September 2016

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 9: One Great Task

September 20 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Each of us must share the gospel.
Ask any toddler what they want to be when they grow up, and you will most likely receive an enthusiastic response. Children dream of becoming heroic firefighters, dazzling ballerinas or lifesaving doctors, and they have dress-up costumes to prove it!
Unsurprisingly, few people actually end up entering the profession they envisioned when they were three. Many go to work each day, eager to collect a paycheck but unsure if they are doing the job for which they were designed.
No matter where you spend your working hours or whether or not you believe your profession is the best fit for your skill set, as a Christian you can rest in knowing that God has given you a great task. This task is designed specifically for you and is far greater and far more fulfilling than any official job responsibilities ever could be.
All Christians (not just those who have offices in church buildings) are commanded to share the gospel. We are to tell others about the hope we have in Jesus, entrusting what He has taught us “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Sharing Christ in daily life isn’t always easy. We shouldn’t be surprised if people reject the good news or treat us differently because we proclaim our love for Jesus. Instead, we must persevere in obedience even when things become challenging.
We must be willing to suffer hardship in order to tell others about Christ, recalling His ultimate suffering on our behalf.
We are to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” and allow this truth to transform the way we view every detail of our lives (2 Timothy 2:8).

Tomorrow, as you crawl out of bed and report to your job, remember that the task God has given you is much greater than any task assigned by men. Honor the Lord in fulfilling your earthly responsibilities, but don’t forget that your ultimate task is to point others to the hope we find only in Jesus Christ.

9/20/2016 7:24:39 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 9: Always Ready

September 20 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Some time ago I read the story of a Romanian pastor who had been captured and was being tortured in order to get him to tell where other Christians were meeting so they could be arrested as well. After much beating and other forms of torture, they could not get the pastor to break and disclose the location of the other Christians.
As a result, the authorities went and found the pastor’s 14-year-old son and brought him to the prison.
Then, in front of the pastor, they beat and tortured his son, in an effort to get the pastor to finally tell the whereabouts of the hiding Christians. After taking as much as he could, the pastor called out to his son and said, “I love you my son. I must tell them what they want to know.” It was then that the son called back, “No, father. They may kill me. But do not do me the disgrace of giving me a traitor for a father.”
When we hear such a story, we are prone to say this father and son have been “mistreated.” Peter, however, has a different response – “blessed” (v. 14).
Why? Because they are “suffering for righteousness sake.” They are identifying with the one – Jesus Christ – who, for their sakes, suffered for their salvation. They have identified with Christ through believer’s baptism. They are now further identifying with their Lord as they suffer for His sake.
We tend to flee from any kind of suffering – or even discomfort, for that matter.
What could possibly cause one to endure such suffering for the sake of Christ? It is the confidence we have in our sovereign, resurrected Lord who is seated victoriously at the right hand of the Father.
Therefore, when we face suffering because of our identification with Christ, we can do so with gentleness and confidence.
As that takes place, no doubt some around us will take notice. When they do, we must be ready – ready to give an answer when they ask about the living hope that they see in us.

9/20/2016 7:22:14 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 2: One Great Commitment

September 20 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Romans 10:1-3, 8b-13
Choosing where to eat dinner is one of my least favorite decisions of all time.
Steak or stir fry? Tacos or tortellini? I couldn’t care less, and I know I’m not the only one.
I usually struggle to make up my mind about dinner because I don’t think the decision is really that important. In six weeks, no one will care what I eat for dinner tonight. In six hours, I may not even remember what was on my plate!
But there is one decision that matters more than life itself. Each of us must choose how we will respond to the truth of the gospel – the Good News that Jesus Christ came to earth to pay for our sin, offer us forgiveness and restore us to a right relationship with God.
In order to receive the salvation God offers, we must first recognize that contrary to the many voices around us, Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Other religions or philosophies will leave us empty.
Our best attempts at self-righteousness will fall short.
What’s more, it’s not enough to intellectually acknowledge that Christ is the way to salvation. According to Romans 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” We cannot merely agree that Jesus saves. To believe means we must entrust our entire lives to the One who gave His life for us.
I’m certain I’ve spent hundreds of hours in my lifetime deciding where to go to dinner with my friends and family. I’ve settled for discussing cheeseburgers when I could have been sharing the offer of eternal life.
Christ’s gift of salvation is open to all, and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Pray with me this week that God would provide opportunities for each of us to share the offer of salvation with those around us. Pray those we speak with would choose to trust Christ and receive the salvation offered by Him alone.

9/20/2016 7:17:32 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 2: Living in Relationship

September 20 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 3:1-12
When we hear the word submission, our antennae often go up. The idea of submission is OK in a governmental authority context, a military context or even a workplace context. But, what about the idea of submission in a home context, particularly in a marriage? Feathers begin to ruffle, and the hair on the back of one’s neck may begin to stand up. “Submission,” though it certainly can carry negative connotations, is not a bad word. It can simply relate to placing oneself under the authority of another whose role is to lead.
Peter calls for wives to submit to their husbands, not because the wife is inferior but because of God’s creation design. They will show the reality of their living hope as they live this way, ultimately, in submission to God. At a time where such behavior would be very counter-cultural, Peter admonished husbands to treat their wives “in an understanding way” (v. 7). Wives were generally treated more like personal property, so such action would not go unnoticed. Further, such gracious submission should not only be demonstrated in the marriage relationship, but also toward one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
We all are going to determine how to live in the husband/wife relationship, and toward others, based on something. We can let today’s cultural norms dictate how those relationships will go. But, even within our contemporary culture, there are many different views. We can base our understanding and practice of these relationships on what we see in Hollywood. We can base our relationships on our emotions, but we know those change like the wind and are wildly different depending on the situation in which we find ourselves.
We need a surer, unchanging foundation. The good news is that we have one. God, the One who designed us for relationships in the first place, has given us instruction as to how we are to live out those relationships in a way that will demonstrate His glory to a watching world that desperately needs to know the living hope we have in Christ.

9/20/2016 7:13:00 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Sept. 25: One Great Savior

September 6 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passage: Romans 5:6-11
God offers us hope and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Jessica McClure was just 18 months old when she made national headlines for being helpless. The toddler, coined by the media as “Baby Jessica,” fell down a 22-foot well and became trapped in a tiny space only eight inches wide. Unable to move, Baby Jessica faced imminent death. There was no way she could crawl out of that hole and save herself. It took rescue workers 58 hours to dig a parallel well and lift her safely to the surface.
Just like Baby Jessica, we find ourselves dangling helplessly in the face of disaster. And yet, unlike this little one, we deserve our impending doom. Stuck deep in the well of our own sinfulness, we deserve God’s wrath. What’s more, we are completely and utterly unable to rescue ourselves.
The glorious news of this lesson is that just like Jessica, we have been offered a miraculous rescue! Jessica’s rescue came because people were willing to travel deep into the earth and pull her out. Our salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone.
According to Romans 5:6, “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Taking on human flesh, the Son of God sacrificed His sinless life for us. He selflessly loved people who had completely rejected Him. Jesus didn’t just risk his life, He laid it down willingly on our behalf.
On the cross, Jesus bore our condemnation and we are “saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9). This means that He paid the penalty for our sin, bearing the punishment that should have been ours.  
Through Jesus Christ, God offers us hope and forgiveness. Praise the Lord, He does not leave us dangling in our sin. Instead, through His work on our behalf we have the opportunity to be reconciled with God and restored to a right relationship with Him.
Mention Baby Jessica to anyone over 35 and most likely they will be able to tell her story. It truly is amazing. But what about the story of our rescue? When is the last time you recounted that miracle?

9/6/2016 9:48:38 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 25: Living As Strangers

September 6 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 2:11-20
I have had the unfortunate opportunity to visit U.S. Embassies in two foreign countries – both due to needing replacement passports for mission team members. However, when I was walking through that process, it was encouraging to meet those at the outpost who were fellow citizens of our home country. They were citizens of one country living in another. Even as they lived their lives, moving about in two of the world’s most popular cities, they represented America – both in their words and deeds. The way they lived their lives not only reflected on themselves individually, but also on their home country.
Peter reminds his readers that they are exiles (displaced from their homeland) and sojourners (temporary travelers who are passing through). And they are not in friendly territory. They have battles both within and without. Also, the “Gentiles” around them are claiming these believers are living “evil” lives. What are they to do?
They must respond both internally and externally. Internally, they must “abstain” from those fleshly passions that would cause them to live like those around them who embraced and celebrated such passions. Externally, they must act in a way that demonstrates the reality that their hearts have been changed on the inside. They must live as those who represent a different Kingdom and live under the reign of a different King.
The two particular outward expressions of their heavenly citizenship will be how they submit to the governing authorities that rule over them and to the vocational masters they serve. While their ultimate allegiance is to God’s authority, they show that allegiance by submitting to the earthly authorities God has ordained.

One commentator accurately titled this section of 1 Peter “Living as Aliens to Bring Glory to God in a Hostile World.” In our culture, the hostility seems to be growing. May our lives point others to a new Kingdom and the beauty of our glorious King.

9/6/2016 9:46:27 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Sept. 18: One Great Problem

September 6 2016 by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh

Focal passages: Romans 3:9-12, 19-20, 23
Without Christ, we are condemned forever.
Have you ever made an expensive online purchase only for it to arrive broken?
This summer I ordered a desk, and the day it was delivered I came home eager to tackle the assembly process. I finally had the perfect space to write and plan! As soon as I pulled into my driveway, however, I realized there was going to be a problem. Yes, my desk had arrived, but the gigantic box that held its pieces was damaged and flapping open in the breeze.
As I sifted through the packaging, I was thankful to discover almost everything remained in excellent condition. Only one piece had been broken. The drawer, designed to faithfully hold my office supplies, had been rendered useless by the bumps and bruises of cross-country shipping.
As we studied last week, God created us for a magnificent purpose, to glorify and enjoy Him forever. And yet, just like my desk drawer, we are broken and unable to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. But please take note: our damage did not occur during delivery.

We are broken because of sin. Each of us has disobeyed God’s instruction and chosen to live for our own pleasure instead of His. In Romans 3:10, Paul writes that “there is no one righteous, not even one.” We were made for God, but “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our sin has separated us from God, destroyed our relationship with Him and marred His great purpose for our lives.
Give me a little wood glue and an excellent idea from Pinterest, and one day I’ll be able to repurpose my broken drawer.
But there is no way we can ever restore our relationship with God on our own. Our works, as good as they may seem to us, can never save us. “No one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law” (Romans 3:20). Our problem is too great. Without Christ, we are hopeless. Unless we place our trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we face eternal condemnation.

9/6/2016 9:43:41 AM by Emily Anthony, member, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

Explore the Bible Lesson for September 18: Building Our Faith

September 6 2016 by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson

Focal passage: 1 Peter 2:1-10
I worked at Chick-fil-A during my last two years of high school and much of my time in college.
When my responsibility was cooking food in the kitchen, I would finish my shift feeling and smelling like a big, greasy, stinky chicken.
In fact, my wife would insist that I go straight to the shower when I got home, taking off those nasty, greasy clothes and washing off the grease and smell.
She believed that such greasy nastiness had no place in our home. I certainly agreed.

In today’s passage, Peter challenges his readers to put off – things like nasty, dirty clothes – those things which have no place in the transformed life of a follower of Jesus; things like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. But, it was not enough simply to “put off” those things that no longer belonged in their newly transformed lives.
There should also be an accompanying longing/craving for the Word of God in the lives of these believers, similar to that of a newborn infant craving his mother’s milk and not being satisfied until he gets it.
Why is it so important for each follower of Jesus to see such a building of his individual faith through this putting off and putting in?
It is because God is not only working in our lives individually, but is also knitting our lives together corporately, into a great spiritual edifice that will testify to the power and glory of our great God.
He is taking each of our lives – as living stones, given life by being found in the living stone, Jesus Christ – and putting us together into a “spiritual house” that testifies to His excellencies and glory.
As one who has been transformed by Jesus Christ, and through the power of His Spirit – put off those things which no longer belong; crave the milk of His Word; allow Him to fit you together with other believers into a great spiritual house; and intentionally testify, visibly and verbally, of this great God who has done this. He is worthy!

9/6/2016 9:39:42 AM by Randy Mann, lead pastor, Central Baptist Church, Henderson | with 0 comments