Thursday
Dec112014

Protect human life 

Explore the Bible
January 18, 2014 

Cindy James
children’s minister
Calvary Baptist
Camden

Genesis 9:1-7; Psalm 8:4-8

We live in a day when human life is no longer regarded as sacred. The devaluing of life is spreading through violence and abortion; and the push for euthanasia is further destroying the sanctity of human life.

All of these problems stem from the erosion of the Bible as the standard for truth in our society. Without the Bible, there is no basis for affirming that humans are created in the image of God and that human life is sacred. For the survival of our nation and culture, we desperately need to understand and proclaim the biblical truth regarding the sanctity of human life.

When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, all human and animal life, except for that on the ark, had been destroyed. It was a new beginning for the human race, which God had judged because of its corruption and violence (Gen. 6:11-13). It is significant that one of the first things God affirmed to Noah was the sanctity of human life.

Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 9:7 show that human life is to be propagated to promote God’s purpose on the earth. Human life has priority over animal life (Gen. 9:2-4; Psa. 8:6-8). Genesis 9:1 says that “God blessed Noah and his sons.” God’s blessing here provided for the propagation, priority and protection of human life.
Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

This verse describes the care our Creator used as He brought each of us to life. Everything about us drew God’s close, personal attention and brought a smile of approval to our Father’s face – even before we took our first breath.

You and I were uniquely formed in our mother’s womb. When we fail to care for the hungry, to honor the elderly, to protect the innocent or to respect individuals who are different from us, we offend the One who made us all.

Our text clearly shows that since God values human life, so must we.

Thursday
Dec112014

When injustice prevails

Bible Studies for Life
January 18, 2014 

Gerald Nash
chaplain
Second Baptist
Conway

Exodus 23:1-13

The Pledge of Allegiance was published in 1892 as part of a campaign to promote American nationalism and instill love of country in young minds. The last three words resonate with me: “justice for all.” I am grateful to those who have taken up the fight against injustices in our country. Our country’s founding documents and legal system don’t always guarantee justice for all.

God explicitly condemns unjust legal systems (Amos 5:10-12).

The Bible warns that wicked leaders can write and manipulate laws for their advantage. Isaiah 10:1-2 (HCSB) says, “Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted among my people of justice, so that widows can be their spoil and they can plunder the fatherless.”

God loves justice (Psalm 11:7) and He wants justice for all. This is the idea behind a series of laws in Exodus 23.

Five groups are mentioned who should have justice. The guilty are to have justice (Ex. 23:1-3). We are told not to give a false testimony, not to go along with the crowd and not to show favoritism to a person because he is destitute.

The enemy should have justice (Ex. 23:4-5). If we find an enemy’s donkey, we are to return it. If our enemy’s donkey needs help, we are to help.

The righteous should have justice (Ex. 23:6-8). Be fair to the poor, don’t condemn the innocent through legal tricks and don’t take a bribe.

Strangers are to have justice and not be oppressed (Ex. 23:9).

Lastly, God is to have justice (Ex. 23:13). God warns His people to be obedient and not idolatrous.

Often believers focus on social issues that are important to them but fail to consider how some legal systems and economic policies harm people. As believers, we should seek to reform such injustices. We should want what God wants – “justice for all.”

Thursday
Dec112014

God inspires the work

Explore the Bible
January 11, 2014 

Cindy James
children’s minister
Calvary Baptist
Camden

Nehemiah 2:1-8, 17-18

Winston Churchill has been called the “Man of the Century.” History records his marvelous talents as a statesman, orator and world leader who could stir the masses to persevere in the face of any odds. Like Churchill, Nehemiah was a man who knew how to motivate and inspire his countrymen. He knew how to motivate others to work.

After four months of praying, the day finally arrived for Nehemiah to present his petition before the king. In that four-month time, Nehemiah had come under the conviction that God had an important role for him to play in solving the dilemma of his people. Nehemiah’s opportunity came one day as he was performing his duties as cupbearer. The king noticed Nehemiah’s countenance and asked him why he was so sad.

Nehemiah explained to the king that the city of his father’s was in ruins. He asked the king for permission to return to the city to rebuild it.

Nehemiah 2:8 records, “And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.”

Nehemiah gave God the credit for the king’s permission and provisions.

Nehemiah 2:17-18 tells us of the inspiring speech to the people. After his inspection of the walls of the city, Nehemiah called the people to action: “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” He gave the people a reason to get involved in the work. Nehemiah’s speech was so inspiring, the people were prompt, ready to get to work and unanimous to work together.

My son’s shop teacher in high school would pound in students’ heads, “When building, always measure twice, cut once.” It made such an impression on my 18-year-old, he named his Valedictorian speech “Measure Twice, Cut Once.” These are wise words for careful planning. Nehemiah was successful because he coupled specific prayer with careful planning.

Nehemiah teaches us about the power of prevailing prayer, the importance of proper planning and the value of tireless perseverance.

Thursday
Dec112014

Shelter of God’s protection

Bible Studies for Life
January 11, 2014 

Gerald Nash
chaplain
Second Baptist
Conway

Psalm 91:1-16

My wife and I live on a small, private lake. We love to watch the Canada geese fly in and land on the water. We are privileged each year to witness little goslings following closely behind their mother. The hen will raise and extend her wings and the goslings will gather to her and she will bring her wings down closely around them. You don’t know they’re  under her unless she stands or raises her wings. This is the way she protects them.

Psalm 91:4a (NKJV) says, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.”
Lovingly, God likens Himself to a hen sheltering her young from danger. The psalmist says God protects His people from the many dangers they face like snares and pestilence (Psa. 91:3), thieves and battles (Psa. 91:5), destruction (Psa. 91:6), judgment (Psa. 91:7-8), evil and plagues (Psa. 91:10), stones (Psa. 91:12), attacks from the animal kingdom (Psa. 91:13) and trouble (Psa. 91:15). We can easily apply modern equivalents to these.   

This wonderful promise of protection is for those who dwell and abide in God presence.

Psalm 91:1 (NKJV) says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

The Hebrew word for “abide” means “to spend the night.” It doesn’t necessarily mean to sleep all night but does indicate staying in one location for the night. There is a word play between day and night in Psalm 91:5 and Psalm 91:6. The Hebrews were accustomed to dividing the 24-hour period into four equal parts. When we abide or take up residence under the shadow of the Almighty, we are assured of round-the-clock, 24-hour protection. It is about constant fellowship with Him.

God is more than a shelter of protection from life’s dangers. When we take up residence in His fellowship and set our love on Him (Psa. 91:14), then He promises us deliverance, exaltation, honor, long life and salvation (Psa. 91:14-16).

Thursday
Dec112014

God commands obedience

Explore the Bible
January 4, 2014 

Cindy James
children’s minister
Calvary Baptist
Camden

Ezra 7:1-10

The Bible provides many stories that illustrate how much God values obedience. For example, Abraham obeys when it is difficult; Jonah learns to obey the hard way, and Noah obeys a strange request to build a big boat!
To appreciate Ezra’s complete obedience to God, we look at Ezra 7:1-10 during the time of King Artaxerxes’ reign.

This is where Ezra’s mission comes in. He had been prepared by God as a well-suited tool to bring needed help to those in Jerusalem. He was a leader for the exiles and gained the king’s favor to let them return to Jerusalem to take part in the growing work of God. Ezra’s credentials were excellent: He was a priest who could prove his genealogy (Ezra 7:1-6), he was a knowledgeable scribe (Ezra 7:6) and his purpose of heart was to first seek, then do (obey) and then teach the law (Ezra 7:10).

Sending such a man was a great proof of God’s grace toward the Jews in Jerusalem who, meanwhile, had meddled so badly with evil. Ezra completely obeys the call of God. It was God’s work and His good hand upon Ezra that was the secret of his success. Ezra recognized God’s hand in all things (Ezra 7:6, 9).

Sometimes as parents, we ask our children to do things they don’t understand. Yet it is still important they obey. Disobeying can be the difference between life and death.

In Deuteronomy, God told the Israelites many times that if they followed His commands, He would give them good things. God also gave the Israelites many warnings about the hardships they would suffer if they chose not to obey His instructions (Deut. 28:15-20). If we fail to obey God, there will be consequences.

God rewards obedience generously, and ultimately, He knows our hearts. To obey Him, we must be willing to be obedient. We must be like Ezra and prepare our hearts properly to fully dedicate ourselves to God in complete obedience.