May 2019

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 9: On Mission

May 28 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
In his book The Generals, Thomas Ricks relates the changes that took place in the United States Army leadership during the 20th century. Beginning with World War I, Ricks describes shifting philosophies that worked or didn’t work during the century’s conficts. In WWII, George Marshall developed a teamwork leadership model and implemented a strategy with the clear purpose of working together with all the allies to defeat the Axis Powers.
Clear mission with a clear strategy resulted in success. In contrast, Army strategy and leadership philosophy in Vietnam faltered.
The conflict lacked a clear mission, failed to develop adequate leadership, experienced stateside political distraction and did not hold officers or enlisted men to the high standard that had been set in previous conflicts. It is unsurprising then that WWII is remembered as a victory and Vietnam is not.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-15, Paul advocates a similar approach to pastoral leadership. Our mission must be prioritized – God desires the salvation of people through Jesus Christ (vv. 4-6). We should pray for government officials so that distractions and geopolitical difficulties will not inhibit the spread of the gospel (vv. 1-3). We should carry ourselves with an attitude of prayer and peace so that anger and quarreling will not distract from the mission (v. 8). We should not focus on outward appearances, personal image, nor allow gender and theological divisions to hinder the mission (vv. 9-15).
In short, Paul admonishes Timothy to keep his priorities straight. Major on the gospel. Keep minor issues from becoming major distractions. The implications of 1 Timothy 2 are vital for pastors and church members.
When we pray together faithfully, the priority of the gospel takes center stage. When we focus on the gospel, we necessarily focus less on our image, our platform or our opinions. When we organize our church leadership upon a biblical framework, we operate out of God’s expectations and can more faithfully live on mission.
Are you clear about the mission of the gospel? Or are you living distracted?

5/28/2019 1:22:43 PM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 9: Deborah: Encouraging Faith

May 28 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: Judges 4:1-9; 5:1-5
I will never forget my friend William*. He was very outgoing with a magnetic personality. He would not, however, have considered himself a spiritual leader. You can imagine his surprise when I came and asked him to pray about teaching adult Sunday School.
Someone had observed in a men’s study that William asked great questions and made insightful comments from his own time of studying God’s Word. I was overjoyed when, not that much later, William was not only leading an adult Sunday School class but also leading a men’s Bible study that involved nearly 100 men.
God allowed me to use my faith in Him and the influence He had given to me to call someone else to greater faith in, and service of, Him for the advance of His Kingdom. Afterward, we had the opportunity to rejoice together at all we had seen God do and to praise God for what He had done. Such was the case with Deborah. As judge and prophetess, she was a faithful servant of the one true God, even during the time of the judges – a period marked by the rollercoaster experiences of idolatry and disobedience, followed by repentance and God’s deliverance, followed by further idolatry and disobedience. Deborah not only walked by faith in God and in faithful service to Him, but she also used her influence to call others to an active faith as well, seen in her enlistment of Barak. She was also quick to sing praise to God, then, for His powerful work.
This is a repeating pattern we see in God’s work throughout scripture. God does His work in and through one of His faithful servants who then uses his or her example and influence to call others to faithful service to God as well. As a result, God’s Kingdom is advanced, God receives glory, and those who have been used by God praise Him for what He has done. Who has God put in your life that you could encourage toward greater faith and obedience for God’s glory and the advance of His Kingdom?
* Name changed

5/28/2019 1:21:24 PM by Randy Mann, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for June 2: Entrusted

May 23 2019 by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 1:3-17
I’ll never forget those first few hours with our firstborn son. My wife and I were eagerly anticipating the birth of a child we had been praying for and preparing for. We hoped we were ready. In the hospital room it hit me. I’m responsible for the well-being and development of this little boy. God entrusted me with him.
Being entrusted is not the same as being given a gift. When we receive a gift, it is ours, but when we are entrusted with something, we remain responsible to the giver. We remain responsible because the gift still carries value for the one who gave it. In a similar, yet astoundingly more important way, we as followers of Jesus have been entrusted with the gospel.
Paul shared the gospel with Timothy, mentored him and appointed him an elder in the church. Then he entrusted Timothy (1:18) with the gospel. This meant that the gospel was not Timothy’s possession, nor was it Paul’s possession. The gospel belongs to God. Yet, we’ve been entrusted with it, and we are responsible for what we do with it.
What we do with the gospel reflects not only on us, but on the true owner of the gospel – Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of Timothy, Paul reflects on our responsibilities that flow from the entrusted gospel. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to love others with a pure heart. A failure to love is a failure to reflect the gospel. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to sound doctrine. Timothy faced the challenges of people who would major on minors, get bogged down in speculative arguments and minimize the Old Testament law. Without the foundation of the law and sound biblical doctrines which underscore human sinfulness, the gospel cannot be good news. The entrusted gospel makes us responsible to our Savior. Jesus saved us from our sins and privileged us to serve him. As His followers, we are now responsible to the One who entrusted us with His Good News.

5/23/2019 11:32:15 AM by Chris Hefner, pastor, Wilkesboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 2: Rahab: Courageous Faith

May 23 2019 by Randy Mann, pastor Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: Joshua 2:1-14
Perhaps you have heard the adage, “The same sun that melts wax hardens clay.” I thought about that statement as I read Joshua 2, considering the radically different response of Rahab as compared with the people of Jericho. They had been confronted with the same awesome force – the obvious power of the Almighty God of Israel. And yet, their responses could not have been more different.
The hearts of the people of Jericho melted within them, like wax in the noonday sun, like chocolate on the dash of a hot car. The heart of Rahab, however, galvanized into confident courage. What was the difference?
On the one hand, the people of Jericho didn’t respond with faith in the God of Israel. They were simply overcome with paralyzing fear because of His mighty power. They knew they had no hope of overcoming this one who had the power to part the Red Sea and they were terrified. On the other hand, Rahab saw the same power of God on display and responded with reverential fear (awe) and faith – recognizing Him as “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” And this fear (reverence) of God and faith in God led Rahab to action.
Rahab’s faith in the one true God overflowed with courageous action. She was not crippled with fear regarding what the men, or even the king, of Jericho might do to her. Whatever fear she could have had toward them paled in comparison to her fear of, and faith in, the true God of Israel. Rahab’s courageous response was not simply a demonstration of human boldness in a trying situation. It was an overflow from a heart of faith in the one true God. The writer of Hebrews leaves no doubt when he includes Rahab in the famous “hall of faith” chapter, noting that she acted “by faith” in God.
Do others see you walking with confident courage because of your faith in the one true God? Ask God to help you flee from the fear of man and to walk in courageous faith for His glory.

5/23/2019 11:30:14 AM by Randy Mann, pastor Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 26: Lives

May 14 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 15:42-47; 16:1-8
How would you react if someone presented you with the opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do? I imagine you would be speechless. Some people would be overwhelmed or even uncontrollable.
I love adventures. If someone provided the opportunity to go and trek some of the highest peaks in the world, I would be surprised. A part of me would be afraid, but I would still be filled with amazement.
In our focal text, an angel delivers a message that provides three women with wonderful news.
Mark reveals that Jesus died for all and yet He is alive. As much as this news would fill them with joy, the women are left with “trembling and astonishment” (v. 8). And with the command of “go” given, they were “afraid” and “said nothing to anyone.”
While the ending in Mark may seem abrupt, more context is provided in Matthew 28:8. We can say that while they left the tomb “afraid,” (Mark 16:8) they were yet “filled with joy” (Matthew 28:8). However, Mark does not place focus on joy. Instead, he places emphasis on their astonishment.
The angel told them three things: He has risen; He is not here (v. 6), go tell the disciples (v. 7), and they will see Christ again (v. 7). These things are exactly what Joseph of Arimathea was looking for in Mark 15:43 – the Kingdom of God. Here, the reader can appreciate how Mark ties the end of his book to its beginning.
Mark refreshes the mind of the reader that the Kingdom of God is connected to the gospel (Mark 1:15). Christ is the Good News. As we observe throughout the book of Mark, people were continually amazed or astonished at Jesus’ work, so let us remember that we serve an amazing God.

5/14/2019 8:26:07 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 26: Exploit Your Friends

May 14 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Luke 16:1-12
Just as we are accountable to the way we love our neighbors, God also cares about how we use our resources and opportunities.
Jesus shared a parable about a man who was given the responsibility over a rich man’s possessions.
The rich man hears that his steward is not being responsible, so he calls upon him to give an account as to why he is being wasteful. The master warns the steward that his wastefulness will cost him his stewardship.
Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me ... I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses’” (Luke 16:3-4).
The steward gathers those who owe his master and asks them how much they owe. He then tells each debtor to pay a fraction of what they owe immediately, so that when he is found guilty he will at least have friends among the debtors.
Although his actions were unjust, the steward was dedicated to having his way. Are we as persistent in serving God with our resources and opportunities as this steward was in serving himself?
Regardless of the amount, size or capacity of our skills, resources and opportunities, we are simply stewards of what first belongs to our Lord.
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is also unjust in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).
Let us be faithful when we have little and when we’re afraid of running out.
And let us be faithful when our cup overflows so that Christ will always be our true confidence and security.

5/14/2019 8:24:25 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 19: Prepares

May 3 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 14:3-11, 32-36
I remember the night I got a call from a family member saying they could no longer take care of their child. As my wife and I stepped in to take on the challenge of raising a child for the first time, we were venturing into unchartered territory. After getting back to our home around one in the morning, I knew we needed to rightly prepare ourselves in the area of child rearing.
As I completely underestimated the preparation, so too I believe we underestimate the preparation Jesus undertook as He went to the cross.
As we read an account where Jesus is physically being prepared (v. 8) with perfume, we later see Jesus mentally preparing in the Garden of Gethsemane with the Father. The text notes that Jesus was “deeply distressed and troubled” (v. 33) and His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v. 34). As Mark refers to Jesus as the “Son of Man” throughout his book, we get an incredible glimpse into Jesus’ humanity.
As the main point of the lesson notes, Jesus paid the price for our sin by submitting to the Father’s will.
As Jesus submits to the Father’s will, three points can be drawn: having those who are close to you (v. 33), keeping watch (v. 34) and praying (v.3 5).
Looking back, my wife and I prepared ourselves by reading what seemed at the time every blog about child rearing.
Although accepting this child into our home was not something we had planned, it was a part of the Father’s plan. As a result, we have been truly blessed by it.
As we submit to God’s plan for our lives, I encourage you to get involved in a small group within your church. Live life together. Keep watch by being accountable to others and keeping one other from theological error. Most importantly, pray for one another to seek God’s will for their life.
What price are you paying to submit to God’s will?

5/3/2019 11:38:02 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 19: Hate Your Family

May 3 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Luke 14:25-35
In Luke 14:25-27 Jesus makes one of the most compelling, and often misunderstood, comparisons in the Bible.
Upon meeting people for the first time, He says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”
Being a disciple of Jesus is an all-in commitment.
It is one that must take priority over all else and requires complete devotion from us so that we would not attempt to serve two masters or worship anything other than God.
When Jesus challenges the great multitude before Him to hate their families and their own lives, He is not denying anyone dignity or self-respect.
On the contrary, Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Notice He included loving ourselves as a part of the equation.
This scripture addresses what it truly means to surrender to our Savior. In submission to Christ, all we once considered ours, including our own lives, are now His.
And because everything belongs to God, and to Him we give first priority, our love for all else should seem dull in comparison to our love for Jesus.
Knowing what it will take to follow Christ should compel us to count the cost of surrendering our lives to Him. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it …” (Luke 14:28-33).
The devotion we are called to when following Jesus is compared to the flavor and purpose of salt in Luke 14:34-35.
Is your love and devotion to Christ one that sets you apart from a world? Does the way you love God lead others to worship Him, too?

5/3/2019 11:36:42 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for May 12: Promises

May 3 2019 by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest

Focal passage: Mark 13:24-37
Each Sunday after church, if the weather is nice, I take my children outdoors to play. My children are old enough to play on the playground while my wife and I jog around a nearby field with friends.
As the adults finish their run, my children automatically know it’s almost time to leave. When I asked how they knew, I found it interesting that they understand what is coming by occasionally glancing in our direction.
They simply notice that we are walking toward them.
Similarly, scripture informs us that Christ’s coming will be evident. When Christ died on the cross (Luke 23:45; Matthew 27:51), even the centurion knew He was the “Son of God” (v. 39). If my children know the time has come by simply seeing us walk toward them, then how much more will we know Christ has returned for His children?
Indeed, Christ’s return will be so noticeable that it helps us identify false messiahs. Six times in Mark 13 the reader is told to “be on guard” or some variation (vv. 5, 9, 23, 33, 35, 37).
Some of the dangers include people who come in Christ’s name (v. 5), persecution (v. 13) and false messiahs and false prophets (v. 22).
Even today, there are people who claim to be messiahs. The Unification Church in South Korea was made popular by Sun Myung Moon, a false prophet who claimed to be the messiah.
Not only was he a false messiah, but his arrival on the scene was anything but grand.
With the main focus of the passage emphasizing the nearness of Christ’s coming and that we are to be on guard, we should consider the widow, who “put in everything,” at the end of Mark 12.
The same sentiment “stand firm till the end” is echoed in 13:13 and again in verse 36.
What potential dangers should your church watch for?

5/3/2019 11:34:29 AM by Mike Parry, member, North Wake Church, Wake Forest | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for May 12: Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

May 3 2019 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham

Focal passages: Luke 9:57-62
As a new believer I assumed one of the most common misconceptions about being a disciple: I thought Christianity promised smooth sailing and an easier life.
I soon realized following Christ comes with unexpected costs.
In Luke 9:57-58, we learn that following Him does not guarantee comfort. If the Messiah has no place to lay His head for rest, what guarantee do those who follow Him have?
Jesus then calls a man to follow him and the man responds, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-60). Not only was Jesus saying that delayed obedience is disobedience, but He was also calling this man to be more devoted to following Christ than to burying his own father.

The interaction doesn’t mean that following Christ is our only responsibility. We know this because God commands that we honor our parents, and in 1 Timothy 5:8 He tells us that, “… if anyone does not provide for his own … he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Being His disciple must take precedence over all else.
In fact, when we prioritize our commitment to Christ, we manage other responsibilities in ways that honor Him.
A third man asks to say goodbye to his family before following Jesus, and the Lord replies, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61-62).
In most things we understand that we cannot move forward if we’re looking back. The same applies when following Jesus. Philippians 3:13 and 2 Timothy 2:4 give examples of what it means to be a disciple without being distracted by the world.
So, when the turbulent storms of life hit, take courage fellow disciple! We have been promised trouble in this world, but we have also been promised that He has overcome (John 16:33).

5/3/2019 11:32:46 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Durham | with 0 comments