March 2018

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 8: Remembering the Sacrifice

March 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 11:17-29
The older I get, the more I recognize both the importance and difficulty of – oh yeah, remembering.  There are at least a couple of different kinds of remembering that take place in our lives. We remember some things nostalgically – simply recalling fondly a person or event and how we felt. You might think of a former teacher or a trip to the beach.
We must remember other things, however, because they require action on our part – things like staying on a complicated but important medication regimen or taking out the trash each week.
The reality is, for all of us, we are prone to forget and need reminders. Some of the things mentioned above aren’t really disastrous if we forget. Other things bring much greater consequences.
God knows His people are prone to forget. On the plains of Moab, Moses in giving a series of speeches (Deuteronomy) to Israel before going into the Promised Land, called the people over and over again to “remember” who God was and what He had done and admonished them not to forget.
In giving the Lord’s Supper to His Church, God placed before us a regular and visible reminder to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. And this remembering should always call us to action.
It should first call us to worship – worship the God who redeemed us by His Son. We are here, not for ourselves, but for God, united in Him and with one another. It should also call us to proclamation.
Even in our participation in the Lord’s Supper we proclaim that we have been reconciled only through the sacrifice of Christ, not based on our merit or works. It should lastly call us to evaluate our lives. Paul warns the Corinthian believers not to come to the Lord’s Table unexamined. Because Christ paid such a price for our sin, we should come humbly, gratefully, confessed, and clean.
The next time you partake of the Lord’s Supper to remember Christ’s sacrifice, don’t simply reflect nostalgically. Ask God’s Spirit to drive you to action – worship, evaluate and proclaim!

3/20/2018 9:52:43 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 8: Our Shepherd

March 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Psalm 23:1-6
Our youngest son, Nathan, was a difficult baby. He had colic along with an irritable stomach. Eventually, we had to give him a lactose-free, hypoallergenic baby formula called Nutramigen.
If you’re not familiar with Nutramigen, that’s OK. Think of it as liquid gold. At least that’s what it seemed like when we paid for it.
Anyway, I can remember fighting with him to eat. We knew what was best for him, even if he didn’t want to eat. I think David had something similar in mind when he penned the verses of his most influential psalm – “The Lord is my shepherd ….”
As a shepherd, David knew his sheep were entirely dependent upon him. They required green pastures and still waters (sheep will not drink from moving streams). But more than provision, the Lord our Shepherd guides us.
He guides us to places of provision and protection. Our Shepherd also leads us in the “paths of righteousness for his names’ sake.” David understood leadership. It was his responsibility to lead and guide his sheep. But when David comments about God’s leadership, he reflects on God’s purpose.
As sheep, we don’t know what is best or where we need to go. We tend to wander and drift. But God leads and guides us, and notice why. He guides “for His name’s sake.”
God guides us because He’s redeemed us. We are the recipients of His love, the bearers of His name. So He guides us because we reflect His reputation and glory to the world. The Lord “leads us in the paths of righteousness” because the only way we can walk in righteousness is by Him and through Him.
When we walk in righteousness, it becomes obvious to others that we are walking with wisdom and purpose. Would you join David? Would you follow the leadership of your Shepherd in the paths of His righteous word for the sake of His glorious name?

3/20/2018 9:50:42 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for April 1: Assurance of the Resurrection

March 20 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville

Focal passages: John 20:2-9; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Prior to serving in full-time ministry I was a registered nurse, primarily working in cardiology and in the emergency room. In those two areas, it was common to work with patients who were facing life-threatening conditions.
During these critical periods of waiting, I would watch the family members. While their loved one was alive, the family was holding on to hope. However, once death came, they realized, physically speaking, hope was gone.
They accepted death as the final answer. The grave was proof. You put the dead body in there and that is where it stays.
As one of my medical colleagues once told me as a matter-of-fact while I was trying to share the gospel with him, “Dead men don’t rise.”
In every case, my friend was right, except for one. And that one has made all the difference.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He promised, and brought hope to all those who repent and believe in Him by faith. He defeated death, hell and the grave, bringing life – abundant and eternal – to those who turn to Him.
Those who die apart from Christ are twice dead – physically and spiritually. But, because Jesus – who died but is now alive – rose from the dead, we who were spiritually dead are made alive through faith in Him.
The reality of our resurrected Lord makes a difference every day in all of life. People lose their house to a fire and lose hope. The tomb is empty! There is hope.
People experience broken relationships. The tomb is empty! There is hope! If Christ had not risen from the dead, we would have no hope – in life or in death. But Paul says, “Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
We, therefore, not only have hope in this life but the life to come. Christ is not only our resurrected Lord, but also our returning king! Do you know the hope of the resurrected Christ? If not, trust Him today! If you do, tell someone today, “The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive. Trust in Him!”

3/20/2018 9:48:56 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Hendersonville | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for April 1: God is Faithful

March 20 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-12
It amazes me the memory of my children. If I said I would play with them or take them somewhere or get them something, they never forget. I wish I could say that my faithfulness matched their memory. We are flawed and many times unfaithful. We break promises. But God does not. God is supremely, perfectly, gloriously faithful.
There is no greater miracle than the miracle of the resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection has been doubted, denied and dismissed by skeptics over the years. Theological liberalism arose from Enlightenment skepticism.
How could the resurrection actually happen? Dead people don’t come back to life. But Enlightenment skepticism and theological liberalism neglected to explain an integral element of the resurrection story – Jesus predicted it.
Not only did Jesus predict His resurrection, but the disciples themselves dismissed His prediction. The angel they met at the empty tomb told them, “Remember how he told you … that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.
They were completely unprepared for Jesus’ resurrection as they huddled together in fear and hopelessness. But when Jesus appeared to them resurrected, they came face to face with his faithfulness. Jesus kept His promise.
Not only did He rise again, He had predicted He would rise again. His resurrection declared His deity and the fulfillment of His promise vindicated His faithfulness.
Before the resurrection the disciples were more likely candidates for depression than for becoming spokespersons for the largest religion of all time. The only explanation for change in the disciples is the ratified faithfulness of their risen Lord. Jesus promised He would rise. The disciples saw Him, changed and declared His resurrection. And we today can have confidence in the historical reality of the resurrected Christ who has redeemed billions of lives.

3/20/2018 9:45:09 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 25: Influencing for Christ

March 6 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27; 10:31-33; 11:1
I remember hearing a well-known professional athlete, after being caught in an embarrassing situation, adamantly declare – “I am an athlete, not a role model.”
The reality was, however, he was a role model, whether he liked it or not. Why? One word – influence.
Because of his visible role as a professional athlete, he had influence, particularly over the kids who aspired to be professional athletes one day. This athlete, because of his influence, could not choose whether or not to be a role model. He could only choose whether he would live as a good one or a bad one.
When kids looked at him, they would naturally think, “That is what a professional athlete looks like.”
As followers of Jesus, like it or not, we have influence for the sake of Christ. People will look at us and think, “That is what a follower of Christ looks like.” I have heard many unbelievers say just that.
As Paul clearly declared in his second letter to the Corinthians, “We … are ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The choice for Christians is not whether or not we want to live as representatives of Christ.
Our choice is whether we will represent Him well and influence others toward Him or represent Him poorly and influence others away from Him.
In this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses physical examples to make a clear spiritual point.
If you want to represent Christ well and influence others toward Him, there is only one clear way to do it – live sacrificially for the sake of others, as Christ did for us.
I may love a good steak, Paul says, but I love those who know Christ (or need to know Him) more.
The “Christ Hymn” of Philippians 2:5-11 demonstrates the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
If we want to influence others for Christ, our lives should also be marked by such sacrificial living.
With His Spirit living in us, our lives can be.
Only then will we be able to say, as Paul did, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

3/6/2018 8:37:13 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 25: Our Peace

