November 2017

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 17: Available to All

November 28 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 15:6-11, 24-31
Oct. 31, 2017, marked the 500th anniversary of what would become known as the Protestant Reformation. Reportedly, Johann Tetzel, a papal seller of indulgences, would say, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
Disgusted with these and other practices of the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church in Germany. One of the effects of this monumental decision by Luther was a resurgence of a clear biblical teaching: Humans are saved through faith in Jesus alone.
This same issue was in question in the early church as Luke writes in Acts 15. There were men coming down from Judea and teaching that unless you have been circumcised “you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). So Paul and Barnabas having just come off a missionary journey where Gentiles were saved, were appointed to go to Jerusalem. After much debate Peter stood up and said, “He [God] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith … We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
In his conclusion, James endorses Peter’s suggestion that Gentiles can be saved without being circumcised. What did this council do? What was the result? It helped to define what the gospel was just as Luther sought to do 1,500 years later.  
So, what does this have to do with me? How does it apply to my life?
Bible-believing Christians must stand for and fight for the true gospel, just as Peter, Barnabas, James and Martin Luther did. The gospel that teaches salvation through faith in Jesus and one that is available to all; regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender or religious background.
Have you trusted in the true gospel? Do you think there are some groups to whom salvation is not deserving? Are you adding requirements to the gospel that the Bible doesn’t add?
May we always remember what Luther said, this “is the issue by which the church stands or falls.”

11/28/2017 8:20:52 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life for December 17: Jesus Rules

November 28 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 4:35-41
Many people will remember the year 2017 as one characterized by an abnormal amount of natural disasters. Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey devastated the Caribbean and United States. Flooding in Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, and the enormous mudslide in Colombia affected hundreds of lives. Earthquakes, wildfires – the list goes on.
One of the most common questions I’ve heard in the face of so many disasters is, “Where is God?” There were times when I was the one asking that question.
The disciples felt this way in Mark 4:35-41, when a large storm threatened their safety. After teaching through many parables, Jesus boarded a boat with His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. He made His way to the stern, laid down and slept.
Suddenly a large storm came over the sea, rocking the boat as waves overtook it, creating panic among the disciples. They found Jesus asleep, woke Him up and panicked some more, asking, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).
Jesus stood up and proved to be more powerful than the forces of nature by calling the wind and the sea into submission.
Following Jesus does not guarantee us a life free of storms. Even the disciples, who spent three years personally walking with Jesus, experienced storms. However, Jesus never left the disciples and even challenged their faith by asking, “Why are you so fearful? Why is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Our Savior proves to be present, even in the most overwhelming circumstances.
Our entire life’s journey is one that heavily depends on trusting God. When it seems that God is sleeping through circumstances and I’m tempted to question if He cares, He leads me back to the foot of the cross. Our God, who is powerful and loving enough to save souls, is the same God that rules over all of creation and extends the invitation to trust Him no matter what comes our way.

11/28/2017 8:05:22 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 10: Misguided Worship

November 28 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 14:8-20
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
These words came from a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005. While Foster was not a professing Christian, he echoed a foundational biblical truth. We were created to worship, and because of that, every human directs affections toward something.
In Acts 14, that’s exactly what we see the people of Lystra doing. God has just used Paul and Barnabas to heal a man who was crippled since birth. Being worshippers by nature, the people claim, “The gods have come to us in the likeness of men.”
They begin calling these two followers Zeus and Hermes. In an outrage, Paul and Barnabas tear their clothes and tell the people to stop worshiping them. Why? Because these two men knew that for humans to direct their worship toward anything or anyone other than God was an affront to the only One deserving of it (Romans 3:23). So rightly, they point these people to the living God.  
It was God who created the earth and everything in it (Acts 14:15) and because of that He deserves the glory and honor and power (Revelation 4:11). No thing or person deserves our worship!
The problem for us is that we allow things other than Jesus to compete for the throne of our lives. That’s why John Calvin said our hearts are “idol factories.” As followers of Jesus, we must be aware of this and constantly assess if we are directing our worship toward Him.

So, how do we know our worship is directed toward God? Perhaps some questions will help.
What gets your attention? Where do you spend your money? What do you do with your time? Your energy? The answer to these questions will reveal what you worship. What are you worshipping? What is on the throne of your life?
You cannot choose not to worship, because as Wallace said, “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

11/28/2017 8:01:54 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life for December 10: Jesus Teaches

November 28 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 4:1-9
One of the first things I learned when I became a Christian was that the Bible is God’s perfect and life-giving Word. That was incredible news! I couldn’t fathom that the God of the universe would want to speak to me and guide me.
It was also intimidating, and I allowed fear to get in the way of how I interacted with the Bible.
I would skim over passages, hang scripture on my wall or memorize verses without giving thought to what it meant for my life.
Don’t get me wrong, reading the Bible, memorizing scripture and placing reminders of God’s Word around our homes are good things. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to know and remember what God teaches; we must also be active participants of His teaching.
In Mark 4:1-9, Jesus speaks to this very point. The “sower” ultimately represents Jesus, but by extension represents each of His followers in our attempt to spread the gospel. The “seed” is the Word of God, and the “soil” represents the condition of one’s heart upon receiving the Word.
Jesus teaches about four types of soil: hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil and good soil (Mark 4:4-8). The first three types share a common problem – the seed isn’t allowed deep into the soil. Similarly, the hardness of our hearts, hardships we face and distractions of the world can keep God’s Word from being rooted deeply in our hearts.
Upon falling on good soil, the final seed “yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty and some a hundred” (Mark 4:8). Jesus goes on to say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). These two passages show us that obeying God’s Word will produce fruit.
We have access to the truth through the Bible, and God has placed other teachers in our lives to help us know His Word. Living out God’s Word, however, will change our lives and the lives of others forever.

11/28/2017 7:25:21 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for December 3: The Gospel Message

November 14 2017 by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport

Focal passage: Acts 13:26-39
When I taught in public school, I quickly learned that if I was going to effectively teach and manage a class I had to determine what was nonnegotiable. These expectations for behavior were set in place and not up for debate. Coming to class prepared with pencil and paper, respecting your classmates and listening while the teacher was talking were three such examples.
Equally important to having these expectations was that I clearly communicate them. How could the students know what the standard was if I didn’t communicate them?    
In Acts 13, Paul delivers a sermon, and in the middle of this sermon, he does two note-worthy things. First, he establishes what is nonnegotiable in the message of salvation, Christ’s death and resurrection. Secondly, he communicates it to them.  
Often referred to as the linchpin of Christianity, the message of salvation through Christ is empty if Jesus had not been resurrected (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus’ resurrection not only showed God’s immense power, but it proved Jesus was who He said He was. He was God, which is why Paul makes this part of his salvific plea, “But God raised him from the dead!” (v. 30).
He’s saying, “don’t miss this. It is of utmost importance.” He even repeats this truth again in verses 34 and 37. It is safe to say that Paul views this fact as a nonnegotiable.  
The text also makes it clear that Paul extends the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. In verse 32, he says, “We bring you the good news.” In verse 38, he says, “Let it be known to you,” and then again, “through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
Bring, be known and proclaim describe what Paul is doing. He’s communicating the truth he knows.
When we tell others the gospel message we must include the resurrection of Jesus. It is a nonnegotiable, but we must also clearly communicate that message!

11/14/2017 8:32:32 AM by James Zik, associate pastor, Beach Road Baptist Church, Southport | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for December 3: Jesus Calls

November 14 2017 by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Mark 1:14-20
Growing up, I loved fishing in the Rocky Mountains with my dad. As a seasoned expert, he was perfectly capable of fishing on his own, though he’d much rather share the experience with a loved one.
The joy it brought him was contagious, and I grew to love fishing because he loved it.
Before a fishing trip, we would gather equipment, prepare rods and talk about what we might catch. We’d be out the door by 4 a.m., but I didn’t mind getting up early. In fact, I didn’t care about leaving the comfort of my bed, because I treasured adventures with my dad. After finding the perfect spot, we’d sit on the bank, cast our line and wait for the fish to bite. On the occasion that I caught a fish, my dad had to reel it in because he was much stronger than I was.

Simon, Andrew, James and John were also fishermen who Jesus called to follow Him. Simon and Andrew “left their nets” and James and John “left their father” to become “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20). These men were willing to leave comfort behind for an undertaking that would change their lives. Jesus also shared how we can become fishers of men by repenting, believing the gospel, abiding in Christ and preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14-20). Much like preparing for a fishing trip, we must prepare to be fishers of men. We need faith and the Spirit, just as we need equipment; we need the gospel like we need a fishing rod; and we can anticipate the mission by conversing with God through prayer. We may cast the net of Good News, but our trust must rest in God to save souls. Our heavenly Father is the expert of salvation, and He’s more than able to accomplish the task without us. Nevertheless, He longs to share this adventure with His children.  The joy of our Lord is contagious, and we’ll grow to love the process of sharing the Good News, simply because He loves to share it too.

11/14/2017 8:30:37 AM by Daniela Sanchez, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 26: Set Futures

November 14 2017 by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston

Focal Passage: Leviticus 26:3-16, 40-45
In recent days I have had to accept a hard truth: my children will never obey perfectly.
A few weeks ago, my son had to be put out of his soccer game twice for disobedience. This morning when I dropped him off for school, his teacher referred to him as the “wild child.”
Even I have quipped about “the preacher’s kid.”
On another occasion I disciplined my daughter for disobeying, at which point she looked up at me steely-eyed, as if to say, “bring it on old man.”
Let’s face it, as hard as we work at both formative and corrective discipline, our kids still possess a sin nature – strong-willed, defiant and rebellious.
God did not love Israel because of her inherent righteousness nor did He operate under the assumption that in showing love to her she would then be perfectly obedient. This makes the conditional nature of the covenant somewhat puzzling at first glance.
If you walk in my statutes and keep My commandments … then I shall give you rains … But if you do not obey Me … I will appoint over you a sudden terror.”
Paul resolves this conflict of ideas in his epistle to the Romans. In 7:9-10 he states the problem. “When the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me …
In 8:3-4 he gives us the remedy: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us …
Christ met the conditions of the covenant on our behalf. He met the condition of perfect obedience (Leviticus 26:1-13) and He took the punishment upon Himself for utter disobedience (Leviticus 26:14-45).
Now, in Him, we no longer fear judgmental wrath, but rather we embrace His Fatherly discipline which is wrought for our good and His glory.

11/14/2017 8:28:41 AM by Casey Short, pastor, Reddicks Grove Baptist Church, Williamston | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 26: Andrew: Active Witness

November 14 2017 by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore

Focal passage: John 1:35-42; 12:20-26
I took the students from our church to a missions camp this summer. I wanted the young people to get out of their comfort zone and share the gospel with people.
In my desire to challenge the students, I overlooked an important point.
As we went out the first day, it was me who would share first.
When I walked up to the first person, I was nervous. I had to ask myself, “Why am I scared to share the greatest story ever told?”
The only thing running through my mind was the outcome.
If they don’t respond positively to the gospel, have I failed? Did I not present the gospel correctly?
I don’t think I am alone when it comes to these thoughts.
Many of us know we should share the gospel, yet we decline to out of fear of failure. This study on Andrew should encourage us greatly.
In the first chapter of John, we meet a guy named Andrew who comes to know Christ as Messiah.
In return, Andrew runs to find others to come and meet Jesus.
Andrew’s immediate and urgent response indicates something: the greatest thing we can do for family and friends is bring them to Jesus.
We should be bold and eager to share the greatest message of all, not shrinking back.
We find Andrew again in John 12.
Jesus and His disciples are at a festival, and they meet some Greeks who want to see Jesus. So, what does Andrew do? He finds Jesus.
Like Andrew, we should invite those seeking answers to encounter Jesus.
There are lots of people looking for answers in the world.
We should invite them to know our Savior.

11/14/2017 8:26:49 AM by Matthew Jacobs, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Crossnore | with 0 comments