October 2013

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 3: Doubting Jesus’ Power?

October 24 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 9:8-11, 13-17, 35-41
Have you ever realized that you made something much more complicated than it ever needed to be? Maybe it was a task you were trying to accomplish or a relationship you were trying to figure out. In retrospect, you thought, “I made that so much more difficult than I needed to.” Or, perhaps you are trying to explain something to someone and they just didn’t get it. It seems so simple to you, but they just cannot wrap their mind around it. It seems that was the case in our scripture passage this week. The formerly blind man tried to explain the simplicity of his healing, and his listeners just would not accept the truth of the miracle. 
First, the healed man’s neighbors and “those who formerly had seen him as a beggar” questioned the man and themselves. They asked for an explanation over and over again. I can imagine the healed man feeling he needed to speak slowly and repeat his explanation. There was mud and there was washing the mud off, and that was it. His listeners evidently thought it had to be much more complicated than it was.
Secondly, the common folk took the man “who used to be blind to the Pharisees.” It was as if they thought they weren’t smart enough to understand this miracle, so the Pharisees could interpret it for them. Once again, more questions were asked of the healed man. Where the community folk doubted the blind man, the Pharisees chose to doubt Jesus. They cast doubt toward the character of our Savior. The blind man simply confessed, “He’s a prophet.” As the healed man went on to defend Jesus, his confession was more than the Pharisees could take, so they threw him out of the temple (John 9:34). 
Why is the truth so hard to see at times? Jesus identifies the religious leaders as being spiritually blind. Oh, may we all have eyes to see Jesus at work. As we see Jesus work miracles today, let’s cast doubt aside and be the first to praise Him!
10/24/2013 3:08:39 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 10: Step In

October 24 2013 by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passages: 1 Samuel 25:14-17, 23-28, 32-35
Nabal, a largely unknown character in the Old Testament, was described by one of his shepherds and his wife as “a worthless man.” After David’s dispatch of 10 men returned with the report of Nabal’s inhospitable response to their request for food, the group of soldiers grew to 400 men with swords. Although Nabal was set to die in his bullheadedness, his wife Abigail determined to intervene. She sent food and personally intercepted David’s army. She fell at his feet and asked that all the blame for her husband’s indiscretion be laid upon her. She said that Nabal lived up to his name, meaning “man of Belial,” which he embodied with great foolishness. She further praised David for his restraint and pronounced God’s blessing upon Him. David replied, “blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.”
When conflict develops, peacemakers and instigators rise to the occasion, while many people do nothing. Abigail’s example reminds us that we must stand on principle even when we don’t like the parties involved. She could have celebrated the death of such a worthless husband, but she knew many innocent men would die. She was also willing to take the blame for an incident she was only tied to indirectly. She could have said, “That’s his problem!” and headed for the hills. However, Abigail knew God had given her a role to play and she could not blame her irresponsibility on anyone else. She chose to be a wise peacemaker, not simply seeking peace at any cost. She knew that God’s plan for David took precedence, which ultimately brought redemption through Jesus Christ.
Are you unfolding a blanket of wisdom to smother the fires of conflict, or are you pouring the fuel of foolishness on the fire? Are you merely a spectator? Our response will show whether we are focused on God’s plan for His people or other earthly concerns.
10/24/2013 3:03:26 PM by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for November 3: Wondering About Judgment?

October 22 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 8:12, 15-18, 23-27, 42-47
When I hear the term judge, I immediately feel my stress level increase because I think of being a line judge in volleyball. I have a daughter on a varsity volleyball team. One of our responsibilities as parents, is to call the lines for one game during the season. I carefully research the schedule and choose the game that I think will be the least competitive. I find it difficult to make the right calls when the ball is hit hard! As a group of parents, we identify the ones who can do the hard games, and we allow them to sign up for those matches. They have been identified as the best judges.
Our lesson this week encourages us to identify the true judge. In John 8, Jesus identifies his judgment as “true” and done by “I and the Father” (John 8:16). As Christians, we need to help the world understand that Jesus is the true judge. He is the one to show us how to live in the light of God’s truth. 
One way everyone can understand the importance of judgment, is to look at the area of accountability. We experience accountability in common tools, such as a bathroom scale and a time clock. Accountability increases our awareness of judgment when our behavior results in consequences, especially if they are negative. Just this past week, this truth came sharply home to our high school. One of our 16-year-old students was driving too fast on a country road and the resulting wreck took the life of a beautiful, young lady. Our community has chosen to be supportive and focus on what we can learn from the situation. Her church family has been able to proclaim the message of salvation, and it was reported that more than 50 people were saved at the young lady’s funeral!
A funeral provides an opportunity for people to understand the basis of judgment. In this case, the message was clearly sent that we all need to make the choice to follow God’s words (John 8:47). Then, at judgment, we will be found to be from God. 
10/22/2013 12:13:45 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for November 3: Stand Your Ground

October 22 2013 by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passage: Galatians 2:1-14
During my early teens my sisters loved to make fun of the way I answered the phone. For some reason my voice dropped about an octave when I put the receiver to my face. I had made the subconscious effort to be something I wasn’t – older than 13! I wish all my past inconsistencies had been so harmless. The repeated mantra, “The church is full of hypocrites,” stems from obvious wavering in the lives of believers. Sometimes Sunday’s praise clashes with Monday’s profanity! Peter’s failure reminds us that contradiction even happens among the saints. Is holiness or sin outside your true character?
As he prayed on the Simon’s rooftop (Acts 10), Peter saw a heavenly vision of a large sheet coming down from the sky filled with numerous unclean animals. Like any good Jew, Peter protested the divine command to kill and eat, replying, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” God quickly corrected him, declaring, “What God has cleansed no longer consider unholy.” He could not take the message of grace to the Gentile Cornelius with the burden of the law around his neck!
Peter had been eating with Gentiles until certain men from the church in Jerusalem came to visit. As a result, Peter withdrew from them for fear of the Judaizers (people who believed that salvation required faith in Christ plus adherence to the law). Sadly, the rest of the Jews, including Barnabas, followed Peter’s flawed example. Paul condemned Peter’s hypocrisy and opposed him publicly. When we fail to stand our theological ground, other believers may quickly slide with us. Often Christians will stand to the death for issues that don’t make any difference in God’s Kingdom, and flounder on significant theological issues to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. May God give us graciousness in matters of opinion and backbones of steel regarding “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” should be our lifestyle!
10/22/2013 12:01:55 PM by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 27: Asking Questions About Jesus?

October 10 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 7:14-18, 25-31, 33-36
The lack of sound, biblical doctrine leads to confusion and shallow theology. Just as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3, the time has come “when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Our lesson this week challenges us to be prepared to answer questions about Jesus.
John 7 provides examples of how Jesus answered tough questions. Jesus was clear that everything he taught was from God (John 7:14-18). So, as we experience being asked about Jesus in our discipleship relationships, in our home and in community relationships, we need to do the same thing. For example, in a mentoring relationship with a young woman, I am asked questions about how Jesus would have her relate to her husband, her children and her friends. I think there have been times when I was tempted to give my own advice, but it is essential that I advise her, from scripture. When we disciple others in this manner, we are emphasizing that Jesus’ teaching is valid for every experience and that the teaching is from God. 
Our home environment provides a daily setting for answering questions about Jesus by the way we live in challenging situations. Jesus was asked tough questions by those who knew “where he was from” (John 7:27).  Who, but your family, sees you in the first and last moments of your day? Does your behavior give further understanding as to how we have learned from the teaching of Jesus or does it seem to cause more questions?    
The community within which we function provides unlimited opportunities to answer questions about Jesus.  We should not be surprised when a non-believer does not instantly understand our answers (John 7:35). A key is to be a person who is approachable and is willing to listen to someone’s questions. The questions often are not easy, but in prayer, the Holy Spirit can reveal to us the appropriate scripture to share.
10/10/2013 1:53:48 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 27: Stand Down

October 10 2013 by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passage: Genesis 13:1-18
Funeral services can include music that ranges from the most worshipful to the most bizarre. I have often wondered why “My Way” has been such a popular funeral song. I think people choose it because of its “final curtain” lyrics, without thinking about its overall message. If God allows such a thing, it must be the theme song in hell, the final destination of all people who seek their own way and ignore God’s plan.
Every Christian’s life and witness can be summarized as either self-preservation or self-sacrifice.
Our chosen mode of operation will be demonstrated at home, at work and even at church. Do you run the house for your good or the good of others? Do you seek to serve others at work or do you manipulate things for the sake of self-promotion? Do you choose a church because it caters to your complaints and felt needs, or do you seek to worship God and give yourself in His service?
Even though Abram outranked Lot, he allowed him to choose the land to pasture his flocks. Abram could have said “Deal with it!” but he chose to be gracious instead. As Paul instructed the Philippians to look out for the needs of others, he set before them the perfect example of Jesus (Philippians 2). Because of His love for us, Jesus humbled Himself to death.
How will we as the righteousness of Christ respond to others? If we want to demonstrate true Christian humility and submission we must be willing to compromise on non-biblical matters. Failure to do so reveals a selfishness that is typical of modern American society, which produces unreasonable parents, rebellious teenagers and dishonest employees. This “my way or the highway” attitude quickly heads to church, causing us to erroneously conclude that every sermon, ministry and music style must meet our expectations. How can Jesus be exalted in our lives when our personal satisfaction is based on our desires instead of His? May God teach us to love His glory more than our preference!
10/10/2013 1:47:20 PM by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills | with 1 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 20: The Power to Meet Needs

October 8 2013 by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte

Focal Passages: John 6:5-11, 26-31, 47-51
The story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is familiar to us all, but God’s Word is living and active as it continues to speak to us in the most familiar of stories. Just this week, our son, Seth went fishing and brought home 14 fish. Seth observed that the fish were small and probably similar to the two small fish the boy gave Jesus in John 6:8. I looked at the fish on our table and marveled, once again, that Jesus fed the multitude with such a small amount! 

As we continue a Bible study unit that focuses on the power of Jesus, we look specifically at His ability to meet the need of hunger. Jesus modeled for us the importance of providing food for hungry people and sharing the gospel with them.   
One of the wonderful aspects of being Southern Baptist is that we do not have to look far to know how to feed the hungry.
We are an on mission denomination. On a state level, we have teams of those serving through disaster relief. These teams provide food and water to those who would go hungry due to the effects of the natural disaster. On an international level, you may give specifically to relieve the hunger of those across the world through the World Hunger Fund of the International Mission Board (www.imb.org), which is being renamed Global Hunger Relief. One hundred percent of giving to that fund goes specifically to hunger relief. And, we can be confident that this hunger relief is done in the name of Jesus Christ! 
On a local level, we can be looking for ways to participate in hunger relief efforts. Giving to food pantries, helping organize those locations and distributing food to the hungry are all practical and local ways to get involved. In Cabarrus County, where I live, the pantry shelves were emptied as Food Stamp checks were delayed. Some recipients have not received benefits since June. The church needs to respond to these types of needs. It is when we meet the physical need that we can offer living bread for an everlasting difference.
10/8/2013 2:04:14 PM by Sherra Still, writer, University Hills Baptist Church, Charlotte | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 20: It’s Not About Me

October 8 2013 by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills

Focal Passage: 1 Samuel 24:1-15
When my older sister and I were young, we would often sing bits and pieces of songs we heard on the radio. Those were the days of songs like “Coward of the County,” a Kenny Rogers ballad about Old West style revenge. While the Bible calls believers to defend the cause of the helpless, we are never called to take revenge. Paul wrote, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19).
Most people would not have blamed David had he killed Saul that day in the cave in the wilderness of Engedi. Why didn’t he end all the looking over his shoulder by snuffing out his unstable enemy? David wanted to glorify God more than himself.
He chose to honor God’s anointed king even while the king acted dishonorably. Saul had been jealous and hateful, creating an increased level of incompetency in his leadership.
Even after Samuel told him that he would be replaced by someone better than him, Saul chose to do worse instead of better.
However, David focused on his God instead of his enemy. He knew that God had sent Samuel to anoint him, and that God would enthrone him according to His divine timing.
He also knew that God did not appoint him king only to have him die before taking the throne. Had David become obsessed with avenging his own honor, the honor of God would have been overshadowed by his personal agenda. David, a man after God’s own heart, knew that God could be trusted to order even the most difficult steps in life for His glory and the good of His servant. Saul chose his honor to the dishonor of God.
Personal conflict will either strengthen or weaken us spiritually, as we choose to fight either for God’s glory or our own. Which one will you chose? As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, let us regularly remind ourselves, “It’s not about me!”
10/8/2013 1:58:58 PM by Troy Rust, writer, Hurdle Mills | with 0 comments