Is HE All You Need? You Decide!


Years have passed, but it doesn’t take much for me to remember how their house looked: it was thrown together with pieces of unused particle board, old shingles, scraps of barn wood, and any other haphazard materials her father could find, held together with a nail here and there. How they kept from being evicted from such a dwelling is (even now) beyond my understanding. It was, in effect, a third-world shack in modern America.

My mom tried her best not to complain when I wanted to spend the night, but, looking back, I know she must have cried many tears for my safety. For some reason, it didn’t bother me: my friend lived here, and she was not responsible for what her folks provided for them to live in. My mom was looking at the situation with eyes trained to see what she thought a family should have, while the dad probably figured he had a roof (such as it was) over his family’s head, and food (such as it was) on their table. The difference between desirable wants and basic needs. I don’t even recall if there was indoor plumbing!

I’ve often wondered what happened to the family. You possibly have friends in your background like that as well. You can’t imagine that they turned out well, but more than likely they did! It’s part of God’s mercy to bless both the honorable and dishonorable; those who deserve blessings, but also those who do not. Goodness knows, most days I don’t deserve half of the blessings He gives me, beginning with calling me His child.

Maybe you have it all together! I surely don’t. I can purpose in my heart to do a thousand things right this day, and one step out of line and I’ve blown it. You would think the Christian life would get easier with each passing year. Okay, maybe the knowledge increases, but sin gets more rampant, persecution gets stronger, profanity seems to cut deeper, and it’s easier to get discouraged! Add all that together and we can see why there’s so much in our lives that needs to be removed.

Have you been with us during this sermon series as we seek to eliminate the undesirable hangups in our lifestyle, freeing us to become the children God would have us be? We began by getting our finances in a position where we control them, and not the incorrect, upside-down, them-controlling-us way! We looked at the ravages anger leaves in our lives, especially when we don’t seek to forgive the person who has caused us mental harm, especially if it’s done intentionally; and as the weeks have gone by, hopefully you have felt release from burdens that have caused you pain! I know I have! Just making a budget was one of the most freeing things I have done in eons.

Get your notebook, something to drink, perhaps a friend, and click on the link for the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, February 26, 2017, and enjoy the entire service if you have time. Then go below and study the topic, taking the action points at the end to better internalize the sermon! If you have someone to discuss the answers with, you’ll be blessed. In any case, enjoy going deeper into God’s word! Click on, and select February 26, 2017!

Overflow: He Is All You Need                                                                                          February 26, 2017                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell


If you could eliminate one item from your life that you think would lower your stress level, what would it be?

For several weeks, we have been looking at Hebrews 12 and 13, trying to identify the “weights” or sins that keep us tied to this world, and which take our focus away from living an abundant Christian life. This week we want to dwell on the wonder that the God who created the universe still stoops to give sinners His grace for redemption and a wonderful life by being all we need.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 13:20, 21; Romans 12:2

Think About or Discuss:

He Is Our Peace

  1. Read Hebrews 13:20a. God is called the God of “peace.” What is the greatest peace God offers?  What really comes to your mind when you think of the word “peace”? If you are with someone who can discuss your answers, that is great; otherwise, keep a notebook handy to write in.
  2. These early believers were being persecuted for their faith, and were questioning their commitment to Christ. Can you think of a time when your faith was challenged to the extent you wanted to quit?
  3. Read Jas 1:2, 3 (NAS, if possible). James also was encouraging believers who were having their faith tested. What other types of peace (besides salvation) does God give?

He Is Our Shepherd

  1. Read verse 20b and Matthew 9:36. How are people like sheep?
  2. What are some qualities of a shepherd? Why is God called your Shepherd (Psa. 23)?

He Is Our Deliverer

  1. Read verse 20c. It is hard for us to identify with a religion of daily sacrifices; for this reason, the NT provides many verses that lay background for the amazing sacrifice of the crucifixion. Why did Christ want to shed His blood for you?
  2. Read Col. 2:13-15 (NAS, if possible). What has He delivered you from?

He Is Our Provider

  1. Read verse 21a. What are some of your daily needs? What does God assure you in this section of the verse?
  2. What is He equipping you for? Why is that such an important point to grasp?

He Is Our Hope

  1. Read verse 21b. What does God wish to produce in you? How will He do this? Read Heb. 6:18, 19. What are some of the areas listed as provisions of God’s hope?         


  1. Take the first steps: identify any thing, person, or activity in your life that is replacing God;
  2. Be committed to walking away from whatever or whomever you listed in #1;
  3. Pray over your commitment every day;
  4. Share your burdens with Christians who have your best interests at heart; don’t walk this journey alone!


We have learned so many things over the past several weeks—things that, when put into practice, will begin to relieve the daily levels of stress that we seem to carry on our backs. Taking those first small steps toward getting freedom from debt, forgiving those against whom we have held grudges, discarding habits or companions that pull us down: all these and more begin to give us freedom to live as Christ would have us live, and to do so in His power, with His presence, and with our hand in His! Hopefully you have made the action points for the past several sermons into daily prayer practices, so that you keep making progress. Be sure you pray for those who are fighting battles just as you are, and if possible, meet with them for a time of encouragement, even if it is not long.  And soon you will be able to say with Paul, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39). Amen!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 13:21: “(May God) make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Quote: “The only place you cannot fail is when you are in God’s will!”

© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Heart of the Church

dreamstime_xl_69735318There was a balcony at the back of the church for slaves. It wasn’t hard to visualize the ones who had stood up there (surely they weren’t given chairs), worshiping God while the pastor preached and the people sang. Were they allowed to sing as well? My mind was taken up with wondering what type of life they had led, here in the deep south, seventy-five years before. They had been freed about five years when this church was formed, but obviously the landowners cared enough for their former slaves to provide an area where they could worship. Now it was only a church for the “whites,” and the balcony had been divided into small classrooms. The blacks had their own church, and if I had had my choice, I would probably have chosen to be in theirs, as happy, alive and worshipful as it was!  But that was life back then, and you didn’t question it.

We had just made the move to the rural countryside in a new state, North Carolina, all the way from Ohio–the “north,” which made us Yankees. My mom and dad’s priority had been to find a house, then a church. The church was small, organized not long after Abraham Lincoln was shot, as twenty-five families in the countryside needed a place to worship. These people raised tobacco or had cattle farms, and had become, for the most part, upper middle class–whatever it looked like in the mid-to late 1800’s. They also didn’t take to strangers.

Momma didn’t know that. She had never met a stranger. Mother would never have imagined that our presence in that small church might upset someone. We might come in with different beliefs, different ideas, or not recognize that The Broadman Hymnal and the King James Bible were both ordained by God, and no other hymnbook or Bible was to be part of church. Eventually her sunny ways endeared us to the community, and after some time we ceased to be Yankees, and settled in. It helped that, at only thirteen, I could play the hymns in the Broadman Hymnal, and they needed a piano player. I was exceedingly blessed that my mom, who got a part time job in the community grocery store where she made many friends, never noticed color: you could have been green or blue, and she would still have been the same, loving, friendly person. She raised me the same way, and it didn’t occur to me that color mattered to most people. We called that community “home” for a long time.

It wasn’t very long before we realized this church was small and picturesque because it looked as it had in the 1800’s. They weren’t about The Great Commission, they were about listening to the preaching, singing, praying, and then returning the next Sunday. The church gradually, over the next several years, grew enough to need a small fellowship hall and a few extra classrooms added, just because people were finding the rural community to their liking. For the most part, though, it remained for the next twenty years exactly as it had when we first saw it. The balcony had been divided into three classrooms, no longer needed for another race. As I said, that was the way life was back then, and you didn’t question it.

Sometime in the late ’60’s a pastor came in who wanted to do that radical God-thing: evangelize! Scandalous! He actually wanted to invite people to church who didn’t know some of the songs, had used another hymnbook, read from another version of the Bible, (horror of horrors), and get them saved! God smiled on him, and the pastor dug his heels in and stayed, instead of letting them kick him out. He loved them, loved on them, preached God’s word to them, and the church began to grow! It wasn’t too many years before they had to build a big, new church, and the little country church began to be a part of history. It is still there, sitting as it was in the mid-1900’s, a monument to life in the last century.

The pastor who came in probably realized the church was comfortable, happy, and well-fed because they had no desire to get out and interrupt their lives with other people they didn’t know. He changed that, gave the community a new start, and served over thirty years as pastor. Today that church has many pastors on its staff, and is running over 3,000 in attendance. God was extending grace, bringing His love to a people who were descendants of those who wanted to do no more than sit and listen.

This past Sunday, January 8, 2017, Pastor Jonathan Falwell challenged Thomas Road Baptist Church to become a church whose desire is to carry out the commission of loving God with all our hearts, and loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. That can begin a new year of change for the community, and perhaps challenge others to start their church year in the same way! Get your notebook, something hot to drink on this cold morning, and watch the service at and click on the play button for the Sunday morning service. If you have time, sing along with Charles Billingsley and the praise team. Take notes, and let God’s word sink deep into your heart, examining it for hindrances that would steal your joy! Sit back and enjoy your time alone with God!

A New Heart For A New Church                                                                                                                                         Pastor Jonathan Falwell


Retirement: the very word will conjure up many different expectations, depending on your age and experience. Yet when it arrives–if it hasn’t already,–some people thrive on such a busy schedule they wonder how they had time to work. Others sit in their recliner and do nothing, comfortable and without ambition! How do you think you will handle those special years when they arrive (if they haven’t already!)?

Last week we began the new year by examining our individual lives as Christians, to be certain we are walking as Christ would have us to. This week we are going to focus on the church we attend to see that it is adhering to the standards which Christ set forth for His church. We will look at two of those listed in Revelation to see the progression from “losing one’s first love,” to one where the members have become comfortable and complacent within the church.

Focal Passages: Revelation 2:1-7, 3:14-22.

Think About or Discuss:

Doing the good things doesn’t always equal doing the right things.

  1. Read Rev. 2:2,3. What were some of the good things the church in Ephesus was doing? Do you see these things being done in churches today? If you are by yourself, you can write down notes; if someone is studying with you, you can discuss the answers.
  2. What was wrong with the busyness of this church? If you don’t have a lot of experience with churches, think about busyness in general: what does it do to one’s focus? When the Ephesian church was originally organized, what do you think was its heartbeat?

The right things always spring from the heart.

  1. Read Rev. 2:4. What was the main problem Jesus had with this church? Now read Matt. 28:19-20 and Mark 12:29-31. What are the final words Christ gave to the Christians (who make up the church)?
  2. Whose duty is it to evangelize? Was this listed as happening in the church at Ephesus?
  3. Read Rev. 2:5. What were they told to do?

Lacking the right thing will always turn your heart the wrong way.

  1. Read Rev. 3:15, 17. What was the mindset of the members of the church in verse 17? How is that like many people in today’s churches? Again, if you have limited experience with churches, think about the same application to students or one’s work ethic—it can be a “barometer” of what their Christian walk is like.
  2. What value to Christ is a church like this? You possibly have seen churches that don’t want to bring in new people who will disrupt the routine. They are still the same size they were when they were built. How is this an example of a lukewarm church?
  3. What happens to the hearts of these comfortable Christians? Does this sound like those in retirement who decide to get settled in with no goal in their life?

Make the right thing the main thing.

  1. Read vs. 20. What is God giving this church at Laodicea? How many times has He given you a second chance?
  2. What is our priority as Christians (back to question 3)? Why did God create us? (Isaiah 43:7).


Were any of the issues dealt with in these two churches something that you are familiar with, in your life or a previous (or current) church, or perhaps with another area of your life? We must look at the Gospel as a whole to realize our first priority in our walk with Jesus Christ is to bring those to Him who do not know Him. We are not fulfilling the commandment to love Him and love our neighbor if we are not concerned about their eternal life. If we love them as much as we love ourselves, we won’t want to see them go to hell. Many of our neighbors have never heard the gospel. Pray for opportunities to share your story this year. That’s all you have to do: just tell someone what God has done for you, and what He did for them when He came to this earth. It could be the most wonderful thing they’ve ever been told!

Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Focal Passages: Revelation 2:1-7, 3:14-22.

Think On: Rev. 2:5:    Reflect (on your life); Repent (of any wrong doings); Restart (this can be a new year!)

© Debra Millet |



Pizza sounded sooooo good! I had to decide: would it be worth it when it came back up? For nine months I had lost almost everything I had eaten, but this time–this time–I was giving in to my craving! So the pizza went down, every yummy, cheese-dripping, bite! And sure enough, within thirty minutes it was coming back.

Carrying this baby was an act of love, and I could hardly wait for him or her to get here. The agony of the birth itself, the long nine months when one goes from “normal” to waddling like a duck, the back aches, trying to get a good night’s sleep–all that is forgotten the second a mother holds her baby. But. The glory of children is their Father. (Proverbs 17:6).

Not fair, Lord! We’re the one who feeds them, changes their stinky diapers, plays airplane with their food, remembers to write everything in the baby’s book, and smells like spit-up 24/7! We’re the ones who carry a two-year old on one hip, a purse over one shoulder, a diaper bag over the other, and lug a twenty-pound car seat/carrier with the infant in it! But. The glory of children is their father.

The class stood at attention: some were shepherds, some were animals, a few wise men, and some held signs. Moms, for the most part, and tons of grandparents, were sitting as close to the front as possible, cameras flashing. The little shepherd on the back row kept his head straight, looking at his teacher, but every thirty seconds he cut his eyes to the right. Finally, a light bulb was turned on in his face–his daddy had arrived to watch the program. The glory was reflected in his face. The glory of this child–my grandson–is his father.

Summer eventually comes–after a long winter–and mom has to come up with tons of ideas how to keep the children occupied, especially during rainy days, when going outside is not even considered. Oh, the things thought of to do! Making tents over the dining room table, having lunch in a “campsite,” playing Hide and Seek. But everyone is waiting for that special moment when daddy comes home. The glory of children is their father.

A new car is needed now, one that will carry all the kids and all their gear, their musical instruments, and presents for parties, and mom becomes not only the nurse, the cook, maid, and now the chauffeur. But the glory of the children is their father.

God, how can this be?! We pour our souls into these children, we take care of every need, are You sure this is right? And He says, yes, it’s right. My Father is My Glory, and I want to be the Glory of your children, as well. And we say, “But God, what about all the homes where Dad has left, and Mom has to carry all the burden? He doesn’t even send money except when the courts make him!” And God says, he will answer for it, because I created him to be the glory of his children.*

In Mark Lowry’s song, “Mary, Did You Know?” a series of questions are asked that examine the magnitude of how this (approximately) fifteen year old mother could understand the depth of importance in the child she was giving birth to. A phenomenal song, it has blessed the hearts of worshipers since it was written. Mary has been revered, placed with Saints by some churches, prayed to by others, made into an idol, put on necklaces. But today, CHRISTMAS, 2016, let’s take a look at the one person who was also chosen by God to fulfill, not only the role of earthly father, but the one who was godly enough to raise and be responsible for the infant Son of God.

As you come to this week, get your notebook, friends or family, and watch the Christmas service from Thomas Road Baptist Church on Christmas morning, December 25, 2016. Click on and hit play! If you have time, worship with the children and Praise Team, as the congregation is led in carols that have been sung for years. As Jonathan Falwell leads us to think of the man about whom little is known, let us consider Joseph, a man so humble and godly that God Himself let him be a father to His Only Begotten Son during the first thirty years of His life.


Not all of us have had fathers who were models that we could learn from; others of us were taught from infancy by one who trained them into leaders. What male made a difference in your life? If you’re with a group, perhaps you can share your thoughts; otherwise, write them down in your notebook.

Today we focus on the outstanding father-figure that has probably among the fewest verses written about him as anyone in the Scripture. Yet his legacy of being chosen by the Creator God is, according to Scripture, amazing in the importance of the role he would play in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fully God and yet fully man. Join as we study this little-known hero.

Focal Passage: Luke 2: 1-20, Matthew 1:18-25

Think About or Discuss:

As we heard the story of “Mary, Did You Know?” we could almost turn that song around and ask, “Joseph, did YOU know? Did you understand that God had hand-picked you for one of the most important roles in history? Did you, too, ponder these things in your heart? You were now responsible for the well-being of His Son, the one predicted for hundreds of years by the prophet Isaiah, and you–YOU–have been asked by God, nay, told by God, that you were going to raise Him as your own!” What an amazing, incomprehensible action.

1. What are some of the qualities God would have looked for in this man?

2. Three times in his life, God sent an angel to give him directions as he took care of God’s Son. Do you recall the other times?


3. Read Isaiah 7:13, 14. Joseph, raised in the Jewish culture, knew God had predicted a virgin would have a Child who would be the Savior of His people. Only Joseph knew for certain that this child Mary carried was not his. He, in his honor, decided to forego the marriage with her. What happened before he could do this?

4. Read Zephaniah 3:16, 17. What was the purpose for which Jesus Christ was going to leave heaven’s glory and come to this earth? What did the name “Immanuel” mean?

If an angel appeared to you, telling you that you were to be part of a fulfillment that had been expected for decades, would you believe it? Joseph did! He immediately sought out Mary, and although we are not told, took her as his wife without delay. He did not want her subject to gossip and painful rumors.

Not, of course, part of the sermon, but when my grandfather was a young man in his early twenties, he took as his wife a young girl, about sixteen years old. Because he was several years older than she, he was afraid the marital relations would be fearful for her, and he waited. He wooed her in a husbandly fashion, taking time for weeks to ease her into the gentle caresses and the wonder of marriage that God has ordained. Whenever I think of the kindness, the understanding, and the epitome of a man loving his wife more than he loved himself, my grandfather is my hero. Joseph, as well, waited until after the birth of this special Child before “knowing” Mary as his wife.


5. The verses in Matthew and Luke underline the faith that can be counted on when God makes promises. What verses in Luke reinforce the glory that God had come down to dwell among men?

6. Who else was able to join in the jubilation of this wondrous night? How far did the news spread?


Never can we understand how Joseph must have felt to have so many unfathomable events occur so quickly in his life: he was bethrothed to marry a young, godly girl, who had to tell him she was pregnant. Surely she explained the circumstances of the angel, but the disbelief had to be paramount! Then he himself is visited by the angel, and within a short period of time, they are married. Soon, the Child of God is part of their family, and not long after–within two years–he is again told by an angel to take his wife and child to Egypt. An awesome, incredible man, who obviously put God first in his life, in his marriage, and in the training of his children. Would that we all had husbands and fathers who loved God above all things. If you are a woman, you can pray for your husband to be the man God intended; if you are a man, pray that God will give you a love for your wife that is the type described in Eph. 5:25, loving them as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.

Merry Christmas to all, and a beautiful 2017!


  • Written in Love Notes blog, Sandra Day

© Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime Stock Photos

A Reason To Hope

big2Jeff was such a great friend! He had gone to a great high school , and belonged to the larger clique that was made up of friends whose interests were on getting high grades while enjoying school. College was the next step, and it wasn’t long before his class had scattered all across America in various jobs, universities, military, or family.

His family lived just down the road from us, and during college he married his high-school sweetheart. Living with his folks provided some ways to cut the cost of married life, and still continue in school. This particular evening the family held off having supper, waiting for Jeff to get home. Long minutes went by. With each passing quarter hour, the fear became stronger, as the whole family knew he would not scare his wife or parents intentionally.

The dreaded knock came at the door, and as every parent’s nightmare, it was the deputy from the Sheriff’s Department. They explained a car had come upon a wrecked vehicle; it looked as though it had slid going around a sharp curve, and overturned, possibly by over-correcting. The windshield was broken, and there was no body inside the car. The man had run to the nearest house to call the cops, and then went back to search.

Jeff was found nearby, thrown from the car, with a large stone under his right temple, a bruise and lump already formed. He had come down hard on the rock. He was alive but unconscious. The family quickly readied to go to the local hospital.

