americans love our stuff. We cram our closets, basements and attics full with stuff.
We spend hundreds of dollars on plastic bins in an attempt to neatly store our stuff. And what’s more, when there is no room left in our spacious stuff-filled homes, we rent storage units miles away in order that we might never have to part with our stuff. There is no doubt – we are people who cherish stuff!
Although I am relatively certain there were no storage facilities in the first century, I have no doubt that even then people wrestled with valuing material possessions more highly than they valued their relationship with God.
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus addresses how we determine the location of our treasure.
He explains that when our lives are focused on protecting, preserving and accumulating possessions, those temporary treasures will eventually be destroyed and we will be left with nothing.
In contrast, Jesus calls us to store treasures in heaven, explaining, “where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We are to pour out our temporal abundance for the sake of His kingdom, giving sacrificially of our money, our possessions, or our time to proclaim the Good News of Christ to those who are in need. When we treasure God and our relationship with Him above all else, we will be free to use our stuff for His glory. And when our treasure is heavenly, so too will our hearts be focused on God and our relationship with Him.
What a gift it would be on the last day of our lives here on earth to know that instead of our treasures rotting in neatly organized plastic boxes, they would be fruitfully multiplying to expand the kingdom to make Jesus known in our own neighborhoods and beyond! That would be a treasure worth preserving.

6/6/2016 8:01:54 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 19: Worthy!

June 6 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 5:1-6; 6:11-16
Do you believe that God has a sense of humor?
If God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27) and we have the ability to enjoy humor or appreciate a joke, then it makes sense that God has a sense of humor as well!
You could say we “inherited” it from our Heavenly Father.
Take a look at some of the animals God created and it becomes pretty clear that God has created some funny-looking plants and animals too. And remember when God used a donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:21-39)?
In our passage this week I believe the humor of God comes through in a subtle manner.
The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant during battle.
And, in the manner of the day, they added the Hebrew God to their regimen of gods.
They placed the Ark (symbolizing their defeat of the Hebrew God) next to their “superior” god – Dagon.
When they returned, they found the idol god Dagon on its face before the Ark. They set it back up and again it fell before the Ark, this time breaking off its head and hands.
God was saying that Dagon was powerless before Him.
We know from Paul in the New Testament tells us that “that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth …” (Phil. 2:10).
We have a vivid picture that God presented in 1 Samuel that anything elevated as equal or over God will fall.
And, if we are the one elevating this thing will find ourselves toppling before God also.
We need to join the Heavenly group in Revelation 4:11, “Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.”
Since He is Holy, we must obey Him and worship only Him. As we study the scriptures we learn how He directs us to worship Him. Join me in praising His Name today.

6/6/2016 8:00:14 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 12: Transformed in My Prayer

June 6 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Do you ever feel as though the routine of everyday responsibilities dulls your appreciation for the goodness of life? Every morning on my commute I stare out the same window, drive past the same buildings and stop at the same stop signs. To be honest, there are times when I pull into work and have no memory of how I arrived!
I think we often approach well-known sections of scripture this same way. We diligently read and treasure God’s Word, but when the verses become familiar, we allow them to lose significance in our lives.
This week’s central passage, referred to by many as The Lord’s Prayer, is a prime example. The verses are known to almost everyone who claims to be a Christian.
Over the centuries, thousands have memorized and recited them in hopes of finding comfort, blessing or security. We treasure the words, but we often stop short of allowing God to use them to transform our lives.
Matthew 6:9-15 is more than just a helpful chant. It is a priceless gift. In these verses, Jesus teaches us how to approach the God of the universe, our Heavenly Father, in prayer. Jesus doesn’t say, “recite these words,” He says, “pray this way” (Matthew 6:9).
The One who created the world loves us and wants us to talk to Him.
We are to come into God’s presence with a humble desire to worship. We are exhorted to bring our needs before Him, and we are challenged to forgive others in the same way we have been forgiven.
What an amazing opportunity to pour out our hearts to the One who made us and loves us!
For many, the message of the Lord’s Prayer has been misunderstood or forgotten. We skim over the words of Jesus in the same way that I dismiss the beauty of my early morning car ride. But this week, let’s look up over the mundane responsibilities of our lives and ask the Lord to teach us to pray in a way that honors Him.

6/6/2016 7:57:08 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 12: Called

June 6 2016 by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; 17-21
The story goes about a young man taking a Native American friend on a tour of New York City. As they were going through Times Square, suddenly the Native American stopped, turned his head, and pointed out a solitary bird in a tree.
His friend asked how he had heard it over all the noise.
The Native American took a handful of coins out of his pocket, tossed them on the sidewalk, and they noticed many people who turned their heads to see the coins. The Native American said, “It depends on what you are listening for.”
Does God still speak to His people today? I have been asked that question over and over through the years. Recently a friend asked me if God has ever spoken to me.
I had to answer him that God has never spoken audibly to me, but He often speaks to me through His Word, His followers and His directing of circumstances.
The question really should be, “Are we listening for His voice?”
God speaks to those who have prepared their ears to hear.
We too often are focused upon our own thoughts and miss the Voice of God. He primarily speaks to us today through the Bible.
And, He wants us to take this message to those around us.
We often find that the message that He speaks is hard to share with others because the words of truth are hard to swallow. However, that does not release us from the responsibility to deliver the truth.
Because Samuel in our lesson today was faithful to deliver the message that God had given him, hard as it was, he was later recognized as God’s prophet.
When God teaches us a lesson from His Word, we should take that lesson and share with those around us.
And as we are faithful in sharing, God will be faithful to His Word. It is not always easy, but it is always right.
Be as faithful as Samuel and see what God will do.

6/6/2016 7:42:46 AM by Thomas Marshall, member, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments