November 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for Dec. 9: Rebuking Destructive Behavior

November 21 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: Hosea 4:1-6, 12-14
 
We have all either engaged in or witnessed destructive behavior. Most of us are pretty logical people, right? If something is destructive to us – why do it? I can think of two reasons.
 
First, that behavior seems to meet some deeper need or satisfy us in some way. Two, one either doesn’t know it’s harmful or ignores its harm in pursuit of what it promises.
 
Behind all destructive behavior is idolatry. And just changing the behavior won’t stop the idolatry. While our idolatry may be revealed in our behavior, its root is found in our hearts.
 
As Tim Keller says, an idol is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give what only God can give. Consider all the things the Lord accuses Israel of in Hosea 4. Pretty bad, huh? But remember that like Israel we also “play the [prostitute]” by turning to other things besides God to have our needs met.
 
Sure, we may not sacrifice animals on the tops of mountains. But, we will sacrifice our lives, family, and 10,000 other things to the gods of success, comfort, and power. Yet we are never satisfied.
 
The folly and emptiness of idol worship points us to the satisfaction found in the one true God.
 
False gods are not able to satisfy, but God is able to fill the deepest holes of our hearts with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our success is found in Christ’s victory. Our comfort is found in His promises.
 
And, our power comes from His Spirit who gives us perception and understanding. All of these riches were purchased on the cross and sealed in the resurrection of Jesus. He took our shame and exchanged it for His glory.
 
Though we have sinned, through His blood we are found not guilty. In His love we are not left wanting.
11/21/2012 12:58:23 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Dec. 9: Yahweh Our Father

November 21 2012 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Psalm 103:2-6, 8-13, 17-18
 
It was a beautiful sunny day that summer. We were on vacation, and I was splashing in the hotel pool when my foot slipped down the slope going to the deep end. Moments earlier I had clear instructions from my dad to stay in the shallow end of the pool since I could not swim. I remember it like it was yesterday.
 
One minute I was having the time of my life; the next minute I was struggling to stay alive. Panic set in as I floundered underneath the water, and then I saw the most beautiful site. It was my father, fully dressed, wallet and all, swimming toward me with his arms opened wide. He grabbed me and took me to safety. 
 
When I think about the many times my dad has been there for me I’m reminded of my heavenly Father. Throughout my life, the Lord has extended compassion to me on a regular basis. Like David in Psalm 103, I have been the undeserving recipient of God’s unceasing love.
 
Sometimes our understanding of God’s nature can be distorted because we had a poor example of an earthly father.
 
Scripture can help us correct our view of God as Father. In the previous lesson we saw Yahweh who stands supreme as covenant Lord. In Psalm 103:1-22, we see Yahweh as a loving Father. Although the comparison of God to a father does not occur until later in the Psalm, David speaks of God as One who forgives our sin, redeems our life from the pit, is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and always faithful. All of these characteristics reflect a correct picture of a compassionate and loving Father.
 
How do we respond to such a Father? If we are wise we will keep His covenant and obey His commands (103:17-18). Our heavenly Father has our best interest in mind. Living life in rebellion is foolish. It’s like keeping your foot on the edge of the deep end of the pool when you can’t swim. Trust me; it’s a risk you do not want to take.            
11/21/2012 12:56:37 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Dec. 2: Exposing A Broken Relationship

November 20 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passages: Hosea 1:1-2; 2:2-5; 3:1-5
 
Hosea is a story of marital brokenness and redeeming love. On one level it is a story about a married couple, Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Yet the marriage of Hosea and Gomer is much more; it is a parable of God’s relationship with his people.
 
Often we read these passages in the Old Testament and we are horrified at the despicable morality of people like Gomer. We are even shocked by the continual spiritual adultery of Israel in light of God’s persistent grace.
 
As we are swept into the narrative of the story something begins to swell deep within our souls, a cry for justice. “Shouldn’t Hosea abandon Gomer?” “Shouldn’t Israel be cast from God’s presence?”
 
But something different happens. Hosea pursues his wife like God allures His people. In 3:1-5 Hosea reflects the relentless love of God by purchasing his estranged and adulterous wife off the slave block and restoring their relationship. What a breath-taking picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
According to the Bible all people are sinful, rebellious and adulterers. We don’t deserve God’s mercy.
 
Like Gomer and Israel, it would be just for God to crush us in judgment. But what does God do? God pursues us and makes us “His people” and shows us His mercy.
 
Like Hosea did for Gomer, God pays the price to redeem us by crushing Christ on the cross. He judges our sin and restores us to Himself through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is the magnificent scope of our redeemer’s love. We were all once spiritual prostitutes, but by the grace of God we have been declared His beautiful bride.
 
May our hearts melt with love in response to the gospel. In light of the gospel may all of our adulterous affairs lose their attractive power.
 
Our faithlessness is not enough to exhaust God’s faithfulness in pursuing us as His bride.

That’s good news.
11/20/2012 3:00:24 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Dec. 2: Yahweh Our God

November 20 2012 by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville

Focal Passages: Exodus 6:2-8; 15:1-3, 11-13
 
Growing up I was taught that a person’s name was more than a title given at birth. It represented a particular heritage and an expectation for the future. It was also how people identified me as a person, which included my character.
 
The idea that a person’s name can reveal something about one’s character and attributes is not new to us. We find in scripture that God makes Himself known to us by His name. In Exodus 6:2, God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD.” The word for LORD in Hebrew is Yahweh, which describes God’s sovereign covenantal nature. This was not the first time God revealed His name to Moses. Earlier, in Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses that His name is “I AM WHO I AM,” which is the same word, Yahweh in Hebrew. In both passages (3:14; 6:2), God is defining who He is by the revealing of His name.  
 
A member of our church recently retired as a first sergeant from the Marine Corps. Before his retirement, we were on base and I noticed the other Marines treated him with a great deal of dignity and respect. Because of his rank they identified him as a man with a significant amount of power and authority. In a similar way, God has revealed His “rank” to us by the giving of His name. He tells us that He is Yahweh, the one true God who keeps His promises with His covenant people and that there is no other God besides Him.
 
What is our appropriate response to Yahweh? The answer is found in Exodus 15:1-21. After safely crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites began to sing praises to Yahweh, the One who had delivered them from death and was true to His promises.
 
It should not go unnoticed that Jesus also identifies Himself as “I am” in John 8:58. The implication of Jesus’ words is staggering. The One who delivers us from our sin is the same One who appeared to Moses and delivered Israel from slavery. He truly is a sovereign all-powerful God.
11/20/2012 2:59:19 PM by Bartley Wooten, senior pastor, Beulaville Baptist Church, Beulaville | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 25: Living with Assurance

November 8 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 2 Peter 3:1-18
 
The need for assurance is deeply imbedded into the human heart. As Christians we sometimes question the goodness and reliability of God when we become impatient with the things He has promised when they are not delivered on our terms or in our time.

At the heart of our questioning is doubt in God’s love for us.
 
Our waning trust and lack of assurance in God’s word is often aggravated and brought to the surface by painful situations in this life.
 
This can be especially the case when one considers the everlasting joy and fulfillment that lies ahead in the new heavens and new earth as compared to our present lives. Have you ever felt forsaken by God?
 
Peter assures us that the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises.
 
Until that day, let us be a people who endure by holding fast to all that is offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
May we continually remind ourselves that we are secure in Christ and sealed with the Spirit.

What amazing grace is found in the love of God, as J.D. Greear has written, “There is nothing we can do that will make God love us more and nothing we can do that will make God love us less.”
 
Christ was forsaken by God at the cross so that we could have assurance that God would never forsake us.
 
Therefore, let us be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
 
Finding assurance in the love of God is promised in His Word.
 
As we reflect on the Good News of the gospel we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will bring us lasting assurance.
11/8/2012 3:08:57 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 25: Hit the Streets

November 8 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: Acts 17:16-31
 
A song from several years back reminded us that “everything old is new again.” This claim is often true not only in the fashion world, but also in evangelism and missions. For example, Acts 17 shows us that highly educated skeptic philosophers are not a new breed.

Even though we don’t wear Paul’s tunic, we can learn timeless lessons from this chapter on how to witness to the “up and out.”
 
He saw the idolatry of the people, went to their marketplace, and took the gospel with him.
The 21st century has more sophisticated idols and marketplaces, but we are still called to share the unchanging gospel to remedy an unchanging lostness apart from Christ.

Paul’s Mar’s Hill sermon provides a great example of his desire to be “all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22).
 
At the Areopagus he began with the common ground of religious belief and the altar to an unknown God, providing a wonderful segue to the true and living God and salvation through Jesus.
 
When Paul talked with unbelieving Jews, he argued from the Old Testament. When I recently witnessed to an atheist in Spain, I approached the gospel by addressing the man’s rejection of his catholic upbringing and shared some basic proofs for the existence of God. Wherever God sends you, do your best to know your audience.
 
Whomever God places in your path, make sure you get to the gospel. Even good apologetic arguments for the existence of God fall short of their goal if we don’t use them as stepping stones to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. As we get to the gospel we will, by necessity, contradict many false beliefs.
 
For example, Paul quickly dismissed the idea that God needed anything from men and established Him as the creator of all mankind.
 
Although we hope for widespread acceptance of the gospel, sometimes people become more offended as we dig to the heart of the gospel.
 
Although most of the philosophers on Mar’s Hill sneered at the resurrection, “some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:34). They are the ones we’re looking for!
11/8/2012 3:07:35 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Nov. 18: Living with Troublemakers

November 6 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passages: 2 Peter 2:1-22; Jude 1-25
 
Jesus’ words “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” is apt instruction concerning the elusive doctrinal deception that often occurs in the body of Christ. It takes intellectual shrewdness to detect the words of a theological troublemaker. False teachers have always been a threat to the purity of the gospel, especially when they appeal to human sensuality, the questioning of biblical authority, and the desire for material gain. False teachers that have gone astray face God’s judgment for leading others to the waterless springs of Godless desires. They promise freedom, but deliver slavery and corruption.
 
J.I. Packer argues that the church is to be “a learning and teaching fellowship in which the passing on of what we learn becomes a regular part of the service we render to each other.”
 
The most loving act we can offer our brothers and sisters in Christ is to admonish one another to the truth, even if it requires correction. Without theological accountability the passing on of troublesome teaching becomes too pervasive.
 
The dissemination of false teaching has stretched well beyond the local church. Where false teaching was once contained by geography, it is now propagated through mass media, the Internet, and even in “Christian” literature. The gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity is not only ready available to Christians everywhere, it also appeals to humanity’s deepest sensual and material desires.
 
The gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in God’s authoritative word should be the litmus test of all teaching. Anyone who peddles a message that our best life is found by pursuing the good and benefits from this life now, inordinately takes the good gifts of God and establishes them above the giver, God Himself. May we be satisfied with Him and Him alone! Jesus’ presence and approval is all we need for everlasting joy.
11/6/2012 2:56:54 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov. 18: Engage in Kingdom Building

November 6 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-28
 
Henry Blackaby reminded us several years ago, “Where God guides, God provides.” Consequently, we must make sure we are discerning God’s guidance and not personal hunches, emotional directives or pursuits of current trends. The opening verses of Acts 13 remind us that God’s guidance is best understood through worshipping Him. When real worship happens we shift our focus to God’s praiseworthiness and reap the fruits of a Christ-centered life. In this case, leaders in the early church set apart Paul and Barnabas as missionaries according to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. We will never play a significant role in God’s kingdom work without seeking His face and responding to His direction.
 
The growth of God’s kingdom won’t happen apart from teaching His kingdom principles. Sadly, many contemporary American Christians seem to prefer entertainment over instruction. Some people are entertained by laughter, some by tears, and others by fire and brimstone preaching. However, these things are of no value if people aren’t being taught the Word of God. Jesus’ Great Commission mandate calls us to make disciples through baptizing and teaching. We must not stop with teaching people enough to come to faith in Christ and then counting their baptisms. Public profession must be followed by further training in righteousness so that believers will be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17). Only biblical instruction will prepare believers for the tribulations of discipleship.
 
One of the great fruits of missions comes through unity in diversity. As we take to the mission field we encounter an unbelievable variety of language, culture, geography, etc., but none of that diversity should impress us as much as the unnatural unity among believers.
 
People who once hated each other now love and encourage each other as fellow kingdom citizens because of the tie that binds them – the blood of Jesus. In the book of Acts this truth is clearly seen in the pronouncement of faith among the Gentiles. Even today God is calling people who (like the Gentiles in Acts) are known as heathens and turning them into fellow heirs of His grace.
11/6/2012 2:55:40 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments