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Keep me safe, my God

When they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ closest followers sat in a room in Jerusalem, waiting ten days for His return. They stayed busy, replacing Judas, praying, reading, and discussing Scripture. It was a time of preparation for their new life in Christ


Let’s too start 2018 in prayer to the Lord.

 

Keep me safe, my God,

for in you I take refuge.

 

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.”

I say of the holy people who are in the land,

“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods

or take up their names on my lips.

 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

Surely, I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 

Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

nor will you let your faithful  see decay.

You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

(Psalm 16)


Does Today’s New Testament Present the Word of God Accurately?

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:3-4)

The Holy Bible was written by men who were divinely inspired. It’s God’s revelation of Himself to the people of this world and the perfect treasure of divine instruction. But after almost two centuries, about five thousand complete and partial copies of the Greek New Testament (the translation with the most supporting material), and thousands more of other complete or partial versions, how do we know that the New Testament of the 21st century faithfully reflects the original content?

Comparing the New Testament to other historical writings in time and copies. Click to enlarge.

In the absence of original documents, textural critics have reconstructed original texts by taking advantage of the many copies available. This is done by recognizing changes in writing style, sources of copies, and writing material used, in addition to readability. Although it seems counterintuitive, this work is easier because so many copies were created over time. If the numbers are few and the time gap is wide, the original is harder to reconstruct with confidence. However, if there are many copies and the oldest existing copies are reasonably close in time to the original, textual critics can be more confident in pinpointing the exact wording of the original.

DA Carson and Douglas Moo in their book, “A Quick Introduction to the New Testament” tell us that the letters and gospels were originally hand-written on separate scrolls using all capital letters, without spaces and very little punctuation. There were two options for making copies. Professional copiers in a scriptorium worked as a team that included a reader, several scribes, and a copy editor who checked each copy against the original, often using ink of a different color to make the corrections — not that much different from today. More commonly, copies were made by laypeople eager to obtain another letter by Paul or a written account of the life of Jesus. The former method was more professional. The latter was cheaper but less accurate.

Codex Sinaiticus: The Christian Bible in Greek written over 1600 years ago

Over time, scrolls gave way to the codex (handwritten manuscripts in book form), which enabled readers to look up passages quickly. The exclusive use of capital letters (uncials) gave way to cursive (conjoined) script with lower case letters (miniscules). The writing material changed from papyrus to parchment and vellum, and these characteristics were combined with patterns of readings thought to reflect a particular locale. Each helps date the manuscript.

The development of the printing press made it easier to compare translations and make revisions. When Johann Albrecht Bengel, a Lutheran pastor, published his print edition of the Greek New Testament in 1734 he developed rules (a “critical apparatus”) to distinguish between unintentional errors and intentional changes in source material. Based on five criteria that have stood the test of time, Pastor Bengel found that, in general, the more difficult reading was likely to be closer to the original.

The point is that Christians have always been are profoundly textual people. Our access to a unique history and unique Person by whom we are saved was above all based on the written word. Thanks to the diligent work of scholars and transcribers, Christians today are equipped with astonishingly accurate and detailed information. Our New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. In the entire text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in doubt (about 400 words), and none affects any significant doctrine.

“Perhaps too,” conclude Drs. Moo and Carson, “it is worth speculating that we may be better off without the originals, for we would almost certainly have treated them with idolatrous reverence focused more on the mere artifact than on what the manuscript.”

Much of this post was excerpted From: D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo. “A Quick Introduction to the New Testament.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/cZ-4I.l

 


Resolve: Read the Bible and Enjoy Life Now

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

godsplanToday, about 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. If you’re looking to change your life in 2017, consider the experiences of older Americans and corresponding lessons from the Bible.

Researchers at Cornell University conducted a survey of a thousand adults (over 70 years old) from different backgrounds. They collected advice on topics ranging from marriage and careers to parenting and aging. Of particular interest is what the elders said about happiness.

These oldsters learned over the course of their lives, lessons that could have been known by simply reading the Bible.

