November 2014

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 7: Deliverance is Needed

November 20 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Esther 3:1-9
 
There are daily reports of Christians being persecuted around the world. From name calling and bullying to torturing and beheading, God’s people face the anger and hostility of those who would like to remove any who are a living testimony to God. Sometimes the persecution comes simply due to hatred, other times to jealousy, and perhaps, due to fear. The consistent fact, however, is the persecution of God’s people at the hands of those who do not know Him or follow His ways.
 
This is not a new phenomenon. Almost from the time God created a people for Himself when He cut a covenant with Abram, God’s people have faced the ire of the world. God’s people don’t (or at least shouldn’t) play by the world’s rules. When others bow at the world’s altars or at the feet of the world’s rulers, the people of God stand, knowing they can only bow at the feet of God who alone is worthy.
 
Haman, an Agagite – descendent of the Amalekites – had been given a special position by King Ahasuerus. Most of the people of the kingdom readily bowed before Haman, paying homage to him. Mordecai did not.
 
We don’t know if Mordecai’s refusal – owing to his Jewish heritage – was driven more by his disdain for the Amalekites, enemy of the Jews, or by his commitment only to give honor and veneration to the God of Israel. Whatever Mordecai’s motive, the end result was the same. Haman burned with anger toward Mordecai to the extent that he desired to do away with Mordecai’s people as a whole.
 
What Haman did not understand was the people he sought to destroy were ultimately not Mordecai’s, but God’s. And, God would be faithful to keep the covenant He had made.

While God’s people had rebelled against Him, resulting in God’s punishment of His people at the hands of the Babylonians and Persians, God had neither forgotten them nor forsaken them. Their deliverance would come. Our God is faithful.

 
11/20/2014 11:25:10 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 30: Living Out the Faith

November 18 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 13:1-8
 
I recently had the opportunity to speak to our students at a weekend student retreat. One of the things I have noticed while being around teenagers is that most have a desire not to stand out. You may have the occasional one that will cut up and act in a way that draws attention to himself. But, on the whole, one of teenagers’ greatest fears is to be put on the spot, to stand out and to look different. The reality is, many adults are the same way.
 
The problem with this mentality for Christians is that God desires for our lives to do just that: to stand out. We are to live to a higher standard, not because we are better than anyone else but because our lives have been transformed. The resurrected Christ is the one who the writer of Hebrews has said is the better High Priest who offered His own life as the better sacrifice for sin. Those realities, by definition, make our lives different. If we fail to live in a way that is different from those around us, our lives fail to give testimony to the life-changing power of the gospel.
 
Because Christ has transformed us, we are to gather with believers to “exhort one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). We are not to seek to live distinctive lives in our own strength, but by faith in God – the kind of faith seen in the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us (Hebrews 12:1). In fact, we should live in such a way that other believers around us can see an example of what it means to live a transformed life of faith.
 
This life will be different in every aspect, as the writer of Hebrews points out in today’s passage – in brotherly love, in hospitality, in marriage, in contentment with God’s provision, etc. In the midst of a culture that’s moving farther and farther from God’s design, our lives are to stand out. If we are truly living out our faith in Christ, our lives will look different – showing we live as part of a different kingdom, under the reign of a different king. Living in this way enables us to be the “salt” and “light” God has called us to be.

11/18/2014 9:49:04 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 30: Ministry in the Face of Mental Illness

November 18 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:2-7
 
Recently the world heard of the death of Robin Williams. One thing that has been revealed is the battle he had with depression. The Psalmist speaks about this valley in Psalm 130:1-8 (HCSB).
 
We all go through times when we feel sad, down or blue. Solomon spoke of it in Ecclesiastes, and the writer of Hebrews references it in Hebrews 4:16. Depression is a deeper level of emotional turmoil, and has been said to affect one out of five people. This affects the individual, their family, coworkers as well as others who know the person.
 
Depression can be caused by different factors – stress, fear, loneliness, guilt and anger are to name a few. David spoke of his unconfessed sin as being the basis of his depression in Psalm 38. Elijah on the other hand was depressed following a great spiritual victory (1 Kings 18-19).
 
Medical factors and abnormalities in the brain’s functioning can attribute to this. Understanding all the possible reasons can give us a better understanding of what this disorder is about and how widespread it is. A person needs to seek medical help when struggling with such disorders. Too often in the church we give the glib “Just give it to Jesus” response without any thought to what may be the underlying cause. Telling a person to snap out of it is not going to help.
 
From the Bible we find the “HALT” syndrome at Elijah’s lowest point. He was hungry – he had stopped eating; angry – actually with God, feeling He was not caring for him; lonely – he left his servant and went out all by himself; and tired – we see him collapse into a deep sleep.
 
We see that God counteracted every one of these characteristics in Elijah’s life. He fed him. He sent an angel to show him he was not alone. The sleep helped to remedy the need for rest. This reminds us of having a real and personal relationship with God. We need to read the Bible and pray every day. Because of his relationship, Elijah could focus upon God and listen to what He had to say. Elijah recognized God’s voice and was able to return in a renewed and strengthened personhood.

11/18/2014 9:45:07 AM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 23: A New Kind of Community

November 6 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:18-24
 
I love going to the mountains. One reason I love to go is because I love to fly fish. I love trying to pull an unsuspecting, hungry trout out from behind a rock or a log in those beautiful mountain streams. Another reason I love to go to the mountains is they remind me of the beauty, majesty and glory of God. The size and beauty of the mountains pales in comparison to the beauty of the God who made them. In this week’s lesson passage we see the tale of two mountains and the one true God.
 
One mountain, Mount Sinai, is described in ominous detail as the writer recounts the giving of the law of God to Israel. The demonstration of holiness, power and might there wrought terror in the hearts of the people – they wanted to stay away from the mountain, and they also wanted God to speak to someone else for them. Their separation from the mountain reminded them of their separation from the presence of God. The law also called for an annual reminder of their failure to live up to the standard of God’s law and the necessity of the shedding of blood as the punishment for their sin.
 
By great contrast, Mount Zion – the place where God’s presence dwelled – was not a place of terror, but great joy and peace. Rather than experiencing separation from God, they could now experience fellowship with God and others because Christ perfectly kept the law and then gave His blood as the payment for their inability to do so. Where the blood of Abel cried out to confront sinful Cain, Jesus’ blood spoke announcing grace and forgiveness to those who would repent.
 
This not a tale of two gods: one who is holy and just, and another who is gracious and merciful. It is the story of the one true God who met for us the just demands of His own holiness through the perfect blood of His own Son. As a result, we must not take lightly the grace of God, living however we please, but rather walking in loving surrender before the holy and righteous God who brought us to Himself and into community with His people.

11/6/2014 12:35:06 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 23: Overcome an Earthly Mindset

November 6 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Genesis 50:15-21
 
There are a number of powerful two-word phrases found in scripture. Each of these phrases is used in context with the power of God. However, there is one such phrase used 45 times that causes my spirit to leap for joy.
 
That phrase is: BUT GOD!
 
This small two-word phrase communicates a tremendous message to all who will hear. It is God’s response to Satan’s challenge. It is the last word. It is “all over but the shouting.”
 
“But God” stands diametrically opposed to the negative roar of the world. Consider that the world says no – “but God” says yes.
 
The world says can’t – “but God” says can. The world says won’t – “but God” says will. The world says stop – “but God” says go. The world says don’t – “but God” says do. The world says defeat – “but God” says victory! “But God” climbs the highest mountain; traverses the darkest valley; and sings songs of victory in the midnight hour. “But God” exclaims, “I’m going to the enemy’s camp, and I’ll take back what he stole from me!”
 
Satan thought he could stop the plan of God. Satan sought to end the Jewish race – because he knew the Messiah would come from them. If he eliminated the nation – God’s plan would be thwarted – and he would win!
 
“But God” had things in control. God would defeat Satan’s plan through Joseph. Acts 7:9 reminds us – “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him.” God has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11). If we could see things from God’s vantage point, we would know who is in control.
 
We need to see things from the Father’s perspective. Satan says defeat, but God says victory! Satan says disease, but God says healing! Satan says you’ve blown it, but God says He’ll forgive! Satan says it’s too late, but God says there’s still time!
 
Satan says wait until later, but God says today is the day! Satan says to roll over and play dead, but God says stand up! Satan says to give up, but God says to reach up! Satan says it’s over, but God says not yet!

11/6/2014 12:29:09 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for November 16: The Discipline of Suffering

November 4 2014 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-7
 
I enjoyed playing sports growing up. I started playing baseball when I was 5 years old and played through my first year in college. In sports – and our walk with Christ – two elements are necessary for success: endurance and discipline.
 
Endurance was necessary to finish the game strong. It would only come with hard work. Wind sprints, suicides and occasional long runs all worked to enable the athlete to continue competing when everyone else was tiring out.
 
Discipline was also necessary. Though I felt committed to my team, there would be times – either out of laziness or selfishness – that I would fail to give my best. I would occasionally look for the easy way out. When the coach saw this lack of commitment he would hold us accountable, which manifested itself in additional running and conditioning. Our coach was intentional in his discipline of us. He was using it to prepare us to play more effectively, for our good and the good of the team.
 
The writer of Hebrews was challenging his Jewish readers in these ways. He knew they would be prone to spiritual slackness – sometimes even wanting to quit – so he challenged them to run with endurance. He challenged them to lay aside whatever would hinder them or trip them up. He also challenged them to understand that God’s discipline in their lives was both for their good and God’s glory. Far from showing a lack of love, it did just the opposite: it proved God’s love and showed their status as God’s children.
 
During my sports years, certain players stood out as great examples. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to work hard and finish my career strong like they did. Here the writer holds up such examples. The “hard work” of this “great cloud of witnesses” was not simply personal effort, but rather their faith in God (Hebrews 11). The greatest example, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who not only authored their faith, but would also complete it, enabling them to finish the race no matter how tough their race would become.

I am always encouraged and thankful when I listen to youth and adults share about how their lives were radically and positively impacted through the ministry and love they received when they lived in one of our BCH facilities.
 
My purpose in writing this article is to encourage North Carolina Baptists to give a personal gift in support of the Thanksgiving Offering for BCH. The week of specific, intentional prayer for BCH is Nov. 16-23.
 
The offering goal for this special offering is $1,500.000. Giving to support this offering is another way to express your gratitude for all that God is doing through Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina. I hope all of our church leaders will make their congregants aware of this opportunity to help support a most important Christian ministry by promoting and receiving this Thanksgiving Offering in their churches.

11/4/2014 1:35:10 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 16: Overcome Bitterness

November 4 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Genesis 45:3-11
 
I love “The Andy Griffith Show.” I always get a kick out of the episode dealing with Aunt Bee’s pickles. She loved to make pickles, however they always tasted like kerosene. The faces of those who ate those bitter pickles always brings out the laughter in me.
 
Bitterness usually means having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid and unpleasant. It has come to refer to a very negative emotion, one that a person has from mistreatment by circumstances or people. Hebrews 12:15 warns about this: “Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.”
 
Bitterness left unchecked will allow hurt and anger to grow until a person’s view of life is overshadowed by pain and resentment. It is destructive on all levels. It grows like a cancer in a person bringing about more harm to the offended, while often nothing to the offender.
 
In the Bible, we find the antidote for bitterness: forgiveness. The Greek word for forgiveness can mean, “to release.”
 
Not all persons in the Bible lived a life free from bitterness. Examples are given in the lives of Cain, Job, Esau, Joseph’s brothers, Naomi and Jonah to name a few. The scriptures show us that those who did not “release” suffered the consequences of other negative effects – rage, malice, envy, slander, hatred and even murder.
 
Joseph shows us (next to Christ) the epitome of forgiveness. As you study his life, he had every reason to develop the “root of bitterness” spoken of in Hebrews 12:15. However, when faced with his brothers in Genesis 45, he does not take retaliation against them, he welcomes and provides for them. He chose an attitude of forgiveness over bitterness.
 
When we display this attitude of forgiveness, we are displaying an eternal view, one that shows the world we understand how much God has forgiven us. One who displays this attitude is not ignoring the fact that they have been hurt. They recognize the pain, however they look at it through an eternal perspective. They seek to live each day as Paul challenged in Ephesians 4:31-32.

11/4/2014 1:29:58 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for October 26: Only Jesus Transforms

October 9 2014 by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson

Focal Passage: Hebrews 8:1-13
 
In our culture we don’t talk about covenants as much as we talk about contracts. That is a shame because a covenant is filled with rich and deep meaning often lost in the legalese of contracts. The word covenant comes from a Hebrew root word that means “to cut.” If that seems strange, consider that a covenant was struck when an animal was cut in half and the parties agreeing to covenant together would do so between the two halves of the animal. The message was simple: if I fail to live up to my part of the covenant may what happened to this animal happen to me. I often remind young brides and grooms of that imagery as we discuss the marriage covenant. Their reactions are priceless.
 
Jesus is the High Priest of a new covenant. The old covenant was one God initiated with Abraham (Genesis 15). This covenant was good, but it was limited (Hebrews 8:6-7). Its purpose was to point us to our need for something better. To create a longing in God’s people, with every sacrifice, for there to finally be an end to sacrifices. 
 
So, a better covenant was instituted. A covenant mediated by Christ and His final and complete sacrifice. Jeremiah promised that a day was coming when God would make a new covenant with Israel. A covenant unlike the first one. A covenant that, we now know, is by faith in Christ, not primarily by ethnicity (or even obedience). A covenant that is about internal transformation, not external adherence to ritual. Why did God do this? Because it was what we needed. Notice what the writer says in Hebrews 8:8a – “God found fault with the people.
 
Unlike the old covenant that seemed to always keep God at a distance, the new covenant is one in which we “know” the Lord (Hebrews 8:11). How will God accomplish this? By forgiving our sins, but not on an annual day of atonement, rather on that one great day of atonement that all of those annual days pointed forward to. The day when Christ was lifted up not just as our high priest, but also as the final sacrifice for our sins.

10/9/2014 5:05:19 PM by Rob Pochek, senior pastor, Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Wilson | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 26: Overcome Temptation

October 9 2014 by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram

Focal Passage: Genesis 39:3-12
 
What is the difference between a temptation and a test? We know God tests people (Hebrews 11:17), but does not tempt (James 1:13). A good definition might be: A test is hard to do and aimed at increasing faith, while a temptation is easy to accept and is aimed at pleasure.
 
Too often we fail to overcome the temptations in our lives because we place ourselves where we shouldn’t be. A mother might hear a noise in the kitchen and call to her young son, “Where are you?” To which he replies – holding the cookie jar – “In the pantry.” She asks, “What are you doing in the pantry?” His response? “Trying to resist temptation.” The best way to resist temptation is to stay out of the pantry.
 
Joseph had to be in Potiphar’s house. He daily faced Potiphar’s wife and her tempting him. Yet, Joseph established the standards and convictions that he needed. He knew God was blessing him. This reminds us of what is written in Ezra 7:9-10, “[T]he gracious hand of his God was on him. Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra studied God’s Word, and he sought to obey what he studied. Joseph knew God’s teachings, and he determined to obey them.
 
First Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” The phrase “a way of escape” in the Greek rings true for these circumstances; not that we will escape temptation, but God has provided a place of landing on the other side.
I can personally attest to the fact that God is faithful to control the circumstances He allows in our lives. He sets the fences (Job 1:12; 2:6) around these temptations. Sometimes we are forced, like Joseph, to endure the temptation.
 
Joseph resisted the temptation, yet it still left him facing trouble. We may pay a price for standing strong, but God will honor it in His time.

10/9/2014 5:01:56 PM by Thomas Marshall, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Wagram | with 0 comments