May 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 9: Was It My Fault?

May 24 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Job 4:6-7; 6:2-3, 24; 8:4-8; 11:6b, 13-15; 13:4, 22-25
           
A friend once told me the following story: He and his wife and their two children were visiting his parents. His daughter, age 7, went to use the bathroom. Meanwhile his son, age 9, went into the adjacent bedroom. A minute or so later they heard what sounded like a gunshot. Their daughter screamed.
 
Immediately the father and mother rushed to both rooms. Their daughter was safe and their son had a rifle in his hands. He had pulled the trigger and tragedy was averted by about two feet as the bullet passed through the connecting wall and exited the bathroom window. The family was both relieved and upset.
 
Yes, they had dodged a bullet, literally, but who was at fault? Who was to blame? Was it the one who had left the ammunition in the gun? Was it the parents? Was it the son?
 
Accidents and misfortune happen to all of us. Sometimes we call it an act of nature. Sometimes it is carelessness. Sometimes it is ignorance. Sometimes it is malice.
 
Today’s text covers the first series of speeches between Job and his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. The conversations were an effort to sort it all out, to find out who was at fault and why, to make sense of events that were almost incomprehensible. Let’s look at it from both vantage points.
 
Job: He admits to overwhelming grief, his feelings are raw. He wants to know what he did wrong.
 
He is saying to God, “Just show me. I can take it. Just don’t leave me in the dark.” The trio of friends: Their thesis is found in 4:6-7, “This wouldn’t happen to the innocent and honest.” They make an analysis of possible or probable causes and come up with two – either the sins of Job’s children or his own.
 
Because there must be sin or sins involved, Job needed to confess any possible discretion, to “come clean.” He needed to redirect his heart. Somehow Job or his family must be at fault.
5/24/2013 1:20:11 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 9: God Chooses a People

May 24 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Genesis 12:1-7; 15:5-8, 13-17
 
Based on nothing but His sovereign grace, God called Abram to leave the idolatrous land of his ancestors and go to a new unknown place. We find one of God’s greatest promises to Abram at the end of Genesis 12:3: “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” God was going to build the nation of Israel from Abram’s descendants, but He was going to use Abram in a way that would bless even the Gentiles. God used Abram but it was not for Abram’s glory. God desires to do great things through us, but His plans are never ultimately about us – they are for His glory!
 
I have been blessed to rejoice in the salvation of both children and adults, and some of those adults have been well past retirement. Abram was 75 when God called. Imagine all the excuses he could have offered considering his age, his wealth, his family and his comfort. Nevertheless, he packed up his wife, his nephew, his servants, and all his possessions (Remember, he was rich!), and headed for the land of Canaan. Abram never fully possessed the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:13), but He believed God would give it to his descendants. Consequently, he built an altar to worship “the Lord who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7). The only reason we can worship God is because He has made Himself known to us through Jesus Christ. Our response to that revelation must be faithful obedience. When God says, “Go!” we must go.
 
Abram needed a descendant to be a blessing to all nations, and God told him of descendants as numerous as the stars before he had a son. Abram believed God would provide a son, and God declared him righteous because of his faith. God’s presence passed between the halves of the sacrifice to confirm His presence and His promise. When Jesus came, God the Son walked among men and provided the atoning sacrifice that would make believing Jews and Gentiles children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:14).  
5/24/2013 1:17:15 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 2: Is This Really Happening to Me?

May 22 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Job 1:1-3, 8-11, 20-22; 2:7, 9-10
           
April 15, 2013, is a day that will not quickly be forgotten. Why? Not because it was tax day, but because it was the day known as the “Boston Marathon Bombing.” Innocent people lost lives and limbs. Eight-year-old Martin Richard was killed instantly. His sister, age 6, lost a leg. His mother, Denise, had to have surgery for a brain injury. The Richard family was devastated, and people all over the world were asking “Why?” 
 
There are times in everyone’s life when one thinks, “Is this really happening to me?” We’re not prepared for the losses coming upon us: loss of a job, loss of health, loss of wealth, loss of a friendship, loss of a life.
 
We may describe the experience as either surreal or a nightmare. We pray we will wake up and discover it was only a bad dream.
 
A few years ago there was a brutal murder in our town. A young woman was killed by an ex-boyfriend. At the family visitation, a friend of mine said very bluntly, “We shouldn’t be here.” And he was right. This type of tragedy should not have happened, not to her, not to anyone.
 
Job certainly was asking himself this same question, “Is this really happening to me?” The losses he suffered made no sense. He was a righteous man. He feared God (v. 2). If anyone on earth deserved God’s protection from evil, it was Job.
 
For a moment, let us examine this man. Job had a great family, he was very wealthy, and he loved God. He had no reason not to expect God’s favor. He became, however, a pawn in Satan’s ploy to try to disgrace God. Satan’s argument was that Job’s fear of God was based upon his affluence, his blessing; therefore, if that “hedge” of protection was removed, Job would curse God (v. 10-11).
 
The text tells us that everything valuable and precious to Job was taken away, except his wife and his life. Would he ever make sense of it all?
5/22/2013 2:49:59 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 2: God Begins the Story

May 22 2013 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Genesis 1:1, 26-27; 2:15-17; 3:6-7, 14-19, 23-24
 
My family and I are blessed to live in the country and enjoy several animals, including a dog, cats, chickens, ducks, goats and a guinea. No matter how much I enjoy caring for animals, none of them are my children. When I get older I won’t have a granddog. While Christians may choose to use such terminology comically, we must never cross the line that says, “Animals are people, too!” Only humans are created in the image of God which gives them the capacity to know Him and worship Him. Although I baptized a few cats in our kiddie pool when I was a child, I never saw the first convert!
 
We as people are the highest part of creation, yet animals can help us see our carnality and selfishness. Have you ever watched a duck eat? As a father of four, I thought I’d seen mealtime messes. You can give a duck the purest water available and he will turn it to slop in seconds. Because he needs to rinse his sinuses and wash down his meal, the duck will ruin the water he shares with every other animal. Why? He’s looking out for Number One! Adam and Eve chose to love themselves more than God and consequently rejected His law and attempted to write their own. They fell into Satan’s trap and reaped a harvest of spiritual separation and judgment. They hid in shameful nakedness and tried to blame God and Satan instead of accepting their own guilt.
 
A choice that was supposed to make them wise and God-like broke their perfect fellowship with God and with each other – yet there is hope! In the midst of pronouncing the curse, God shared the first evangelistic message: The serpent’s head would be crushed by the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ! Adam’s sin tainted the spiritual water for all mankind, but by faith in Christ we have access to “the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17). I recently saw a church sign that summarized these truths: God formed. Sin deformed. Jesus transforms!
5/22/2013 2:47:39 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 26: Look for Good Works

May 9 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 3:1-15
           
You may know the name William Wilberforce from the excellent movie, “Amazing Grace.” Wilberforce’s impact on the British world came from the position he held in Parliament. Though mired in the minority, he relentlessly pressed the cause of slaves and the poorest of the poor. While he was noted for helping educate children and improving living conditions for textile workers and other low wage-earners, he was most identified for his stalwart efforts to end the slave trade. After his evangelical conversion in 1785, Wilberforce took to rising early in the morning to read his Bible and write in his journal. One of his greatest character traits was his steadfast devotion to the spiritual values he deemed right and good.
 
Britain’s eventual abolition of slavery came within days of Wilberforce’s death.

Preceding Wilberforce, a humble Quaker by the name of John Woolman was influencing folks throughout the eastern seaboard of America regarding the evils of slavery. Woolman and a friend spent weeks in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina observing slavery. As a preacher and layman, Woolman consistently spoke against it. Greater than his words were his actions. He boycotted using products made with slave labor. He refused to take free lodging in places where slaves were employed. Unlike some who dogmatically defend on principle, Woolman invited dialog and disagreement, that he might learn from them and share an opposing view. Woolman and Wilberforce were good men, motivated to good works because of their Christian faith. 
 
Good works are important testimonies to the Christian’s faith. We should consciously seek to do as much good as we can (v. 8). We should remember, however, that works always follow faith, and faith comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul identified this inward working as the “washing of regeneration,” a “renewal by the Holy Spirit.” In the poetry of verses 4-7, the key word is “He” – God as Father, Son and Spirit.
5/9/2013 3:22:07 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 26: Giving Others What They Really Need

May 9 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Proverbs 11:12-14; 17:17; 18:24; 27:5-6, 9-10, 17; 28:23; 29:10
 
The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born out of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). I believe many Christians today do not understand what it means to truly love someone. In our culture, we have confused love with acceptance – especially in the area of relationship. Our culture tells us that if we genuinely love someone we would be supportive of their lifestyle choices. That is not love at all if we believe those choices will lead to destructive behavior. Love is more than affirmation; it can also involve confrontation and isolation (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Of course, no one wants trouble or hardship, but true love may demand it. Love is doing what is best for a person according to God’s Word, even if it brings adversity. Tragically, many denominations have also confused acceptance with love.
 
Many years ago I had the privilege to go to the Middle East for 26 days with other seminary students from various dominations. Many of the students from the other seminaries did not have a high view of scripture. Throughout our trip we had many lively discussions.
 
Although we did not agree on many things I naively thought we would agree on certain things. As I began talking to this future pastor, she told me that she and her boyfriend were living together. Evidently, her denomination (which was a mainline denomination) approved of this lifestyle. I’m sure she did not think I was a very loving person after our discussion, but that was not the case. I was very gentle in my response because I wanted God’s best for her and her fiance, and living together before marriage was not it. However, because I did not affirm her actions it was seen as unloving.
 
Giving others what they need is not the same as giving others what they want. A true friend will be honest with you and love you enough to tell you the truth. Sometimes that is very difficult, but with much prayer God will give you the wisdom and strength to stand strong and make a difference. 
5/9/2013 3:19:35 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 19: Look for Spiritual Excellence

May 7 2013 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Titus 2:1-15
           
John Wooden was nicknamed the “Wizard of Westood” because of his almost magical accomplishments as head basketball coach of UCLA. Over a 12-year period his teams won 10 NCAA championships, and during one three-year stretch, won 88 consecutive games. He coached dozens of future NBA stars and was national coach of the year six times. If there is anyone who has ever lived in the last century who truly understood excellence, it was John R. Wooden. Some may not know, however, about Wooden’s Christian faith.  Here is one of his more famous quotes: “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”
 
Wooden never forgot his humble origins in Indiana. He was the ultimate husband, family man and Christian, once saying that “when he died, he hoped there was enough evidence of his faith to convict him.”
 
He was not a “flash in the pan.” When he arrived at UCLA, he inherited a team with a losing record, and it would be 15 years before he would hoist a NCAA championship banner. In this great text, Paul is exhorting Titus and the congregation to excel by setting an example of integrity, dignity, sensibility and good works. It is a text for families. Older men, younger men, older women and younger women are all given instruction for godly living; the standard is high because God expects and demands nothing less. 
 
Perhaps the focal verse should be verse 8. As a leader, Titus’ message was to be sound, solid, beyond reproach. The message, however, extended far beyond the words that Titus would teach or preach. The message was also in the content of his character. People can always criticize our words, even scripture itself, but they can’t honestly demean a life lived the way God intended. Truth be told, that is exactly what the world is looking for.
5/7/2013 2:41:18 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 19: Becoming a Person Others Need

May 7 2013 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Proverbs 6:6-11, 16-19, 23-27
 
As a pastor, I have worked with numerous couples whose marriage was in significant trouble. Sometimes their issues stemmed from external factors, but most of the time their problems came from ungodly character traits. Do not misunderstand me; I realize we all make a sinful contribution to our relationships. Indeed, even on our best days we do not handle our relationship perfectly. However, I have noticed that when relationships begin to get in trouble it is because people have refused to admit or address their character deficiencies. I have a pastor friend who used to say, “We are a lot more ‘wickeder’ than we give ourselves credit for.” His statement is bad grammar, but good theology. Many Christians tend to see themselves in a more favorable light when the reality is they have major issues. Their refusal to address those issues not only hurts themselves, but also hurts those around them.
 
Are there character issues in your life that need to be addressed? If so allow God’s Word to speak into your life, and you will become more like Christ and have a greater impact on those around you.
 
Let me close with a personal illustration: I’ve always wanted to get up early to spend time with the Lord in Bible study and exercise. The problem was I would never do it. One morning when I was lying in bed God reminded me of two verses. Proverbs 6:9-11, “How long will you lie there O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” The second verse was, “As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed” (Proverbs 26:14). Ever since that morning I have tried to be more diligent in getting up early. I have failed numerous times, but because my family sees me striving to allow God’s Word to shape my life, it has inspired them to do the same.
5/7/2013 2:38:01 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments