Thursday
Sep042014

Why one of us?

Explore the Bible
September 21, 2014 

Jennifer Bryant
member
First Baptist 
Fordyce

Hebrews 2:14-18

When you are struggling through a difficult time in your life, would you rather be encouraged and helped by a friend who has also struggled and suffered or a friend who has no idea what you are going through? 

This is the reason Jesus had to become one of us! He went through the ridicule and suffering on the cross so that we would be more accepting of Him.

In Hebrews 2:18, the author of Hebrews explains that Jesus was able to help those who suffered through temptation because He suffered through temptation. 

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

This makes it easier for us to trust that Christ can and will guide us through our difficult times. We know that we will survive temptation because He survived temptation, and He understands our trials because He also faced trials while He was human. 

Jesus also had to become human so that He could die and rise again in order to “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” (Heb. 2:14). 

By doing this, Christ could “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:15). 

If we know we are going to heaven after death, there is no reason to fear it. Death has been defeated! 

This passage is a huge comfort and exciting to read as a Christian. 

To know that Jesus understands the feelings and emotions we have as we suffer during life’s trials is a big encouragement. He was one of us, and He is ready and willing to help us through these difficult times in our lives. 

Even more encouraging is knowing that because Jesus beat death, this time we spend on earth is just a brief moment – and that heaven is waiting for Christians after death. 

That is truly amazing.

Thursday
Sep042014

Connected in growth

Bible Studies for Life
September 21, 2014 

Charles A. Collins
missionary
Spain

Ephesians 4:11-16

It was years ago, but I still remember. He was the chairman of the deacons of a small rural church I was pastoring. I had asked the members to come for a work day at the church. There were things that needed to be done. 

His words were, “I give my money. If there is something to be done, we will hire someone to do it.” 

This is often the attitude of many who believe that church growth is the responsibility of someone else, like the pastor. Paul disagrees with that. He teaches in Ephesians 4:11-16 that the members are connected in growth. Where there is no connection, there can be no growth.

He begins by listing God’s gifts to the Church. They are the apostles (sent out ones), the prophets (those who speak God’s messages), the evangelists (proclaimers of the gospel) and the pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). 

The gifts to the Church prepare members for the goals of growth. First, they are to prepare God’s people so that the Body of Christ is built up and unity is achieved (Eph. 4:12-13). Everyone has a part in growth. 

Paul then lists in verse 14 those things that would hinder connection, thus hindering growth. They are that people no longer be like children or “blown here and there by every wind of teaching.” There are, unfortunately, many who would believe something because it sounds good.

The goals of connection are simple, that the truth might be spoken in love and that Christ might be the Head of the Church (Eph. 4:15). The reason for this is simple. From Him, the whole Body is joined together and “grows and builds itself up” (Eph. 4:16). 

The simple truth is that we are connected in growth. Imagine what could happen if all of us were able to contact only one person and help that individual come to Christ. We talk about it a lot but seldom really do it. It is important to give our resources, but it is also important to cooperate in other ways if the Church is to really grow.

Thursday
Sep042014

Pay attention

Explore the Bible
September 14, 2014 

Jennifer Bryant
member
First Baptist 
Fordyce

Hebrews 2:1-4

As a parent, I wish I had a nickel for every time I told my children to “pay attention.” 

Being told to pay attention means you need to really watch and listen so you don’t miss important details, which can sometimes be the difference in life or death. 

In Hebrews 2:1, the author tells us to “pay the most careful attention … to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” 

He wanted readers to not drift away into false teachings because they didn’t hear something or heard something wrong. After studying Hebrews 1 and understanding the superiority of Christ, we can be encouraged about the New Covenant and find it easier to not drift into false teachings because we don’t have to worry about meeting certain religious requirements.

We need to remember the central theme of Hebrews is that Christ’s superiority is greater than all other ways of hearing and knowing about God. The author explains in Hebrews 2:2-3 that the faith of the Jewish Christians was good, but faith must point to Christ. Christ’s message is much more important than the message of the angels, and it has been confirmed by “signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Heb. 2:4).

Spiritual gifts are mentioned multiple times in the Bible (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12-14 and Eph. 4). Their purpose is to build up the Church by maturing and strengthening it. If a congregation is using their individual gifts, that church will function properly and flourish. A church whose members are not focused on God’s will and using their gifts will be stagnant or even wither away. The church needs each member doing his or her part.

So pay attention to all Christ tells and shows you so you can be strong and flourish. Use the spiritual gifts He has given you to become more Christ-like and help your church become the light on top of the hill.

Thursday
Sep042014

Connected in unity

Bible Studies for Life
September 14, 2014 

Charles A. Collins
missionary
Spain

Ephesians 4:1-6

The subway (not the sandwich) is the best way that we have found to get around. We have mastered how to get from here to there as long as we do not have to change lines. 

Recently, we were standing side by side waiting for the train. It came, and I got on the car to my right. Jan got on the one to her left. I was sure she was right beside me, but she wasn’t. 

We have decided to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It means that we hold hands, and even though we are not looking at one another, the physical act of touching means we are connected.

Paul continues his theme of connection in Ephesians 4:1-6. His concern here is that the different members of the church be connected. Paul must have known what it meant to be disconnected. He was a prisoner for the Lord. Being in a dungeon must have made connection with others in the Church difficult or impossible.

He gave three commands that lead to connection. He encourages the readers to be humble and gentle, patient and loving and to keep the unity of the Spirit and be peaceable to all. 

He then provides in rapid succession a list of nine elements of unity. I divide them into three sections of three thoughts. When I was a boy, my dad would give me something to do. When I would question why, all he would do was say, “‘Cause I said so.” Paul says there is one body, one Spirit and one hope (Eph. 4:4). This is the first in his “‘cause he said so” list. 

The second part of the list is ‘cause there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).

The third part of the list is that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

We cannot touch God, but we can know if and when He is there. It works for us. It can work for you. 

Thursday
Aug212014

Who is Jesus?

Explore the Bible
September 7, 2014 

Jennifer Bryant
member
First Baptist
Fordyce

Hebrews 1:1-4

Life is hard. 

We see examples of that every day on the news, in the lives of our friends and even in our own lives. We struggle with doubt and with ridicule and persecution regarding our faith. 

The author of Hebrews wanted Jewish Christians, who had been facing some of these same issues, to understand the superiority of Christ. This would help them stay strong in their Christianity when they were tempted to return to Judaism just because it was familiar and comfortable. 

The author desired for the Jewish Christians to have no doubt about Jesus’ superiority over everything, so by using several descriptions, he revealed the true identity of Jesus as God (Heb. 1:3). Jesus has been “appointed heir of all things” and is the “radiance of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:2-3).

Jesus is the exact representation of God in a human body, “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb. 1:3).

Most importantly, after Jesus had provided purification for sins by dying on the cross, He sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3). By Jesus sitting down, He was illustrating the work was complete. Christ’s sacrifice was final. No other rules or sacrifices are needed.

The same God who created the universe also died for each person. 

By realizing who Jesus is, we should never doubt that God can and will forgive any sin if we just come to Him. There is no sin too big for Jesus, the God of the universe, to forgive. 

Remembering Jesus’ superiority will help us during times in which we experience ridicule, struggle with doubt and face persecution. 

Each and every day, we must strive to live by faith and not fall back into trying to meet minimum religious requirements. 

Hebrews clearly illustrates Jesus is superior to the angels, any religion, any Jewish leaders and any priests, so don’t be fooled by any substitute or alternative to Jesus!