Surprised?

Listed here are their most frequent lessons learned followed by corresponding thoughts from the apostles, Paul and Matthew.

Eliminate unnecessary worrying

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Stay positive

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Acceptance

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25)

Savor

Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

As one man said, “It seems to take a lifetime to learn how to live in the moment, but it shouldn’t. I wish I could have learned this in my 30s rather than in my 60s. It would have given me decades more to enjoy life in this world.”

Resolve: read the Bible and enjoy life now.

Happy New Year from everyone at Bent Creek Baptist Church.

 

 


Your New Year’s Resolution: Give the Best You Have

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the best you’ve got anyway.

You see,
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

This prayer is often associated with Mother Teresa. The original was authored by Kent Keith.


Christmas: Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8)

Only surviving autographed copy of the Mohr-Gruber collaboration of "Silent Night" dates from 1821.

Only surviving autographed copy of the Mohr-Gruber collaboration of “Silent Night” dates from 1821.

In 1816, Joseph Mohr penned the poem that would make him famous around the world.

Two years later, on December 24th, 1818, Mohr, a priest at the newly established parish of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria, gave the poem to organist, Franz Gruber. Mohr asked him to write a melody for two solo voices together with accompaniment by guitar.

Later that day Gruber gave Mohr his composition. The priest liked what he saw and included it as part of the Christmas mass that evening. Mohr sang tenor, with guitar accompaniment, while Gruber sang bass. According to Gruber, the song was met with “general approval by all” in attendance (mostly shipping laborers, boat builders and their families).

By 1955 Silent Night had become the most recorded song in all history.

The literal translation may surprise you.

Silent night, holy night!
All are asleep; alone awake
only the faithful and most holy pair,
Gentle boy with curly hair,
sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent Night as sung by Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McEntire.

 


Christmas: Glory to God in the Highest

"Adoration Of The Shepherds" by Antonio Allegri Correggio (1489-1534)

“Adoration Of The Shepherds” by Antonio Allegri Correggio (1489-1534)

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

All works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest.

 

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest,

“Glory to God in the highest” — not  a wish, that so it might be. Rather, an affirmation that so it was.

 

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Not external peace, nor internal peace. Rather, it is Christ himself — “the man, the peace.”

 

Luke 2:10-15


Christmas Gifts: Jesus

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

“How do you say thank you for something so wonderful it defies description, something so large you can’t take it all in? Something so precious you fear losing it, so unique you know there could never be another one like it? Something so full of meaning you can’t comprehend it, so simple you can’t understand it? Something so priceless you can never afford it, so abundant you could never exhaust it.

How do you say thank you for something you’ve never seen yet love more than anything you’ve ever held in you arms?

What words do you choose to express feelings that go beyond your ability to articulate them?”*

Say, “Thank you!”

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Merry Christmas from all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church.

 

 

* The Daily Wad: Choice Tidbits to Enjoy Throughout Your Day. By Paul Anderson


Christmas: The Hinge of the World’s Fate

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Glade Jul (A Happy Christmas) by Viggo Johansen, 1891

Glade Jul (A Happy Christmas) by Viggo Johansen, 1891

Christmas: the hinge of the world’s fate, the turning point of life. It is the most important thing that ever happened — or at least the beginning of it.

Walter Russell Mead, writing in American Interest tell us, “Whether we know it or not, whether we appreciate it or not, we are part of the Christmas Event that has turned history upside down.”

“It’s not by accident,” continues Dr. Reed, “that we date the birth of Christ as the year 1 and why traditionally the world’s history was divided into BC, before Christ, and AD, anno domini, the year of the Lord.”

From all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church, Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating the Lord’s birth, and seasonal greetings to everyone else.

However you understand the meaning and purpose of your life, may Christmas be a time of reflection. May it bring you closer to those you love, more generous to those in need, and more in tune with your hope, your duty, and — with the help of our merciful God — your destiny to become.

Merry Christmas and God’s speed on that journey.


Christmas: Christ Has Come

The early Christians did not rejoice because of better things to come.


They rejoiced because Christ had come.
God’s unspeakable gift was not provisional.
They rejoiced because it was final.

 

“We cannot remind ourselves too often that it is not our believing in things that makes them true. We believe them because they are true. (Handel H. Brown)

 


Pastor Tommy Bridges Christmas Season Devotional

 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Spend time this week to reflect on what God has done. Feel free to read each passage below several times and reflect on key words and phrases. Recognize and verbalize what’s important to you and your family.

December 18-20: Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son (Matthew 1:18-25)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

December 21-23: The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

December 24-25: (Psalm 130:1-8) This is one of the psalms likely sung as worshipers “ascended” to Jerusalem during one of the annual festivals. They express longing for deliverance and forgiveness of sin. They are waiting for God to bring the redemption He has promised.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Bent Creek Baptist Church.

 


Statements of Faith From Billy Graham

Rev. Graham was asked, “If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?”

To this he replied, “With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives.”

48742_254x191For 99 years Rev. Graham has shared many of his thoughts. Each is uplifting and positive, as is faith in Christ. Some of the best are listed here. (more…)


Happy Day

The text of the hymn “O Happy Day” was written by Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). It is said that he wrote his hymns as summaries of his sermons and intended to help his congregation express their response to what they were being taught.

 

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
And live rejoicing every day:
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!

 

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

It’s done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Now rest, my long-divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest;
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heav’nly pleasures fill my breast.

High heav’n, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.

 

 


All My Life is Portioned Out by Thee

“Father, I know that all my life

Is portioned out by thee,

And the changes that will surely come

I do not fear to see;

 

But I ask Thee for a present mind,

Intent on serving Thee.

I would not have the restless will

That hurries to and fro,

 

Seeking for some great thing to do,

Or secret thing to know;

I would be treated as a child,

And guided where I go.”

 

Thus, brother, “go thou thy way till the end be;”

and “thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”

 

Bruce, A. B.. The Training of The Twelve (p. 379). Public Domain. Kindle Edition.


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Waiting on the Lord

But, I will sing of your strength, and revel at dawn in your mercy; You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress. (Psalm 59:16)

Jeremiah_Michelangelo_Sistine_Chapel_sm

Jeremiah fresco by Michelangelo (c. 1542–1545) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Lamentations is a book of sorrowful songs or poems. It’s author, Jeremiah, wrote about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He warned of its destruction, watched it take place, and then sadly reflected on it in order to teach God’s people that disobedience to the Lord results in immense suffering and distress.

Jeremiah also wrote that restoration would come.

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:31-32)

There’s hope in the midst of despair when we wait on the Lord.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:21-32)

It’s important to know that even when we stray the Lord offers compassion and restoration. Better yet, he offers hope even when the source of suffering and condemnation is outside of our control.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

But what did Jeremiah mean by the word “wait”?

Here, the Hebrew word “wait” is translated qavah, defined as “look for,” “hope,” or “expect.” Waiting on the Lord does not mean stopping all activity, quieting ourselves, and emptying our minds with a blank stare.

We wait for something we expect. We wait in anticipation and expectation.

Wait on the Lord in anticipation and expectation. Expect anything from God that is consistent with his nature. Expect God to do anything that he has revealed as his will, or implied from his character. He is faithful, dependable, and reliable. The Lord does what he says he will do.


Miracles and the New World Order

Then said Jesus to him, “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)

David Hume lived in the 18th century. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. He believed that miracles were singular events that differed from the established laws of nature. Therefore, miracles violated all prior experience and were not possible based on reasonable belief. This position reflects the view of many skeptics today.

Mr. Hume’s position presupposes that the actions of Jesus must fit into the rational world of science. “But suppose, just suppose,” says Professor N.T. Wright, that miracles offer a glimpse of a deeper truth. Suppose the miracles of Jesus signal a new creation, with him fully in charge. What if miracles are his way of sharing with us a glimpse of what happens when God’s kingdom on heaven and earth come together? In doing this, why would Jesus feel confined to the laws of physics?

