March 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 14: Be Loyal

March 28 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 1:3-18
 
On Feb. 2, 2013, ex-Navy SEAL Chris Kyle of Texas was laid to rest at the age of 38. He was the son of a Sunday School teacher and deacon. He became a household name with the publication of his book American Sniper. It detailed his service to the United States as a member of an exclusive special-ops team. Kyle would serve four tours of duty in Iraq, garnering numerous medals and awards. Chris Kyle understood the word “loyalty.” When his wife, Taya, first met Chris, she assumed all SEALS were “arrogant, self-centered, and glory-seeking.” Chris responded, “I would lay down my life for my country.” Kyle served his country well, then walked away to spend more time with Taya and their two children, ages 6 and 8. He set up a foundation to help ex-military who needed counseling, particularly those suffering PTSD. One of the therapeutic methods was taking these young men who had been emotionally scarred to a shooting range where they could talk about their struggles. It was in this service that Kyle and a friend were killed by one of the men they were trying to save. 

Paul exhorted Timothy to be loyal to Christ and His people. Loyalty can be both learned and earned. Timothy was blessed to be raised by two God-fearing women of faith, his mother and grandmother. They taught him the value of loving God. Then there was the presence of Paul himself in the life of Timothy. Paul had intently prayed for Timothy, trusting that God’s Spirit would empower and guide the young church leader. Paul knew the path before Timothy might very well be difficult. Just as he had suffered, he knew the Jewish hierarchy and the Roman political machine would pressure Timothy. Twice Paul used the phrase, “do not be ashamed” (v. 8, 12) to prompt and persuade Timothy to be strong in the threat of persecution. The call to ministry is worth it. Remember what Christ has done for you, and what He promises for your future (v. 10-12).

3/28/2013 2:21:21 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 14: Honoring God’s Holiness

March 28 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Leviticus 5:1, 4-5, 14-16; 6:1-7
 
I have learned as a pastor over the years that many Christians have a poor understanding of both God’s holiness and God’s forgiveness as it relates to committing sin. Some believers superimpose their earthly fathers or authority figures over the biblical picture that God provides of Himself. For example, if an individual had a father who spoiled him and never disciplined the child, he may assume that sin does not offend God and no serious consequences are to be expected. On the other hand, if a person had a ruthless unforgiving father, he or she might constantly live in an unhealthy fear of God when sin occurs. Both the former and latter are not accurate. Only through examining the Bible can we find the correct balance between God’s holiness and His forgiveness. In Leviticus 5-6, God points out to Israel that when a person sins it offends His holiness. Consequently, the person incurs guilt and must confess the sin and pay restitution in order to be forgiven. I think when you read both chapters one cannot assume God takes any sin lightly. In fact, the sins identified in chapter 4-5 were in the context of sins committed unintentionally. Therefore, any Christian who makes light of sin does not properly understand God’s holiness and the consequences that may occur from disobeying God’s word.
 
However, does that mean as Christians we walk in an unhealthy, paranoid fear before God? Certainly not. We recognize that the Old Testament sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect and final sacrifice. Christ paid our restitution for our sin and became our sacrifice once and for all. In other words, Christ bore the penalty of God’s wrath for anyone willing to repent and trust in Him. Thus, as Christians we do not fear God like He is an unreasonable tyrant, but instead we humble ourselves, give Him the reverence He deserves, and rest and enjoy His great mercy. When sin does occur there must be a genuine confession and a heart attitude that seeks not to repeat the sin. Otherwise, there is no real repentance.
3/28/2013 2:17:50 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 1 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for April 7: Pursue Spiritual Gain

March 27 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 6:3-19
           
On the surface it would appear that the lives of Lady Diana of Wales and Mother Teresa of Calcutta could not be further apart. During her years as princess, Diana was one of the wealthiest and most photographed women in the world. Many believed she was also the most beautiful. We might assume that there was little that Diana could not buy.
 
Unfortunately, the life of Lady Diana was not always so happy and care free. She and her husband would divorce in 1996 after years of acrimony and unfaithfulness, and she would die a most tragic death on Aug. 31, 1997. The petite Albanian known as Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving Jesus as a Catholic nun. As a result of her “call within the call,” she founded the Missionaries of Charity. Today this group numbers in the thousands, with a presence in 133 countries. In 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded the highly acclaimed Nobel Peace Prize. She refused to pocket the $192,000 prize, however, insisting that the money be given to the poor of India. For all their differences, though, the lives of Lady Diana and Mother Teresa were remarkably intertwined. The former princess was actively involved in charity work, including work to help the homeless and those suffering from leprosy and AIDS. Mother Teresa was the undisputed vanguard of the homeless and poor, particularly those suffering from leprosy. Ironically, they would die less than one week apart. As the world was watching on TV the funeral service for Lady Di, we would also learn of and mourn the loss of the little nun named Teresa. They would finally meet in June 1997, just months before their respective deaths.
 
Today’s text speaks of the potential trap of money and wealth. Not that money is evil, but the unbridled “love” of it will cause all kinds of pain and corruption and death. The better choice is to pursue godliness (v. 6, 11) through a relationship with Jesus Christ, and to be rich in our service to others (v. 18).
3/27/2013 3:54:43 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 7: Called to Holiness

March 27 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Exodus 19:1-6, 10-14, 16-19
 
Several years ago at a retreat a man asked me what I thought was my greatest attribute. As I thought for a moment words like, friendly, generous and caring came to mind. Then the man made a statement that I will never forget. He said, “If your greatest attribute is not holiness, it may be possible you are trying to live the Christian life in your own strength.”
As I thought about his words they have continued to remind me of at least two truths.
 
First, God expects His people to be holy. This truth is clearly taught in our focal passage. When Israel came into the wilderness of Sinai God told Moses that if they obeyed His voice and kept His covenant that they would be His treasured possession, a kingdom of priest and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6). The same expectation is true for the church today. Speaking for God, the Apostle Peter wrote, “since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16, ESV). Indeed, throughout the entirety of scripture we see God challenging His people to live and reflect, what many would describe as God’s greatest attribute, namely, His holiness.
 
Second, not only does God expect holiness, He also provides the means by which holiness is attained. In Exodus 19:10-11, God tells Israel to consecrate themselves and wash their garments. Certainly, this preparation included the whole person. Following Exodus 19, we see God give Israel numerous commandments that would teach them how to live a life that was holy and pleasing to Him (Exodus 20-23). Looking back now from a New Testament perspective, we see how God’s law was not only an act of grace for Israel, but also a tool He uses to help people see their need for a Savior. Ultimately, Israel could not fulfill the law and neither can we. The only holiness we can achieve only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, any person not fully dependent on the finished work of Christ and His holiness is living in their own strength.
3/27/2013 3:51:17 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 31: Seeing or Recognizing?

March 14 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: John 20:1-18
 
At a conference in 2009, Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, gave an illustration about a tombstone he saw in Indiana that reminds us that death is not our final destination. He shared, “There is a tombstone in Indiana, right across the river from Louisville, Ky., that has the following inscription: – Pause, stranger, when you pass me by; as you are now, so once was as I. As I am now, so you will be; so prepare for death and follow me. Some unknown witness came along and added an interesting comment, – To follow you I am not content until I know which way you went.” Although those words have a light-heartedness about them they speak a very serious message; namely, that there is life after death and it will be spent either in heaven or hell.  
 
Tragically, many people do not know or do not care how one can be saved from eternal judgment. We live in a pluralistic society that believes there are many paths to heaven and that no absolute claim is superior to others. However, as Christians, we believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. When Mary Magdalene and the disciples discovered the empty tomb and realized that Jesus had risen from dead they needed no further convincing that Jesus was truly God (John 20:1-31).
 
In the same way, believers today know that eternal life only comes through our risen Lord. Jesus said, “… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV).
 
Unfortunately, many folks in our world refuse to believe Jesus Christ is God. They look for something or someone to fill the void in their lives and give them hope for the future.
 
Ultimately, all their attempts will fall short and leave them empty and condemned. As Christians, we must strive to help those people recognize that Jesus is the risen Savior. We must pray that as we speak with them about the gospel that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes and they will turn from sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ.       
3/14/2013 4:03:47 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 31: Believe in the Risen Lord

March 14 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
           
A pastor told his congregation about a dream he had the night before. Perhaps nightmare would be a better descriptor. In his dream he could not find his Bible.
 
He searched his house, and it was not to be found. He was getting desperate, but then realized he had a second Bible. But efforts to find the second Bible were also futile.
 
Can a preacher preach without his Bible, he wondered? By now it was time to leave, so the pastor went outside to get in his car. But horrors, his car was also missing! The minutes were ticking by, the pastor was not going to make it to church, and then he woke up.
 
He looked at the clock beside his bed and it read 4:23. He got up and used the bathroom, and as he went back to bed he was thankful.
 
It was only a bad dream. He still had his Bibles and his car, and he had plenty of time to get to church. It was going to be a great day!
 
For Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and the 11 disciples, it was going to be a great day.
They had been living their bad dream, their worst nightmare, but this Sunday was going to be a great day. Why? Because their fears were going to be overcome, and the One whom they thought they had lost was going to be found. In today’s text the two Marys had ventured out in the early Sunday dawn with spices in hand to “freshen up” the wrapped corpse of Jesus (cf. Luke 24:1). Instead, they were met with an earthquake, an angel and petrified soldiers. They were terrified!
 
Then the angel gave them the comforting words that Jesus was resurrected. In their newfound excitement they raced back home to tell the others, only to be halted by Jesus Himself. He also told them to “not be afraid.” Furthermore, “Tell the 11 to go back home to Galilee, and I will meet them there.” And He did. And they believed.
3/14/2013 4:02:53 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for March 24: Care for Others

March 12 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: 1 Timothy 5:1-10, 16-18
           
How do we treat others in our congregation? Paul’s wisdom to Timothy was to treat all with the utmost respect: older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, younger women as sisters, and older women as mothers. The greatest attention, however, was given to those older women who were 60 years or older. In those days there were no social security checks, life insurance payouts, IRA’s, 401-K’s, annuities, or pensions. Estate planning and women’s rights were not top priorities in the ancient Roman world. Thus, there was a great need for congregational intervention.
 
The first obligation of the church was to determine who qualified for assistance. Years earlier the infant church had intervened when Jewish widows were given preference over Gentile widows. Apparently that crisis had been adequately resolved, so in addition to an agreed upon age requirement, the next qualification was her previous marital status. Had she been faithful to her husband, and if she had remarried because of the death of a spouse, had she been faithful to him as well? Was she a “one-man woman?” Additionally, there was to be a determination of character. Had the widow served others well? Had she “relieved the afflicted” in some capacity? Was she recognized as a woman of deepest integrity and faith? Once these character requirements had met approval, the next issue was whether or not she had family that could and would provide for her needs. If her heirs had the resources to provide for her, the church would not circumvent their aid. But if not, the church had set up some type of benevolence fund. It’s much like a situation recently evidenced in our church. A saintly widow is provided for very well by her children, but her deacon also checks up on her, and during the recent snow, cleared her handicap ramp and put seed in her bird feeder. He understands that church leadership involves caring for others.
 
3/12/2013 1:36:25 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 24: Being Served or Serving?

March 12 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passage: Luke 22:19-30
 
Many years ago I remember sitting around the dinner table eating fried chicken that my mom had cooked. Normally, my mom was the last to sit down before we prayed.
 
On this particular occasion, my mom stayed standing while we prayed. After we prayed all the kids reached for the chicken leaving only a couple of pieces. I noticed after we prayed my mom started making a sandwich.
 
Looking back now I realized what she was doing. Even though she prepared the meal and even though she had more right to eat the chicken than any of us kids she chose to deny herself and allow us to have a second serving of that delicious chicken. 
 
Do you know someone who has modeled a life of a servant? Jesus said that the greatest among us is not the one who reclines at the table but the one who serves (Luke 22:27).
 
Unlike our culture, which defines greatest in terms of possessions and position, Jesus defines greatest by serving others. He said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26 ESV).
 
Jesus is the ultimate example of a servant. He gave His life that we could enjoy the full pleasure of knowing God.
 
How much more then should we, in our everyday lives, seek to honor Him by serving others? We may not know it, but people notice if we have a servant’s heart. Our actions serve as a reflection or distraction to the glorious gospel. If you intend to be great in God’s kingdom it must come through serving others.
 
For 42 years now I have watched my mom serve our family and the church. In my estimation, when it comes to serving others, there has been no greater reflection of Christ than my mom. Will others say that about you? More importantly, will Christ say that about you? 
3/12/2013 1:32:19 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments