June 2017

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 16: God Revealed

June 27 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 19:1-14
 
Have you ever searched YouTube  for “Indescribable” or “How Great is Our God” by Louie Giglio?
 
If you do, you’ll view some amazing teaching about God and the incredible universe He has created. The pictures of the galaxy are worth the effort.
 
In Psalm 19:1-6 we see that God can be seen through His creation. God’s creation is marvelous, and it shows His might and His ability. It also reveals who He is.
 
Romans 1:20 explains, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
 
God also reveals himself through His Word. As I read through Psalm 19, the first time, I could not help but feel like I was reading the abridged version of Psalm 119, where we are taught even more about God’s teachings, precepts and laws.
 
In God’s Word we will uncover the wisdom we seek. If we will take the time and dig in to it we will discover more about the amazing character of God. We would see His love for us and discover His plans for our lives.
 
Finally we learn about God from our common daily struggles and experiences as Psalm 19:13-14 shows. Often times the more we strive to be like God the more we realize our great need for Jesus and His forgiveness.
 
There is amazing power in God’s creation and His Word. A walk in the woods, a view of the vast ocean, hearing the waves crash on each other or seeing the stars in the night sky: there are so many things about God’s creation that draw us to Him. But, nothing calls us quite the way that His Word does.
 
When we are alone in God’s presence, seeking for Him to meet us, He will show up with a fresh word of encouragement or challenge.
 

6/27/2017 8:26:10 AM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 16: First Things First

June 27 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: Haggai 1:2-13
 
There’s a popular saying that reminds us to “Put first things first.” It is a way of remembering that if we fail to keep the proper perspective on life, we can make the minor things major and the major things minor.
 
Throughout scripture, God is clear – He is to be our first priority. When anything else comes before God, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
 
Haggai lived over 500 years before Christ. He spoke to exiles who had returned to Jerusalem years after the Babylonians had destroyed the city and temple. While these exiles were busy repatriating themselves in their homeland and building their homes and working their fields, God’s house remained in ruins.
 
Haggai pointed out to the people that if they wondered why their endeavors had been met with difficulty, the answer was that they had neglected to put God first. Haggai says that attempting to work and live our life without God is like a man putting his money in a bag with a hole in it – whatever you get won’t do you any good and it will quickly be lost (Haggai 1:6). The people of God planted their seed and worked in their fields but there was no rain and little yield. However, God told them that if they would prioritize worship by building a place to worship Him, He would bless them.
 
Today, we know that God “does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48), but we must prioritize God in all things. God is to be our “first love” and He is to have “pre-eminence” (first-place) in our life. We must prioritize our relationship with God above our relationship with our spouse, children or grandchildren and before our career, pleasure or hobbies. God is a jealous God, and there is no room for anything else before or above Him.
 
Are you finding your plans and labors are often frustrated? Do you feel that there is just not enough time in the day? If so, perhaps you need to put first things first. Do you prioritize time spent with God every day? Do you prioritize obedience over pleasure? Do you prioritize Kingdom work in your giving? Do you prioritize gathering with other believers above having “your weekend”?

Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33).

6/27/2017 8:24:14 AM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 9: The Creator

June 27 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 95:1-11
 
Before the sun rose, I began the drive to my first computerized tomography (CT) scan to check for advancing cancer. I was going by myself because I thought I could handle it.
My husband wanted to go with me, but somehow I convinced him that we would need to use his vacation days later on that year. I didn’t realize how much fear I had wrapped up inside me.
 
I told God, “I can’t do this.” Then I looked up and saw a huge full moon. God’s Spirit said. “I AM a big God.” That is when I knew the God who created that huge moon could handle my cancer. I worshiped Him with songs and prayers of praise as I drove.
 
Psalm 95 encourages us to worship the Lord. The invitation is for all to come and celebrate the Lord with joy, thanksgiving and song.
 
I invite you to read through Psalm 95 and make a list of the different names of God. For instance, in verse one He is called “the Lord” and the “Rock of our salvation.” In verse three “the great God” and “the great King above all gods.”
 
What do the descriptive names of God make you think and feel?  Do they promote your heart to worship?
 
The posture of our worship will take on various forms. In corporate worship, we must be careful not to judge others who worship differently from ourselves. God is most concerned about the posture of your heart, not whether you kneel, raise your hands, close your eyes or stand still.
 
The humility of your heart in contrast to the majesty of God should allow you to take on a posture that is pleasing to Him. He longs for us to humble ourselves.
 
Today is the right time to begin worshiping the Lord. Psalm 95:7b-8 says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …” Worship the Lord today. Bless Him today with your worship for He is worthy.
 

6/27/2017 8:22:40 AM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 9: Encourage One Another

June 27 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: Acts 11:19-26
 
Group behavior is fascinating. I am always amazed when a video emerges in which acts of atrocity are committed on crowded streets. How could those who are passing by fail to act? It is evident that most of us conform to the behavior around us. Yet, when one person has the courage to step forward, others are encouraged to follow their example.
 
A similar phenomenon is described in Acts. Although Jesus commanded His disciples to be witnesses to the ends of the earth in Acts 1:8, the church only heard half of what He said and stayed around Jerusalem.
 
Just as in our own day, the early church had difficulty doing evangelism. However, God had a way of fixing the problem when He allowed persecution to come upon the believers and they were “scattered” (Acts 11:19).
 
Many of these Christians went to Antioch where they began to share Jesus. Still, they were only sharing Jesus with people who were like them. Yet, the only thing needed in Antioch was a little encouragement. When some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene arrived and started sharing Jesus (Acts 11:20), many Gentiles were saved (Acts 11:21). When we encourage lost people to follow Jesus, it encourages unbelievers and believers. Although we don’t even know the names of these believers who first started sharing Jesus with the Gentiles, their testimony encouraged believers all the way in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22).
 
The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to go see what was happening in Antioch. The Bible says that Barnabas “… encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart” (Acts 11:24). For the next year, Barnabas and Paul found fulfillment in their work by serving the Lord and serving others in Antioch.
 
This account in Acts reminds us of the importance of encouraging unbelievers to follow Christ and believers to keep walking with Him.  I have been a pastor long enough to know that we find it easier to criticize than to encourage.
 
I urge you to have the courage to lift up Jesus and build up others at your church and in your daily life. It will quickly change the climate and culture in which you live, work and worship.
 

6/27/2017 8:18:43 AM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 2: His Presence

June 13 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 84:1-12
 
I was a good teenager, but one night I left a church youth event, and after dropping off a friend at her house, I headed back into town to hang out with friends from school. No problem, I still had two hours until curfew. 
 
Except the father of the girl I dropped off called my dad and said I was on my way home. 
Since this was before everyone had a cell phone, you can imagine my dad’s worry as he searched for me not knowing where I was. When I got home, my father was both relieved and annoyed, so much so that he didn’t speak to me until the next morning. 
 
His worry had been relieved, but he was undone. From that point forward, I called before starting to drive home. Why? Because my father, who loved me, was waiting for me.
 
In the same way, the Heavenly Father wants us home and in His presence. Does your soul yearn for the courts of the Lord? Does your heart and flesh cry out for the living God? (Psalm 84:2) Is it your passion to worship the Lord? 
 
Verses five through seven point out that as we focus on God, even as we go through hard times, His strength will be ours. Praising God strengthens us and pleases Him.
 
The Psalmist seeks God’s favor through prayer. Prayer is powerful and effective. We should take it seriously. Just as I never took my earthly father’s words for granted after that night, we should also not take for granted that we can go before our heavenly Father’s throne at any time and for any reason (Hebrews 10:19-22).
 
Thankfully our Father in heaven is not searching frantically for us. He knows where we are, and He is waiting patiently for us to arrive home. 
 
He longs for us to be with Him. I can think of nothing better than being in His presence.
 

6/13/2017 9:24:14 AM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 2: Share Christ

June 13 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: John 1:35-49
 
As a child I remember my pastor, Bob Marcaurelle, always saying, “Christianity is just one generation from extinction.” He was right; we have a faith meant to be shared. 
 
We do not mind sharing good news with friends and family. We recommend restaurants, businesses, doctors and even churches if we have had a positive experience in these places or with these persons. 
 
On the other hand, many Christians say that Jesus is “the best thing that ever happened to me” but never recommend Him to a friend or family member. 
 
We must share Christ with others by telling them what He has done for us and inviting them to meet Him.
 
In just a few short verses, John the evangelist paints a picture of how we are to share Christ. 
First, John the Baptist introduces two of his disciples to Jesus (John 1:35-36). Then, one of those disciples, Andrew, introduces his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40-42). 
 
Likewise, another man, Phillip, met Jesus (John 1:43) – possibly because of the testimony of Andrew and Peter – and immediately he found his friend, Nathaniel, and introduced him to Jesus (John 1:43-46). 
 
It is clear that Christians must pass on their faith – your experience with Jesus cannot stop with you. 
 
Not long ago I had the honor of officiating at my own grandmother’s funeral. When I was a child, my grandmother shared Jesus with me and prayed that I would meet Jesus. Although she suffered from Alzheimer’s for the past decade, I will never forget her godly Christian witness for so many years. 
 
As I flipped through her worn and tattered Bible, I found where she had recorded her own testimony of faith that involved how she heard the gospel from others. On the next page, I saw my name – along with the names of my brother and cousins – along with the date of my salvation. 
 
My grandmother’s Bible reminded me that though nearly 20 centuries have passed since Jesus rose from the dead, the faith has been kept alive as it has been passed down from generation to generation. Pass it on by sharing Christ with others.
 

6/13/2017 9:22:34 AM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 25: Our Response

June 13 2017 by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passage: Psalm 138:1-8
 
When was the last time you were overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord? At the end of May, at our final Moms in Prayer group meeting for the year, we celebrated all the answers to prayer that we had seen this year. 
 
We thanked God for safety at our schools, salvations that occurred at one of our local high schools and our children’s individual victories. 
 
All the while each mom still had her own struggle going on in her family. But, we would all admit that God encouraged our hearts through our prayers of thanksgiving.
 
Psalm 138 is the perfect example of this. In verses one through three, we read David’s words of promise to thank God and to bow down to Him. 
 
Putting yourself in proper position below the mighty God is a good thing. Realizing that every perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17), and acknowledging that fact, allows you to praise Him for His goodness. We should always thank God for answering our prayers.
 
In the next three verses, David goes on to state that all the kings will bow down. This foreshadows Philippians 2:10-11 where we are told that “every knee will bow ... and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” 
 
Some will bow out of reverence and awe and still others out of fear, but all will bow down.
 Finally, David finishes this Psalm by pointing out that even if things are going wrong in life God is present with him. God will bring His purpose in your life to fruition. 
 
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
 
It is reassuring to know that God is not yet finished. 
 
When He is, His purpose for our lives will be accomplished.
 

6/13/2017 9:20:56 AM by Emily Carter, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 25: See Their Worth

June 13 2017 by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro

Focal passage: 2 Samuel 11:1-9, 14-17
 
All of us have a tendency to think we are the center of the universe. 
 
The self-absorption each of us has with ourselves explains the popularity of social media. Yet, the worst self-absorption is the kind that allows a person to value their own pleasure or interest at the expense of others. In 2 Samuel 11, we find that even David, a man after God’s own heart, was guilty of such an attitude. 
 
David looked from his palace roof upon the housetops below where he saw a beautiful woman bathing (2 Samuel 11:2). 
 
First, David was not viewing Bathsheba as another person with feelings, emotions and a family but as a sexual object that he could use for his own pleasure.
 
Second, David allowed his own desires to outweigh his responsibilities to his neighbor, his God and as king. 
 
When David learned that Bathsheba was the wife of one of his trusted soldiers, this did not prevent him from bringing her to his bedroom (2 Samuel 11:3-4). 
 
In a situation that continued to spiral downhill, David acted against Uriah by taking his wife and, eventually, his life (2 Samuel 11:14-17). The story is a sad and sobering reminder that all of us, no matter how much we love Jesus, can fail to see others as God sees them.
 
On the other hand, Christ, although He is the true center of the universe, chose to act in the interest of others. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many.” 
 
Rather than seeing others as objects to be used, God saw even in sinful humans valuable souls to be loved and cherished. 
 
Paul reminds us that all of us are to emulate Christ’s sacrificial act in the way we treat and view others: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). 
 
When we see others as Christ sees them, we will chose to act in their best interest. To start, it will mean that we see others at least as valuable and human as ourselves and practice the “Golden Rule.”
 

6/13/2017 9:19:03 AM by David Crowther, pastor, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Pittsboro | with 0 comments