Good and Bad Choices

As my mom became more and more locked in the jungle that is Alzheimer’s, I wondered if she was “stuck” in a period of her life, one which I might eventually discover if I asked the right questions. I would constantly ask things I could remember from different eras she lived through, looking for intelligent responses. “What is that beautiful flower, Mother?” pointing to a rose. She wouldn’t know. How could I assume she would? She didn’t know me from the Hospice Aide who came once a week to help with her needs. I would ask if she ever knew a person whose name was (….fill in the blank). She would think hard–even when it was my sister–and finally give up in despair. “No, I think I knew someone by that name a long time ago, but I don’t remember who it was.”

One day I asked her if she remembered the name of her school. She did!! (Hedgeapple–go figure!)  I was astonished and pleased. Later I asked her if she ever knew someone named Ray (to whom she was married for nearly 63 years). She thought and thought. Finally she said, “Yes, I think that was an older boy I went to school with. I didn’t like him at all! He teased everyone [true], and goodness, I didn’t like him.” It was unfortunate that children are forced to grow up in homes where the parents truly not only do not like each other (my folks fit that description, I thought, for they surely didn’t seem to), but who won’t seek help to keep the fighting down. It would probably have been easier on all of us if they had separated, as no one wanted to be around them as a couple, but that generation stuck through everything from abuse to incest–thankfully my parents did neither of those. But families who were happy were rare.

Dysfunctional families, they call it now. Back in those days there wasn’t a term, but everyone knew whose parents were lenient, whose were strict, happy, not happy, etc. This past Sunday Dr. Ben Guiterrez presented us with an inspiring message on the life of the prophet Samuel. Most young people can recite the lesson they learned as children when Samuel was called in the night hours by God. “Samuel!” He ran to Eli, the priest. As God later spoke to him further, Samuel learned that Eli had been a father who knew of evil things his two sons were doing, and warned Eli that He would be taking their lives, because he had done nothing to stop their behavior. The ironic thing was, Samuel, although remaining as godly an example as Moses, David, and others, also years later had two sons who were living so badly that the Israelites did not want them ruling in Samuel’s place when he died–yet he did nothing about them behavior either.

The conclusion is obvious: one can have a wonderful home, and produce children who are rebellious and want to do things “their way,” or a bad home, and produce well-behaved adults with integrity–or more amazing, a solid, loving Christian home where two turn out wonderful, while one doesn’t. Choices. It all comes back to the will God gave us to make choices, and bad ones lead to worse ones. What kind of choices have you made? Have you left a legacy of blaming your parents? I did, for years. Finally I realized my mom had done the best she knew how. I was the one who had made the choices that resulted in long-term consequences.

Grab your notebook, a cold drink, and click on  the sermon for this past Sunday, July 30, at http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and choose the Flannelgraph of Faith: Samuel. Enjoy the worship if you have time, and then go to the study below to see if you can dig a little deeper as you look at the scriptures. It might help if you have time to read 1 Samuel before the study, so that the facts are fresh for you!

Flannelgraph of Faith: Samuel—God’s Way, Always

Dr. Ben Gutierrez

Open:

Many times young people (and older people!), do not have enough experience, or enough guidance, to make the best choices, and our lives are impacted with consequences we can’t undo. Can you think of such an experience? If you are alone, write your answers in a notebook, so you can track your spiritual path!

This week we continue the series, “Flannelgraph of Faith,” taking stories taught to children, but looking for deeper—or underlying—lessons we can use in our own lives. This week we will focus on I Samuel, looking not only at Samuel’s life, but also the far-reaching consequences for Israel that came when they rejected Samuel’s warning. We continue to use the old-school visual teaching of the flannelgraph, as we learn from him.

Focal Passages: Taken from I Samuel

The Background:

In Judges 2:10-15, we read that after Joshua died, God appointed judges who would lead Israel under God’s direction. The people fluctuated between following the Lord while the judge lived, then turning to idols after his death. This pattern continued about 300 years, and caused the word of the Lord to be “rare in those days” (1 Samuel 3:1).  Judges 21:25 ends this period declaring “everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Discuss:

Nothing & No One Can Make You Choose the Way You Choose:

  1. Can you remember the overview of the events occurring during the conception and early years of the life of Samuel? Read 3:19, 20. What was Samuel’s position in Israel after God spoke to him?
  2. Read 7:15 and 8:1, 3-7. What event occurred in these verses that changed the course of Israel’s future? Israel had adopted the ways of the heathen nations; what are some reasons this happened? How are we seeing this with Christians today?
  3. Who decides what you wear, watch, where you work, etc.? What do you use as a guideline to establish your boundaries?

Bad Choices Lead to Worse Choices:

  1. The people of Israel wanted a king, like their pagan neighbors. Read 1 Sam. 10:17-19a. What did Samuel tell the people? What was their response?

Only Obedience from a Pure Heart Honors God

  1. Do you remember the story of the anointing of Saul as King? Can you write a paraphrase of it?
  2. Read 15:17-23. Saul started his reign well, but soon got sidetracked with pride. What was the final straw? What does God say He delights in?

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice:

  1. Read Joshua 24:15. Substitute your country for the Amorites, and read it as a contemporary choice. What is holding you back from choosing to serve God with a pure heart?

Close:

As we read the life of Samuel, it is hard not to liken the people of Israel to those around us, and across our own land. Immorality, profanity and immodesty is rampant, while crime and unrest is on the increase. Jesus Christ is being confined to the church building, until we have a generation growing up who will not know the Lord (Judges 2:10) or His actions on behalf of settling and ordaining this great country. But our choices are not forced upon us: you may not be able to control the behaviors and values of the citizens of the land, but you have control over your choices for yourself. It may be the only thing you can control!

Learn from Samuel that, amid a sinful country, you can have a relationship with God that is real and personal. He will never forsake you, never leave you on your own, and loves you beyond anything you have ever known. If you get to the end of your rope and cry out to Him for evidence that He is with you, listen and watch for an indication that He has heard your cry as He shows you that He is listening. If He answers no, or seems silent, trust Him. If He doesn’t answer a fervent prayer, will you still love Him? That is the main question, and only you can choose your answer. Commit your life to establishing a closer relationship with Him, and then tell others your story.

Memory Verse: I Samuel 15:22: So Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (NKJV)

Ask Yourself: Are my choices in attitude, clothing, words I speak and my integrity something that brings glory to God? Am I giving “lip service” to God but not my heart? “To obey [His word] is better than sacrifice.” Am I doing life God’s way, or my way?

© Popa Sorin

Does a Child Make a Father?

It’s funny. Having a cat or dog, you can call yourself a family. Having a barn with animals gives you the right to call yourself a farmer. But you can’t call yourself a father unless you have a child. To ignore Father’s Day today–let alone say something original or thought provoking–would be to ignore an American tradition. So we’ll look at the past, okay?

It would be so great if everyone had a favorite Father’s Day story: it would mean that that most important man had done something special. Perhaps it was at the Sunday dinner, with all the family gathered. Perhaps, like us, it was the Father’s Day that three very young children had their first time with Papa at the table–the first one when he had not been on Active Duty or deployment. It might also have been the Father’s Day, a year or two later, when, after an afternoon at the pool following Sunday dinner, the smallest of the three managed to fall out of the van and the same father felt the thump of running over his son. The next several hours were hell on earth, hanging between not knowing if he would live or die. Please, Lord, let there not be another Father’s Day like that one. 

There’s also been one written giving accolades to the wonderful fathers who set an example for their children: an example of a strong, Godly leader, who takes them to church, has devotions and prayers with them, and teaches them that this home is just for a space of time, and then we can have a beautiful home in heaven with all of our family, with other believers in Jesus Christ, and with the God who made us, and adopted us as His children; those fathers who work hard to provide for their families, sometimes working two or three jobs, going to school, always bettering themselves in order to give their family the love, shelter and food that was an unwritten “law” of marriage. There’s not enough credit given to those fathers, and they should never be taken for granted.

In the sermon today, June 18, 2017, preached at Thomas Road, a video clip of a testimony emphasized a beautiful lesson that was given by a young father with five children–and the sixth on the way: bringing up God’s gifts to you [i.e., your children] and teaching them how to live cannot be separated from knowing and teaching them the Word of God. His Bible is the guidebook He gave for us to use in order to have a life of purpose and love. A father and husband, J. D. Gunter wrote, “The businessman, the mechanic, the salesman, the lawyer, the teacher, the waiter, and the landscaper are all in direct service to Christ. On top of that, the men who hold these jobs to provide for their families are fulfilling a biblical mandate. There is honor and goodness in work. God’s glory is glimpsed each time a man brings home a paycheck. A man coming home to play with his kids after an exhausting day of work has shown us what Christlikeness is.” What a fulfillment of the role God ordained for fathers on this day that we honor them–or those who have been a father figure to us, in place of our own. 

Get your notebook, your iced drink, and sit back to listen to the sermon for today at http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and enjoy the worship. This is Charles Billingsley’s last Sunday as Worship Pastor, as next week he will preach, have a concert, and then leave for California. Enjoy the time of praise and worship. Above all, don’t let the theme throw you! Any person–man or woman–who loves the Lord will be able to identify with the five mandates that Paul writes, and try to attain to each of them. Substitute woman for man, and you’re good to go! Then come back and do the study below, sharing it with others who need to know Christ more deeply, and hunger for Him more fully!

Act Like Men                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Open:

Today is the day set aside to give honor to fathers, but the truth is, not everyone has a godly—or even good—father. However, almost all have a father-figure who impacted our lives for good. Can someone share? If you are alone, write it in your notebook!

We take time on this day to look at the attributes of the man who has the qualities God highly values. Paul, finishing his first letter to the church at Corinth, included two small verses that can be used as a goal for anyone who desires to be “a man [or person] after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Focal Passages: 1 Corinthians 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Think About or Discuss:

Be A Man of Protection

  1. Read the two verses, focusing on 13a. Living in a world that seems to be coming more and more sinful, what are some obvious things a man would need to protect both himself and his family from? If at present you don’t have a family, work on these characteristics in preparation for that day!
  2. Thinking more deeply—and in a spiritual direction—what are some of the less apparent but more dangerous issues that one needs to be concerned about?

Be A Man of Purity

  1. In verse 13b, what is the responsibility laid out here? Read Ephesians 6:13,14. In any situation where you are “standing firm,” what does that imply you are doing?
  2. In this case, Paul says to “stand firm in the faith.” How can you do that? Consider your life: are you impacting the world around you, or is it impacting you? (Don’t answer aloud unless you want to.)

Be A Man of Power

  1. Read verse 13c. Anyone raised on the Marvel or D.C. Comic Heroes knows what bravery is. What are some things brave men do?
  2. What are some character traits of a brave man?

Be A Man of Purpose

  1. Read verse 13d. Let’s assume Paul was not speaking of the physical body, although the Greek does not clarify. So, what should one show strength concerning?
  2. What do you do if you are faced with opposition? Do you have, as Dr. Falwell used to say, “stick-to-itiveness”?

Be A Man of Perfection

  1. Read verse 14. Last week we spent time discussing actions done without love as the motivator. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. What is the bottom line?

Close:

There has never been a time in our country when the need for individuals who will stand firm in Jesus Christ has been so great.  Our children desperately need to know that their fathers are going to do everything in their power to see that they—the child—will safely arrive to adult status. There are times this goal doesn’t happen, but God will bless the man whose heart is fixed on Him. Yes, in many cases it is the mom! Always remember that God will be a Father to the orphans and widows, whether through divorce or death.

The five actions Paul has laid out in these two short verses can equally apply to a woman, but some of Paul’s strongest words are used to warn men that it is their God-given duty to provide for his family, to see that their family is united following God’s principles, and to be the loving leader that he has been anointed by God to be. Paul (in Ephesians 5:25) equates the father’s role in a family to that of Christ loving the church, and giving Himself for it. Do you understand that He sees and knows everything you are looking at, every video you are watching, everyone you are talking to, and every conversation you have? He knows your thoughts before you speak them! Any man who does not fulfill this role will ultimately be judged by God. Give God praise if that does not fill you with fear, but be filled with gratitude, knowing you are running the race, trying to win the prize He has laid out for you.

Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 16:13, 14: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Loving Others Look Like?

Like two fish walking along the beach beside the water, my daughter and I walked through the floral and plant aisles in the Lawn & Garden section of our local hardware store. We could not have been more out of our element if we had been getting ready to skydive. I have a very active DNA with cells that contain negative effects on growing flowers, and she states she has inherited the same genetic make up. The plants we were seeing were gorgeous! Bright reds, yellows, and oranges in celosias, climbing roses, daisies, and everything in between. The colors took your breath away. We also knew that we were looking for tags that said “Perennials–no maintenance required,” because otherwise they would be dead in a week.

I had finally, by experience, realized my grandmother and mother’s “green thumb” had passed me by. I switched to silk plants. Ouch. Several months down the calendar they had to be thrown away. Over the years I could have outfitted a cemetery, and then one day–a red letter day–I discovered Silk Plant Cleaner. It really doesn’t clean them–it simply puts a layer of shiny stuff on the leaves and flowers and dries. Presto! You have a new silk plant.

We actually did buy some plants. It will be interesting to see how well they do, as we read the instructions for light, water, and plant food. These are outside, so perhaps they will do well. If so, perhaps my daughter just has had a yet untested green thumb, or one that’s been dormant!

Many of the plants we saw had been reduced to ridiculous prices because they looked as if they were barely hanging on to life. I have to admit, we were tempted to buy some of the drying up bushes that might turn into beautiful roses. Tempted, but not an action carried through. She was afraid of wasting money, and not being able to bring life back into the half-dead plants. We left those and settled for some with lovely color that looked as though they might make it through the summer.

As we left, I couldn’t help but think of the similarity between the plants and our responsibility to people with whom we come into contact. Have you ever looked at eyes as you walked through the mall? So many seem as though half their life is being snuffed out. One lady this morning was on the phone, saying “But you hurt me so badly!” By other sentences she said as we passed, I could tell she was talking to a daughter, and I wanted to give her a hug, but knew it would scare her to death. Others have a look of sorrow, some show anger, some seem happy–but there is so much possibility of taking the “half-dead” spirit that is inside them, and putting a little “water,” “plant food” or “sun” in their lives by a simple smile, or even a simple sentence telling them something they are wearing is very lovely. Few women will not accept that gift of a compliment. It is such a small thing for us to do, but may be the kind word they have been needing. Men as well. I seldom hold back from adding a small sentence to a “hello,” just to remind someone they are part of a community.

Yesterday’s sermon from Thomas Road asked the question, “What Does Service Look Like?” We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 that no matter what we say or do, give away or speak, if love is not motivating us, our efforts amount to nothing. We are to love those whom we pass by as much as we love ourselves. Love is the action word that goes before all service. By it, we show that we are His disciples. There are so many ways you can show love to those around you: what about a child whose parents have little time for him/her? Or the elderly one who lives alone and would love to have someone to listen to old memories? Always remember, you will take nothing with you to heaven except for souls you have brought to the cross!

Get out your notebook, a cool drink, friends if they will join you, and go to the message preached yesterday (June 11, 2017), and listen as Pastor Jonathan tells how the world looks at us, and judges all Christians by your walk. A powerful sermon, but no good unless you put it into your heart, and apply it to your life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select “What Does Service Look Like?” Then go below and study the message, writing your answers as God brings ideas and other Scriptures to mind. And if you enjoy it, share it with those you love, so that eventually we can reach our community, our county, state and nation.

What Does Service Look Like?                                                                                               Jonathan Falwell

Open:

What do you fear the most when you think of being called to help in any given task outside of your home? Do you consider yourself a follower or a leader?

When you asked Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, you believed He is God and that He paid your sin debt. You confessed your sins, and turned from them, as we are told in Romans 10:10. You may have wondered “what next?” Christ said in Luke 10:27 the two things He desires is for us to “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”— both beginning with the action of “love.” This week we will look at verses from the Sermon on the Mount to get a further grasp of what our service should look like.

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:13-16

Think About or Discuss:

We Are to Speak the Truth

  1. Read Matthew 5:13-16. In the simplest terms, share what being “salt to the world” means for a believer. Does that describe you? Why or why not?
  2. What are the two main uses for salt? Did Jesus mean one, or both? Explain how we do each.
  3. Read Ephesians 4:15; what is necessary when we speak truth to the world?

We Are to Show Love

  1. In verse 14a, what is the responsibility of the believer? Read John 3:20, 21. Now answer the question from this perspective.
  2. What is the condition of much of the world in this age we are living? Based on these verses, will most people actively seek out a church to try to change their sinful behavior? Does that make verse 14a hold a deeper meaning?

We Are Not to Be Ashamed

  1. Read verse 14b. Can you briefly share something you are passionate about, when fear of how others will react doesn’t dim your enthusiasm? How does this demonstrate our verse? Why are we not this outspoken about Jesus?
  2. Do you have a story of sharing the gospel, and what you learned from it? If it was negative, did that cause you to quit? Why was that the wrong decision? 

We Are to Share the Gospel

  1. Read verse 15. Have you ever wondered if, when you stand before God, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of souls could be standing nearby, all of whom you had the opportunity to witness to, but didn’t? Will anyone be in heaven because of you? Those are sobering thoughts! If you don’t share Jesus, who will? Think about or discuss your thoughts for a moment, or jot them in your notebook.

We Are to Set the Pace

  1. Read verse 16. When we share the light of the gospel of peace, what is the result supposed to be

Close:

When the moment came that you chose to accept Jesus as God’s Son, recognizing that He paid your debt of sin, that was your first step of obedience—you spoke the truth (the confession that you needed saving, and forgiveness from your sins). Prior to that time, you were in darkness.

Have you ever envisioned a pitch-black room, and realized what a small amount of light it takes to make those who are inside feel some comfort? Even something so tiny as a match from a “matchbook” is enough to bring light into the room. If you could imagine yourself being even a tiny light in a world of darkness, would it give you a jump start to witnessing? He asks that you love Him enough to share just what you know with those around you—just to speak the truth that you recognized the day you got saved. You’re not asked to have a degree in Theology—just tell what He did for you. Failure to share Jesus is based in the fear that you will be asked something you don’t know.  And yet in other areas—teams, movies, politics, etc.—we usually don’t let ourselves be beaten down by fright, and stating “I don’t know” doesn’t bother you. Have you asked yourself why? If telling others your story of salvation is fearsome for you, pray daily about it until you feel God starting to answer. This is something that He cares passionately about, which should make it a priority for you! Pray that He would give you the courage to “let your light shine.”

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

How Do We Let Our Light Shine?

  1. Consecration: Live your life in your own area of influence so well that others can think of nothing bad to say about you (Titus 2:7,8).
  2. Dedication: Work hard so that you don’t have to be ashamed before God (2 Timothy 2:15, 24).
  3. Motivation: Keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity (Philippians 3:13-15)

Personal Commitments

  1. Daily Bible Reading and study
  2. Committed to prayer
  3. Connected to a local church
  4. Telling others of Christ
  5. A constant pursuit of holiness
  6. Giving of one’s talents, time and treasures to others.

   Need to write? sdayfarm@aol.com

 

© Teodor Ostojic | Dreamstime Stock Photos

What Does Your Appearance Say About You?

Mother loved the big luxury cars. I guess she felt safer with that much metal around her, with good reason. A tiny car would have left her vulnerable to all the people who couldn’t drive well. We won’t say where she ranked in that column. By the way, she totaled the green car when she plowed head on into the side of a fuel tractor-trailer. I saw it first hand. From the inside front passenger seat.

The rain was pouring down, and–for whatever reason at the time–she took the umbrella, over-riding my “Let me do it” remarks, and hurried to get the car while I waited under the hospital portico. The rain had my attention, my dad’s near-death condition had my attention, and the truth is, I had no awareness left to give thought to Mother driving up under the roof of the entrance so we could go home.

Her large top-of-the-line Ford pulled up, and I scurried around to the passenger side, and hopped in. And started talking. No comment. That’s not like Mother, I thought. I raised my eyes to see the huge oval whites of an older male behind the wheel, looking in shock at the woman who had jumped into the car with him. At that time, I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry, but definitely I was as shocked as he! I apologized profusely and made a quick escape with what little dignity I had left. (And let his wife get into the car, by the way). Mother pulled under the portico behind him, same car, same make, model, year and color. It was an honest mistake. From the news this past week, I would say as an aside that now, in order to be politically correct, I would blame the man for pulling up and impersonating my mother. Ah, the world has changed in a few short years.

When’s the last time you’ve gone up behind someone, put your arms around them, only to find that blue shirt that your husband wore sold more than one in the community? Or–heaven forbid, but it happens–your husband popped you on the behind only to have a stranger turn with a ferocious attitude, ready to bite his head off? Only this week I sent a picture to my daughter, who quickly texted a question, “is that [her nephew] or [her son]??” Since my husband and I had both been confused a few minutes before, we were ready for the question: the point is, you can’t always go by the appearance! You have to train your eyes to look deeper.

Last week, in a long line at the post office, a gentleman (and he really was) turned around and spoke to me. “Hearing your voice, and now even seeing you, if I didn’t know better I would have thought Joyce M. was behind me!” Well, my sympathy to the high profile women’s conference leader, but no, it was just me.

So–if we don’t look at the exterior, what do we look for? Well, obviously it would be the actions, the gestures, the conversation, attitude and environment of the person you are looking at. All those factors should be different for one to come to a conclusion as to whether that is the person you think. For instance, by now you’ve heard the tale of the town gossip who spread the rumor that the head deacon was an alcoholic. When he asked her why she had spread such slander, she remarked, “Well, your truck was parked outside the bar all evening!” He thought on the situation, finally coming up with a solution. That night, after dark, he parked his car outside her house, leaving it there ’til morning. Don’t go by appearances!

This week, the sermon at Thomas Road (for Sunday, June 4th) was “Christ in Me.” When other people see you, do they stereotype you for where you are, or for what you’re doing or saying, at any given time? Probably. We judge without meaning to, constantly categorizing people without knowing all the facts. Get your notebook, a cold drink, comfortable chair, and click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and choose the sermon for this past Sunday. If you have time, watch the entire worship hour, joining the singing as Charles Billingsley leads the congregation in praise. Winding down his time with the congregation at Thomas Road, Charles will soon be calling California “home,” and will be terribly missed! Watch the sermon, and come back to the study below, digging into other Scriptures as they reinforce the other verses that tell us what being a Christian should look like! Enjoy the service, and the study! By the way, sharing on social media is a great way to get more people studying God’s word. Would you be so kind as to send this out onto your page, so others can have a guide?ni

Not My Jesus: Christ In Me                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Have you ever identified someone because they resembled another of your acquaintances so closely? Occasionally we will even speak to a stranger, thinking it is someone we know!

During the past several weeks, we have looked at the life of Jesus Christ from historical evidence, both from secular writers and the Bible. You should have formed a solid foundation on which to build a relationship with Him, especially when we examined passages that emphasize how much He loves you. This week we want to see if becoming His child will reflect in your appearance or lifestyle so that others will be able to identify you as a child of God. As Acts 4:13 states, “they [the religious leaders] marveled…and realized they [the disciples] had been with Jesus.”

Focal Passages: Galatians 3:20-21; Romans 8:9-14

Think About or Discuss:

The World Does Not Control Us

  1. Read the verses from Galatians, and Romans 8:9a. When you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and save you, what do you receive? How would you describe the power the Holy Spirit gives you? Write your answers in your notebook if you are not in a group.
  2. Perhaps an area in your life has been a trigger for a response that was not godly; can you think of any? What are some scriptures or “ways of escape” that will help you control your reactions and overcome this stronghold by the power of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 10:13)

(BUT) God Controls Us

  1. In Rom. 8:9b, what is the spiritual condition of those who do not choose to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Read Romans 13:11,12. this passage, whose responsibility is it to choose to obey God, rather than resume a past sinful lifestyle? Will God force you to obey? What are some results that you should consider as you choose your actions?

(BECAUSE) He Dwells Within Us

  1. Have you ever been afraid, perhaps being alone as a child, and suddenly someone you loved came into the room? How did your feelings change? How should this illustrate the Holy Spirit dwelling within you?
  2. We have life, resurrection power, and the ability to flee sin when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. Do you consciously think of your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and care for it in that manner? Why or why not?

(AND) The Holy Spirit Leads Us

  1. Read Rom. 8:11. We sing “The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!” Are you actively aware of that as you go about your day? What causes you to think of it?
  2. Where does the Holy Spirit lead us? (Psalm 23 may help you think of some joyful places!)

(TO) A Life That Is Different

  1. Read verse 12-14. Give examples of living a life set apart from the world.
  2. Has anyone ever asked you what makes you different? If not, have you asked yourself ‘why’?

Close:

Do you ever meet someone who seems to have a joy and zest for life that amazes you? Even their countenance exudes peace and they seem content, even in uncomfortable circumstances! That is the evidence that they have the sweet Spirit of God residing in their life. When we give the control of our lives over to let the Holy Spirit rule and reign, we should experience a relief and gladness that we no longer must carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. As we wake in the morning, we should be full of gratitude and delight for another day in His presence! Our “temple” (that is, our body) should be kept clean of filthiness and worldliness (James 1:21), our mouths should always speak what is truthful (Proverbs 8:7), and nothing wicked should be set before our eyes (Psalm 101:3). If we could actively be conscious, as we go through our daily routine in the world, that we have the God of the universe within us, would we clean up our lives and change what we see, speak, how we act, or where we g? Is that a description of your life, or do you fall short, letting the small irritating conflicts that Satan throws at you constantly steal you joy?

Take time this week to study the passages of a life filled with the Spirit, and then strive for the godliness that will set you apart from the world. Praise be to God if, when someone meets us, they immediately recognize us as someone who “has been with Jesus!” Pray for the strength, the sensitivity, and the obedience to give Christ our all.

Memory Verse: Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Questions or nice comments? sdayfarm@aol.com; don’t ruin your day or mine if you don’t agree–pray about it and let God give you the answer….

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He Didn’t Intend to Die That Day..

Two caskets. One, a close friend, the other a brother-in-law. Their stories were so different, their lives both lived in opposite directions.  The deaths  hit us hard. Not because we’re immune to the real life situations that pass us by, but because the deaths were too soon–both of these men still had time to live. (From a human perspective). One had surgery, didn’t heal properly, got pneumonia, and one catastrophe after another occurred, and he closed his eyes in death. The other had surgery, went to a rehab facility, caught a respiratory infection which didn’t heal, and eventually was sustained by life-support. He chose to be taken off, and two minutes later was in the presence of the Lord whom he loved.

We juggled schedules in order to pay our last respects to both of these men whom we had loved. And at each casket the only question we cared about was their relationship to the One who had died in order that they could live eternally with Him. Because, in the end, that’s all that really matters. The one didn’t go to heaven because he was a good citizen, had raised children who are an asset to their communities, and had served faithfully those who needed him. He went because years ago he had heard the message of salvation, knew he was a sinner who had a debt of sin that nothing could remove except the blood of Jesus–and accepted that as Truth. The other had led a life of sin for many, many years, and would have faced an eternity in hell, but he saw in the lives of those with whom he lived a peace, and he wanted that same peace for himself. He went to church, heard the gospel message preached, and gave his life to Christ. They both got it.

Whether you believe in heaven or hell, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as the only way to heaven, doesn’t change the truth one bit. All that matters is that it is Truth, and your believing or not believing it doesn’t change the fact that it is. What it will change is where you spend your time when you close your eyes in death. If you’re reading this, you still have time to know that you know–or choose not to. Jesus won’t force you to accept His free gift, but it’s yours for the taking if you do.

How about a great sermon on who is YOUR Jesus? Get your notebook, a good chair, some cool or hot drink, and sit back, ready to listen to the sermon for yesterday, April 30, 2017, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the current sermon. Join in the singing as it lifts up the name of the Lord! After the service is over, scroll down to the study notes and see how much you absorbed, and check the sermon against your own belief in Jesus! Do you have a Biblical view of His Deity, or have you let unsound doctrine get you confused? Don’t let an unplanned death keep you out of heaven–Jesus has rooms prepared just for you!

Not My Jesus: The World’s View of Jesus                                                                                                                      Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Can you think of a time you became involved in something because you didn’t have all the true facts about the situation? Write your experience in your notebook, or if you’re with a group of friends, would you share?

Today the world has a very confused idea of who Jesus Christ really is, and why He lived. We must be careful in conversation that we are not agreeing with a statement someone is making about Him until we know that their idea of Jesus is in line with the word of God. As we saw last week, no serious historian denies that Jesus actually lived, but few believe Him to be the Son of God. This week we continue the new series in which we determine that our view of Jesus not only must be true, we must know why it’s true.

Focal Passages: Matthew 16:1-17.

Think About or Discuss:

The World is always looking for a sign

  1. Read Matt. 16:1-4. Had these scribes and Pharisees been following Jesus as He had been performing miracles? If so, what was the real reason for their statement in verse 1?
  2. What did Jesus say would be the evidence of His claim that He was the Messiah? If they had really wanted to believe, what would they have done?
  3. How is that like people today who beg God for a miracle (for the life, health, etc. of someone perhaps), saying they will then “believe”? Can you discuss what comes to mind?

There are signs from above and signs from below

  1. In verses 5-12, what were the disciples missing? What had they seen—probably nearly every day—while they had been with Jesus?
  2. Jesus still needed to warn them to be careful not to believe false doctrine. Why was it necessary for Him to counsel them to not to be swayed by error?
  3. Taking the world religions individually, why did the Jews not accept Jesus as the Messiah the prophets had written of? Islam denies Jesus’ deity; whose word are they ignoring? They deny the crucifixion: last week, how many witnesses saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? Hinduism embraces thousands of gods; can you think of Jesus’ own words that would refute this doctrine? Buddhism also denies He is the Son of God. Atheists For Christ, like Islam, deny the crucifixion. How then, do they think they can be saved? (If you need to, look at the end!)
  4. Why do we need to be so diligent to teach the next generation there is only One Way? Do you know what the public school system is teaching the children?

The greatest revelation of who Jesus Is? Himself!

  1. In verses 13-17, what had Jesus asked His disciples? Who revealed this to Peter?
  2. If you were asked by anyone who He is, what would you say? What evidence do you have? (Hopefully, a changed life!)

Close:

Because the world does not have a correct view of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scripture, it has gone crazy making up its own rules concerning sinful lifestyles. It has become vital that we know without error the Biblical guidelines God has set. Jesus knew the disciples were going to face “wolves” among the believers, and warned them in our focal passage to guard against accepting people or beliefs at face value. Now, two thousand years later, we are in an even more dangerous position, as we see our values taken away. We are not allowed to have an opinion that goes against society, and are  in danger of “hate crimes” if we label Biblical sin as sin. Paul warned believers in Eph. 4:14 to not be carried away by every “wind of doctrine,” and in both letters to Timothy, as well as Titus, he warns us to hold fast to sound doctrine—that men, in fact, will come to hate it. We see this today all around the world. Doctrine—a scary word to many—is simply the set of principles God has established as guidelines so that His people may strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Paul writes in 1 Thess.  4:3, “For this is the will of God for you, your sanctification!”  Let us go forward toward that goal, reaching out in love to the many who have an inaccurate view of Him!

Jews: They expected someone who would rise as a military leader. Islam: Jesus Himself stated He and the Father are One (John 10:30); also, John 1:1-5; and denying the resurrection, they ignore the 515+ people who saw Jesus alive. Hinduism: Jesus stated, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).  Atheists for Christ also ignore the witnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection; they believe their good works will get them to heaven.

 

 

HAPPILY EVER AFTER…

 

 

 

 

 

It was a book I could hardly put down. Each chapter ended with such a sense of standing on the edge of a cliff that you just HAD to keep going! When something caused me to be disciplined enough to actually lay it down, the plot would be going through my head as I did the duties that were required of me while being on auto-pilot. Oh, man! I just wanted to see what the next page had… but, of course, that didn’t work, because I kept turning the page after that one. Even at bedtime, during my ritual reading for maybe twenty minutes, I found my eyes shutting, yet still trying to see what lay ahead. Finally, when my brain realized I wasn’t comprehending the last sentence, I would lay it down, go to sleep, and know I had to wait for tomorrow.

Finally I was getting through it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out–of course there were “good guys” and “bad guys” and intrigue, but how was it going to end? I didn’t know. All I knew was that every other book by this author had been fantastic.

I was nearly done. As I turned the last page, I read the last couple of sentences. WHAT?????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I felt like I was falling off that cliff and there were no nets below! If I hadn’t had the self-control to realize I would break something (probably only something expensive, as my aim is lousy), I would have thrown the book across the room–or across the state if I could have! (No, I’m not telling you what it was–you’ll have to find me, then I will). There just has to be a serial, I reasoned, so I headed for the computer to (of course) Google. “Is there a sequel to…..”? Nothing. “List of books by….” Nothing that I could see different, or that looked like the 2nd of a trilogy or set. There was one I didn’t recognize; it had another title and didn’t look like what I wanted but I still ordered it. Frustration was rampant. Have you been there, done that? You want to know the end, but it’s not out yet. You want to know if they live happily ever after, but it’s expected to come out at Christmas. Shucks, if you’re like me, you’d have to read the first one again, just to remember why you were waiting.

I will say, on behalf of the author who has remained nameless, that when the other book came, it was the same “can’t put it down” situation, and when I finished (and this is very rare), I turned back to page one and read it again. Stupendous. But this time I knew how it was going to end. I still haven’t found a sequel to the other one…

How often have you cheated and gone to the end, just so the stress level is alleviated as you read? The older I get, the more I do that. Eliminating stress has become my mantra as I age. But there are times when reading the ending is something that brings joy!

You think that would ruin it for you? Look at it this way: as Moses penned the books that begin the Bible, he didn’t have the benefit of the prophets. As the prophets wrote their lengthy prophecies, they did not know the fulfillment. As Jesus said in Matthew 13:17, they longed to be able to see what the people around Him were hearing and seeing, but couldn’t. And think of the New Testament, those who were writing it did not have the benefit of reading the end of the book to know how it was going to turn out. And although Jesus told them what to expect, it took the crucifixion to bring it all into focus.

Now is a great time to get your Bible, a notebook to make notes so you can see your progress as you study the sermons, and a comfortable chair. If you want some coffee or Coke, or if you have a friend, get ready to click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church Easter Sunday, April 16, and prepare to worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC. Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and click on the Easter service. Take your time to work through the questions below, and enjoy the fact that you know how everything ends! Glorify God as you worship!

Outsiders: Truly He Is The Son of God                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Sometimes it takes more than one circumstance to finally “connect the dots.” Can you think of an instance when this has been the case for you? Write it in your notebook unless you have a chance to discuss it with a friend.

This week we finish looking at four people who were personally affected by the events surrounding the crucifixion, and their reaction to Jesus Christ. The centurion, who—no doubt–had been involved from the night of the arrest to the last breath taken by Jesus, had the light of understanding hit him as he watched Jesus die. As all the dots began to be connected, this man, intimately involved in the crucifixion, made a profound statement that has gone into the very Word of God: “Truly this was (is) the Son of God!”

Focal Passages: Mark 15:20-39; Mark 16:1-7.

Think About or Discuss:

The Prologue

  1. Looking back at the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, one’s mind finds it hard to cope with the series of situations that ended in such an inhumane way. What seems to have been the beginning of this ending (from a human view point)?
  2. As the jealousy among the Jewish religious leaders escalated, what did they do next?
  3. They plotted how best to get Jesus alone to kill him; who played into their hands? What do you think the other disciples would have done if they had realized Judas was about to betray Jesus (speculation)?
  4. What happened when Judas told the Jews where they could find Jesus? Who all came to the garden the night Jesus was praying? About how many came, and what was their intention?

The Terrible Hours

  1. The Roman military came to arrest Jesus. Who was probably one of the main authorities, one who would give orders, and be on hand throughout the following day? What events did he see occur in the Garden of Gethsemane?
  2. When Jesus’ “case” went from the religious leaders to the governing authorities, how did they react? How did they keep “passing the buck”?
  3. What happened next?
  4. As Pilate ordered the crucifixion, who probably had to carry it out?
  5. What did Scripture predict the Messiah would do (Isaiah 53:7)?

The Death

  1. Who, more than likely, was in charge of the order to nail Jesus to the tree?
  2. As he watched the events now out of his hands, what did he see happen before his eyes?
  3. How did all those events affect him? What were his words?

The Victory!

Close:

As believers, we know the victory that was just around the corner! The hurt, pain, sense of loss, despair—and so much more—that the disciples and followers of Jesus went through during those three days can only be speculated about. We, on the other hand, have read “the end of the story,” and know that Sunday morning the tomb Joseph gave to the family of Jesus was empty! Tradition has it that the stone was guarded by the same centurion who had doubtless overseen the soldiers in the garden the night of His arrest, then in charge of those who carried out the crucifixion on Friday, and was afterward given charge to guard the tomb. If so, he could have seen the sight of the angel rolling the stone away, giving the guards on duty a shock so great they fainted. All we know for sure is that He came out of the tomb and appeared to the women, to the disciples, and before ascending into heaven, more than five hundred or more people. Seeing Him caused them to believe, and change the world. And He is still changing it today!

Which group do you belong in? Those who are familiar with the events of the crucifixion and have had your life changed because of it, or the group of those who know about it, but have no interest in a changed life? It’s a choice that must be made this side of eternity. One rich man in hell begged Abraham—across a chasm—to send someone to tell his family that hell is real, only to be told it was too late (Luke 16:19-31). Don’t wait—if God is speaking to your heart, answer Him today!

Photo Copyright by Sandra Day

sdayfarm@aol.com

 

                                   

God Gave YOU A Story!

I sat quietly in the circle, hoping no one would notice me, or think about why I hadn’t spoken out. Me–the extrovert who gets into an elevator and says “Now the reason I’ve called this meeting,..” The one with the bling, who loves color, jewelry that is too heavy to wear–the one who is so much like the mother I was so ashamed of! Yeah, that one. In this instance, the quiet one. The one who wasn’t going to speak.

Circumstances compel us to act in certain ways at certain times, did you know that? You may be the life of the party when there’s no pressure, but when everyone is listening–and assessing what is being said in comparison to how they see you live on a daily basis–then you become someone else. Perhaps someone meek. Someone quiet. That was me in this circle.

It had been such a fun morning! We had been invited for brunch at the home of one of those “Southern Living” houses–you know the kind, where the hostess takes things you’ve thrown out, puts a vine around it, and everyone dies for the décor. Where she looks like she’s spent seven weeks cooking for the group of friends, and has burned nothing (I can’t relate. When I turn on the oven or stove top, my smoke alarm beeps just out of habit). Where you can put on a white glove and run your finger around the bottom of her commodes (multi-bathrooms, not several in one) and it still comes up white. Mine would be … well, we won’t go there.

The reason for the celebration? A new baby? A shower? An engagement party? No. New car, new house, new job? Nope. Someone who had been on “skid row” for years had come to the Lord (the Christianese is “being saved”) for salvation, and it was a happy time for all of us who had prayed for so long that they repent of their sins and put their hand in the Hand of the One who holds all things together. It was one of those times, the Bible says, when the angels in heaven rejoice!

Until. The hostess thought it would be a great witness to go around the room and tell our particular story of how we came to ask the Lord to save us. The reasoning was that there would be experiences that could be pulled upon when crises (plural) hit, and that even though we do go through rough times, the “righteous falls seven times but gets back up.” (Proverbs 24:16.)

I sat like a stone, listening. Joe had been on drugs, alcohol–the whole street scene. His wife had gone to church, gotten saved, and begged him to come. Long hair, camouflage gear, hiking boots, dirty, smelly, he decided to get her off his back so he would go with her–ONE time. Where did they sit? The front row. Can you imagine the ones sitting around them, who had to hold hankies to their noses for the hour? But he listened. He got saved. He actually went on to seminary and became a pastor!  Wow–what a testimony!

Then someone told of Jennifer: a young girl who was saved, but had prayed hard that God would use her to impact her friends. Her family was involved in an accident, hit by a truck at over 80 mph, and she was thought to be dead. She has now been witnessing with a boldness of the Apostle Paul for almost ten years! What encouragement! Tons of exciting testimonies.

When it came to the point where people were winding down, everyone looked at me. Anyone who was my age, who loves to dress “sassy” (as my friends say), who never holds back–why certainly I would have a story of conversion that would go off the charts. But I didn’t. I sat there, knowing God would not bless something that was exaggerated, made up, was just a good story, or anything but the basic truth. And then it hit me: I seldom share my story because it is not flamboyant, interesting, or awe-inspiring! Suddenly, I realized, I had been blessed with the sweetest story of all.

I was raised in a home where my earliest (VERY earliest) memories were of my mom standing on the platform with her guitar singing the old “Stamps Baxter” songs (Google them). This was the guitar that I later tried to see if the broom handle would fit in that “S” figure on the top. It didn’t. She cried so hard that she couldn’t even discipline me, but made my dad do it when he got home and she was still crying. I still have the guitar but she’s playing a harp in heaven and singing like an angel. She sang at funerals, weddings, wherever the Lord moved her. She didn’t have a great voice, but she loved Him with her whole heart.

Whenever we ate, there was always grace. Daddy prayed at breakfast, Mother prayed at  supper. We went to every church service, helped with every need we could afford (which wasn’t many), and the church was our social life. You see, at that time, in their history, there were two types of people: the ones whose life revolved around the church, and the rest. Ours revolved around the church. I helped in the nursery from the time I could hold a baby, started playing the piano at thirteen (with tons of mistakes), and talked to the Lord. Oh, I didn’t have my theology correct: I remember wishing on the first star at night: as soon as I saw it, I would ponder all I knew, what all I wanted. Eventually my “wish” was always the same: that everyone in the world be saved. How old was I? Seven, maybe? Eight? But somehow at that young age, I knew in my heart that if they were, there would be “peace on earth.”

I never remember a time when I didn’t believe with my whole heart that God was in His heaven, and all was right with the world. Eventually I realized He had sent His only Son to die for those of us who just couldn’t get it right–but we still had to pay for our sins. So what did He do? He paid them for us! And I believed that–and asked Him into my heart. Did I rebel? You bet. Later–decades later–I couldn’t stand responsibilities I had brought on myself, and decided to try life the world’s way. THAT should have been my testimony–but that wouldn’t be the story of my conversion but of my backsliding. No, I couldn’t do that. Afterwards, when I had returned to Him, I could only look back  and know that, although I had tried the sinful pleasures of the world for a season, I had never not believed He was my savior. Even when I was faithless, He was faithful.

So I started my story: my being raised in a Christian home, knowing from my earliest memories that God was my Savior, being baptized, and walking with Him. So very unlike the other, grandiose stories that were being told! But I realized, as I told it, it would be like talking today–in the midst of a world that has gone haywire with divorces, mixed marriages, and living together without commitments,–of being born and growing up in a home with the two parents who conceived you, and raised you to adulthood; a blessing that is so extraordinary today as to be abnormal. It is my story, and I need to be thanking God for the simplicity of it, and the blessings in it, rather than focusing on the lack of drama.

Is that you? Are you rather embarrassed because your story isn’t flamboyant? Full of drama? Thank the Lord for His grace toward you! Now take your story and bless someone else with it. Look for the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday, March 12, and settle in for a time of worship and praise! After you’ve heard the sermon, go to the study notes below, and ponder a little deeper into ways you can be a witness to those you know who need the Lord. If you have a friend, ask them to join you, and study and discuss it together. But get your notebook, something warm to drink on this cold day, and click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon; click on “Story Taker,” and give God your week!

Storytellers: “Story Takers”                                                                                                                                                                                       Matt Matt Willmington

Open:

Was there an exciting story or piece of information (ball game, book, movie, etc.) that you shared with someone this week? Did you think to examine why you did this?

Last week we looked at one of the stories in the New Testament, applying principles to help us share the story of our salvation with people we meet. Today we are going to look at exactly what that story should look like, and where we can share it. If you are with friends, discuss the study; if you are alone, get your notebook and keep a record of your answers, so that you can see growth in your life as you walk with Him!

Focal Passage: Matthew 9:1-13, Mark 2:1-17

Think About or Discuss:

What Is the Story? There are usually both “bad” parts and “good” parts in any story.

  • What is the best part of God’s story? (John 3:16) He loves you!
  • What is bad about your story? (Rom. 3:10, 23) You deserve punishment.
  • What did God do for you? (1 Pet. 3:18) Jesus paid it all!
  • What does He offer you? (Rom. 10:13, Eph. 2:8, 9) The free gift of salvation.
  • What is God’s promise? (Rom. 8:38,39) Eternal life with Him.

TAKE PEOPLE TO JESUS

  1. Read Mark 2:1-12. What were some of the anxieties these four friends had for their paralytic comrade? What was their major concern?
  2. Why were they determined to get him to Jesus?
  3. Are you so concerned about your friends, that you will take them where they can hear the gospel? If it’s not your responsibility, whose is it?

TAKE JESUS TO PEOPLE

  1. Read Matt. 9:9-13 and Luke 5:28-29. What are several reasons that made Jesus’ action of calling Matthew uncommon?
  2. What were three immediate responses of Matthew to Jesus’ call? What was courageous about him calling his “IRS” friends?
  3. If you knew your story would bring this result so quickly, would you run to tell it to everyone?

TAKE JESUS’ BURDEN

  1. Read Matt. 9:35-38. What is your main concern when meeting a friend whom you feel is not saved? Do you stay away from the subject of eternity? What are some things Jesus felt and some things He did?
  2. What are some things you can do for unsaved friends?       

ACTION  APPLICATIONS:

  1. Only you know if you have been changed by God. If you have, then realize your story is simple: 1) God loves you; 2) You were a sinner who deserved to be punished; 3) Jesus paid your sin debt with His death on the cross; 4) You have been given full pardon for your sins the moment you ask Him to save you; 5) You will spend eternity with Him!
  2. Be committed to having a team of friends pray for lost loved ones or those you are burdened for, and work to bring them to where they can hear the gospel; know God wants them to be saved, and praise Him for any opportunity;
  3. Invite friends to your home for a meal at a time when other Christians will be there; dig deep to find courage to be hospitable, despite what others may say;
  4. Serve those who are in need at every opportunity! Have compassion on the lost, and pray that God will surround those you have a burden for with Godly people.
  5. Share your story at every opportunity!

Close:

Our story is unique: it is ours, and no one else will have the same experience. Does it bother you that you can’t think of a time, a moment, or an instance when you became a child of God? Perhaps that was not meant to be your story but someone else’s! Were you changed in some way? Probably. It is hard to get used to witnessing, but recent statistics show that even in one’s home, only about 3% of children and grandchildren know the testimony of their parents. Does that convict you? That would be a great place to begin telling your story! The only thing you will take to heaven are the souls whom you lead to Jesus Christ. Don’t you want those to be your family, friends or your circle of influence? Pray diligently that God would multiply your faith this year, and burden you with two or three that you can pray persistently for, with heartfelt compassion and love. You cannot save them, but you can introduce them to the Savior.

Memory Verse: Matt. 9:38: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

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