November 2016

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 18: God’s Word Gives Courage

November 29 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:17-24
We all encounter difficult people and challenging social situations in our day-to-day lives. The psalmist in this week’s passage describes “insolent, accursed ones” and feeling “scorn and contempt.” (Psalm 119:21-22). He adds that we may also feel like we are a stranger or sojourner on this earth.
A sojourner has the experience of living in a social environment that is different than their usual one. For some of us, it is experienced in a work environment or a new social environment.
We can ask the Lord to help us in our time of need, even with the most difficult of people and circumstances.
Going from “Bible Belt, U.S.A.” to being on the mission field in India certainly gave our family the experience of living as sojourners. We were strangers in a land full of the unfamiliar.
Fortunately for us, we loved the Indian people and delighted in the new food and fabrics of the culture. We were not without our awkward situations, however.
There was the time we entered a church service and eagerly sat on the floor as a family to participate in worship. We started observing our surroundings and realized that there were designated sections for men and women.
We had sat on the women’s side, so my daughters and I tried not to giggle as my husband and sons tried to quietly slide over to the male side of the gathering.
Another experience brought fear. A man with a snake around his neck put the reptile in my face, seemingly showing off for his friends.
I promptly told him in Hindi to go away in the name of Jesus, and he did! God “rebukes the insolent,” (v. 21) and He is “my delight” (v. 24).
One of the primary ways God helps us is by providing His word to keep us focused on Him. There will be times that we feel left out, opposed and theologically challenged.
The psalmist points us to “meditate on your statutes” (v. 23) and we can still “delight” (v. 24).

11/29/2016 8:58:58 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 18: Commitment Kept

November 29 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passage: Joshua 10:6-14
Do you believe that God is in control even when mistakes have been made and enemy forces seem to be lining up against you? Today’s lesson is about a commitment Joshua kept even though he had been deceived. Without God’s miracle, his commitment to the Gibeonite tribe could have cost him everything.
In chapter 9 we hear of the great deception. The clever men of Gibeon approached Joshua as an impoverished and distant people who pledged to be Joshua’s servants. The compassionate Joshua trusted when he should have verified. The result was a peace treaty forged between Israel and Gibeon whereby Joshua promised protection.
Fast forward to chapter 10 and we have five Amorite kings committed to a fight against Gibeon, leaving Joshua caught between a “rock and a hard place.” While many leaders would have dishonored their commitment since there was nothing in it for themselves, Joshua honored his deal. Furthermore, and this is key, God told Joshua to not be afraid, He had already ordained victory (v. 8).
The victory God provided was miraculous on many levels. God threw the enemy into confusion (v. 10). Large hailstones killed more of the enemy than the sword (v. 11). And God caused the sun to “stand still,” elongating the day so the battle could be completed (vv. 12-13).
Keeping commitments, in battle and in life, is a huge responsibility. It gets personal. Well over a decade ago my wife’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her husband had made a marital commitment of caring for her in the good and the bad times. The remaining years of her life would become progressively difficult. But my wife’s father took care of her and loved her to the very end.
Life is not perfect. Troubles, deceptions and unwise pledges happen. Joshua could have revoked this contract or retaliated on Gibeon. People do it all the time. They don’t keep their commitments because they don’t consider God to be an indispensable part of their life.

11/29/2016 8:55:43 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 11: God’s Word Fills My Heart

November 29 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:9-16
Our passage this week states the key to purity is to guard our heart according to God’s Word. We know our speech, behavior and attitude reflect what is in our heart. In order to have in our heart what is needed, we must store up scripture, meditate on the precepts and fix our eyes on the ways of God.
Our lesson this week quickly challenges us to personally evaluate our commitment to the Word of God. As Psalm 119:11 states, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Is it the standard from which you examine how to make choices in life?

The events in Charlotte this past September hit close to home in more than one way. The shooting that sparked such controversy was in a neighborhood just a minute’s walk through the woods from our church property. Two of our church members were at the site of the shooting while doing landscaping work for the neighborhood. Church family and friends live all around the location that became a national news story.
Safety became the topic of conversation for many families and even in planning church events for the next night, a Wednesday. Our family, like many of yours, had discussions about the way we should respond as Christians when hurt, suffering and even violence come to your community.
What do we say in our home about each person involved? What is the appropriate response? What do our hearts reveal when we look at these tough issues?
As our church gathered to pray that Wednesday evening with a big sign on the window that said, “Open for prayer,” we individually and corporately asked ourselves these questions. We asked God to reveal what is in our hearts and to help us live well in difficult times. We confessed our sin, both as individuals and as a congregation.
Thankfully, God gives us direction and God gives us hope. Whether it is a little tension or a community-wide crisis, may we look to God’s Word to keep us from sin.

11/29/2016 8:52:40 AM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 11: Conquest

November 29 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passage: Joshua 6:12-25
Amazingly, Jericho still exists. It boasts a population of more than 20,000 and is geographically the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth. But there is something missing, and that is the old Jericho that tumbled down during Joshua’s conquest.
According to archaeologists, the retaining wall was about 15 feet high. On top of that was a mud brick wall six feet thick and about 25 feet tall. Then outside the retaining wall was another mud brick wall about 45 feet tall. Certainly the Jericho leaders felt confident their double-walled city was impenetrable.
The biblical story of Joshua and Jericho is a story of great conquest, and a story of great faith. There is the Rahab faith story. When the spies stealthily entered the city, God ordained they befriend Rahab and her family. Rahab housed the spies and protected them from the king, ensuring them a safe exit. For her assistance, Rahab and her family’s lives would be spared. They would also become a part of the fledgling Hebrew nation.
Second, there is the ark story. The “ark of the covenant” was central to their battle plan. In verse 12 we hear of the ark and priests before we hear of the trumpets and swords and soldiers.  
Third, there is the obedience story. Everyone was required to do his or her part according to the plan. It was a seven-day plan, with precise instructions to follow each day. The walls came down because of the blowing of the trumpet and the shouting (v. 20), but even that was part of the master plan.
Fourth, there is the clean-up plan. No resident of Jericho, no animal of Jericho and no treasure of Jericho was allowed to live or be kept. The conquest was a complete annihilation.
We need conquests, and the Jericho conquest gives us a hopeful model. Rahab, with her checkered past, found that faith can conquer public opinion and sin. Joshua and the people experienced the joy of conquest because they put God first and trusted in each other.

11/29/2016 8:49:37 AM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 4: God’s Word Delights

November 14 2016 by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal passage: Psalm 119:1-8
There are blessings in obeying the Lord. When we walk in the way God intends and seek God with our whole heart, the results are encouraging! Psalm 119:1-8, identifies the blessings of being “happy” and “unashamed.” It is an inner joy that brings peace and contentment, and yes, even a smile to our face. We find this joy in obeying God’s Word and we know how to do that by studying scripture. Therefore, as we have the choice each day to live for God, we find the tools in scripture to make godly choices. He doesn’t leave us on our own to helplessly find our own way.
A woman accepted a promotion at work that placed her in a management position for the first time in her career. She is a Christian and had prayed about this opportunity. She had received a peace and godly counsel that she was to accept the position. However, the first few weeks in the new position were rocky and painful. There were co-workers who wanted the promotion, and they were unkind to the new manager. There were specific attacks on the woman’s character and her confidence was shaken. She prayed and asked God if she had made the right decision. She asked God to please come to her aide.
After much prayer, her boss met with her. Her boss sat down across from her to discuss the list of new responsibilities for which she felt ill equipped and the behavior of her co-workers. Her boss kindly said to the woman, “I will help you with each of these things. We can do some of these tasks together, and you will not be doing it alone.”
The woman described the immense relief and joy she felt when she realized she did not have to figure this all out on her own. Her boss would guide her in meeting each challenge!
As believers, we can know that we are not on our own in trying to obey God. He gives us the instructions, His presence and His joy from obedience. What a blessing!

11/14/2016 3:21:15 PM by Sherra Still, member, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 4: Commissioned

November 14 2016 by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure

Focal passage: Joshua 1:1-9
Commissioned. Co-Missioned. Joshua had been Moses’ right hand man for decades. He had seen Moses at his best, and he had seen Moses at his worst. Now Moses was dead, and Joshua had been appointed by Moses and God to finish the Exodus journey.
According to Deuteronomy 34:9, “Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him.” Joshua had been commissioned. He was prepared. The mission would take a team effort. Joshua had been a military commander. He understood giving  and following orders. But Joshua was also a spiritual man. Numbers 27:18-22 tells us Joshua had the Spirit in him, and as an essential part of God’s commissioning and ordination, Moses’ authority was conferred upon Joshua. Joshua was ready to serve and lead in God’s power.

In our text are some significant words and phrases. There is the word “promise.” Just as God had promised Moses, God promised Joshua that He had ordained this mission – the land was theirs (vv. 2-3). God was specific about the territory. It would be a massive promise.
The second is the phrase “strong and courageous.” It is used three times (vv. 6, 7, 9). God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous no matter the circumstances. The third relates to scripture, the Law, the “book of instruction,” (v. 8) that Joshua was to recite, to memorize, to meditate upon constantly. Obedience to God’s Word would lead to prosperity and success.
One of the most watched classic movies is “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy and Toto were on a mission. Along their journey they added some flawed partners, the most obvious being the cowardly lion. What did he lack? Courage. Dorothy commissioned him to be a leader. When tested he became valuable. Joshua’s commissioning was divine and human. It was also a calling. It changed history.

11/14/2016 1:51:09 PM by Wayne Proctor, pastor, Eure Baptist Church, Eure | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 27: Give Thanks – Anyway!

November 14 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 20:10-12, 14-17, 20-22, 29-30
We can give thanks in every situation. As a high school math teacher, I have administered thousands of final exams. Every semester, nervous students work diligently to answer each question and then turn in their tests with a combination of despair and relief plastered on their faces. Very rarely do any of these teenagers speak to me.
In fact, there is only one exam day conversation I can remember. Almost 10 years ago, a young lady named Hannah turned in her geometry exam and proclaimed, “Thank you, Miss Anthony.”
I almost fell out of my chair. Teenagers are thankful for candy and extra credit. They are not thankful for final exams. I remember this comment when I read 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus.” This means we must practice thankfulness when our circumstances are bleak, not just when everything is well.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was struggling with much more than a math test. The people of Judah were about to be attacked, and he was afraid his people would suffer great harm. Jehoshaphat turned his gaze toward God. He commanded the Levites to lead the people in thanking God. They sang, “Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21). God works through the thankfulness of His people. He gave Judah victory in battle and then used the story to make His name great among other kingdoms. What’s more, because Judah trusted God, the people entered a season of rest.
Hannah thanked me even though her test was difficult because she knew I longed for her success. Jehoshaphat thanked God even though destruction was imminent because He knew God cared for His people. When we thank God in every situation, we are proclaiming that we wholeheartedly trust Him. And when we choose thankfulness, God demonstrates His faithfulness in our lives.

11/14/2016 1:49:08 PM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 27: With Anticipation

November 14 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 2 Peter 3:3-13, 17-18
My friend, Willie, has a neighbor whose house burned down resulting in a total loss for the young single mother and her daughter. A mutual friend of ours from church had her granddaughter choose some of her own toys to take to the young girl who lost everything. When the girl received the toys, she was so excited, saying, “Mr. Willie, that girl gave me half of all her toys!” Willie invited the girl to church to see this girl again.When he saw the young girl the following day, a Saturday, she quickly and excitedly asked, “Mr. Willie, are we going to church tomorrow?”
You see, she was excited about the opportunity to see her new friend. She knew Mr. Willie had promised he would take her, and she trusted Mr. Willie to keep his word. But, what if months passed and Mr. Willie didn’t take her? What if he was physically unable to take her? What if he simply forgot? That little girl would become discouraged and perhaps assume it would not happen.
The Apostle Peter is writing to these first century readers who have heard the promise of the return of Christ. The prophets had promised His return. Christ Himself had promised His return. These believers were excited about Christ’s return. They trusted Christ to be faithful to His promise. But, so far, He had not returned. Peter wrote to “remind” them that they could trust Christ. The fact that He had not yet returned should not cause them to doubt His truthfulness or His goodness, but rather to celebrate His grace toward those who had not yet repented and believed. Jesus wasn’t “slack” concerning His promise to return.
He certainly would return. As a result, these readers should strive to live holy and faithful lives until that day comes. Do you believe Christ is coming again? Do you live each day in light of His return? Who are you telling about Him and His return?

11/14/2016 1:46:26 PM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 20: Unstoppable Impact

November 1 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Acts 17:16-18, 22-23, 30-31
The gospel of Jesus Christ can impact any culture.
Did you know you can order a Happy Meal in over 115 different countries? McDonald’s, known around the world for its Big Mac and fries, sells fast food to millions of people every day.
No matter the country, each restaurant displays the same logo, offers the same basic menu and operates under the same corporate guidelines. Just as important, each McDonald’s makes unique cultural connections to attract the local population. In China guests can order soup, in India there’s no beef and in Indonesia people snack on shrimp! Because each McDonald’s has effectively engaged local culture, this restaurant has made an immeasurable impact on the eating habits of the developed world.
True, international access to cheeseburgers is of no eternal value, but this strategy is strikingly similar to the one God calls us to follow as we share the gospel. In Acts 17, Paul demonstrates this strategy as he shares Christ with people from diverse backgrounds. In each opportunity Paul preaches the gospel clearly, but each time he does so in a way that meets the unique needs of his audience.
When speaking in the Areopagus, Paul identifies similarities between Christianity and the already held beliefs of his listeners. He declares, “I see that you are extremely religious in every respect” and he notes their altar to an unknown god (Acts 17:22). After making these connections, Paul tells the people of the hope only Jesus brings. Paul intentionally structured his conversations in such a way that he would be able to connect with his hearers and then point them to Christ.
The next time God provides an opportunity for you to share Christ with someone who seems to be drastically different from you, please remember that McDonald’s sometimes sells soup. Ask God to show you a way to make a connection between the culture of your friend and the salvation message you want to share.
You see, diverse cultures are not a hindrance to the gospel. Instead, the gospel can impact any culture.

11/1/2016 10:59:57 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 20: On Guard

November 1 2016 by Randy Mann, Lead Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passages: 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 16-25
My aunt and uncle both retired as vice presidents at AmSouth Bank, though they obviously didn’t start at that level. My aunt started as a teller. The training for working as a teller included the issue of recognizing counterfeit money.
What is interesting about that training is both what it entails and what it doesn’t. The best way to help a new teller be prepared to recognize counterfeit money is not to give them examples of counterfeits, but rather to help them become intimately familiar with real money. If they become unquestioningly familiar with what is real, they will be able to recognize a counterfeit, no matter the counterfeiting method used.
At the end of 2 Peter 1, the apostle hammers home the truthfulness and trustworthiness of God’s Word. Now, at the beginning of Chapter 2, Peter warned his readers that counterfeits were coming. Peter was not the only one making this known. Paul also warned Timothy that false teachers would come, leading people astray. Jude also proclaimed this message. So how were Peter’s and Jude’s readers to respond?
First, these believers should be on the lookout for false teachers to come. They might not be familiar with the particular error being proclaimed. However, they should be familiar enough with God’s truth that they could quickly realize what they were hearing was not truth but error.
Second, these believers shouldn’t be surprised when these false teachers show up. God had already revealed through His spokesmen that these false teachers would be coming onto the scene. Rather than being caught off guard or by surprise due to these false teachers, God’s people should expect it to come and to be ready when it does.
Third, they should not only be familiar with God’s truth but also should be seeking to live in light of it. This can only happen by God’s power and grace and will be illustrated both by how they relate to God and how they relate to those around them.

11/1/2016 10:57:26 AM by Randy Mann, Lead Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

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