March 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 15: Christianity 103: Meet Needs

March 29 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 9:1-50
 
A school principal noticed that many of her children came to school on Monday mornings hungry. They had received breakfasts and lunches during the week, but on the weekend they received very little. This principal told a Christian lady what she had noticed and said that she wished there was a way to help.
 
Together, they decided on a plan to provide a bag of snacks for those most in need. What started as a way to help a small number of students branched out to include all the schools in the county and now regularly provides about 600 bags a week to these in need. Many now help with this ministry.
 
These bags, called “Jesus Bags” because they have “Jesus Loves You” printed on them, are eagerly anticipated by the children.
 
How did this ministry come about? It started because one lady had the heart of Christ and saw a real need. Just as the disciples saw a need that day with Jesus, she looked at the hungry around her. The disciples’ reaction was that the need was so great they couldn’t meet it. They said send them away. Because the need was overwhelming, they didn’t even begin to meet it.
 
We are often guilty today of looking at the need – seeing how large it is – and then turning away without doing anything.
 
We need to not focus on the need – we need to focus on God. We may not be able to help everyone, but what can we do for the ones God places in our path? Are we looking for opportunities God has for us?
 
Instead of helping the one, we often help none.
 
The lady mentioned earlier trusted God to provide for a small number. He in turn has opened many doors of funding and provision for this vital ministry in our county. She never has too much, but He always provides what is needed when it is needed.
 
What are you, your Bible class, your church able to do? What is your “Jesus Bag” that God will supply? Can you trust Him?
3/29/2012 4:19:36 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 15: Jesus Lives in Believers

March 29 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focus Passages: John 15:1-5; Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 2:19b-21
 
The focus of Christianity is not a dying Savior but one that is living and indwells each believer. We have been crucified with Christ, we have been raised with Him, we have been reconciled with God, and we are to now grow in Christ. While we are to continue to fight sin via Christ’s resurrection power, we are not doing it alone. We should live for Him as our living hope.
 
Paul proclaims that believers have been crucified with Christ, we no longer live, and it is Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20a). We are to no longer live for ourselves, our own desires, or our own agenda. Is there evidence in your life to demonstrate that you do “live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20b)?” Our life’s testimony should give evidence of the Savior’s ownership of our life. By faith we have been given the right to be called children of God, and so we willingly give up the right to the throne of our own lives because we are no longer king; Jesus is. Max Anders said it this way: “I have crucified my right to self-control in life, in the same way that Christ gave up his right to physical life; I gave up my right to self-life.”

Each believer has been raised with Christ and is no longer enslaved by sin. Sin is no longer master; Jesus is. We have been given freedom to walk in a new way of life; our chains are gone. We died to the old life.
 
Jesus’ death and resurrection were God’s final remedy for sin. Death has no mastery over Him, and no longer governs us either through our salvation. We are now drawn to righteousness.
 
Our new reality as believers leads us away from sinning. Believers are marked by Christian living. Expect difficulties as Satan is our foe looking to destroy each believer. Pray for strength to defeat temptation the next time you face it. Be thankful for his transforming work in your life.
 
Remain in Jesus, and He will remain in you. That’s how we will bear fruit; fruit that will remain.
3/29/2012 4:09:26 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 8: Be Confident of the Resurrection

March 26 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 6:12-8:56
 

The resurrection is a major component of the gospel message. Some groups focus on Christ on the Cross – to the point that they ignore the importance of His resurrection. The Cross without the resurrection only speaks of a martyr for a cause. Christ did not die as man for what He believed in, He died as the Son of God to redeem us back.
 
Go back to the Old Testament picture that God provided in the Day of Atonement. See the High Priest as he offers the sacrifice. Watch him gather the blood and how he takes it into the Holy Place. He passes by the Seven-branched Candlestick and the Table of Showbread. Going past the Altar of Incense he enters between the veil into the Holy of Holies. Once inside he pours the blood on the Mercy Seat – offering up before God the sacrificial blood to cover the people’s sins.
 
The people wait outside the Temple – waiting to see if the sacrifice was accepted. How would they know if the sacrifice was in fact accepted? When the High Priest walked out from behind the veil. When he stepped out they knew that their sins were covered.
 
Today, we know that our sins are removed because the High Priest (Jesus) came back from behind the veil. On that glorious Sunday morning when He stepped out of the grave – He proclaimed that the sacrifice had been accepted. We are clean before God.
 
The lesson this week challenges us to stop and examine the scriptures as they teach about Christ’s resurrection. Go beyond just reading the gospel accounts. Look at the truth that God has been proclaiming throughout the Old Testament.
 
Recently I learned that Thomas Kinkade’s paintings have the letter “n” hidden in them. If you look at his signature, to the right will be a number saying how many are hidden. If you want to see them you have to seriously search for them. If we search the Bible we will find the truth of the Resurrection given throughout. These will build our trust in the validity and value of the Resurrection.
3/26/2012 3:58:46 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 8: Jesus Rose from the Dead

March 26 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Matthew 27:62-66; 28:5-8; Luke 24:13-16, 32-33, 35
 
What connection exists between the daily news and the Good News, between the “kingdom of this world” and the Kingdom of the Lord? And what does the resurrection mean for us today?
 
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the chief foundational doctrine of Christianity. The Apostle Paul was so convinced of its reality that he declared, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). There were many eye witnesses who saw, spoke, and ate with Jesus after His resurrection. His resurrection fulfills not only His earthly claims, but also gives assurance to mankind that there is life after death which is available by faith.
 
Warren Wiersbe asserts, “The Jewish leaders remembered what the disciples forgot: that Christ promised to come out of the tomb after three days. How unfortunate it is when Satan and his children know the Bible better than Christians do! The Jews called Christ ‘that deceiver’ (v. 63), little realizing that one day the nation of Israel will accept the ‘arch-deceiver,’ the Antichrist, and make a covenant with him. ‘Make it as secure as you can’ (v. 65), was all Pilate could say. But no earthly seal could hinder Christ from coming out of the tomb as He promised.”
 
As we consider the significance of Jesus’ resurrection, consider these truths: (1) It proves He is the Son of God (John 10:17-18); (2) It attests to the truth of scripture (Acts 2:21; Ps. 16:10); (3) It assures us of our own future resurrection when we die (1 Thes. 4:13ff); (4) It is a proof of future judgment (Acts 17:30-31); (5) It is one of the central truths in the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-8); (6) It is the assurance of our future inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3ff); (7) It is the foundation for Christ’s heavenly priesthood (Heb. 7:23-28); and (8) It gives the power to the Christian life (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:18-20; Rom. 6:4).
 
Our message at Easter is “Come and see ... Go and tell!” Every Sunday is resurrection day for the believer. He is risen; He is risen indeed!
3/26/2012 3:57:41 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 1: Christianity 102: Live to Benefit Others

March 15 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 6:27-38, 41-42, 46-48
 
It is natural for a person to focus on “me.” We never have to teach children to hoard – we teach them to share. A grandmother shared about taking her three grandchildren to the Dollar Store to buy Christmas gifts for each other and their mom and dad. They were so excited. When they got into the store, the one young child looked up and said, “What am I buying for me?”
 
We have all watched as a small child tries to claim all the toys in a room as “mine.” The movie “Finding Nemo” has ruined my beach trips – all I can hear the seagulls saying is “Mine, mine, mine.”
 
Jesus patterned and taught that we are to live contrary to our nature – we are to be unselfish. Children learn the acrostic JOY – Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.
 
In fact, Jesus gave the second greatest commandment to love others like we love ourselves. God knows our bent to “me first,” so He challenges us to treat others in this same way.
 
One time I was at a building getting ready to go inside with a co-worker. As was my custom, I stopped and held the door for him. He turned and said to me, “Why in the world do you always do that?”
 
Then, he said something I have never forgotten. He sarcastically said, “What would the world be like if everybody did that?” I have often thought along these lines – “What would the world be like if we all put others first?” I believe it would be a pretty nice place.
 
Remember the old adage “What goes around, comes around?” Being concerned with others often opens the door for others to show concern for us. Also, this works in the negative.
 