Over the next few weeks, he laid in a coma, until finally he started to wake up. The family had kept a vigil around his bed twenty four hours a day, all of them filled with hope that he would make it. He had made it through the wreck, was alive, so he would wake up. No one wanted a different outcome. Prayers were going up all over the town.

The morning he began to show signs of consciousness, the excitement was greater than if a family had just had a baby! He was alive, his eyes were open, and the swelling and bruises had all but gone away. Everything was going to be alright. Until he spoke. “Who are you?” he finally asked of those around his bed. No one wanted to answer, as much from being stunned at the unreal feeling of the question as not knowing how to answer. How do you say, “I’m your mom; your dad; your wife?” As the day passed, reality set in: Jeff suffered badly from amnesia. He had no idea who he was, who they were, no past, and no future.

Over the next few days he gained ground physically, but not mentally. The doctors had to release him to go home, but no one knew how to tell Jeff that he would be going to a place he would not recognize. His wife was beside herself with grief and “what if’s.” What if he didn’t love her if he regained his memory? What if he never got better? They constantly cried out to God, but there was no answer. A couple of months went by.

We visited often, but it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t remember you. It’s hard to say, “I was your best friend,” or “We did… (this or that) together all the time.” His wife was like a child who was totally lost.

By the time a half-year had passed, little pieces of memory were starting to return. For awhile he thought and talked as if he was back in high school, and wondered why they wouldn’t let him get on the bus, or drive his car to class. It was a long, very long, recuperation. Eventually, he grew to remember his family, his wife, and was able to re-establish a semblance of life as he had known it.

Hope is the one thing that gets a person or a family through the most difficult of situations, although I am by no means discounting God’s presence and sovereignty in every second of life. But life as we know it–physically looking at it, especially during long, dark valleys–is the ability to “hope” that tomorrow may be different. If not tomorrow, one day. If not one day, one year. Sometime, somewhere, things will be good again. Losing that hope, deciding within our deepest soul, that nothing will ever change, is the trigger that conditions one to give up.

Christians, of all people in the world, have a hope that the world can’t understand. We know that our hope is found in the Creator, the one who left glory to come to this earth in order to offer those who would accept His payment for their sins a life of eternity with Him. How do we know this is true? Millions and millions of changed lives testify that He came, He lived, He died, He rose from the grave, and forty days later ascended back to heaven, to wait for the day His Father says, “Son, go get Your children!” We have this hope–this surety: a changed life. His strength gets us through the toughest of days, the struggles of real life, the tribulations that face us, and the crises we have to go through.

Now is a good time to get your notebook, a cup of coffee and your Bible. If you have a friend, family member(s), or group of those who would like to join you, watch the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, December 4, 2016, and then do the study below. If you’ve seen the service, just go to the study. If not, and you have some extra time, enjoy the music time as the congregation worships the Lord Jesus Christ in song! Click on, and choose the last service. It will thrill you to join other Christians as we look at the hope that Jesus brought to this earth when He was born of a lowly virgin named Mary. What a day that would have been! Settle in for the “reason to hope” in a bright future!

Self on the Shelf: A Reason for Hope                                                                                       December 4, 2016                                                                                                                            Pastor Jonathan Falwell


If you could ask for one thing for Christmas, and you knew you would get it, what would it be? Write down your answers, or discuss them if you have someone you are studying with. How many of these were material desires? Were any intangible things?

This week we continue to fill our hearts and minds with the right perspective of the Christmas season. We want to re-live the miracle of Christ’s birth as He left His glory as the Sovereign God of the universe to come to this earth as a baby. His birth provides us with salvation through the greatest story ever told. We will focus today on Mary’s role in His coming, and the hope that His life can give us.

Focal Passages: Luke 1:26-45; Isaiah 9:6,7

Think About or Discuss:

Christmas is a Reminder that Christ Reigns

  1. Christianity is different from all other religions. What are the reasons given in Luke 1:32 and 33?
  2. Many prophecies were given foretelling the coming of a Messiah who would reign for eternity. Read Isaiah 9:6,7. How is this impacting how you live today?

Christmas is a Reminder of His Power

  1. Jesus did not leave His power in heaven when He came to earth, but came fully God, and fully man. What was His first miracle? (Hint: Luke 2:11).
  2. What are some reasons that Mary and Joseph never doubted that Jesus is the Son of God?
  3. What does verse 37 tell you? What does “nothing” mean? What is a “nothing” in your life that you feel it is impossible for Him to fix? (How much time do you spend praying about it?)

Christmas is a Reminder of God’s Plan

  1. In verses 38 and 45, why does the scripture say that Mary was blessed?
  2. Can you list a promise or promises that God has given to you in His word? Do you really believe them? Are there any that you have a problem with? As you can see from the text passage, belief brings blessings!
  3. What is the promise for you in Jeremiah 29:11? How do your actions show that you believe that?


The Christmas season reveals our hearts like no other time of the year. It is easy for our thoughts to be centered on parties, decorations, cards, and gifts, but we need to lay open our deepest desires, and look at them through the eyes of God: do we have a “give me” attitude, or are we examining our lives to see that we are fulfilling the purpose He had for us when He gave us the free gift of salvation? Do we allow Him to always reign supreme as we live life, believing His promises and not doubting His ability to handle anything that happens to us? Are we using this season to bless others as He has blessed us? There are a multitude of opportunities that exist to give of yourself to your neighbors, friends or your community (or even your world). Be aware that even in a church body Christmas can be a time of sorrow for those who are alone, or have lost a loved one, and ministry occasions abound. Even a friendly smile or a listening ear can ease someone’s burden, and may, in turn, possibly open doors for you to tell the “greatest story ever told” to a lost and dying world. Above all, pray that your walk with Christ is deeper than it was last year at this time.

Memory Verse: Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Focal Passages: Luke 1:26-45, Isaiah 9:6-7.

Some of God’s Promises:

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Heb. 13:5b                      “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21                                                                                                                                         “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5                                                                         “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12                                                                                                                                                               “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4.

Let the Reason for this Season wash over you in a glorious bathing of hope!

Putting Self Last

pic7The fat chickens waddled around the yard, looking for more grain. We were thrilled! They were almost ready for the State Fair, where they would be entered as “meat birds,” meaning they were as plump as could be, and very young. We raised show chickens, turkeys, and geese, but the meat birds should take a blue ribbon! We had come up with a scheme that we thought was an original idea: each evening and night my husband would go out to the coop and turn on the light where the meat birds were. They thought it must be daytime, and would immediately go to the feed trough. After about ten minutes, he would turn the light off. This he did three times each night. By the time the fair was ready, the birds were as well! Taking them in cages, we happily trucked them to the Poultry Barn on the Fairgrounds.

It went as we hoped. On the day of judging, Blue Ribbons and Best of Show hung on the cages of our lovely meat birds. Some of the others won ribbons as well, but these in particular were the envy of many who had raised this type of chicken several times, whereas we were pretty new to the world of shows. The kids were proud to take many ribbons home from every fair we entered.

There was such a spiritual lesson in this season of our lives, as we look back upon the hours we spent each day with the care and maintenance of the poultry. It is a common saying (but not true!) that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The chickens were not old by any means–nor dogs–but they, like Pavlov’s dog, were able to have their focus redirected so that they learned a new lifestyle. We can as well. If you’re reading this study, it’s not too late for you! The Bible says in Hebrews, “today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart!” (Heb. 4:7b). It’s not too late. The lesson for us all is that it is never too late to become a child of God–no matter your past–and begin a new life. The consequences will never be erased, but the direction of your life can start anew. Jesus promises that if anyone comes to Him, He will make them into a new creation; old things will pass away, never to be remembered and brought up against you again, and all things in your life will become new. The consequences? In many cases He will give you opportunities to minister to people who are going/have gone through the same thing, and you will be able to minister to them, perhaps leading them to the Savior.

Many of us have a life that we once lived focused completely on ourselves. That is not God’s best for any of us. He desires that He comes first in our hearts, and that we value other people and their life, more than we value our own. Tough? You bet! But with God, all things are possible! Even getting along with someone who has been a foe. Nothing erases a hurt spirit like praying for those who hate us. Give God a chance to make all things new in your life, and, like the meat birds, learn a whole new way of living!

This is the perfect time to stop, get your notebook for notes and a friend, family or group of friends, and get comfortable. If you’ve already heard Sunday’s sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church, jump right into the study below. If you haven’t heard it, click on, and select the sermon for November 27, 2016. If you have time, worship with the song service, then listen as Jonathan Falwell preaches the word of God. The study questions below will help you go a little further in depth, and perhaps something spoken or written will change your life, so that you, indeed, will love God and love people with all your heart, and Christmas will become a time of giving, not getting!


Almost everyone has–at some time–realized that if we continue down a certain path, it can lead to an end we’re not ready for. Write down or discuss an example.

This week we enter the Christmas season, when our “wants” can easily become the focus of much money and time. God entered this earth to provide us with salvation through the greatest story ever told. It is only by intentionally taking the awareness off of our own desires and placing our focus on Him that we will get the truth of what His coming means to each of us.

Focal Passages: 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 1:5-14

Think About or Discuss:

God’s View

  1. In 1 John 2:15 and verse 17, what does God warn you to be alert for in your own life? He has told you what pleases Him in Luke 10:27. What does this mean to you personally?

QUESTION: This Christmas, how can I show my neighbor that he/she is more important than I am?

The World’s View

  1. Read verses 16 and 17. What does the world tempt you with constantly? Think of the commercials you see daily. Does the phrase “It’s all about me” sum them up?
  2. Can you illustrate with an example the truth that what should be the “Reason for the Season” has instead become all about you or your family?

QUESTION: What can you do to re-direct your focus from this path of having more “stuff,” to see that it is used for the good of others?

A Refocused Heart is One Fixed on Him

  1. In Luke 1:6,7, what are some characteristics of Elizabeth and Zechariah? List some feelings that would have been uppermost because of their inability to conceive.
  2. What did a childless couple endure in those days?

Even When Things Don’t Go Your Way

  1. Did they let the unanswered prayer for a child stop them from keeping their focus on loving God?

Refocus or Regret

  1. What did the angel tell Zechariah in verse 13b? Do you think that was a prayer that had been recent? Why or why not?

QUESTION: Where is your heart in the midst of disappointments, unanswered prayers, and shortcomings?


It hardly seems possible that we are again at the beginning of another Christmas season! As we enter this month, list some of the opportunities that are possible for you to help with through our church or community. In doing so, you can contribute to bringing the good news of the gospel to those outside the church. Examine your heart to make certain that your lifestyle is not hung up on adding more “things” to an already-overflowing home, and that you’re not breeding materialism in yourself. We all have today to begin on a new path that will yield eternal rewards. Pray that the joy of Christmas would be abiding in you every day, and that you pass it on to everyone you meet.

Daily:                                                                                                                                                              1) Praise God daily   (Psalm118:24)

2) Repent of your sins—never allow them to continue   (Psalm32:5)

3) Seek reconciliation with anyone who carries a grudge, has upset, hurt or been  unfair to you (Matthew 5:24)

4) Look for ways to bring joy to someone each day                                                                        (1 Thes.4:7)

5) Focus on what really matters (Phil. 4:8)

Memory Verse: 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’”

Focal Passages: 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 1:5-15, Luke 10:27.







“Where did you…?” “Do you remember…?” “Can you help me find…?” Does this sound like your day, or are you one of those beautifully organized people who knows where everything is? That’s not most of us! We are so inundated with busyness that little things (like where the car keys were placed when we ran through the house to grab that last item), become a source of interruptions and stress. Even when it’s really, really important, and we mean to write it down, by the time we’ve found a pen we’ve been distracted away from making the note. Forgetfulness. The way we live our lives.

Recently we had a time in our Sunday School where we were able to praise God for something He had done for us this past year. I raised my hand, thinking of Valentine’s Day when a doctor told my husband–based on a CT Scan–that he probably had 3-6 months to live. The result ended with the tumor not being malignant, but we went through turmoil during the month waiting for the news. The leader then said, “And what about his accident?” It had totally crushed both his and the other person’s vehicle, the cars mashed beyond description, yet both men walked away. My response? “Oh! You’re right–and I forgot that!”

The bad thing is, there is so much we need to remember! God does something wonderful in our lives, or something beautiful happens; perhaps a moment flies by and we want to make a memory, or we have a great idea–and yet a few hours later it’s no longer there. Are you saying, “I know, right”? That recognition led our family one year to a wonderful find. It wasn’t our idea, but we knew when we heard of it that it was meant for us: it was simply called The Thanksgiving Jar.

Because we’ve always led lives filled with “36-hour” days, all the wonderful times that God intervenes on our behalf get forgotten quickly, no matter how great the intention is to remember them for a long period. The Thanksgiving Jar made those times perfect: we would write down the happening, fold the paper in a small piece, and put it into the jar. The next Thanksgiving we would read the pieces after dinner was over.

It was amazing beyond belief. As we passed the jar around, each of us would take a paper and read it. Most of our expressions were, “Wow! I had forgotten about that!” Some brought us to tears. Many were situations we had prayed about, only to have them answered so beautifully. At that time we usually would pray even before going out to yard sales on Saturday: we didn’t have extra money, so if there was something we really needed, we would ask God to provide. He is a good Father–the best–and He always took care of us with our needs. We continued reading the blessings for almost an hour, giving thanks to our God for His care for the year. It was truly a Thanksgiving full of gratitude!

This past Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church, we looked at a Psalm by David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, on “Being Thankful.” No matter his situation, David found ways to praise and thank his God. There is so much we can learn from him. Grab your notebook and a quiet corner, and click on, and watch the morning sermon for Sunday, November 20, 2016, then go to the study below and take time to “hunger and thirst” after the teachings God has for you. If you have a friend, family, or group, make a sweet time of fellowship with it. Do it all in one setting, or stretch it out for the week. On Thanksgiving, be sure to praise the Lord for His providing you with means to study His word!


Although (hopefully) we evidence a spirit of gratitude for things done for us all year, at Thanksgiving we intentionally take time to be thankful for our many blessings. What are some things that you are especially thankful for this year?

David, a man after God’s own heart, filled his life composing beautiful Psalms of praise in gratefulness to God for His care. Remember that many of David’s praises were written when he was pursued by enemies, running for his life, or in a situation that would make praise difficult. Yet today we will look at Psalm 100 and see what we can learn as we fill our hearts with our own praise and thankfulness to God, even if we are in the midst of hard times.

Focal Passage: Psalm 100:1-5

Think About or Discuss:

We Serve Him

  1. Can you name anyone you enjoy serving? What is it about your helping them that brings you a feeling of delight?
  2. David wrote that you should serve God with gladness! What would that look like for you? Read Matthew 25:40. How can you serve someone today that will bring a bit of pleasure to their life?

He is Our Creator and Sustainer

  1. When you discussed or wrote down an answer in the Ice Breaker, according to verse 3, what should one of the answers have been?
  2. Which do you stand on when you are trusting yourself to God’s care: your feelings, or the promises He has given you? Give or write down some examples.

We Can Stand in His Presence

  1. When is the last time you prayed, without distractions, and then remained quiet so you could hear Him if He answered? How often are you quiet in His presence?
  2. Read John 10:29. What promise is in this verse? How do you know it’s true?
  3. Can you remember the freedom you felt as a child to run into your mom or dad’s arms (or someone you loved) whenever you needed comfort? How do you relate that to your feelings about your heavenly Father?

He Has Shown Us Mercy

  1. What does mercy mean to you? How does God show that to you?
  2. Read Heb. 4:16b; what is the promise in this verse? Why is it not accurate to trust your feelings?

His Truth Will Never End

  1. How long will His truth endure? How many chances will He give you to come running back to Him? Isn’t this something wonderful to share with those who are hopeless?


Focusing on total praise to God during this Thanksgiving season begins, not with family, your salvation, your children, or material blessings, but with those things He gives us so freely that we take for granted: He knit your life in your mother’s womb, and brought you forth; as soon as you hit the world, air was supplied to you; food and water were given, without which you would not have grown. When you became aware of Him and His great love for you, you could make the decision to turn from your sin to Him, and begin a new life. So many foundation stones were built upon to bring you here to this place where you can worship Him! As you continue through this week, dwell on the wonderful gifts He has given you freely to enjoy. If you meet someone who needs to be thankful, gently point out how much you value the loving Savior and Creator who gave you life.

Memory Verses: Psalm 100:1-5: “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Focal Passages: Psalm 100; Heb. 4:6.








A man with long hair standing in a field of dasies.

Deployment had finally come to an end. We were standing with a large crowd at the local armory, waiting for the buses that would be bringing the soldiers home. The street in front of the armory was lined with school children and adults, all waving flags, flowers and shouting greetings. The wait seemed forever! We knew they were getting close to arriving when we could hear the first shouts from farther away, where the line began. Soon we could see them, and it was only a minute until the first busload pulled into the parking lot. Everyone surged forward, trying to see if their loved one was getting off. The happiness radiated from everyone. Daddy, husband, son, brother and uncle had finally come home.

The following Sunday everyone gathered at Mom and Dad’s house for dinner–the children were anxious to get the eating finished so they could play. We just wanted to revel in the joy of having our son home again. We got a chuckle from learning that the next to youngest, about a year and half, had kept looking at the computer screen and then back at her “Papa.” They realized she was trying to figure out how he could have come out of the computer and was in the room with her! It was heartfelt joy deep inside to have him home again.

Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is deep within you, something that cannot be taken away easily because it means you are part of something bigger than life: perhaps it’s your family, your school, a team, a marriage, becoming a parent, becoming a child of God. Joy is still there when happiness, which is often transient, comes and goes. We’re so happy with that new car–for awhile! Once the newness wears off (and we see one every block we travel, although we had never noticed them before), we’re ready for another “new” one. Money brings happiness for awhile, but it goes away once the money is gone.

This past Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, Pastor Jonathan Falwell preached on Making Room For Joy. Get your notebook, a friend or group (or family), or sit by yourself in comfort and watch the sermon by clicking on and selecting the service for November 13, 2016. If you have time, join in the song service prior to the sermon. Have your notebook ready to take notes, and then do the sermon study below. Do it as fast or as slowly as you desire; make it last the week, or do it all in one sitting. However you choose, know that the time spent studying God’s word will enrich your life, and bring you more “joy” than you’ve had!


Joy is heart-felt, deep inside us, even though we may be in circumstances that seem to be overpowering us. Can you think of one thing that robbed your joy this week? Did you do one thing that brought you joy this week? Get your notebook and write down thoughts as they come to your mind.

This week we are going to look at what is takes to make room for joy. Joy does not happen by accident, but through actions. Neither is it “happiness,” since happiness is usually passing, and not eternal. Let’s look at what it looks like, and how we get it.

Focal Passage: Galatians 5:13-26

Think About or Discuss:

To Serve in love

  1. In verse 13, what admonition does Paul give the believers? You have freedom in Christ, but how are you to use that freedom? What does this mean to you personally?
  2. Read Philippians 2:3,4. What is Paul saying in this verse?

QUESTION: What can you do for someone today that will put a genuine smile on their face?

To Speak in love

  1. What are you warned of in verse 15? Do you remember the word picture Pastor Jonathan explained for “biting, devouring, and destroying”? (Hint: wild animals attacking; see end of “Close”).
  2. If you are saturated with concern about the world and its impact on you, what room will you have for joy? Why?
  3. Who was Paul writing to? Why did he need to warn believers to stop these practices (verse 15)?

QUESTION: What can you say to someone today that will encourage them, or lift their spirits?

To Act in love

  1. What are the fruits of the Spirit? How do you get these to grow in your life? How does that example apply to a tree that should bring forth fruit?
  2. How can you practice doing the right thing, even when your flesh desires to take over or get even? Why will this become easier each time you do this?
  3. Read verses 19-21. Do you want a life like that? Yet it is a perfect definition of today’s world. What does verse 24 tell you?

QUESTION: How can you change your actions today to show the fruits of the Spirit to others?

To Reflect Christ in love

  1. Read 1 Peter 2:21. Whose example are you to follow? Why is the saying “What would Jesus do?” still very pertinent?


It is incredibly difficult to put the trials and pressures of the world out of your mind so that they do not take away the joy you have. Think about, discuss, or write down one word examples of things the world cannot take from you (for instance, your salvation). The fruits of the Spirit are easy to quote, but very hard to put into practice, yet they should be something produced in you effortlessly as you become more like Christ. Real joy will come when your personal desires are at war with doing what is right, and you stop, take a breath, then do the right thing. Those small victories will come more often, and grow into habits. Pray that the joy of Christ would be abiding in you, and that you would be used to pass it on to others this week.

Memory Verse: Galatians 5:14: “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Focal Passages: Galatians 5:13-26; Phil. 2:3, 4; 1 Peter 2:21.

The word picture for “biting, devouring, and destroying” (verse 15) was the scenario of wild animals attacking each other until one was killed, then eating it. Another famous example of the original language used here was two snakes that fought until each had the other’s tail in its mouth, devouring each other until nothing was left except a “hoop.” They were eventually knocked loose by a stick, revived, and were killed. (Silas C. Turnbo, The Turnbo Manuscripts). No Christian should grieve the heart of God by acting in this manner!

Further study on Question 1: Romans 6.

Have a blessed week in Christ!


© Barak Brudo | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Why are you here?


“Stand behind this tree! Don’t move to peek out, and stand with your body sideways, so nothing can hit you.” My father walked away. Disobeying him would never have occurred to me, so I stood straight as the tree itself, not daring to move my head and see what was happening. I could hear him moving away. “Where will you be, Daddy?” I called. He quickly answered, “Behind another tree, not far from you.” I waited and listened; at that age I had perfect trust in my father. I could hear him use the shovel or a pick, then a scratch and the slight smell of sulfur. At the same time, I saw him move quickly to stand behind another tree. In all my life I never saw my dad run–he didn’t have to. His stride with his long legs was probably between 4-5 feet, maybe longer, and he covered ground faster than anyone I knew.

I heard a hissing sound, and then an explosion. The dynamite, a long stick (if I recall correctly), faded red in color, about the size of a broom handle but maybe 16″ long, had been inserted under a huge stump that was in the middle of a field where Daddy wanted a garden. The stump had burst into thousands of pieces from the power of the dynamite.

As far as I know–which is not “experientially,”–doing that is not legal today, but when I was a child, sensible men were allowed to clear fields in this way. Come to think of it, I guess the same scenario does go on in today’s world: it is just illegal, called a bomb, and usually trees are not the object! The power is definitely the same.

Grab your notebook, perhaps call a friend or if you’re waiting for a group, click on the link, and then select the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, September 11, 2016. You can watch the entire service and be blessed by the music, or you can fast forward to the beginning of the sermon itself (unless you watched it Sunday!), and then do the Bible study below. Take it slowly and absorb all the amazing instructions Paul gave to his spiritual son, Timothy, or do it all in one day and let it process through your mind the rest of the week! In either case, let the Word of God saturate your being as we see that our task to spread the gospel is an UNFINISHED task!


Basic learning falls into one of two categories: learning by experience, or learning by observation. For instance, your parents may have divorced, and the impact on your life, and the sad consequences, made you determine you will never do that to your child–that is learning by observation (combined with experience). Experience in getting a $150 ticket for speeding may teach you the consequences were not worth the moment of fun! Can you think of an illustration for either that has impacted your life? Write down your memories, or if you’re in a group, share them!

Over the next few weeks we will focus on finding answers to questions like “Why am I here? Why was I born? Do I have a purpose?” as we start a new series called “Unfinished.”  You may find some of the answers through having experienced God’s movement in your individual life, while other answers may come as you learn by observation that lives of those who have given their heart to Christ have been completely changed.

Think About or Discuss:

  1. Before you look at the focal passage, do you know a Scripture that may tell you why God says He made man? (Psalm 86:9 is one). Kudos to you if you think of several!
  2. How do you know God has a purpose for you? (Read Jeremiah 29:11).

We are going to study Paul’s last words to Timothy, encouraging him to carry on the work of the ministry. You need to apply these instructions to your own life, knowing the work of spreading the gospel to the world is not yet finished.

Life exists only in Christ

  1. Read 2 Timothy 1:1-7. What does verse 1b tell you? Why must you know this by your own experience, or by observing the changed lives around you? Why is it basic to how you live your life? Jot down your thoughts.

In a crazy world, hope comes only from Him

  1. Read verse 2b. What are some ways the world uses to avoid believing this verse? What is your hope and how is it so different from that of the world?

Finding purpose in life starts with Him

  1. Read verses 3a and 4. If you believe that God created you with certain gifts, with a specific purpose, how can you know what they are? Read 1 Peter 4:10. Why did He give you a gift/gifts? Will you find true joy if you are not serving others in some way?

It’s been entrusted to us

  1. Read verse 5. Who had passed on the gift of faith to Timothy? Who introduced you to the gift of faith? God has delivered it to you; who are you passing it on to?

Our starting point

  1. Read verse 6. What does Paul mean by “stir up”? Is your gift like that of your friends? What are ways in which you can recognize your gift (question 5)? When you find it, what are you to do with it?

Peace through strength

  1. Read verse 8. Where do your fears come from? What has God given to you? Can you describe the extent of the “power” that God gives you?


These verses are so filled with important content that it’s hard to condense the time it takes to study it in depth! Below will be some points for you to think on during the coming week, expanding on what God has done for you. He has given you so much, both in your life on earth, as well as gifts of service for your brethren, and a future with Him. Examine your life to see if these things are alive and well in you, and meditate on ways that you can increase your awareness of them. Pray that you would be able to vanquish the fear that Satan tries to use to destroy these wonderful blessings from God. If you know someone who would benefit from doing the study with you, invite them to come next week, especially if they are new to your area. Loneliness is a tool Satan uses too often in the life of a believer to destroy the work you are called to finish.

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 1:1-7

Home Study: Take some time to list all the benefits that God had blessed Timothy with, and then do a self-examination to see if they are active in your own life. In verse 1, the “life” Christ promises is not only for here and now, but for eternity. Verse 2, “grace” in the original Greek implies God draws the heart, then keeps you, grows you, encourages you through kindness, and pushes you forward to complete the task He has given you. Mercy is to exercise kindness toward the miserable and afflicted, and to stop looking at the world. Peace is that tranquil state of a soul that knows its future is secure in Christ Jesus. Joy (verse 4) is the natural result of a life lived in service to God. Power (verse 7) is the word for dynamite—an explosive, immense capability to choose what is right, true, honorable, and pure (Phil. 4:8) over what is bad; love for the brethren, and a sound mind, which is one filled with being content in whatever state you are placed in (Phil. 4:11).

We don’t ever have to live a mediocre life!



Pulling Out a 4th Quarter Win!


She was one of the “greats.” You know the type, they dress casually but always look classy, she could sing off the charts, and did so very often, glorifying God with her beautiful voice. She spoke to groups, always encouraging them to stay in the fight, cling to God, home and family. She was everything I wished to be. Yet her home life was a different story. Who knows why a husband who “talks the talk” doesn’t “walk the walk”? Perhaps he was intimidated by his wife’s popularity, or perhaps jealous. There are always two sides to the story, of course. We never discussed his. All I knew was that he verbally abused her beyond what any woman should ever have to take, stopping short of physical abuse, but the look in his eyes often said he wished she was dead. She looked terrible, (he would yell), the song stunk, her presentation was awful, the kids hated her, she was stupid, a terrible housewife, horrible mother, etc. etc.

One evening a neighbor heard the verbal barrage, heard the door slam off the hinges as the husband grabbed their child and left in anger, and couldn’t stand it. He just wanted her to know she was doing everything right. It was so wrong, but he held her just a moment for a non-threatening hug while she sobbed her heart out. His concern took a different turn, and one moment of what should have been a consolation from a friend turned into a very short time of intimacy. Now–added to her life of hell in the home–she had failed her God. She had heard His quiet voice when the comfort started, but somehow, in the despair of the few moments, it became quiet. Her repentance was genuine, her grief over the short brief coming together sickened her. One month went by, two… and there was no denying it: she was pregnant.

She never told anyone the baby did not belong to her husband. Very fortunately, the adorable girl looked like her mom, acted like her, and only if you knew who the father was, would you have connected any dots. The child is grown, happy, loves her family, and would be devastated to find that she was the product of one moment in time. She is now looking forward to her own ministry, never knowing the past.

Did our women’s leader blame God for her pregnancy, for the lack of strength to resist comfort which she so desperately needed? No, she blamed herself. Took upon herself the mantle of responsibility, and did not let bitterness take root in her heart. But be warned, husbands, a wife looks to you for her affirmation; she needs to know that she is loved in your eyes. Without it, a woman is vulnerable to the comfort of others, even while she’s desperately trying to keep the enemy away.

I have watched her grow more and more in her faith, have seen the strength she gets only from the Lord. I’ve seen the love she pours out to her children, and yes, even to her husband who has continued to belittle her. Many years have passed, but she is hanging in there, witnessing, watching her children grow into responsible adults, and yet that terrible scar of a deep wound is part of her heart. Many people cannot understand how God can be holy and still forgive sins so great, but He can, does, and will still use the sinner. No sin is too great that He cannot or will not forgive. Hers was just one that He died for.

Take your Bible, your note book, and sit for a few minutes to listen to the sermon from Sunday, August 14, 2016, at, preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Select the correct sermon, then work on the questions below, writing out your answers, or–if you’re in a group setting with a friend or even several friends–talk about the lessons that can be applied to our lives.

We will look at Moses, finishing the series that has taught us so much over the past few weeks. Moses obeyed God in all He told him to do–except one incident recorded in Numbers, chapter 20. Moses exhibited frustration, anger, perhaps a bit of pride, but definitely he felt “fed up” with the people who constantly belittled everything he tried to do as they lived in the wilderness for forty years. In letting his anger rule, rather than God’s command, it cost him the opportunity to accompany the people into the land that God had promised them. Did he become bitter about it? Wouldn’t we have said, “God! How fair is that, that I’ve done everything You asked, and You let this one time be such a huge punishment??” Bitterness, turning away from God, giving up on what He did for you in dying–all that is something that happens to thousands every day; it is only the ones who pick up the pieces, and determine to “finish strong” that find God will and does still use them in His great work. It is, after all, HIS work, not ours!


It takes only a fraction of a second to make a choice that has consequences that can last for the rest of your life. You know, however, that you have the choice to let the past go, and finish with integrity. Can you think of an example? Talk about it, or write it down.

Over the past several weeks we have learned lessons from the life of Moses, starting with his birth until, at 80 years of age, he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, where he guided them for forty years. Today we focus on one incident when his disobedience to God cost him the reward of going into the promised land. Still, he did not become bitter, but continued to be passionate in serving God.

Think About or Discuss:

  1. Read Numbers 20:1-12 for a background of Moses’ act of disobedience. Keep your notebook handy to write down things that come to your mind.
  2. If God had ignored Moses’ action, what lessons would that have taught Israel about disobeying and dishonoring Him? Would the importance and authority of the Ten Commandments have been treated with respect? Which commandment did it violate in particular (Exodus 20:1-17)?

He didn’t let his past failure keep him from his future obedience

  1. In Numbers 20:12, how do you think Moses felt when God reprimanded and punished him in front of the multitude?
  2. How would you have felt if it had happened to you (perhaps a large group, or your company)? Would you have been angry at God, or understood He chastens those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:7-9)?

He continued to lead

  1. Afterwards, God continued to give Moses instructions in Numbers 20. What does verse 27 say? What does this tell you about the heart of Moses?
  2. Think of a time when your own disobedience caused God to have to discipline you. Did you let the bitterness give you a reason to walk away from God for a season, or did you trust Him enough to continue to follow Him?

He continued to bless those around him

  1. If you go back to Deut. 31 (read it on your own), you will see Moses pours his remaining days into blessing the tribes of Israel, mentoring Eleazar to take the place of Aaron, and preparing Joshua to take his own place. What do these actions tell you about his inner character?
  2. Ask yourself a very serious question: in the same circumstances, would you (or have you) continued serving God with a passion, or shut Him out of your life?

Key Point: It was GOD’S work, not Moses’


It would have been so easy to let the humiliation of the one act of disobedience take root and grow a “root” of bitterness. Read Hebrews 12:15. Most believers have had times of God’s disciplining, and have sometimes felt it unfair (from our perspective). As you go into a new week, think about the things in your life that need to be dealt with so that you let the past go, and finish strong.  Also, most everyone knows someone who feels they have been hurt or treated unfairly, and have turned away from God (read James 5:20).  See if they will be open to talking with you about their actions. Pray this week that you will examine your heart, being certain that God has first place in all you do and say, and that you are committed to serving Him until He calls you home.

Memory Verse: Deut. 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Focal Passages: Numbers 20:1-12, 27; Deut. 34:1-8.

Quote for finishing strong: Having a “4th Quarter Ministry!” Jerry Falwell, Sr.