May 2011

Formations Lesson for June 12: Listening to God through Circumstances

May 26 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Acts 16:6-15

Traffic lights can be annoying. I’d rather they stay green all the time, at least for me. But that’s not possible, is it? Sometimes they are red, and sometimes the color is yellow, saying to proceed cautiously.

I haven’t decided which I like least, the red or the yellow. How about you?

The traffic light is, however, essential for safe travel through urban areas, and it also can serve as a metaphor for our prayer life and how we obey or disobey God.

The setting for chapter 16 is Paul’s second missionary journey.

This was a season for change in Paul’s life. His first journey was with Barnabas; his second and third would be with Silas.

Furthermore, his missionary team would grow.

The relationship cultivated with Timothy and his family on the first journey into Lystra would lead to Timothy joining Paul’s team (16:3). Later (at Troas) we will see that doctor Luke also becomes a valued member of this missionary enterprise (note 16:10 where the “they” references become “we”).

By all appearances, God was giving them the green light. But then things would change. At Mysia they seemed to hit a road block.

They wanted to go to the upper regions of north Galatia but God said “no.”

They would have been willing to go into the area around Ephesus, but God would say “later.”

Instead God sent them to Troas, one of the last stops available before entering what we know today as Europe. The new mission, as directed by the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) was the province of Macedonia, and the city of Philippi.

Philippi was an interesting city; heavily Roman and not so much Jewish. In fact, in order to find some “believers in God,” they had to go to the banks of the Gangites River.

There, on that particular Sabbath, they found a group of women who wanted to hear Paul’s message about Jesus Christ.

The lay leader of this fellowship was a woman from Thyatira, who went by the name Lydia. She was a woman of affluence and influence. She was a leader.

She was most generous and hospitable.

And, she would become a Christian. Historians refer to her as the “first Christian convert in Europe.”

She would be a game-changer.

Not only would she provide for the needs of Paul and his team, but she would be of significant influence to the spread of Christianity.

Red light, yellow light, green light; no, slow (wait or later), go — whether we like it or not, that’s the voice of God.
5/26/2011 4:35:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 12: Where Is Your Treasure?

May 26 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Matthew 6:19-34

If last week’s lesson focused on possessing, this week’s lesson is more about position. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus warns His listeners to not “collect for yourselves treasures on earth.”

Without delving too far into a language lesson here, Jesus told them to “not treasure your treasures;” the word used for “collect” is from the same root as the word for “treasure.”

So here’s the burning question: Is it wrong to “have” things?

I remember the first car that I really truly liked and that was really truly mine (my “first” car was a 1963 Chevy Impala painted with brown house paint and applied with a paint brush). It was a 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with a 350, four-barrel carburetor.

The car was copper gold with a Landau roof, and it was fast. I kept it spotless, so much so I wore the paint off the hood. The only reason it didn’t rust was due to the “umpteen hundred” coats of wax I kept on it.

The problem was, the longer I had the car, the more it had me.

I got this right before I got married, and after we were married I spent almost as much time with it as I did Frances (and yes, I paid dearly for my foolishness).

I worried where it was parked, how much dirt was on it and how it ran. When I sold it after three years, I almost cried.

Basically, I was “treasuring my alleged treasure.”

So what was my problem?

Did I fall into some kind of Jedi mind trick played on me by the twin tail pipes of my car? My problem was one of worship. I always walked around the car before getting in and starting it, and I did the same thing after stopping.

I would walk six blocks in the Savannah, Ga., summer rather than risk a door ding. I was worshiping my car.

The car itself wasn’t the problem. Having the car wasn’t the problem.

The problem was I allowed the car to have me. I worshiped the car, and it consumed almost every “loose” thought in my head.

I was living proof of the truth Jesus was teaching regarding human nature: wherever we have put our treasure that is where our thoughts, energy and worship will be.

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus gives blessing for those who “hunger and thirst” after righteousness. The blessing is that they will “be filled,” or satisfied.

Anything we worship — or “treasure” — other than Jesus Christ and His kingdom will be very unfulfilling.
5/26/2011 4:28:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for June 5: Listening to God in Community

May 23 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Acts 15:1-2; 6-21

Some say listening is an art. Some say it is a “lost” art.

One of my personal favorite sayings is “God gave us two ears and one mouth, therefore, we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

If we concede, however, that this is a valid and beneficial principle, we must also ask, “Who are we to listen to?”

The series of lessons for the month of June deal with the topic of “Listening to God.”

We should always make sure we’re listening to God.

When we hear ideas and hopes from others, we should question whether these are godly plans, and if they will benefit the Kingdom of God.

The passage in Acts 15 is all about leadership and decision-making.

John Maxwell famously says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

And leadership is certainly most needed in times of crisis.

This passage describes what I believe was the most important church business meeting of the first century.

The result of this meeting, called the Jerusalem Council, would determine the future of the fledgling church.

There were many issues at stake, but the most significant was whether the church would stay stuck in tradition, or would it have the flexibility to meet the spiritual needs of the broader world.   Furthermore, would the church come together in a measure of consensus, or would it splinter into various factions. If the church would listen to the right voices within the larger community of faith, there was the promise of many doors being opened for the gospel.

The key leaders in this dialog about the church’s future were Paul, Barnabas, Peter, and James.  The basic issue was whether church growth would follow the Jerusalem model or the Antioch model. The Jerusalem church was primarily Jewish.

It largely held to the basic rites, regulations, and traditions of Jewish law that had guided devoted Jews since the days of Moses.

Of most importance was the rite of circumcision. For Jewish men, circumcision was not optional (15:1); and for Gentile converts, ditto.

Then there were the protocols for animal sacrifice, festivals, tithing, and the list could go on.   Conversely, the Antioch church was not so traditional. It had many more Gentile members, and it was more noted for its missionary and benevolence work.

Barnabas and Paul had heavily invested in this congregation, and it had sent them forth to a ministry that involved church planting, mentoring, and discipleship.

In summary, at this watershed council the church reached agreement. They listened to the missionary component, to the apostolic, and to the practical, and the Kingdom won.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/23/2011 8:49:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 5: What Do You Own?

May 23 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Chronicles 29:1-20

I used to manage jewelry stores. As a manager, I was bonded for over $5 million dollars — this is a fancy way of saying the company insured me in case I desired to carry a large portion of our inventory out in my pockets!

Anyone who has ever visited a jewelry store knows jewelry is very expensive.

Over the years, I had people threaten to shoot me unless I brought certain items with me to my car. Others, while trying to repossess unpaid merchandise, offered to show me the barrel of a 357 magnum in a very “up close and personal way.”

When you have these kinds of experiences, you learn to look at material things differently. The whole time I was a jewelry store manager I never once worried about the safety of the merchandise in my store. I was very responsible and followed a disciplined security regimen all the time, but I was never worried about the merchandise or whether someone would take it. I didn’t have to worry; it wasn’t mine. It belonged to Mr. Friedman and he was the one who insured it. All I had to do was follow the proper security protocols.

In 1 Chronicles 29:10-20, David has come to the very same conclusion regarding everything he and his people had in the way of “stuff.”

David’s conclusion in these verses was that everything belonged to the Lord. The Lord owned the earth, the air, the animals and all of the wealth.

David acknowledged the people’s willingness to give of their personal wealth, but this acknowledgement was couched in the realization that even what they willingly gave was given to them by the Lord!

What David had was the Lord’s. What the people had also belonged to Him. Even their desire and ability to give was “given” by God!

Americans spend approximately $104 billion dollars a year on personal and home security. Even I am security conscious. Of course, thus far, I stop at insuring my goodies rather than paying an alarm company. I want to be a good manager, but I would hope not to get too obsessed.

Yet I still have to remind myself of my jewelry days; I didn’t worry then because I merely cared for the merchandise as a manager — Mr. Friedman was the owner.

Today, I have to remind my often obsessive-compulsive tendencies of the same fact; I really do not own anything I “have” since God has given me everything. The sooner I acknowledge this and “let go” the better I will be.

And the better and more obedient you will be.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/23/2011 8:41:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for May 29: God’s Righteousness Sets Us Free

May 12 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Romans 8:1-11, 31-39

If you were “into” tennis in the 1990’s, you might remember the name David Wheaton. David played with and against such greats as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

He rose as high as No. 12 in the world rankings in 1991, and garnered the biggest paycheck known to tennis in 1991 when he won the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany.

One might think that victory would be remembered as the epic moment in his life.

However, he explained that after the 12,000 fans filed out of the arena that day, he realized for the first time how desperately empty he was inside.

A couple of years later David Wheaton began reading the Bible and found real life and “freedom” through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Although raised by a Christian family who regularly attended church, David unfortunately let tennis become his god.

This passage is about victory and triumph.

It’s about real and permanent freedom.

But it is not victory, triumph and freedom for everyone. It is about victory, triumph and freedom for the Christian.

One of the questions addressed here is this: Who or what can separate us from the love of God? (v. 35)

For Paul, and for us, this is a powerful question. It is not one for us to “gloss over;” it is a question for serious reflection.

The “love of God” issue is the most important issue in human experience. Personally knowing and experiencing the love of God is the “everything” that Paul wrote of in verse 32. This passage is also the gospel in a nutshell. Without Christ in our lives, we are sinners.

We are in spiritual bondage. But Christ came to “intercede” (v. 34) between God and man, to become man’s righteousness, to set man free. The great gift of salvation is knowing and living in the love of God.

Moreover, that relationship between the Christian believer and God’s love is unbreakable.

If we were to put Paul’s words into 21st century terms, we might say it like this: “No president, no judge, no congress, no friend, no family member, no job, no physical enemy, no spiritual enemy, no false religion, not even Satan and the forces of death has the power or ability to separate the Christian from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus (v. 38-39).

Each Christian has had that moment when he or she came to grips with Jesus Christ and the “love of God.”

Maybe it was in life’s lowest moment, or maybe like David Wheaton, when we thought we had reached the pinnacle of success.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/12/2011 7:56:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 29: Invest in Others

May 12 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Acts 9:26-27; 11:19-26; 15:36-41

I believe it was C.S. Lewis who stated, “We live in the presence of immortals.” Every person we meet, every person with whom we live and work, will end up living forever somewhere.

Yet we will often say a harsh comment to our spouse or to a sales person merely because they irritated us or “we’re in a bad mood.” Why would we treat someone who will live forever as if they will vanish tomorrow?

I believe the two main reasons are fear and selfishness. Sometimes we’re afraid we will be judged by another’s reputation. It could be the new Christian in our church was a drunk, party boy, who had come out of homosexuality or had felony convictions in their past. We might worry that their problems could become our problems. Jesus faced the same problems in His ministry. Even though Christ was “without sin,”

He was called a “friend of drunks and sinners” by the religiously immature (Luke 7:34). Jesus did not separate Himself from those to whom He was ministering.

Instead, it was His personal holiness, His “separateness” to the Father that maintained His reputation — and as Paul wrote in last week’s lesson, it is God who judges in the end. If fear can keep us from obedience and loving as we should, then we must repent and change. The same is true of our selfishness. Selfishness is essentially “self worship.” We, our lives, our wants and our needs are what are truly important to us; we have become our own “god.” When we ask the Lord to open our eyes, to see people as He sees them, we will be broken by the immensity of people’s needs.

Any time we ask God for something He desires us to have, He will give it to us. God is willing to make us more like His Son which means we will love like Jesus loves. Our problem isn’t our ability, time or even courage; our problem lies in our desire and will. When we invest in the temporary, we shouldn’t be surprised to only reap the momentary. There is a sadness which surrounds gaining the things of this world, especially for the believer.

To surround ourselves with the brevity of time only compounds our ignorance of what is real and forever.

If we desire to look like our Savior, we need to see like He does. We must desire to invest in the immortality of those around us. Eternal investment begins by investing in eternity.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/12/2011 7:49:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Formations Lesson for May 22: God’s Righteousness Brings Life

May 9 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Romans 6:1-14

The world is changing. In 2011 we have witnessed massive struggles for government control in North Africa.