If a person is negative and critical with everyone they meet, it shouldn’t surprise them that negativity and criticism is constantly shown to them. We all know people who, because of their personality, are very lonely and sad. If they had taken Jesus’ teaching and the truth from Proverbs – they could have friends by being friendly.
3/15/2012 2:18:52 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 1: Jesus Died for Our Sins

March 15 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Matthew 26:26-29, 36-39; 27:45-46, 50-54
 
On Good Friday we remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross to die for our sins. His death was not solely the result of a plot by Jewish leaders. His death was intentional, purposeful and in God’s plan. Through His substitutionary death on the cross, He made provision for the redemption of man from sin. Why did Jesus choose to die? Because man is sinful and in need of a Savior. We sin by worshiping ourselves and the world God has made. We neglect God as if we were the rulers of our own lives. Without the forgiveness of sin that Jesus’ death offers, we stand condemned by God and are under His wrath awaiting the final judgment to come. 
 
Jesus did not come to change God’s mind, but rather He came precisely to express God’s mind which was to reconcile man to Himself. Jesus’ sacrifice is given by God Himself. In Jesus, God satisfied His own just requirements by taking the sentence and punishment for our sin upon Himself.
 
For us to understand the meaning of the cross we have to ask how we are affected by Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday. How are we made different? The cross convicts us as sinners. We were each there as He was crucified. The cross exposes what kind of people we are – those in need of a Savior. The cross exposes our sin. The cross enables us to live as forgiven sinners. We owed a debt we could not pay; He paid it all for us on the cross. We are forgiven debtors.
 
The cross means the death of sinners. When He died for us as sinners, we were put to death with Him. We are made new in Christ.
 
The cross changes our relationship with other people. As we have been forgiven by God, we too are to forgive others. We are to share with them how they can receive His forgiveness too.
 
With these reminders about Jesus’ death for us, how would you explain the necessity of Jesus’ death to a nonbeliever? Tell others about Him today.
3/15/2012 2:17:45 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 25: Christianity 101: Accept Others

March 12 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 4:31-37; 5:12-16
 
Every day at lunch, he sat by the window at a table by himself. He watched the other students playing outside. He was different. She rode the bus every morning and afternoon to work. Only when it was crowded would anyone sit down next to her. She longingly looked from face to face – seeking just a smile or nod. She was different. The old couple felt the looks as they carefully counted out their pennies for the rolls and coffee they were purchasing.
 
They were different. The young boy was mentally challenged and the others made fun of him and left him out. The young lady’s face was disfigured from an automobile accident. The older couple had little money after years of hard work with no retirement plan.
 
If we look around us, we can see people who are different, needy and hurting. If we understand that Jesus died for these people, we can develop the ability to see them as He does.
 
The gospel is about salvation of a person’s soul, the mission of Christ’s Kingdom is to reach, teach, win and mature people in the gospel.
 
Christ did this by showing compassion and care with those He came in contact.
 
I remember John. He was homeless, dirty, and had some mental challenges. He wandered in our church one Sunday seeking food.
 
The people began to reach out and provide for him. I’ll never forget the Wednesday night that with tears falling down his cheeks, he prayed and received Christ. The people accepted him as their Christian brother.
 
I got the call – John had died early one morning along the train tracks.
 
His homeless friends found him, and because he had been telling them about our church, they called us. I was privileged to preach his funeral.
 
Over 200 homeless and drug addicts were there. I was able to share the Good News of Jesus because we had cared for John as Jesus would.
 
We honor Jesus when we share the Good News of salvation while we seek to meet hurting people’s needs.
3/12/2012 6:37:55 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 25: I Thank You

March 12 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Psalm 107:1-9, 33-38, 43
 
In this last of four lessons on the heart of worship, let’s examine gratitude as a habit of every believer. Simply defined, worship is expressing love to God. Having a thankful attitude toward God expresses love to Him. 
 
Even those without a Christian worldview express gratitude. Upon conducting an Internet search for “reasons to be thankful,” 10 answers were suggested: Mother Earth, volunteers, freedom, work, public transportation, fresh food, family, friends, well-being, and happiness.
 
Focusing on the creation instead of the Creator, these reasons miss the Giver of all things.
Psalm 107 reminds believers that God has shown His goodness to us and that thanksgiving is a natural and essential element of worship. The psalmist instructs the reader, especially the redeemed, to give thanks. Those from every corner of the globe are to give thanks. Four times the psalmist proclaims we are to give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and for His wonderful deeds for men. We are to praise Him even in the midst of calamity, rebellion, darkness and sorrow. He is with us. One should notice that praise is a prerequisite for being delivered.
 
We have so much to be thankful for both now and in the age to come – beyond what we can imagine or find words to describe. For the believer, we know that not half has been told of what God has in store for us in eternity. Francis Schaeffer once said, “The beginning of man’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.” We have so much that sometimes we cannot see the great value of all God has given us. That is ingratitude.
 
Take note; be aware. Take inventory; count your blessings. Take action; act out your appreciation. Look for reasons to praise the Lord. Be thankful to Him. Show others your love for Him as you take action and serve others today.
 
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
3/12/2012 6:36:30 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 18: An Unexpected Messiah: Honor Him

March 1 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 4:16-30
 
In the religious and Christian world there is a misconception that our lives are separated into the sacred and the secular, the pious and the profane. We divide the physical and the spiritual into two separate entities.
 
As Christians, we attempt to divide it as a spiritual gospel and a social gospel. Some groups are so earthly minded that they focus on a person’s physical needs and neglect their spiritual need of salvation.
 
Others focus only on the need of salvation and neglect the physical. Both extremes are erroneous views of Christ’s teaching. It is not an either/or – it is both.
 
The books of Galatians and James complement and are both necessary in our Bible. Galatians reminds us that salvation is by grace without any work on our part. James reminds us that if we have received this grace it will be visible in our actions.
 
You are probably familiar with the story of the young boy and the starfish. The story goes that every morning along a beach, thousands of starfish were washed ashore.
 
There they would dry out and die. One day an older man was watching as a young boy would pick up a starfish and hurl it back into the sea. When the boy was close, the older man scoffed, “Son, there are so many, you can’t make a difference.”
 
The boy paused, thought, and then picked up another starfish and threw it in.
 
“Made a difference for that one,” he said. Thinking about the boy’s remark, the older man began to pick up starfish and throw them in.
 
Christ’s mission is to reach out to the ones who have washed ashore and are dying. He came to save souls. However, He demonstrated that the love of God was not mere words, but actions (1 John 3:18). Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16 to do good deeds so that people will see God.
 
When we catch the vision of the whole gospel, see the vast range of Christ’s concern, we will be compelled to take action that will “make a difference for that one.”
3/1/2012 2:30:09 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 18: I Celebrate You

March 1 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Psalm 92:1-15
 
Timothy Christenson has stated, “If worship is just one thing we do, everything becomes mundane. If worship is the one thing we do, everything takes on eternal significance.”

One of the greatest gifts God gives to his children is the ability and opportunity to worship Him. Simply defined, worship is expressing love to God. However, many Christians are confused about what worship really means. Some think worship is based on certain styles of music or church-related experiences. Still others think that because they enjoyed the songs and emotions of a particular service, then they have truly worshiped. Rather, real worship involves one’s entire life. It is living out one’s life to please and honor God.
 
In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren reminds us that the ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. John 17:4 records that God the Son honored God the Father by fulfilling his purpose on earth. We can do the same by fulfilling the purpose for which we are created. We bring God glory by worshiping Him, by loving other believers, by becoming like Christ, by serving others with our gifts, and by telling others about Him.
 
Psalm 92 focuses on the worship of God and the praise of His holy nature and activity. There can be no worship without praise. In praise we are fulfilled and satisfied. It is natural for a Christian to praise the Lord! 
 
True worship stems from a growing and intimate relationship with our Lord when we give to the Lord through our singing, praising, and declaring of His holiness. It is more than a life of prayer and Bible study. Worship emerges from a realization of who God is, what He has revealed, and what He means to us personally. When we encounter a holy, righteous God, our only response is to worship Him. Become who He designed us to be – a true worshiper of Him. For what will you praise and thank Him today?
3/1/2012 2:28:46 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments