September 2019

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 6: Residence

September 24 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Eph. 3:14-21
 
There are some songs that just make you feel strong, confident and energized. For instance, the theme song to the film “Rocky,” no matter how tired I am, makes me feel like I could put on a sweat suit, run up and down some stairs, punch a heavy bag, and then take on Russian boxer Ivan Drago. But after the song is over, I’m reminded that I’m tired, and Drago would literally break me.
 
For the Christian, the darkness, pain, suffering and sin of this life are constantly aiming to break us. Satan, our enemy, desires our total and complete destruction. And unlike the Italian Stallion, we cannot simply reach down deep to our inner strength and win the battle in which we find ourselves.
 
Instead, we must rely on the strength of Christ, which is present among the people Christ by the indwelling Spirit of Christ: “... according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
 
Through His death, burial, and glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus has broken the power of our enemy and has secured victory for His people (Ephesians 3:20-21).
 
He has already won the fight.
 
Our triumph is not secured by inner strength or a theme song of personal victory. Instead, our strength is Christ’s strength and our song of victory is Christ Alone.

9/24/2019 10:07:08 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 6: Uncomplicated Relationship

September 24 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
 
Isn’t it amazing how technology, the thing intended to simplify our chaos, often seems to do exactly the opposite? Social media, for example, has streamlined our ability to connect with people around the world, but it has also made relationships much more complicated. Should we add a friend we’ve only been introduced to in passing? Should we devote hours to scrolling through posts or wishing happy birthdays? Should we live under the pressure of staying in touch with friends from decades past?
 
I can say without hesitation that although technology is far from the root of the problem, God never intended for us to live in so much drama. Instead, Christ calls us to a change in perspective. Our love for Christ, not our access to technology, should drive how we interact with others.
 
We must filter every relationship in our lives through an attitude that puts Christ first, people second and ourselves third.
 
Paul provides guidelines for relationships in 1 Thessalonians 4, explaining that we are to approach others with purity and humility. As we put others before ourselves, we are to be careful to “not transgress and take advantage of a brother or sister” (1 Thessalonians 4:6). God calls us to flee from impurity and live lives of holiness.
 
We are to focus on our own actions instead of the circumstances of others. Paul instructs, “seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12a).
 
Yes, social media can be wonderful. I love being able to catch up with friends from decades past.
 
But you’ve got to admit, it can be so tempting in front of a screen for us to become consumed with comparing ourselves to others. When we allow God’s love to lead us, not only are our lives simplified, but we are set free to truly love those around us.

9/24/2019 10:05:09 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 29: Revealed

September 17 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 3:1-13
 
I’m terrible at giving gifts. It’s not that I don’t give good gifts, it’s just that when I get someone a gift, I can’t wait to give it to them.
 
So, it is not uncommon for me to buy my wife or children a gift for a special day (birthdays or Christmas), only to give it to them early or to at least tell them about the gift before they even open it.
 
I’ll explain what it does and how it works as a hint to what the gift is! My love for the one receiving the gift leads me to such joy in revealing my gift that I just can’t keep it to myself. I cannot contain it or keep it hidden.
 
Paul tells the church at Ephesus the very same thing, that God has made His gift of grace, through Jesus, known (vv. 1-6).
 
The announcement of this gift is the Good News of the gospel. For Paul, he could not restrain himself from announcing the gift.
 
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
 
The gift of God is grace through Jesus, the gift on display, the gift of grace made visible is the church.
 
We ought to be people who enthusiastically share the gift that we have been given by preaching the gospel. We should overflow with uncontainable joy and excitement. But the way that we clearly describe the gift is by the church putting the “manifold wisdom of God” on display before the world (Eph. 3:7-13).
 
God has a gift to give the world. He gives the gift through his people sharing the gospel. We demonstrate and put on display what the gift is in and through the local church.

9/17/2019 10:49:09 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 29: A Slower Pace

September 17 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-17
 
Last night our family gathered for a potluck dinner on the lake, and my plan was to bring a tray of my favorite chicken nuggets. As delicious as this plan may have sounded, it was impossible. The company who crafts these tasty bites of goodness made a commitment many years ago to close on Sundays and allow employees a day of rest and worship. And so, for 24 hours every week, their doors are locked.
 
This idea of refraining from work on the Sabbath day is much older than fried chicken. As part of the Ten Commandments, God commanded His people to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). They were to do their work six days and rest on the seventh, following the same pattern God demonstrated in Creation.
 
But keeping the Sabbath is more than an Old Testament command. As part of God’s moral law, we Christ followers are still called to set aside time in our busy schedules. When we choose to press pause on our hectic lives, we are reminded that God is in control and we belong to Him. Yes, we all have long lists of things to accomplish, but it is imperative that we stop and reflect on the goodness of the One who loves us and holds all things together.
 
When we choose to halt our to do list and intentionally focus on God, we proclaim our dependence on Him and identify ourselves with His generational covenant with His people. The rest God gives is physically refreshing and spiritually renewing.
 
My favorite fried chicken franchise stands out when its doors are closed. I can’t fathom how many millions of dollars they haven’t made because of their decision, but their company has flourished. We must remember, however, that celebrating the Sabbath isn’t merely about refraining from buying chicken nuggets. It’s about stopping to remember and acknowledge the Creator who holds all things together and has given us life and hope and salvation.

9/17/2019 10:47:17 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 22: Reconciled

September 6 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 2:11-22
 
Are you someone’s enemy? We can typically name people that we consider to be our enemies, but we rarely think of ourselves as being view as an enemy by anyone else. Yet, scripture refers to us as God’s enemy (Romans 5), not because God declared war on us, but by our sin we have declared war on Him.
 
Paul reminds the church at Ephesus that human beings are born at odds with God, and they quickly become at odds with one another (Ephesians 2:11-12). We are alienated from God and because we are not right with God, we are unable to be right with or reconciled to our neighbor. If you see racism, genocide, tribalism, and divisions of all kinds, and you wonder why people simply can’t get along, it is because the world needs to be reconciled to its Creator.
 
Thankfully, God has acted through His Son, Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:13-16). Through His work on the cross, He has destroyed the walls of hostility that exist between God and man. Through the blood of Christ, we can once again be in right standing with our God. We are no longer enemies, but adopted sons and daughters. It is through the blood of Christ that reconciliation can now happen between sinners. The work of Christ reconciled persons across the greatest divide that exists, between a Holy God and wretched sinners. As a result, we know that the gospel can bridge the much smaller divide from sinner to sinner.
 
In fact, one of the clearest evidences of the gospel at work and the gospel’s power to save sinners is the reconciliation it brings among us, God’s people (Ephesians 2:17-22). We who were divided are now reconciled and united. We have forgiven each other of offenses. Our citizenship in the Kingdom of Christ unites people of all ethnicities, nationalities, socio-economic backgrounds and so on. If we believe the gospel, we will be reconciled to others, because reconciliation is the gospel at work. So, if we live lives that are not marked by reconciliation, then we are declaring that the gospel isn’t true. But it is true! Therefore, if we are reconciled to God, by Christ, then we must be reconciled to others for the glory and testimony of Christ.

9/6/2019 11:44:43 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 22: Godly Contentment

September 6 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: 1 Timothy 6:6-11; 17-19
 
Did you know that in 2015 there were more self-storage facilities in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants? Is it possible that Americans love stuff more than we love a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
 
We buy boxes to protect our stuff, rent buildings to store our stuff, watch television shows documenting people who have too much stuff and read books about how to joyfully tidy up our stuff.
 
Whether we’re hoarding to gain a sense of security or organizing to rid our lives of things that don’t spark joy, many of us are consumed by our possessions.
 
Even if we are afraid to admit it, we have come to believe the lie that we will find contentment in the amount or quality of the items we own.
 
It can be tempting to find joy in our belongings, but this will never provide lasting godly contentment. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:7 that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” All the things that surround us will eventually rot away.
 
Our possessions are a temporal gift from God. When we crave the things God has given more than we crave the Giver Himself, the result is disastrous. “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation … and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
 
True and godly contentment is only found when we set our hope on God and store up riches in heaven. We must look up from our oversized plastic bins and set our eyes on the One who “richly provides us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Instead of focusing on the things we can accumulate, we must selflessly concentrate on living lives that are full of generosity.
 
Oh, that we would pray like Charles Spurgeon, “Lord, let me be rich toward thee. I had better send on to my treasury in heaven more of my substance than I have already sent.”

9/6/2019 11:41:55 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 15: Resurrected

September 3 2019 by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount

Focal Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10
 
“We will be spending tomorrow at Paw-Paw’s funeral.”
 
I was a small child, my birthday was the following day, and I had no idea what a funeral was. My first encounter with death made no sense. Why would my great-grandfather want me to spend my birthday at a funeral? I couldn’t understand the inescapability and finality of death. As I sat in the service, I realized, my great-grandfather simply died. He couldn’t stop or prevent this moment. Worse, he couldn’t bring life back to his lifeless body.
 
A dead man’s greatest problem is that he is dead. What can a dead man do to solve his greatest problem? Nothing. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that in our sin we are spiritually dead, but physically animated. That we, by our nature, are sons and daughters of disobedience and wrath. None of this is good news – yet.
 
So, what is the answer to our greatest problem? God Himself! God acts on behalf of sinners, the spiritually dead, through Christ to “make us alive.”
 
The idea of Christ making us alive, rescuing us from spiritual death, is profound. I once heard a pastor say it this way: We are dead, and we are laying at the bottom of the sea of God’s wrath against sin. It’s not that we are adrift on the sea and we need someone to throw us a lifeline. We are dead on the sea floor. Jesus doesn’t merely throw us a lifeline, he dives into the sea of God’s wrath, scoops up our lifeless bodies, takes us to the shores of life, and gives us His life. He literally makes us alive.
 
God does all of this, not because of what we do, but because of Who He is. He saves us and gives us life by grace alone, that we receive by faith alone, through the finished work of Christ alone. Then, God acts upon the plan he set into motion in eternity past, that we would do good works (Ephesians 2:10). We are not saved by good works, because dead men have no good works, but for, or to good works.
 
Spiritual death is the present reality for every human being. Physical death is the future inevitability for you, me and everyone we know. Thankfully there is a cure for both: grace.

9/3/2019 11:38:38 AM by Dayton Hartman, lead pastor, Redeemer Church, Rocky Mount | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 15: The Key to Contentment

September 3 2019 by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia

Focal passage: Philippians 4:10-20
 
Is it just me, or does anyone else think losing their keys is one of their best talents? Just recently, I spent two days reorganizing my life because I misplaced my work keys. I was in trouble. I knew that without those keys, I would have no access to my workspace, would have to explain my irresponsibility to my boss and would probably have to pay for a new lock on my door. Having the right key for where you want to be is priceless.
 
We all long for contentment – to be satisfied in our life and circumstances. And, in our culture we’re bombarded with potential keys. Perhaps we think we can unlock peace through wise counsel, strict budgeting or a fabulous physique. It doesn’t take long to realize that although many of these things can be valuable, none will ultimately grant us contentment.
 
Paul writes in Philippians 4 that even though he faced immeasurable suffering, he found the key to contentment. Paul learned he could “do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It wasn’t that Paul believed Christ would give him worldly greatness or financial success. He knew that through Christ he had the power to live a contented and joyful life regardless of his circumstances.
 
Paul recognized that strength from God does more than produce a winning touchdown or gold medal. God promises to supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
 
We may never attain financial abundance or glory in professional athletics, but in Christ we unlock the door to so much more. In Christ, we are guaranteed the riches of the gospel – forgiveness from sin and true life and joy in Christ. No matter our circumstances, in Him we have strength for today and hope for eternity. And this key isn’t hiding from us like the work keys that kept alluding me last week. Christ freely offers us himself. He alone is the key that brings true contentment to our souls.

9/3/2019 11:36:40 AM by Emily Kistler, member, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia | with 0 comments