These struggles have been proclaimed by many in the media as the overthrow of tyrannical dictatorships in favor of democracy — a real people’s movement. If only it were so easy.

What we see on the world scene today could, however, serve as a metaphor for what happens within the heart of Christian believers. We are also engaged in a spiritual battle, and there are eternal consequences for the victor.

The apostle Paul was a well-traveled man. During his three missionary journeys he had done verbal combat with many adversaries: Judaizers, Gnostics, Stoics, Epicureans, and the Libertines.

To use today’s language, he had confronted the most extreme fundamentalists and the most raging liberals. Not only was he fighting anti-Christian forces outside the church, but he daily battled harmful forces within.

In the context of this passage, however, it seems clear that the spirit and doctrine of the Epicureans and Libertines had infiltrated the church, causing considerable confusion and damage. Simply put, the basic life goal of these groups was “pleasure.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the statement, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” Liberalism resulting in licentiousness was a powerful force in Paul’s world, particularly within metropolitan cities such as Corinth and Rome.

The problem for the Christians, however, was that actions have consequences.

Yes, they were saved by grace, not works.

Yes, faith was more important than circumcision. But grace and faith in Christ also had its expectations. The Christian experience wasn’t a license to sin, and it certainly wasn’t permission to sin more (v. 1-2). In this passage Paul contrasts the old self with the new self, and death to resurrection. Let’s look at these contrasts. Paul says that in the Christian experience, the “old self is crucified.” Christians should consider themselves “dead to sin (v. 11).”

We are not what we were, and we are not to ever return to what we were. Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. That sacrifice had eternal consequences, and we must always take the cross seriously.

As Christians, we now live in a new relationship to God. Jesus Christ has given the Christian “new life.” As Paul said in verse 4, we are to “walk” in a new way of life. Paul is talking “lifestyle” here; daily, growing, genuine and vital. When unbelievers watch us, they should see the “likeness” of Christ. Jesus arose from the grave with a “glorified” body. Our lives are to reflect His glory.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/9/2011 4:26:00 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 22: Pursue God’s Agenda

May 9 2011 by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church

Focal Passages: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Galatians 1:6-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12

I grew up hearing the phrase, “making mountains out of mole hills!”

After hearing my mother say this while at my grandparent’s farm, I decided to check this out for myself. To say the least, I was very disappointed.

I found that a mole hill is little more than a shell of dirt over a hole. When you try to “make” anything out of it, it collapses in on itself — leaving you with a “partially filled” hole.

So, right away I could not understand how anyone could ever make a “mountain” out of this thing.

Of course, the most unpleasant aspect of this “mole hill” scenario is this: when the little dude who lives in the “mole hill” (the mole) runs out of his hole in the direction of the eight-year-old construction engineer, he then “makes” this budding project manager go running for mommy and grandma!

As humans, we have a tendency to allow the small things to obscure much bigger things.

Our lives are thrown into a tizzy because of bad job or health news, an unexpected bill, or we want our way and there is something or someone possibly preventing it.

If we are too close to something, what is behind it (or what is coming) is obscured.

If we allow something to “gain the high ground,” then we lose the ability to see over it.

Paul’s emphasis in the three passages this week is Christ: His importance, His position, His gospel and His church.

It is Christ who stands over all things and who controls every aspect of our lives.

Like a master engineer, He has designed every incident we will experience.

He understands our “tolerances” (he knows we are like the dust), so He custom designs our circumstances so they will never exceed our fragile limitations.

In God’s kingdom, performance is not as important as faithfulness. Since He controls our circumstances, God does not expect His people to be controlled by them.

Rather, obedience is the benchmark by which everything we do will be measured. Our ability to accomplish our tasks rests in our ability to follow Christ.

He, then, must be the most recognizable and familiar person in our lives, since our relationship with Him allows us our confidence.

To further demonstrate His wisdom, He has placed us among others who win, lose, struggle and cry just like we do.

As we pursue God, let’s not forget we lead as we follow.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/9/2011 4:20:00 AM by Jim Grieme, pastor, Watkins Chapel Baptist Church | with 0 comments