November 2011

Explore the Bible Lesson for Dec. 11: Stay on Track with God’s GPS

November 24 2011 by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Numbers 9:1-11a, 15-19
 
GPS technology has revolutionized travel. People seem more willing to travel, and more confident as they travel, thanks to these small devices. For the most part, the GPS works well to help us navigate geographically. The question is: what kind of GPS-like tools has God provided to help us navigate spiritually through our lives, so that we live lives of obedience to His will in a way that will bring Him glory?
 
There are at least four things God uses in our lives today to give us His guidance:
  • the Bible
  • prayer
  • other believers
  • our circumstances. 
We must remember that these various tools are neither equally weighted nor equally trustworthy. The Bible is listed first for a reason. It simply must be first. Regardless of the situation we are facing in life, our first place to turn for wisdom and guidance must be the Word of God. Because the Word of God is given to us by the Spirit of God – who, by His very nature and character, cannot lie – we know we can trust the Word of God to tell us the truth and not to lead us astray.
 
The other three elements can, and should, be considered. They should always, however, be tested in light of scripture.
 
For instance, God will never tell us something in our prayer closet that contradicts His revelation to us in His Word. If there is ever a divergence between the two, we must always go with God’s Word. Further, God has graciously placed us in the Body of Christ so we can challenge and encourage each other to walk in obedience to Him. If, however, a brother or sister in Christ leads you in a direction that is contrary to God’s Word, you must follow God’s guidance, not man’s. Finally, God will sometimes use circumstances in our lives to guide and direct us.
 
In the midst of such circumstances, we must make sure that we allow God’s Word to interpret our circumstances and not vice versa. God has graciously provided His direction for us. Will we follow Him?
11/24/2011 12:45:59 PM by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 2 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Dec. 11: Receive God’s Gift

November 24 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Matthew 1:18-20, 24-25;
Luke 1:28-31, 34-38
 
Ethel Waters was born in the worst of circumstances. Her teenage mother was raped at knifepoint by a man named James Waters, resulting in her birth. She was raised mostly by her grandmother; however, there was no solid foundation in her life. According to her, “no one raised her. She was neither coddled nor loved; she ran wild.” Life was difficult for Waters, but she found solace and purpose through using the gift God had given her, the gift of music. Later in life she would make famous the song “His Eye is On the Sparrow,” as she sung this and other gospel songs while touring with Billy Graham. Although she was presented with so many unexpected challenges, she chose faith over fear and found that God was sufficient.
 
The texts for today’s lesson describe the difficult decisions before Joseph and Mary when they discovered that Mary was pregnant. Matthew records the story from Joseph’s perspective. Joseph was a good, just and morally solid man. He and Mary were working through the process of marriage, called “betrothal,” when he learned of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. He knew he was not the father, and although shamed, he wanted to protect himself and Mary from further embarrassment. His plan was to file for a private divorce.
 
Mary’s perspective is recorded by Luke. She was a virgin. Undoubtedly she was excited about her marriage, and was horrified to discover she was pregnant. What would she do? Who could she tell? Where did this baby inside her come from? The answers to Mary and Joseph’s questions were provided by God’s angel, Gabriel. The pregnancy came from God Himself, the Holy Spirit. The baby to be born was to be named Jesus. And Joseph was to fulfill his marital obligation to Mary, even if the child was not biologically his own.
 
It’s been said that faith is the opposite of fear. They cannot co-exist. Like Waters, like Joseph and Mary, we must choose.
11/24/2011 12:43:45 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 1 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Dec. 4: Stay True to Your Commitments

November 21 2011 by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Numbers 6:1-15
 
If you saw someone who was committed to total abstinence from alcohol, who carefully kept their distance from dead bodies, and who had long, possibly unkempt hair, your first thought wouldn’t probably be, “Wow! Now there is a person really dedicated to serving God!” However, as Numbers 6 shows us, that is precisely what people in Israel would have thought if they saw someone living out their Nazarite vow. So, what does an Old Testament text like this teach us about living for God today?
 
In God’s grand plan of redemption, after man fell, God set aside a people for Himself.
 
In so doing, He demonstrated both the demands of His holiness – as seen in the Law – and the incredible extent of His grace, mercy and love. God’s intent in setting aside such a people was not just to bless the nation of Israel, but rather to bless all the nations of the earth through the Savior He would send.
 
Today, all who have repented and believed the gospel have been set aside by God for the purpose of loving, obeying and glorifying Him.
 
Though believers can certainly set aside certain periods of time for intense spiritual devotion – by means of disciplines such as fasting and solitude, for instance – the normal pattern for all of God’s people is constant, Spirit-guided surrender and obedience to the God who is not just “near” us, but who lives “in” us. And every aspect of our lives – whether we are eating, drinking, or doing anything else – is to be for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
 
Rather than giving us outward physical signs of our devotion to Him, God works to bring about spiritual fruit in our lives that ushers forth in surrendered service. So, God works into our lives things like peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
 
As a result, we love our enemies, forgive those who sin against us, and help those in need. As we live this way as salt and light, people see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
11/21/2011 3:24:51 PM by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Dec. 4: Recognize God’s Gift

November 21 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passage: John 1:1-4, 10-18
 
A few years ago I stopped at a local gas station to refuel my car. While paying for my purchase inside the little service mart, I was struck by what the attendant said. It was approaching Christmas time and she remarked, “I’d rather skip Christmas. I don’t like getting presents for people I don’t even like.” Quite a shocking statement! Yet, it describes our misplaced values and belief system as a culture. Fortunately God did not have such an attitude about “gift giving.”
 
God’s gift is more than presents under a tree, and more than a baby born in Bethlehem. It’s all about perspective, and the writer, John, has given the world a perspective that far exceeds one moment in time.
 
John’s point is that Jesus Christ is more than a baby. He is the Word, the logos, God. In Greek thought the logos was the discourse, the reason, the communication of God’s proof. It was the theological argument for God’s purpose in both creation and re-creation, and that purpose was centered in Jesus Christ, His only Son. The corresponding evidence is found both in Genesis 1 and Colossians 1. As the Word, Christ is pre-existent. He existed before time as we know it. He is the “agent” of creation as well, the One who keeps the cosmos (our world) from being chaos. According to John’s gospel, He is “Light,” meaning he is the self-revelation of God, and He is “Life” (salvation). A great verse for us to commit to memory is v. 12; to as many as believe in Jesus Christ, God gives the “power” (meaning authority and privilege) to be the children of God.
 
Proper perspective is recognizing God’s gift for all that He is. We who are Christians need to make the connection between the baby Jesus (the story found in Matthew and Luke) with the Jesus who is the center of the universe. Because we have opportunity to receive that gift, maybe our perspective on Christmas this year will be such that we will “want” to give gifts even to those whom we don’t like as much.
11/21/2011 3:22:29 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 27: Adopt the Right Perspective

November 10 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Deuteronomy 32:1-9, 36-39, 43
 
There is a tradition among recent American presidents. They write memoirs. They set up presidential libraries. They consult with the “next” president, giving insight into both domestic and foreign policy. Internally, each of these leaders is preparing himself for the personal and family transitions that will be occurring as they move from “public” life back to “private” life. Today’s lesson features Moses during the last months of his “public” life. He was now 120 years old. He had led the Hebrews (Israelites) for 40 years. No doubt his hair had also turned “very” gray. Transitions of leadership were already in place. Joshua would be the next leader (Deut. 31). He was a godly man, and was exhorted to be “strong and courageous, God goes with you and will never leave you” (Deut. 31:6). Additionally, Moses put the final touches on the writing of the law (Pentateuch), ensuring it would have its proper place to help lead the people into their future. Finally, Moses would give his farewell address/song, part of which is found in Deuteronomy 32.
 
Moses’ last song would have at least three important themes. Verses 1-4 speak to the awesomeness and worthiness of God. God is called the Rock – He is “rock solid” for us. He is “great,” His decisions and actions are “perfect,” His ways are “just,” He is “faithful,” and He is without “prejudice.” God is the One we can trust and depend on. Verses 5-9 shift from God’s nature to our own. It is here that personal and corporate reflection is needed.
 
Left to our own whims, we rebel against God and sin; act foolishly and become dangerously self-centered. Thus, Moses signaled a warning. Adopt a right perspective. Realize God created you. Realize He gave you what you have. Realize He has a plan for your life that is better than what you have the ability to create for yourself. Finally, verses 36-39 and 43 speak to the sovereignty of God. As such, He is an “avenging” God, preserving His people from their enemies.
11/10/2011 2:03:02 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 9 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 20: Do You Strive for Peace with Others?

November 7 2011 by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passage: Romans 14:13-23
 
In the war on terror, many American soldiers have been injured or killed by devices or traps that were laid by enemy troops. Those traps were intentionally laid to trip up, ensnare or destroy the American forces. In this passage, Paul shows that believers can – knowingly or unknowingly – put stumbling blocks (Gr. ‘proskomma’) or snares/traps (Gr. ‘skandalon’) in front of their own brothers or sisters in Christ. How can this happen? By committing acts that, though not sinful in and of themselves, violate the conscience of their brother or sister, Christians can cause other Christians to stumble in their walk with Christ.
 
Immediately, our minds cry out, “Unfair! Why must I give up my freedom for the sake of my brother?” Paul gives a simple answer: love. He says demanding my spiritual “freedoms” at the expense of my brother’s conscience means I am “no longer walking in love.” In other words, if I walk in sacrificial, unconditional love for my brothers and sisters in Christ – particularly those who are less spiritually knowledgeable or mature – I will gladly sacrifice my “freedom” for their sakes. When I live this way, I am showing my willingness to consider the needs of others as important as my own needs (Phil. 2:3-4). Further, I am following Christ’s example of selfless, sacrificial love (Phil. 2:5-11).
 
The call of the gospel is to come and die to self and to find our life in Christ. We do not live for ourselves but for Christ, the one who died for us (2 Cor. 15:5). We do not demand our own rights for temporal pleasures or pursuits. Instead, our desire is that our lives reflect eternal values, including the building up of our brothers and sisters, even when such building up requires personal sacrifice on our part.
 
When believers walk in love and understanding toward one another, rather than demanding the full extent of their “freedom,” the fruit of kingdom living will be clearly evident – righteousness, peace and joy. Only the Spirit of God can empower the people of God to sacrifice in this way for the glory of God.
11/7/2011 2:26:23 PM by Randy Mann, minister of education and evangelism, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 20: Respond to Difficult Situations

November 7 2011 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church

Focal Passages: Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 106:32-33
 
Has anyone ever said to you, “Don’t make an important decision when you are angry?” Getting frustrated and angry is a part of life. We all deal with it, and how we deal with it can determine our friendships, success and destiny. Moses was a perfect example of what to do and not to do in difficult situations. In Exodus 17:1-7 Moses and the people were in similar circumstance: no water, and the people were thirsty and afraid. Without water they and their livestock would suffer and die.

On that occasion Moses sought God’s direction, and responded exactly as God prescribed. He struck the rock with one blow from his staff and the water began to flow. The people and flocks were hydrated. All was well. In the passage for today, however, Moses was presented with another virtually identical difficult situation. Unfortunately, on this occasion Moses responded inappropriately. He let his frustration and anger get the best of him. For that sin, Moses would pay dearly.
 
The setting was the beginning of the 40th year of wandering in the wilderness. The Hebrews had settled in Kadesh, and Moses was hoping in a short time they would break camp and make the final leg of the journey to the Promised Land. This was an emotionally trying time for Moses. His devoted sister, Miriam, had just died. Additionally, his people were incessantly complaining about the water situation.

Moses was sad, tired, and extremely frustrated. Furthermore, his brother Aaron was not well (he would also die that year). Yet in the midst of trying circumstances the brothers Moses and Aaron did the right thing. They implored God for direction. God ordered Moses to “speak to the rock;” however, when the time came for action, Moses doubly erred. He angrily struck the rock, not once, but twice. Although the needed waters came, Moses would not be granted the privilege of leading the Hebrews into the Promised Land. Uncontrolled anger often comes at a regretful price.

11/7/2011 2:25:01 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church | with 0 comments