March 6 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Judges 6:11-16, 22-24
Alfred Nobel is known today as the man whose estate funded the Nobel peace prize. What you may not know is that before the peace prize, Nobel invented dynamite. While dynamite has other uses, it was quickly adopted by military forces and used to destroy countless lives in war.
Alfred’s brother, Ludvig, died in 1888. By fateful mistake, Alfred’s obituary was printed instead of Ludvig’s. One newspaper opined, “The merchant of death is dead.”
That caption changed Alfred and led him to fund the peace prize that bears his name.
We are a world enamored with peace that seems impossible to achieve. Conflict continues geopolitically and interpersonally. Peace evades us.
In Gideon’s story, the people of Israel were not at peace. They were under Midian’s rule because of their sinfulness. God chose Gideon to lead Israel to cast off Midian. After perceiving he had met the angel of the Lord, he became afraid. But God said, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” God promised Gideon peace. But Gideon would face internal turmoil and lead armies into battle, how could there be peace? We can have peace with God even though our external situations do not reflect it.
Gideon met an angel of the Lord, likely none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. The peace we so desperately need, the peace the world lacks and the peace Nobel hoped to achieve with his prize met Gideon that day. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He came to bring us peace, to end our war with God, to release us from sin’s bondage.
Jesus is also the King of kings and He will return. One day interpersonal turmoil, political parties and international conflicts will be in the distant past because there will be One King, One Ruler, One Prince, One Lord, and all will bow before Him as the Prince of Peace.

3/6/2018 8:34:58 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for March 18: Keeping Commitments

March 6 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Corinthians 7:1-13
It is one thing to look with awe and wonder at a picture of a sunset on the African plains. It is another thing altogether, having been to Africa multiple times, to see the beauty of that sunset in person.
A picture may be beautiful, but we intuitively know the actual thing it depicts is even more beautiful and glorious.
When we come to issues about marriage, I believe we often run into problems because we treat marriage as the actual thing, rather than seeing it as the picture of something greater. But Paul tells the believers in Ephesus that marriage is God’s picture of something greater – His covenant relationship with His people (Ephesians 5:32).
That reality should radically change the way we live in our marriages.
Why would Paul admonish the Corinthian believers to walk in faithfulness with their spouses, enjoying regular sexual intimacy as both a good gift from God and as a protection against being drawn away to infidelity? The covenant relationship they had with their spouses was a picture of our covenant relationship with God.
We should enjoy continuous spiritual intimacy with God in our covenant relationship with Him. This ongoing intimacy with Him, in covenant relationship, also protects against our hearts being drawn away into spiritual adultery – chasing after other “gods.”
Why would Paul admonish the Corinthian believers not to divorce? The covenant relationship they had with their spouses was a picture of their covenant relationship with God. For them to break that covenant would give the idea that our covenant relationship with God could be broken – painting a false picture. Jesus would likewise warn against divorce, pointing back to God’s creation design and purpose.
Paul, in admonishing some believers who could have biblically married to stay single, was not downplaying the value of marriage.
His rationale for this charge to singleness had to do with practical focus in ministry, not the value of marriage. But, for those who would marry, his charge was “keep your covenant commitments.”
Why? Because it is a picture before a watching world of God’s covenant love and faithfulness.

3/6/2018 8:31:25 AM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for March 18: Our Banner

March 6 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Exodus 17:8-16
One of the most iconic symbols in American history is the sculpture of the marines on Iwo Jima as they raised the flag of the United States of America. The flag symbolized victory, freedom and the power of the U.S. military.
That picture aids our understanding of the concept of “the Lord is our Banner.” In Hebrew it would read Yahweh-Nissi.
A banner is a military symbol that clearly identifies an army or a people. In the story of Israel’s battle with the Amalekites, Joshua led the rabble of former slaves to defend themselves. Moses watched from a hilltop overlooking the battle.
As his arms were raised in prayer and dependence on God, Israel gained the upper hand. As his arms fell, Amalek gained the upper hand. Ultimately, Israel was victorious because God strengthened the armies of Israel against their enemy.
It is interesting to observe the shared responsibilities in the battle. Israel fought. Men fell. Moses prayed. Moses lost strength. Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up. God gave Israel victory.
The Lord is our Banner” does not mean we huddle in a corner hiding from our problems, enemies and difficulties. Rather, it means that we walk in faith and advance in dependence.
We do ourselves no favors when we try to battle on our own strength. Rather, we gain victory when we look in faith to the Lord our Banner.
More than 1,000 years later, God gave His people a glorious symbol of His victorious banner.
When Jesus hung on that cruel Roman cross, He atoned for our sins and defeated our spiritual enemy. The cross of Christ is both historical reality and powerful symbol. We receive the victory of the cross not by fighting alongside our Savior, but by depending on the victory He won. Look to the cross as the symbol of God’s banner over you.  

3/6/2018 8:24:25 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments