May 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 10: The Faith Dare

May 23 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Joshua 2:1, 6, 8-15; 6:22-23

Was I ever stunned years ago, after some Bible study, when I realized that Rahab was the great great grandmother of King David. That shocked me because I realized at that point, she was in the lineage of Christ’s earthly mother. I had to stop and ponder – how could God use this line of people to bring Jesus into the world? How could He use a prostitute to be a part of the background of Jesus? My mind at that point was asking, “What was He thinking?”
 
Sadly, today we are living in a world that is becoming more blatantly hostile to the message of the Cross. The media, science, education, and the government in general do not encourage Christianity anymore. We are seeing in the news how other religions are given preference over Christian views. The world is basically daring us to stand true to what we believe. As Christians, we are being confronted with the truth of this being a sinful world.
 
We can look at this situation, and become like turtles – pulling ourselves back into our shells and hiding from the world – or, we can look at these challenges as an opportunity from God to respond and move the Kingdom forward.
 
Too often we as the church become complacent and take the stand that faith is simply a blind leap into the dark. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the firm foundation of those confident expectations that we have from God. It calls it evidence. Christianity is not based on an empty hop, but upon a firm foundation of fact.
 
So far, the media, scientists, historians or anyone else has yet to demonstrate that the truth of Christianity is false. Therefore, when faced with the challenges our world places before us, we should not hide, we should accept them readily with faith and be excited to see how God will come through. Going back to the question, “What was God thinking?,” I realized that He was showing vividly that this is a sinful world. We are all sinners – except for that great grace of God!
 
5/23/2012 1:26:14 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 10: Do You Honor Your Commitments?

May 23 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passage: Malachi 2:1-16
 
The pastor’s calling requires a commitment to lead God’s people. Like the Old Testament priests, the pastor should be a reliable source of biblical knowledge and instruction. If he turns from the Word, He too will be a stumbling block. Although the call to entertainment looms large in our society, pastors must embrace Paul’s words to Timothy to preach the word in any season, so God’s people will receive proper reproof, rebuke, and exhortation for both pastors and laymen (2 Timothy 4:2). This text reminds us that God’s people must maintain biblical expectations for their leaders and strive for the same standards in their own lives. After all, the only qualification for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7) that is not expected of all believers is the ability to preach and teach.
 
When Christian leaders fall short of biblical demands, the family of God will feel the impact. As a child I received occasional warnings about disgracing the family name. My father wanted our family to be known as an upright and God-honoring family, so he would remind my sisters and me that our behavior was a reflection on our family’s reputation. The people of Judah despised both God and one another, profaning God’s covenant with them through unacceptable sacrifices and spiritual infidelity, and the priests didn’t stop them. When they departed from God’s covenant their definition of the family of God became greatly distorted. Similarly, when a local church fails to be faithful to the standards of the New Covenant, the spiritual family changes into a mixed multitude of believers and nonbelievers. 
 
The spiritual health of God’s family is directly connected to the spiritual health of its biological families. The men of Malachi’s day divorced the wives of their youth and married unbelieving foreign women.
 
If we love God from the heart, we will keep our commitment to Him and the commitments we’ve made in His name. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
 
5/23/2012 1:25:17 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Hurdle Mills | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 3: The Leadership Dare

May 21 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Joshua 1:1-11, 16-18
 
I remember growing up challenging one another to do something. We would point and say, “I dare you.” If this wasn’t enough, we would call out, “I double dare you!”
 
God does not say, “I dare you” in the passages we are studying this week, however He does put out a challenge by the example of Joshua. The challenge? To accept positions of leadership in our respective churches.
 
John Maxwell teaches that leadership is influence. Every one of us are leaders – whether we realize it or not. Every person influences at least one other. This influence may be positive or negative. People watch us regularly, and the way we act creates an influential response in that person. This should challenge each of us to be aware of even the small things we do.
 
I used to be a principal of a Christian elementary school. As I walked around the building and grounds I would stop and pick up any trash. A second grade student asked me why I did this. I told them that I wanted our school to look nice for others. The next day I saw that same student picking up some trash on the playground. Another student asked them why.
 
The response, “Don’t you want our school to look nice?” My example led others to respond in like manner. I realized that this works both for the positive and could also work to the detriment of others.
 
God grants us many opportunities to “lead” others by the influence we have. We may be like those who say that nobody is following them. But, people watch us regularly. The clerk at the store, our neighbors next door, the young child at church – we may not see it, but they are watching.
 
In every church there are jobs and positions that need to be filled. God has placed people in the respective churches to fill those needs. When a church is lacking leadership – it is usually because those whom God has placed and called are not accepting the call. Step up – “I dare you!”
5/21/2012 1:11:08 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 3: Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

May 21 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passage: Malachi 1:1-14
 
How do you perceive God’s love toward you? Is it a superficial love, concerned mostly with your health and wealth, that waivers based on your performance? J.D. Greear corrects this popular notion in his book Gospel: “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.” God chose to loves us, not what He can get from us. Anything less would not be grace!
 
Discounting the love of God always hinders our worship. In Malachi’s day Israel’s worship was marked by form without substance, yielding irrelevant sacrifices. How can we call a leftover reject a sacrifice? If we worship God in spirit and truth all of life will be a sacrifice of praise to God, bringing together words and deeds to glorify God. Otherwise He could rightly say to us what Eliza Doolittle sang in My Fair Lady, “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words ... If you’re in love show me.” We offer true, God-honoring worship when we embody Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” When we fail to love God supremely we reveal that our priorities have slipped and someone or something now receives our greatest affection. Jesus warned us of this tendency: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
 
The closing verses of Malachi 1 tell us what’s ultimately at stake: God’s glory. When our worship becomes carnal, we substitute God’s glory with our own. Nevertheless, God tells us His glory will be great among the nations. No matter how many years we have worshipped God, we must never let His glory diminish. According to an old saying, familiarity breeds contempt. At the very least we must admit that familiarity breeds apathy. If you don’t think so, look at your car. The same car that once was spotless, now contains stains, trash, and enough fast food crumbs to feed a small army. What happened? May that not be true of our walk with the Lord.  
5/21/2012 1:10:07 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Hurdle Mills | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 27: He Lives Eternally: Carry On

May 9 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passages: Luke 23:50-24:12, 36-53
 
I recently heard a story about a missionary preaching in a bazaar in Northern India. As he closed, a Muslim gentleman came up and said, “You must admit we have one thing you have not, and it is better than anything you have.”
 
The missionary smiled and said, “I should be pleased to hear what it is.” The Muslim said, “You know when we go to Mecca we at least find a coffin. But when you Christians go to Jerusalem, which is your Mecca, you find nothing but an empty grave.”
 
But the missionary just smiled and said, “That is just the difference. Mohammed is dead; Mohammed is in the coffin. And false systems of religion and philosophy are in their coffins, but Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is to include all nations and kindreds and tribes, is not here; He is risen. And all power in heaven and on earth is given unto Him. That is our hope.”
 
It is that knowledge and blessed hope that challenges (or should challenge) every believer.
 
We do not serve a dead religious leader or a dead useless religion. We have a Savior – Jesus – who is alive and standing by the throne of God (Acts 7:55, 56).
 
A professor I once studied under said that he believed Jesus would not sit down on the throne until all of God’s children are safely home.
 
Much like the little boy who waited for weeks to go to a friend’s birthday party. When the day finally arrived, a blizzard made the sidewalks nearly impassable.
 
The boy’s father told him he couldn’t go – it was too dangerous.
 
Tearfully the boy pleaded to go. The father thought a moment, and then agreed to let him go. The blizzard was harsh, and it took him more than half an hour to trudge the short distance to the party.
 
As he rang the doorbell, he turned briefly to look back and saw a retreating figure – it was his father.
 
He had followed him to make sure he arrived safely.
 
He will see us safely home. That is our hope and assurance.
5/9/2012 4:34:44 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 27: A Legacy of Love

May 9 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Acts 17:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
 
People want to be loved. Even those without a belief in God often say that the greatest thing is to love and be loved. This final lesson on leaving a legacy is important because it reminds us that God is the ultimate source of love. He loved us first. Everyone needs to know that they can experience God’s love and, in turn, share that love with others. We are called to love God, love others, and live that mission. 
 
