September 2012

Explore the Bible Lesson for Oct. 14: Living Without Fear

September 27 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 3:13-22
 
Fear can be crippling. Most counselors will point out that in order to trace the roots of our fears, and find their deeper meaning, we must look in two directions: outward to dangers and inward to our own anxieties. It’s not a stretch to say that Peter’s original readers wrestled with both external and internal fears as they endured suffering for their faith.
 
What will happen to us? Will I be able to remain steadfast? How should we battle fear?  
 
According to Peter, we should counter fears with the promises of God. Ed Clowney puts it this way: Peter “… is assuring them that, under God’s care and blessing, no evil can befall them … God’s vindication and protection will preserve the heirs of his blessing.” How wonderful! Sure, there may be times where we are troubled, persecuted or must endure suffering – perhaps even for doing good. But in those times we can rest assured that we are ultimately secure in Christ.
 
Christ suffered the cross and shame so that we could be secure in God. If we can take the gospel and our identity in Christ to every fear – external and internal – the perfect love of God will destroy them. Moreover, Christ now sits at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to Him. Christ reins. What then shall we fear? Ultimately fear and suffering in this life are temporary.
 
When set against the grand story of the world, the severity of present-day troubles is alleviated, though not denied. We can bring our fears in perspective and rest when we consider that Christ has taken care of our deepest needs and that His Spirit ministers to us in our time of trouble.
 
For this reason we are able to lift our voices and proclaim “… no guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me!”
9/27/2012 3:47:48 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Oct. 14: From Failure to Direction

September 27 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: Genesis 15:4-6; 16:1-5; 17:3-6, 15-19
 
It’s much easier to sing, “Have Faith in God,” than to put it into practice. Abram questioned God’s fulfillment of His covenant with him, because he had no son and appeared to be passing his estate to a household servant.
 
Despite appearances, God promised Abram he would have a son and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram had two options – faith and sight.
 
Although he saw no basis for the fulfillment of God’s promise, Abram believed God and was declared righteous by faith.
 
The significance of Abram’s response can be clearly seen as Paul references it (Romans 4:1-3; Galatians 3:6-14) to demonstrate the doctrine of justification by faith.
 
Trusting God can become more difficult with the passage of time. After 10 years of waiting, Abram took matters into his own hands.
 
Although Sarai cooked up the idea to give her maid Hagar as a wife for her husband, Abram should have held tightly to God’s promise instead of attempting the quick fix set before him.
Instead of creating an heir, Abram created a rift in his marriage and set in motion an age-old conflict.
 
He mistakenly thought he just needed a son, but God purposed to provide an heir, the son of promise.
 
We shouldn’t be surprised when our attempts to fix things put us in a “fix,” instead of in the center of God’s will.
 
At the age of 86 Abram experienced the implosion of Sarai’s plan for a son. At the ripe age of 99 God reaffirmed His promise to Abram and changed his name to prepare for the miraculous occasion.
 
Abram (“exalted father”) was changed to Abraham (“father of a multitude”) to display God’s plan to birth nations and kings through him.
 
Even though Abraham laughed at the idea of Sarah giving birth in her old age and longed for Ishmael to be the son of promise, God fulfilled His promise through Isaac.
 
Whenever our faith wavers, and we go down dead end side roads, we can be sure that the straight and narrow path of faith always leads back to God’s plan.
9/27/2012 3:46:51 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Oct. 7: Living at Home

September 25 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 3:1-12
 
Peter’s words to husbands and wives about the honorable home are just as timely today as they were when he first penned them. There has been an onslaught of political and cultural conversation over marriage recently. It’s easy for us as Christians to fight for marriage in the public square, but how many of us are just as invested in our own marriages? In this passage Peter calls women to cultivate an inner spiritual beauty and calls men to be understanding and honor their wives as gifts from God.
 
Let’s be honest, there are times in marriage, even a Christian marriage, when upholding the biblical picture of marriage is not so easy. The relationship is often difficult and painful. While marriage may be hard, the calling is also rewarding and wondrous. In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes that the purpose of marriage “… is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us.” Not only does this mission benefit our own marriages, but also displays the power of the gospel to a confused world. The respectful and pure conduct that Peter calls for demonstrates God’s intention for marriage.
 
A Christian understanding of the home is often unintelligible to those who are not of the faith.
 
Why would we expect them to understand? But the confident yet humble power of the gospel on display between a husband and a wife is arresting to those looking on. Imagine how beautiful it would be if in our marriages we strived to have unity, sympathy, love, tenderness and humility. There is no six-step program to achieve this type of marriage. Simple behavior modification will not produce lasting change.
 
Only the gospel will allow us to have the loss of pride and self-will that enables us to humbly serve the other.
9/25/2012 2:43:44 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for Oct. 7: From Failure to Salvation

September 25 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passages: John 4:7-18, 25-26, 39
 
Have you ever had a thirst you couldn’t quench? Tea and soft drinks didn’t hit the spot, and neither did water.
 
Eventually you realized the hunger for other things (popcorn, country ham, etc.) was creating that thirst.
 
The woman at the well was the epitome of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Jesus eventually revealed that she had sought fulfillment in the arms of multiple men, yet remained dissatisfied. The woman at the well was seeking to meet a physical need, but water would never fix her predicament.
 
Jesus told her He could take away her true thirst forever.
 
The more someone fails to find satisfaction in worldly pursuits, the more he should welcome the message of completeness in Christ.
 
When I was studying music in college, I arrived for my voice lesson one day to find my teacher eager to discuss spiritual matters.
 
He was rumored to be a homosexual and had been offended as a young man by hypocritical demonstrations of Christianity.
 
We took the entire hour to talk about Christianity, and I shared the gospel in detail.
 
The next week I arrived for my voice lesson and the teacher joyfully announced the solution to his plight: “I’m going to become Catholic!” He had little interest in the doctrinal distinctives of Catholicism.
 
Sadly, he chose to embrace religious formality instead of a relationship with Christ.

Similarly, the woman at the well was excited about a perpetual source of water but still struggled to see her real need.
 
We can imagine that the woman at the well spent many hours of her life talking about the newest love of her life. By the grace of God, wasted words and wasted passion were replaced by the wonderful proclamation of the gospel. Where we once focused our time and energy on sin, we can now use our voices and opportunities to share the good news of Jesus and His life-transforming power. Adrian Rogers once said, “I read other books but the Bible reads me.”
 
No doubt the woman at the well would have said the same thing about Jesus.
9/25/2012 2:42:06 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Sept. 30: Living under Stress

September 13 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 2:18-25
 
According to statistics, between 75-90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or conditions.
 
What usually brings about stress? Perhaps some people are stressed from internal pressures such as the need for accomplishment, approval from others or perfectionism. For some, stress comes from external situations related to government, work or culture. I don’t think it would be a shot in the dark to argue that everyone suffers from stress in some way, shape or form. I would also bet that suffering, if suffering wasn’t enough in itself, brings stress with it. 
 
What fortifies someone when stress and suffering close in? All people look for something to compose and quiet their soul.
 
Well, the Apostle Peter encourages Christians to be mindful of God when enduring the circumstances of this life. Think about it this way, every possible thing in this finite world that causes stress and suffering is ultimately limited and passing.
 
Being mindful of God literally means making conscious effort to dwell on his sovereignty and providence in all situations. Falling completely into the mercy of God found in Christ allows one to patiently endure all things.
 
Even more so, as John Calvin said, “when we turn our eyes to the Son of God, all bitterness is mitigated.” Even though it is tough, why let stress and suffering bring us to ultimate despair?
 
Did not Christ suffer so that we could have our deepest need met, to be at peace with God?
 
In the pattern of Christ and in the power of the Spirit may we entrust ourselves to the God of the universe. Let us remember that our deepest needs have already been atoned for when the shepherd was struck for the sheep. It is by his wounds that we have been healed.
9/13/2012 2:03:35 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for Sept. 30: Your Decision

September 13 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: Matthew 7:13-29
 
When we were young my friends and I dreamed of driving on a German autobahn in fast cars running wide open.
 
On such highways you don’t have a speed limit and you don’t have to be overly cautious. Several years later I took a mission trip to the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The roads there call for precision, not speed. Speed is of little value if your automobile falls off the road and into a deep ravine. Jesus made a similar comparison of life’s road choices.
 
The highway to hell is wide and easy and most people will take it.
 
The path to eternal life is narrow and few will find it. Be careful how you define the Christian life. It’s not a highway for the willy-nilly traveler. It’s a difficult path for people who intentionally follow Jesus.
 
Occasionally I like to go back and watch the Looney Tunes I enjoyed as a child. One of Wile E. Coyote’s stunts included dressing like a sheep and entering the pasture in order to steal a few sheep for dinner.
 
Even his sheep dog co-worker could spot such a phony setup. Sheep don’t suddenly sprout brown legs twice as long as the old ones and stack their fellow sheep on their shoulders! While we’d never observe such a ridiculous stunt in nature, Jesus warned us that similar attempts are made to infiltrate His flock.
 
A fake sheep, while impressive on the surface, will betray himself by what he believes.
He will say the same “amen” as you and me but will deny the deity of Christ or the authority and sufficiency of scripture. Jesus warns that doing God’s will, not invalid “ministry,” prepares us to stand before Him.
 
In recent years I’ve watched the horror of California mudslides as they were reported on the evening news.
 
Multimillion-dollar homes turned into worthless rubble in minutes for one reason – they had no solid foundation. Jesus reveals that the application of His teaching is our spiritual foundation. Hearing His words and ignoring them sits one in the sand, waiting to be washed away in the sea of life.
9/13/2012 2:01:58 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for Sept. 23: Living as Strangers

September 11 2012 by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem

Focal Passage: 1 Peter 2:11-17
 

The call to live as exiles in a fallen world requires sober self-reflection for our churches. It would seem that many of our congregations have tended toward complete separatism, but Peter calls us to live as sojourners.
 
As Christians we know that we have no abiding city here, yet we are still called to, as James Davidson Hunter argues, maintain a faithful presence within our fallen world. Moreover, Peter urges believers to live such good lives that our pagan neighbors would end up giving glory to God. It would seem that the more holistic understanding of our place in this world calls us to a posture of both solidarity and separation with our culture.
 
We are called to separation in the sense that we model a different kind of life, with different hopes and motivations flowing from the gospel.
 
We are called to solidarity in that we are deeply involved in the needs of our neighborhoods and the world reflecting the implications of the gospel. Around 360 AD, the Roman Emperor Julian became curious of the Christians who loved not only the needy in the church, but also the needy in their community.
 
Emperor Julian actually argued that the pagan religions of his time should attempt to imitate and outdo the conduct of the Christians.
 
See, it was self-giving love of those early Christians that became a powerful witness to the power of the gospel. Simply put, their deeds authenticated their words.
 
I think Michael Goheen is correct when he writes that the world no longer sees the church as “an alien and undesirable invasion of people meeting their own selfish purposes but rather as a welcome presence there to bless the neighborhood.”
 
If your church were to cease existing, would your community miss you?
9/11/2012 3:17:10 PM by Matt Capps, associate pastor for adult ministries, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life for Sept. 23: Right Relationships

September 11 2012 by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro

Focal Passage: Matthew 7:1-12

In my lifetime the best-known Bible verse has shifted from John 3:16 to Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” I saw this trend displayed on a custom-made car plate that read, “Only God can judge me!”
 
No doubt many unbelievers have added Matthew 7:1 to their arsenal as a way of saying, “You can’t tell me I’m wrong.” However, the context of the verse reveals that Jesus is warning against harsh, self-righteous judgment, not calling for an end to all judgment.
 
Jesus tells us to take the logs out of our own eyes, so that we can see clearly to take the specks out of our brothers’ eyes. We fulfill this verse by making righteous judgments on sin according to the Bible, but we must start with our own sin!
 
To further clarify the necessity of righteous judgment, Jesus warns us of spiritual “dogs” and “swine.” Such people walk on the gospel and seek to destroy God’s messengers. In response to them we must take the gospel and move on.
 
I once tried to argue with a drunk man about the necessity of preaching the Word of God, then I remembered this verse. Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet at any house or city where the people reject the gospel (Matthew 10:14-15) as a sign of judgment upon them.
 
Such action provides a warning to unbelievers and allows us to spend our time taking the gospel to people who are willing to receive it.
 
Just as Jesus’ followers are to make right judgments about sin, they are also to make proper judgments about God’s generosity. Asking, seeking, and knocking are examples of one ultimate command: Persist in prayer! If we give good gifts to our children, how much better are God’s gifts to His children? Jesus completes this passage with the Golden Rule to remind us that just as God has been a gracious giver to us we should be the same to others.
 
If you think a particular form of treatment is good, others probably will too! Let us be a gift to our neighbors.
9/11/2012 3:13:55 PM by Troy Rust, senior pastor, Somerset Baptist Church, Roxboro | with 0 comments