May 2018

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 17: Celebrated

May 28 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 5:9-12; 6:12-19
 
Jerusalem is one of the most important cities in the Bible and continues to receive much attention in the world today. After King David is recognized before all Israel, the story transitions quickly to how he captured Jerusalem and made it his capital. His success is attributed to the fact that “the Lord God Almighty was with him” (2 Samuel 5:10).
 
A neighboring nation recognizes David by sending supplies and laborers to construct a palace in Jerusalem. This picture of strength and security drives home the truth that God was providing the resources for accomplishing His plans.
 
God’s works through David are on full display, and those actions reveal His character.
He works in our lives, both in the ups and downs, to bring us closer to Him in our personal relationship with Him. Human beings are designed for the purpose of spiritual relationship with God, so it is no surprise that God intervenes in so many ways to relate to us. Our relationship with God is strengthened further when we worship Him in the ways He prescribes.
 
David joyfully brings the ark of God to his city because that was the place where people could come near to God’s presence (6:12).
 
The people celebrate God by bringing offerings and making sacrifices before the Lord (6:17). Through their dancing, singing and giving of gifts they express their great thankfulness for God’s blessings to them.
 
After hundreds of years of pursuing the Promised Land and longing for a Messiah, they are finally getting a foretaste of God’s ultimate salvation. The essence of true worship is not found in where you are geographically, the clothes you wear (or don’t wear in David’s case, 6:20), or the words you say. Worship is about drawing near to God’s presence “in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
 
Believers can worship God with more joy in their hearts, because they have seen God’s love demonstrated even more clearly in the final sacrifice for sins and the promise of an eternal dwelling with God.
 

5/28/2018 3:08:02 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 17: Why Can’t We Fix It?

May 28 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passages: Deuteronomy 5:32-33, Galatians 3:10-12, 19a, 24-25
 
We are unable to live up to God’s holy standard.
 
Take a stroll through “The Story of North Carolina” exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History and you will most likely discover a collage of military portraits. Inside a small alcove there is a wall littered with the faces of nameless soldiers from the past – citizens willing and ready to sacrifice their lives defending their country.
 
Each of these soldiers was qualified to serve in the Army because they met certain standards.  For example, they were healthy enough, strong enough and of an appropriate age. 
 
Just as the military had standards for those who would join their ranks, God has clear expectations for those who desire to live in relationship with Him and experience His abundant life. In Deuteronomy 5:32, God calls His people to “do just as the Lord your God has commanded you.” His followers are to live in complete obedience. Although I’m certain that behind each somber face in that museum there is a moving story, I am always drawn to one photograph in particular. Hidden in the collage is a lady disguised as a gentleman. It appears as if she meets the military standard, but try as she might, she could never truly qualify as a soldier.   
 
Because of our sin, we will never be able to qualify as living in complete obedience before God. And as Paul explains in Galatians 3:10b, “Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.”
  
There was no perfect solution for the female military imposter, but for those of us who long to live in communion with God, there is hope.  True, we can never perfectly fulfill God’s law, but the law was designed to highlight our helplessness and “lead us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Jesus Christ obeyed the law perfectly and then took our curse upon Himself. He died in our place, and when we place our faith in His substitutionary work on our behalf, we are restored to a right relationship with God and can begin experiencing the true abundant life He designed.
 

5/28/2018 3:06:31 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 10: Crowned

May 28 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 3:8-21
 
The people of God were not united under David at the beginning of his reign.
 
In fact, there was war between his followers and followers from the house of Saul (2 Samuel 3:1). Yet, God’s purposes would be fulfilled as David eventually becomes king over all Israel (5:1-2).
 
No one likes for someone to over-promise a service or other commitment. If they say they can make the delivery before the weekend, we will be disappointed if it’s not on our doorstep until Monday. For David, the Word of God promised that he would be king over Israel, but this promise was not immediately fulfilled.
 
There was civil war, there was treachery and there was division. David was patient and faithful to God despite this apparent delay in receiving what he was promised.
 
Eventually, God gave David an ally from the opposing army and this led to renewed unity among the embattled tribes of Israel.
 
This ally, named Abner, received honor for how he led his followers to commit to God’s purposes with King David. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and Abner realized that in his zeal he was actually running counter to the will of God. Now he could have stood his ground and stubbornly refused to change course, but instead he used his influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan (3:17-21).
 
David was the one who the Lord had chosen to save Israel from its enemies.
 
Second Samuel 3:18 says, “For the Lord promised David, ‘By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.”
 
The earlier attempt by Abner to establish another kingdom was an attempt to fight their battles without divine help, using only human might and reasoning.
 
The surrender to David represented an admission that Israel can only defeat its enemies when it follows God’s chosen servant.
 
The gospel of Jesus Christ says the same thing: victory over our greatest enemy, death, is only secured when we surrender to God’s chosen servant.
 

5/28/2018 3:04:33 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 10: Why Are We in This Mess?

May 28 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Genesis 3:1-7, 14-19
 
We ruined a perfect relationship with God through our sin.
 
My husband recently purchased a bed for his dog Max, and I have never seen a puppy love a mattress more.  Each evening as we drag the bed into his favorite spot, Max barks uncontrollably and runs around in circles.  He is so excited about the prospect of relaxing on memory foam he can hardly stand it.
 
Or at least that’s what I thought.
 
As I made my morning trek to the coffee maker earlier this week, I felt something squishy underneath my feet.  
 
Turning on the lights, I assessed the situation and discovered that our living room was covered in tiny slobbery pieces of foam. Instead of treasuring the good gift from his owner, Max had chewed his mattress into pieces. It was ruined.
 
As I stood there watching Max wallow in his disaster, I was reminded of the disaster in which we find ourselves today.  
 
You see, God created a beautiful earth – a paradise for His beloved humans to manage and enjoy.
 
But instead of living in communion with Him, Adam and Eve chose to sin. They believed the lies of a deceptive serpent over the voice of their Maker and disobeyed God’s commands.
 
This disobedience brought consequences and a curse that plagues the earth even today.
Like Adam and Eve before us, we sin when we do not obey God. And like Adam and Eve, because of our sin, we face consequences – separation from God and the suffering that comes from living in a fallen world.  
 
I’ll be able to order a new mattress for Max, but more than likely, he will destroy his next dog bed, too. The chewing problem is not going away. But praise God, this is not true for our sin problem. Because of God’s great and undeserved love, we have hope that eventually the curse will be destroyed. In Genesis 3:15, God declares that He will send someone to defeat the serpent.  He says, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  There may be no hope for Max, but there is hope for us!
 

5/28/2018 2:58:06 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for June 3: Respected

May 14 2018 by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal passages: 2 Samuel 1:22-27; 2:1-7
 
The books 1-2 Samuel narrate the establishment of the kingship in Israel. Samuel transitions the nation into a monarchy by first anointing Saul and later David as Israel’s first kings. Though Saul felt threatened by his successor to the throne, the younger David always respected and honored the Lord’s anointed ruler who came before him.
 
It isn’t always easy to show respect to the person in charge, especially when they want you dead! Perhaps we don’t agree with decisions made by our boss, pastor or leader in government. Maybe you think you could do a better job.
 
Without much effort, you can find yourself rejoicing in their shortcomings and failures.
Yet, David tore his clothes in anguish upon hearing that Saul and his son Jonathan had been slain in battle. He also composed a song of lament to give words to a nation in mourning for two of its most praised leaders (2 Samuel 1:19-27). David punished the one who killed Saul and rewarded those who recovered his body.
 
God would redeem this tragedy as he led David to go up to the place of the Patriarchs, Hebron, to begin his reign as Israel’s king. David prayed to the Lord following the death of Saul, and followed obediently in the way God directed. The coming chapters describe the military success of King David, but in the end even he would sin against God and His people.
When Israel asked Samuel to appoint a man to lead them, they were rejecting God as their king (1 Samuel 8:7). But God’s redemptive plan for Israel could not be stopped.
 
Genesis 49:10 says, “The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him.” This speaks of another rejected king, Jesus, who would come from the line of David and reign in an eternal Kingdom, and receive the highest praise (2 Sam 7:16; Phil 2:9-11).
 

5/14/2018 2:16:05 PM by Logan Sides, local missions director, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 3: Why Are We Even Here?

May 14 2018 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
 
God created us to live in fellowship with Him.
 
Have you ever found yourself staring at the contents of an open refrigerator? Just this morning, I marched straight into the kitchen, swung wide the refrigerator door and stood there contemplating a half empty bottle of coffee creamer.
 
Within moments I began wondering to myself, “What in the world did I come in here for anyways?” I’ll admit it. I was distracted by the details of my day. And yet, I have a sneaky suspicion I’m not the only one wasting electricity and cold air. You see, many of us have become so preoccupied by our busy schedules that we trudge through each day without ever considering why we live this life. If we were to ever pause long enough to consider our situation, it’s as if we would stand at the refrigerator door of life and exclaim, “What in the world am I here for anyways?”
 
But praise God, scripture reminds us this life is no accidental adventure. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). None of us is here by chance – we were intricately fashioned by a loving God and made in His image.
 
And He didn’t just create us to leave us in our aimlessness. God has given us a purpose – calling us to “be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). We are to bring Him glory by taking care of His creation and living in relationship with Him while sharing His great Name with the world around us.
 
When I enter the kitchen aimlessly, there are consequences – like the size of my waist or the total on my electricity bill. But when I wander aimlessly through life, the consequences are much greater. I forfeit the opportunity to live the abundant and joyful life for which God has created me. Open my refrigerator today and you will find a sticky note right beside my coffee creamer. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance,” and I don’t plan on forgetting that!
 

5/14/2018 2:14:36 PM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for May 27: Finding Strength

May 14 2018 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10; 13:2-8
 
Over the past five years as a lead pastor, there have been multiple occasions – even on Sunday mornings – when my physical health/stamina was greatly depleted. Sometimes that was due to physical fatigue, other times physical illness and still other times emotional exhaustion. No matter the cause, the potential outcome was the same – if God didn’t demonstrate His power in the midst of my weakness, my ministry that day was going to be greatly diminished, or worse.
 
I am so thankful that in every one of those cases, God demonstrated His power in my weakness and accomplished His will and purpose through me.
 
In 2 Corinthians 12-13, Paul makes it clear that God’s strength is most clearly demonstrated in the midst of our weakness. In fact, God made this truth so clear to Paul that Paul actually said he would boast about or glory in his weaknesses, knowing that it would be through His weakness that God’s power would be put on display.
 
There were others around Paul who were claiming their own power and strength and claiming that Paul’s ministry was weak and worthless. Just as Jesus had walked in personal meekness and physical weakness during His earthly ministry while demonstrating the Spirit’s power, so Paul too acknowledged personal weakness to allow God’s power to be evident in/through him. He would even challenge his naysayers to examine their own lives to see if there was any spiritual power and fruit – evidence of redemption – being manifested in them.
 
Where do you seek to find your strength? The reality is, we are all weak. Let’s not, then, try to hide our weaknesses, but rather quickly acknowledge them, finding strength in God and allowing His power to be shown through our weakness.
 
That is how He will receive glory, which should be our greatest desire!
 

5/14/2018 2:12:53 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 1 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 27: Keep Standing

May 14 2018 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Esther 8:1-8; 9:20-22
 
Esther’s final plea to Ahasuerus was that he overturn Haman’s policy of annihilation. She approached the king in humility, falling at his feet and weeping and requested the protection of her people.
 
The king could not overturn Haman’s original order because it had his seal. But he did grant the Jews the right to defend themselves and destroy their enemies. After their victory, Mordecai led the Jewish people to memorialize the event with the feast of Purim.

Remembering God’s victories in the life of Israel has been common practice. Each feast, beginning with Passover, is a reflection of God’s rescue, provision or gracious intervention in their history. The simple fact that the Jewish people still exist and the extent of their influence in Western history points to God as a sovereign promise keeper.
 
Israel has never been a world power. Even at the height of David and Solomon’s kingdom, Israel had regional influence at best. Yet even secular historians recognize the seminal place Jewish theology and worldview played in the development of Western civilization.
 
Hitler was just another Haman who attempted to annihilate the Jews. Anti-Semitism is still rife around the world. Yet, Israel exists. They still remember. They still reflect on the faithful God who has always protected them. The Jewish people still celebrate their feasts.
Their feasts point to something even greater – salvation through Jesus. Jesus is the Passover Lamb. Even Esther foreshadows the coming Messiah. As she bowed in humility and tears begging the king for the lives of her people, Jesus would kneel in humility and tears in the garden before His crucifixion.
 
As the king could not overrule the law with his seal, God the Father could not overlook sin. So Jesus took the penalty demanded by His Father’s law and became the rescue of the people He prayed for. So let us look back at Esther, see Jesus and remember our rescue.
 

5/14/2018 2:11:30 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments