Thursday
Apr172014

Live in moral purity

Explore the Bible
May 4, 2014

Jeff Thompson
associational missionary
Concord Baptist Association
Fort Smith

Proverbs 5:3-14, 20-23; 6:23-24, 27-29, 32-34

Our focal passages allow us to observe at least three attributes of biblical wisdom related to sexual immorality: 

(1) Biblical wisdom recognizes the very real appeal of seduction (Prov. 5:3). Have you ever heard: “He/she must be blind? His/her spouse is so beautiful/handsome and the other woman/man can’t hold a candle to them.” This kind of statement made in response to moral failure is sincere in its assessment. Yet, it is a foolish sentiment. 

The hook of seduction is rarely visual – verse 3 tells us it is the lips and words of the seductress that seduce. The seduction strokes our ego and fuels our fantasies with false promises of painless pleasure. Yet, every believable lie is half-truth. The truth is sexual immorality in all its forms is pleasurable – but only for a season. Then comes the truth – sexual immorality is incredibly painful and costly over time. 

(2) Biblical wisdom weighs the painful price of sin’s brief pleasure (Prov. 5:4-6). I am convinced if people could see the consequence of sexual sin after just one year, most of its appeal would evaporate. If David had seen himself confronted as a murderer, weeping and fasting for a dying child, nursing deep scars in his family that would never heal, I don’t think he would have ever sent for Bathsheba. We don’t have a magical “future cam” to guide us. We have something better – the commands and teachings of a holy God shared most effectively by loving parents and family (Prov. 6:23-24). 

(3) Biblical wisdom knows not to shop in places where the price of pleasure will bankrupt you morally (Prov. 6:27-29). In today’s culture, many scoff at the pastor’s rule to never be alone with a woman who isn’t your wife, mother, sister or daughter. Yet as I watch marriages dissolve due to infidelity, I long for men and women who allow wisdom to be their guide – who know the value of avoiding the voice of seduction.

Thursday
Apr172014

Hope personified

Bible Studies for Life
May 4, 2014 

Jim Monroe
associate pastor
First Baptist
White Hall

Luke 15:11-12, 20-24

Jesus loved teaching with stories. One of His most famous stories is found in Luke 15, and I call it “the parable of the prodigal father.” Most probably know it as “the parable of the prodigal son,” but you’ll soon realize why I label it differently.

You are probably familiar with this passage. A man had two sons, and the younger one wanted his inheritance immediately, before his father’s death. It was an unusual request, but the father complied. The son then left for another country and quickly wasted his windfall. One definition of “prodigal” is “spending money freely and recklessly.” That’s why we normally label this story “The Prodigal Son” – because the young man squandered his inheritance.

Out of money, the son took a job feeding pigs. He was so hungry he found himself wanting to eat pig food. He then came to his senses and returned to his father’s home with a repentant heart (Luke 15:21).

This is where we might expect the father to lecture his son about greed, poor stewardship and wild living. But instead of lashing out, he lavishly adorned his boy with a robe, ring and sandals (Luke 15:22). He instructs his servants to kill the fatted calf for a feast and celebration (Luke 15:23). 

This is why I label this story “The Prodigal Father.” A second definition of “prodigal” is “having or giving something on a lavish scale,” which is exactly what the father did. He did not give these gifts to a king, but to his undeserving son who basically told his dad, “You’re dead to me. Give me my inheritance now.”

What an excellent picture of our heavenly Father. Despite our blatant sins against Him, He lovingly awaits us to “come to our senses” and return to Him. And when we do, He runs to meet us (Luke 15:20), pick us up, clean us up and put us back on the right path. It’s because of God’s deep love for us that He welcomes us back into fellowship with Him. Thank You, God!

Thursday
Apr172014

Be led by the Spirit, not by your belly

Explore the Bible
April 27, 2014

Craig Seals
pastor
Park Hill Baptist
Arkadelphia

Proverbs 23:19-21

Proverbs 23:19-21 warns of the dangers of associating with those who overindulge in wine and food. What are we to make of this wisdom? Often overeating and excessive drinking of alcohol are symptoms of  – and serve to mask – deeper issues. What can we learn about alcohol and gluttony from this passage?

The writer of Proverbs teaches his child to keep his “mind on the right course” (Prov. 23:19, HCSB). The right course is not to associate with those who are drunkards or gluttons. The real issue is what “associate” means. The New International Version of the Bible offers a different translation of Proverbs 23:20, stating, “Do not join those who drink too much wine,” while the English Standard Version advises for believers to “be not among drunkards.” What is the appropriate level of distance for a Christian to be from alcohol? Most likely what is meant is not to participate. The point is not that Christians should never be around drunks or gluttons (we would all have to skip the next church potluck). 

In addition, the writer does not comment on the social stigma of being seen with a drunkard. The wisdom found in Proverbs 23:19-21 is that Christ-followers must be led by the Spirit, not by forces that alter one’s ability to think clearly. 

It is notable that gluttony is placed right beside drunkenness. For most, gluttony is a lesser sin since food doesn’t alter one’s mind, causing him to do unthinkable acts. However, the writer is warning that drunkenness and gluttony share a common trait: lack of judgment. Both alcoholism and gluttony will lead a person to poverty (Prov. 23:21). Loosing everything that they hold dear, they will pursue one more drink or bite.

As a Christ-follower, take every thought and desire captive before God and ask if it pleases Him. Then ask if the desire is wise and will bless your family. This principle is true of alcohol, food or anything that might control one’s actions and thoughts.

Thursday
Apr172014

Hope found

Bible Studies for Life
April 27, 2014 

Lee McGlone
pastor
First Baptist
Arkadelphia 

Matthew 8:1-13

Matthew 8:1-4 depicts Jesus healing a leper. Leprosy was seen not only as a physical disease, but also as a social disease. Lepers were thought to be unclean. But Jesus showed us another way. He touched the leper, and instantly the man was healed. The former leper was then instructed to go to a place lepers were forbidden – to the Temple to show himself to the priest. He was an outsider no more. 

Then follows the healing of a Roman centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13). This healing, like that of the leper, did not seem likely. A Roman centurion in Capernaum was not welcome. But when he comes to Jesus on behalf of a distressed servant, Jesus commits to heal the servant even before He is asked. The centurion declares that he is unworthy for such a pastoral visit. 

“Just say the word,” he said, “and my servant will be healed.” 

Jesus saw in this not simply a reply of humility or embarrassment, but an expression of deep faith. 

The teaching that summarizes both healings comes in Jesus’ reply to the Centurion: “I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”

But He did find it in the untouchable leper and the despised centurion. But faith was not found where one would expect it. Jesus declares in Matthew 8:11-12 that “many will come from the east and the west” – that is, from all nations and races – to eat at the kingdom banquet table, but those for whom it was intended will be outside in the dark. 

Here the good news is declared. No one exists beyond God’s caring favor. We are all sinners. But God loved us to such an extent that He gave Himself for us. 

We have come from the east and the west without regard to race, nationality, gender, age, economic condition, educational attainment, etc. He has set a table before us to partake in things of which the patriarch could only dream. What a wonderful hope!

Thursday
Apr032014

Be amazed by the Resurrection

Explore the Bible
April 20, 2014

Craig Seals
pastor
Park Hill Baptist
Arkadelphia

Mark 15:16-20, 33-34, 37-39; 16:1-8; Genesis 2:25; Hebrews 12:2

Genesis states that God created everything perfect and good. He gave Adam and Eve dominion over the Earth. The couple was naked but unashamed (Gen. 2:25). And along with being physically naked, they were emotionally naked. They shared everything with each other and God. They were vulnerable, but also loved. 

The only rule was not to eat of one tree. But they disobeyed, and as a result, they realized their nakedness and vulnerability. Innocence was lost. Shame covered them, and then they covered themselves with fig leaves. Afraid of judgment and rejection, they hid from God. So began the pattern of humanity hiding from God out of shame. 

No doubt you know what it means to be ashamed. You know your sin is great. We need a way to remove the shame and reverse the judgment that comes from sin. This is the heart of Jesus’ work on the cross. 

Mark 15:20 says, “When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.” 

Jesus was made completely naked. He was shamed and mocked. Why? Not because of anything He’d done. He was sinless. It was because of our sin. You see, Adam is representative of all of us. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Jesus took our shame on Himself – so that we could be vulnerable and loved. Hebrews 12:2 states that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” He took the shame of the cross so your shame can be done away with. 

But shame would remain if Jesus’ death was not followed by His resurrection, which is depicted in Mark 16. The Resurrection is the central truth upon which Christians’ faith must rest. Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15:14 that if Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith would be useless. It confirms His truthfulness and divinity. We created our own shame through our disobedience to God, and Jesus, the incarnation of God, is the only one who can remove it.