Are you sharing this legacy of love with others on a regular basis? Be ready to share the gospel using the scriptures as Paul did in Acts 17:2. The authority of God’s Word is greater than any rhetoric man can devise.
 
Consider different ways you can effectively communicate God’s love in today’s world.
 
Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians remind us that we are compelled by love to share this legacy – the good news of Christ. Pray that God would burden you to share the love of Christ with lost people. Pray for divine appointments too.
 
I encourage you to examine your life regularly and ask which of the qualities in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 do you wish to see developed in your life: (1) Your works produced by faith? (2) Your labor prompted by love? Or (3) Your endurance inspired by hope in Jesus?
 
Billy Graham said: “Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”
 
Let’s choose to be faithful witnesses sharing this legacy of love with others. This is the calling and privilege of every believer and can be accomplished as we pray regularly for others and depend on the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.
5/9/2012 4:33:26 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 20: He Offers Salvation: Believe

May 7 2012 by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg

Focal Passage: Luke 22:66-23:49
 
It seems every so often the question of “Who killed Jesus” comes up. For ages the accusation was leveled that it was the Jews who killed Him. This has caused a great deal of isolating, torturing, killing and looting of Jews for the last 2,000 years.
 
Others say it was the Romans. Crucifixion was a Roman means of execution and torture. It was Roman soldiers who hammered the nails. Centurions were on guard at the cross.
 
Under the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, they forced Him to Calvary and then killed Him. Some compromise and say that it was both – Jews and Gentiles.
 
Together they killed Jesus. Some say we did it with our own sins.
 
What is important in this debate is that one understands the meaning of the question. When considering the definition of the word “killed” one finds that it is defined as committing murder, to deprive of life, to destroy. When reading the scriptural account of the crucifixion, we find that this question is not even relevant.
 
When we consider the definition of kill – no one did.
 
When you put the gospel accounts together, from the Last Supper to His last words, Jesus was totally in control. At any point He could have called a halt to the proceedings. At any point He could have stepped away without the suffering and pain. As the songwriter says, “He could have called 10,000 angels” to come to His aid. But, you and I should be thankful that He didn’t. Because He gave Himself freely, He saved me instead.
 
While suspended between heaven and earth, He sought forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him. He hung there in obedience to God giving us the means to come back to God. Forgiving the thief crucified with Him also shows that if we ask He will forgive and provide salvation.
 
As Ronnie Hinson has penned, “When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.” He is the only way for salvation; there is no other way. What keeps us from receiving Him or living for Him today?
5/7/2012 1:44:58 PM by Thomas Marshall, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Laurinburg | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 20: A Legacy of Faith

May 7 2012 by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: Genesis 22:1-3, 7-14; 26:2-5
 
Hebrews 11 records that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Without faith we cannot please God, and we have nothing of eternal value to pass on to others, which is extremely important for the future and for daily living too.
 
Over the years Abraham had learned to trust God. He knew that God was dependable. In Genesis 22:1 we read that “Some time later God tested Abraham.” Having already learned to rely upon the Lord, Abraham was not receiving a final exam to test it. We each face some “how-far-will-you-go” tests in life, many of which center on trusting God and/or other people. Where do you sense God is testing you now? What are you learning from it? If God has asked you to give up something or someone special, have you obeyed God and found some new reassurance? Where do you get the strength to say “yes” to God when everything else inside of you says “no”?
 
Philip Yancey wrote, “Faith is trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Elton Trueblood remarked, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” Finally, Elizabeth Elliot noted, “True faith goes into operation when there are no answers.” Abraham knew and lived this kind of faith. Our devotion to God should be such that we trust and obey Him, even when doing so is extraordinarily difficult. Abraham knew that he should not hold anything more dearly than his relationship with God. Do you? Did you notice that Abraham’s obedience was immediate (v. 3)? He did not know how God would provide; he simply trusted.
 
Your faithfulness to God impacts others. It can have a lasting impact on those you may never see in your lifetime. Your legacy of faith can extend into future generations, so hold fast to the One who is faithful and true. Be faithful to our Lord and see the ripples that affect current and future generations.
5/7/2012 1:40:57 PM by Jeff Meyer, associate pastor of education, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments