June 2019

Explore the Bible Lesson for July 14: Confidence

June 27 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 1:3-14
 
From the confines of a small, dark, damp prison cell in the heart of Rome, Paul penned the words of what is likely his last letter before his death. Considering the context, Paul’s letter is a beautiful testimony to God’s provision as well as a glorious challenge to its readers.
 
Paul invested time, effort, energy, lessons, encouragement, example, teaching and suffering into his young protégé, Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy to secure the young pastor’s confidence in God’s Word and to emphasize the blessing and the burden of the entrusted gospel.
 
The gospel is a glorious burden. We have it – not to hoard – but to share. The gospel is an unimaginable blessing – life, hope, peace, eternity and privilege. The gospel provides us confidence in our spiritual lives.
 
Following are just a few of the reasons we can have confidence in God and His gospel drawn from the text:

  • Because the gospel is shared relationally (Timothy’s grandmother, mother and Paul), our confidence grows from interdependence not self-sufficiency.

  • Because God gifts us and empowers us, our confidence develops from God, not ourselves.

  • Because God strengthens in suffering, our confidence does not have to be shattered by our circumstances.

  • Because the gospel comes by grace, our confidence does not rest in our own works or own level of righteousness.

  • Because we have the Holy Spirit, our confidence comes directly from God.

Essentially, Paul reminds young Timothy of the difficult times, worries, insecurities and challenges that are sure to come. Yet those hindrances pale in comparison to the promises and hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, when you are tempted to be uncertain or fearful, don’t look inward (at your own imperfections) or outward (at the difficulty of the circumstances) but rather look upward (at the God of the gospel) who grants us confidence.

6/27/2019 1:13:51 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 14: Mentoring: How to Equip and Encourage Others

June 27 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-2; 3:10-17
 
I was a Registered Nurse before I was a pastor. In my final semester of nursing school, I had to do a preceptorship. I came alongside a particular practicing nurse.
 
He trained me using a specific set of standards – standard nursing practice and hospital specific standards. He would show me what to do. Then, he would let me do it while he watched.
 
Finally, he would release me to do it on my own. In a sense, I was his disciple – learning, watching, growing and doing.  
 
Paul did the same for Timothy, his son in the faith.
 
After leading him to Christ, he walked with him, taught him and sent him to go and do the same thing with others.
 
Paul and Timothy weren’t just “hanging out.” They were “hanging out with a purpose.”
 
Paul brought Timothy close, in the context of relationship, for the purpose of helping him to grow in Jesus and to then be sent out to serve Jesus by making future generations of disciples.
 
Notice at least four generations of disciples in 2 Timothy 2:2 – Paul, Timothy, those Timothy will teach and those they will then go and teach.
 
Paul’s discipling of Timothy was not based on Paul’s ideas or preferences, but rather on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul was discipling Timothy by teaching him to “observe all that [Christ] commanded” (Matthew 28:19). Timothy would then go and do the same.
 
There is no room in following Jesus for spiritual “Lone Rangers.” We all need others to help us grow. We need to help others grow as well.
 
Do you have someone discipling/mentoring you toward following Jesus? If not, pray for God to help you find someone.
 
Watch for someone whose life speaks, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
 
Ask them if they would walk along with you and help you to grow in knowing and obeying Jesus. Then, ask God to show you someone for whom you can do the same, for His glory and the advance of His Kingdom.

6/27/2019 1:12:09 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for July 7: Lasting Investments

June 25 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
 
Contentment is a biblical expectation, but contentment is not the driving force in contemporary economics. The driving force in our economic system is to get people to spend money.
 
Commercials, advertisements and companies promise that the next car, phone, tablet or item will make your life easier, better or more fruitful.
 
I imagine that your experience is like mine.
 
The next, the new, the better is good for a little while, but it eventually slows down, breaks or loses its novelty. Then we are tempted to try the next new thing.
 
Paul warned the young pastor Timothy against discontentment, envy and the pursuit of more. One of the signs of personal godliness is the willingness to be content with whatever God has given us and not be driven to pursue more and more and more.
 
Why does Paul give these warnings and commendations? He wants Timothy and the readers of this letter to know what truly lasts.
 
Wealth and luxury are fleeting. At best they last a lifetime.
 
Only what we do with what we have and how we live our lives will last eternally. When we “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness,” we focus on character traits that invest in heavenly rewards.
 
But let’s not misquote Paul here. Money is not the root of all evil.
 
Rather, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” If we let money drive us and use us, it becomes our idol. And we don’t have to be super-wealthy for money to become an idol.
 
Yet, if we use the money (things) God has blessed us with for the pursuit of godliness and God’s glory, then we are making an investment that will last.
 
Don’t be used by your wealth or desires. Rather, use them for the glory of Christ.

6/25/2019 11:19:39 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for July 7: The Samaritan Woman: Faith Worth Sharing

June 25 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: John 4:10-18, 28-30
 
There are few things more exciting than watching new life shine forth from a new follower of Jesus. I had the privilege of leading a man to Christ just a couple of months ago. I met him the next evening to begin discipling him and was encouraging him to begin to tell others about how Jesus had changed his life.
 
He quickly replied, “I just did that last night!”
 
He then proceeded to tell me about a guy he saw who was sitting alone and who seemed to be really down. He said, “I just went over and started talking to him. I told him about what my life had been like and how it was different now. I even gave him the little booklet [3 Circles tract] that you gave me.”
 
No one had yet told my new brother that he should share Jesus with others. I didn’t have to. He encountered the living Lord, received life in Christ and couldn’t help but talk about it.

Such was the case with the Samaritan woman.
 
In the midst of her sin, which separated her from God and others, she encountered Jesus Christ. She came to draw physical water from a well, but instead received living water from Jesus and received new life in Him. What happened next? She ran back to her village and said, “You’ve got to come meet this One that I have come to know.”
 
Jesus had not taught her any evangelism strategies, methods or programs. He just gave her new life, and she had to share it.
 
That’s how God’s Kingdom growth plan works. He transforms lives as people repent, believe the gospel and then He sends them to carry this gospel message of a life-giving Lord to others.
 
I don’t mean to suggest that evangelism training is unimportant. It is very important.
 
However, we should never use “I need more training” as an excuse for not sharing what we already know.
 
Has Jesus changed your life? Are you being intentional about sharing Him with others?

6/25/2019 11:15:35 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 30: Being Responsible

June 19 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 5:1-8; 17-21
 
On Sunday morning before our worship services, several deacons gather in my office to pray. Nearly every week, one particular deacon arrives in my office with an update and a prayer request from the church members he is responsible for. He’s called them, prayed with them, visited them and is ready to share with us what is going on in their lives. He’s fulfilling his calling as a deacon.
 
As Paul detailed to Timothy the care of widows and elders in the church, he brought attention to one of the pastor’s key responsibilities. The pastor is the overseer of church ministry.
 
Whether it involves music, ministry, pastoral care, preaching, the nursery, evangelism and so on, it is the pastor(s) or elder(s) who are responsible to make sure that church ministry happens and that people are cared for.
 
That doesn’t mean that the pastor is the only one to do the ministry. Rather, he is to oversee the ministry of others within the congregation for the care of the congregation.
 
Evidently, Timothy’s church was experiencing some controversies regarding how widows were cared for. This type of conflict was also what led the first church to select deacons (see Acts 6:1-7). Being responsible for ministry means knowing what is going on, thinking through controversies, listening to others and developing solutions that reflect love and compassion.
 
Being responsible does not mean always being in control or having to have things your own way. For a pastor to be pleasing to Christ, he must make time for study and preparation in the preaching and teaching ministry (5:17-18). But he cannot neglect the oversight of other ministries.
 
Pastors who bear their responsibility well will lead others to serve and lean on servant leaders to minister to others. If you are pastor, heed Paul’s advice here. If you are a church member, ask your pastor how you can help bear the burden of ministry in your church.

6/19/2019 10:05:10 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Less for June 30: The Poor Widow: Faith that Gives

June 19 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: Luke 12:13-21; 21:1-4
 
In cultures of plenty, like ours, it is easy to forget key truths. First, we forget where all that we have comes from, acting like our material possessions have come simply from our own hard work. Second, we forget what “needs” are, confusing them with “wants.” Third, we forget that material things are one day going to burn and will not last for eternity.
 
These “forgets” happen because we so easily take our eyes off of God and put them on material things. When we do, we have a distorted view of God and material things. Such a distorted view will often result in us holding onto material things and using God, rather than holding onto God and using material things for His glory through sacrificial giving.
 
When we recognize that God is the giver of all we have, we don’t mind giving away what He has given to us.  If He can provide what we need once, He can and will do it again. Such was the faith response of the poor widow who “gave all she had.” She gave out of worship and obedience. God had enabled her to give because He had given her something to give.
 
This reminds me of the believers in Macedonia that Paul holds up as an example to the Corinthians – “… for in a severe test of affliction … they gave … beyond their means” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).
 
Their faith had been tested by their own current hardship, but they demonstrated faith to give, in spite of that hardship. They gave because God had given to them, and they wanted God to use them to bless those who were lacking in Jerusalem.
 
A rightly ordered faith in God through Christ results in at least three key things: an eternal view of life; contentment in what He has provided; and, a readiness to give sacrificially as He has so richly given to us.
 
I have seen this lived out in many places around the world where believers have almost nothing. May God give us the grace to walk this way, and give this way, as well.

6/19/2019 10:01:53 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 23: Staying On Course

June 19 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-13
 
Doctors receive a lot of education. Rightly so. They practice medicine with the aim of helping and treating diseases and ailments of the body and mind. I want my doctors to be well-read, well-studied and diligent life-long learners. After all, they are to assess my health and well-being. In other words, I would like them to have applied themselves well and studied very hard in medical school. I don’t want a doctor who had the typical study habits of a high school student. I want my doctors to have advanced study skills.
 
Do your spiritual study habits and skills reflect the advanced study of doctors or the distracted study of a typical high school student? Too many of us today are easily distracted. We are losing the ability to think deeply and concentrate intently. With technology and social media controversies merely fingertips away deep concentration and application of God’s Word is often neglected.
 
While the categories and controversies might be different, Timothy’s challenge was no less important. Legalism and theological minutia were distracting the leaders of the church and tempting Timothy to be distracted. Paul admonished his protégé to point out the truth, give attention to teaching the word and train others in the truth. Paul taught that staying the course of Christian ministry was hard work that required discipline, effort and attention. As Paul finished this thought to Timothy, he encouraged him to pay close attention to himself and to his teaching.
 
Paul’s advice is astonishingly simple and powerful. If we are to stay the course in our ministries and callings, we will not do so by flirting with controversies, by succumbing to distractions or by getting too close to temptations. Rather, staying the course requires attentiveness to our theology and to our Christian living.
 
Many begin the Christian journey well. But those that end well are attentive to God’s Word in study and application. 

6/19/2019 9:59:41 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Less for June 23: Abigail: Intervening Faith

June 19 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Samuel 25:2-3, 14-17, 23-28, 32-35
 
I remember well a spring afternoon in high school. Rumors had been flying about a fight that was going to happen after school. One guy had been talking with another’s girlfriend and now he had to pay. The rumors proved true.
 
As the young man came out of the building, the boyfriend was waiting on him. What was about to happen was obvious, and we knew it was wrong. And yet, no one intervened. No one gave a warning or stepped in to talk the boyfriend down. As a result, one young man ended up in the hospital with a concussion, and the other faced criminal charges.
 
Those preventable outcomes happened because no one intervened.
 
This week’s lesson is once again about faith. In this case, it is specifically about a faith that intervenes; intervenes in a way that is for our fellow mankind’s good and for God’s glory.
 
Nabal had lived up to his name, acting foolishly by withholding provisions from David and his men, despite the fact that David and his men had protected Nabal’s wealth and livelihood.
 
David was about to take rash action – planning to kill Nabal and his men. Abigail’s faith in God and love for others drove her to action – sparing the life of her foolish husband and sparing David from the life-long consequences of a foolish response.
 
When facing difficult situations that require confrontation, the easy response, in order to avoid personal conflict, is to do nothing. However, as is often the case, the easy response is not necessarily the right response.
 
Because we love God and His truth, we should desire what God desires. Because we love our fellow man as ourselves, we should desire what will be for his good and for God’s glory. That will sometimes call on us to take intervening action, even at the personal risk of embarrassment, conflict or harm.
 
Does your faith in God sometimes drive you to intervene, for the good of others and the glory of God?

6/19/2019 9:56:42 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 16: Setting the Example

June 3 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
 
Good leaders prioritize well, execute tasks and communicate vision. Great leaders set an example for others.
 
First Timothy 3 outlines the expectations for the two offices in the church – pastors and deacons. In my experience in church life, I’ve heard many stories and watched many pastors.

Sometimes churches treat pastors and other leaders unfairly. Sometimes pastors and church leaders fail to lead by example and damage their churches.
 
Paul describes for Timothy the character of those who will lead the church in the role of elder and those who will serve the church in the role of deacon.
 
When viewed as a list of character traits for church leaders, I think we get the correct interpretation for who elders and deacons are to be.
 
Competencies matter for pastors and deacons, but competencies alone do not qualify one for office.
 
In a conversation recently, a pastor friend shared that a nearby church called a man because they “liked the way he talked.”
 
But now the church is divided, and it is possible the pastor will resign soon. Character counts.

Pastors and deacons must exhibit godly character because they are to set an example.
 
I’ve always believed that the best pastors will be good husbands and fathers who admit their flaws and imperfections but strive for holiness.
 
The same could be said of deacons and any other church leader for that matter.
 
One’s ability to communicate or teach is important, but dishonesty, immorality or arrogance will undercut one’s credibility in an instant.
 
To church members, have high expectations first for the character of your leaders, then explore his competencies. To church leaders, prioritize your character. Submit yourself to the Word of God. Pursue personal accountability. Learn from your critics. Seek to become like Jesus.
 
Then, by all means, improve your competencies. But beware lest your competencies and gifts take you farther than your character can keep you.

6/3/2019 11:17:25 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 16: Hannah: Faith that Prays

June 3 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 1 Samuel 1:1-2, 9-11, 17-18, 26-28; 2:1-3
 
As a pastor, one of my greatest frustrations is to hear someone facing a difficult situation say something like, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray,” as if they have exhausted all of the good options and are now left with prayer as a less desirable, but last available, response. God often quickly brings conviction upon my own heart, however, when I get too critical about such comments.
 
He quickly reminds me how, even as a pastor, it is very easy to slip into a practice of self-sufficiency where I can spend much of my time preparing and planning and, by contrast, precious little time praying – unless, of course, I have come up on a difficult situation where it seems that prayer is my only remaining option.
 
There is no doubt that Hannah was in a very heavy and painful situation. She was a broken-hearted woman who had no children, but desperately longed for them. In her case, there was nothing she could do to remedy her painful circumstance. In that time of great distress, she chose not to wallow in self-pity or to walk in self-sufficiency. Instead, she took her situation, by faith, to the only one who could give hope. She acknowledged God for who He was – the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One, her solid Rock. She trusted Him as she asked. She praised Him when He answered.
 
God desires that we walk by faith and that we demonstrate that faith as we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer should not be a last resort, all else has failed, kind of endeavor. It should be the consistent practice of our lives – praising God for who He is, declaring our faith in Him, and asking Him to do what is necessary in our lives, both for our good and His glory.
 
Are you walking with God, by faith, in consistent, dependent prayer? Are you casting your cares on Him, knowing He cares for you? As a grateful child of a faithful Father, do you intentionally stop to give Him thanks as you see Him answer?

6/3/2019 11:12:35 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments