Thursday
Feb262015

Our great Salvation

Explore the Bible
March 15, 2014

Gayla Parker
member
Lifeway Baptist
Little Rock

Zephaniah 3:8-17

My husband and I loved our years on the mission field. Yes, there were trials, strange illnesses and times of extreme loneliness. But overshadowing it all was watching God work in the lives of the people whom we served. One such man was King Po.   

King Po had been heavily involved in a vigilante group that was determined to wipe out an unreached people group. King Po became extremely involved in “black magic.” He killed and robbed countless people. And then one day his wife took him to hear a pastor who introduced him to the saving power of Jesus Christ. King Po burned all of his black magic paraphernalia. He threw his M16 assault rifle into the fire and declared, “I am exchanging my M16 for John 3:16.” A bit corny, I know, but what he did with John 3:16 was amazing!

King Po no longer went into his enemy’s villages to persecute and kill; he went to introduce his enemies to Jesus Christ and the God who “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Like Paul, King Po declared himself as the chief of all sinners. He had been forgiven much – so much that He could not even speak of it without crying. The radical change in his life caused many of his enemies to join him in following the one true God. The Lord was indeed his great Salvation.

Zephaniah 3 describes a people much like my friend King Po. The Israelites had sinned greatly. They had forsaken the one true God. They were prideful and arrogant. But among them was a remnant. And God declared He would bring that remnant “home.” Once there, there would be resounding joy and gladness throughout Zion. Restoration was and always will be in the Lord’s hands. No one else can forgive as much, no one else can love as much, no one else can provide as much – the ultimate salvation. The redemption of Israel is just a foreshadowing of what is to come when we all experience the ultimate redemption and enter into our Zion, the land resounding with joy and gladness. It will be so because “Yahweh has spoken” (Zeph. 3:20).

Thursday
Feb262015

Power like no other

Bible Studies for Life
March 15, 2014

Julie Beavers
member
Delta Baptist
Pine Bluff

Mark 4:35-41

Stephen and I have four children. They enjoy being together. Although they get along with each other most of the time, they don’t take correction and direction from each other very well. When Stephen or I give them correction and direction, they listen. The sound of Stephen’s voice makes them turn and obey. They know his voice; they know him. And they know he has the power to make them obey if they choose not to obey on their own. This Bible story in Mark 4 reminds me of that. Jesus’ voice has power.

Mark 4:35-41 says it all to me. I picture an old boat with worn sails, weary men trying to get comfortable and the sailor navigating his way in the water amongst the other boats. It was probably a bit chaotic.

Jesus was with them and yet He was asleep and not bothered by all the activity going on in the boat.
Mark 4:37 says, “A fierce windstorm arose.”

This storm was one of hurricane proportions, not just a thunderstorm. This storm was disastrous. Except for the frequent lightning strikes, I imagine the sky was dark with the clouds hiding the moon. The boat was being tossed back and forth and beginning to fill with water. The men were frightened and went to wake Jesus.  

They had listened to His teachings, and they had heard Him tell them who He was; although they had not all put their faith and belief in Him, they knew He had authority.

The men were shaken by this storm, and they asked Jesus in Mark 4:38 if He didn’t even care if they died!
In all of His goodness, love and power, Jesus spoke three words to the storm in Mark 4:39: “Peace! Be still!”
And at His words, the winds were silent. The sea was calm. Just as when God spoke all of creation into existence, Jesus spoke peace onto the storm.

The world has known many men of power, but the world has never known anyone with the power of Jesus.

Thursday
Feb262015

Everyone accountable

Explore the Bible
March 8, 2014

Gayla Parker
member
Lifeway Baptist
Little Rock

Zephaniah 1:1-11

There must be a special parent book out there somewhere that includes every phrase a parent should know – phrases like, “Because I said so.” In bold print would be the question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”

When I was a child, every time I began my plea that “all my friends” were doing something, my father would respond with the “if your friends” phrase.

As a parent of teens, I found myself using that same phrase.

As annoying as those words sounded, my dad was trying to teach me accountability for my actions. He didn’t care about my friends’ actions; he cared about my actions. He had set a standard for me, and he was holding me accountable to that standard!

God may not use the “if your friends” phrase, but He has definitely set a standard for His children and He will hold us accountable to it. He calls for the believer to worship Him and only Him regardless of the actions of the majority. Zephaniah 1 describes what happens when His children follow society’s norms, rather than God’s standard.

The people of Judah and Jerusalem were guilty of worshipping the pagan Baal and of swearing to Milcom, the god of the Ammonites. The Israelites had wandered so far from God they had become entrenched in pagan thought and openly rejected all God declared holy. They were so deep into the cultural practices of paganism that the people believed God would overlook their behavior. Nothing could have been further from the truth!
The Lord declared His lamp would uncover every wicked being. He would bring His day of wrath not only upon Judah, but also upon the entire world – all because mankind chose to sin against the Lord.

Today’s society is much like that of the days of Zephaniah. There is much to lure the believer away from the holy standard of God. Christian, beware! God does and will hold His children accountable. Maybe my dad was right. Just because my friends were doing it did not mean that I had to be part of it.

Thursday
Feb262015

A birth like no other

Bible Studies for Life
March 8, 2014

Julie Beavers
member
Delta Baptist
Pine Bluff

Luke 1:26-35

This passage screams “Christmas” to me. In fact, last Christmas I read and reread this passage. I heard sermons on it and sang Christmas carols based on it. The birth of Jesus is Christmas.

What if we thought it was only for the month of December? What if we only celebrated Jesus’ birth once a year? Oh, what we would miss! In studying Luke 1 leading up to Easter, we see a whole new picture. (God’s Word is always applicable.) We read it with different ears.

Luke 1:26-29 describes God sending an angel to Mary.

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be” (Luke 1:26-29).

Mary was just a girl, but God chose her to be the mother of the Messiah. She would continue to be a human being. She wouldn’t have any special powers or be supernatural. She had just found favor with the Lord.
She was as surprised about this turn of events as you would expect her to be. Luke 1:29 mentions she was “deeply troubled” by the angel, and that was before she knew what he was going to tell her!

Nowadays, an expectant mother is able to see what her baby will look like – if it has its father’s nose, if it has hair, etc. But Mary was able to hear what her Baby was going to “be.” Can you imagine? Beginning in Luke 1:31, the angel tells her Jesus’ name and what He would be called by others. He wasn’t just to be “Jesus,” but He would be the “Son of the Most High,” and God would give Him the throne of David. Not only that, but His kingdom would be eternal.

This was to be no ordinary Baby. Jesus was coming to save the world, and she was going to have a major part in the story. This tiny Baby she was to carry was the Messiah!

Thursday
Feb122015

God is

Explore the Bible
March 1, 2014

Gayla Parker
member
Lifeway Baptist
Little Rock

Nahum 1:1-8

“This is Jan. She is my dentist.”

“This is Freddy. He is my husband.”

Almost every introduction includes a description of the person being introduced. We are naturally curious about who people are and naturally proud of knowing important people.

What if you were introducing God to someone? What would be your description? “This is God. He is …” How would you describe the Great I Am?

God describes Himself as He passes before Moses in Exodus 34:6-7. In that description, He describes Himself as “chesed.” As a matter of fact, “chesed” is used more than any other word to describe God in the Old Testament. So what does this word mean? “Chesed” is a Hebrew word that is sometimes translated as “steadfast love, commitment or loyalty.” It is often paired with faithfulness. It describes a determination to keep a promise or to do what you said you would do. But perhaps the best translation is, “I am abounding in keeping My promises.” That means when He promises eternal life, He is abounding in keeping that promise! When He promises to provide more than enough grace, He is abounding in that promise! And when He promises He is preparing a place for us in heaven, He is abounding in that promise! How amazing is that?

Now let’s add the trait of “chesed” to the description we find of God in Nahum 1:1-8. He is a God who will take “vengeance on His adversaries” (Nah.1:2). He is “slow to anger and great in power” (Nah.1:3). He controls all that happens in nature (Nah.1:4-5). He is holy (Nah.1:6). He is good and a “stronghold in the day of trouble” (Nah.1:7). He will deal with His enemies (Nah.1:8). Because He is “chesed,” these are promises that are guaranteed.

We serve a God who abounds in keeping promises. What does He require of the believer?

“What is desired in a man is ‘chesed’” (Prov. 19:22).

The next time you say, “God is …,” what will your description be?