“Jesus,” says Professor Wright, one of the world’s leading Bible scholars, “seems to be the place where God’s world and ours meet, where God’s time and ours meet.” Jesus is the place where God’s matter — his new creation — intersects with us.

Miracles in the New Testament meant more than “simply” healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and raising the dead. Everything in the gospel narrative, including but not limited to miracles, is extraordinary. Those whose vision is limited to what they see using conventional spectacles risk missing the larger significance of Jesus’ miracles and their meaning in the new world order.


Pastor Tommy Devotional: Delight in the Lord Jesus!

Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon-day. (Psalm 37:4-6)

Pastor Tommy reminds us of the most wondrous gift any Christian can have: “Delight in the Lord Jesus!”

“The Psalms,” he said, “help us delight in the ultimate King of the universe!”

Zoar Strict Baptist Chapel in the hamlet of Lower Dicker in the English county of East Sussex. Founded in 1837.

Similarly, more than 150 years ago, Pastor Joseph Charles Philpot, preaching at Zoar Chapel, reminded his congregation of the close and intimate connection between the humbling teachings of God in the heart and our delighting ourselves in him.

Take time to read these Psalms. Turn the words into prayers of delight. We can do this because he has forgiven our sins and because he has given us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: The Foundation of Christian Faith

In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will. (John 16:16)

First he is here. Then he is not. We ask, why do the messages seem contradictory? Why can’t faith be simple? What is the foundation of my faith?

Yet, Jesus said…

It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (Acts 1:7)

a-strong-towerPatience is the key. Writing about the truth of Easter, Marcus Borg, Professor of Religion at Oregon State University, tells us, “The remarkable congruence between the way that he taught and the way his life ended means that he himself becomes the incarnation [the embodiment] of the Way.”

During his time on earth Jesus was faithful. He forged a new path for us — a path leading directly to him. Professor Borg continues, “He died at Passover, when the Passover lambs were sacrificed; and he died in Jerusalem, the location of the temple and sacrifice.”

It was poetry — his crucifixion and death. In time and space, a stark contrast and alternative to existing religious law, freeing the Jews (and later Christians) from physical sacrifice and the officials who impeded a one-on-one loving relationship with the Father.

Then, after death, Jesus was faithful in his return to move his Kingdom forward. Step back and be amazed. Not in our time but in his, the foundation of his love and promise is strong. Our faith and redemption are built on the solid foundation of his love and sacrifice. Indeed, he is a strong and mighty tower.

And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)


Growing in Service: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

AIDS Orphans 5K Run

AIDS Orphans 5K Run

In high school, my service for Christ had more to do with a sense of duty, and so it came from a heart that “had to” instead of “getting to.”

This also made service something that was easy for me—fitting in my time slots. The focus was on doing more of jobs that I like and activities that made me feel like I’ve fulfilled my duty.

A Changing Perspective

Now, when I serve, the Lord has taught me that I get to serve Him. It is a lot different now. It’s a joy and a honor to do work for Him.

Now, I seek out times to serve the Lord. Lately outside of my BMW (Florida Free Bible, Mission, & Work Training Center) ministries, I’ve been helping run a youth group in a small church, right down the road from the Teen Missions base. In addition to the usual BMW ministries, I’ve been working at the Teen Missions property helping get things ready for their yearly mud run to help orphans afflicted by aids in Africa (photo).

I hope this series of blogs has added to your knowledge of BMW and my experience there. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences.

Stay well,

Tanner

 

Previous posts in this series

The Freedom Challenge

Goals, Now and After College

The Diversity Challenge

The Time Challenge

The Challenge of Peer Pressure 

 

 

 


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Wave the White Flag

Mark 13 tells the parable of the sower. The farmer scattered some seeds on good soil, some on the path, some on rocky soil, some among the thorns.

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Mark 13:20-23)

Yet, where each seed lands is beyond its control. How might seed on rocky soil experience everlasting joy? How does seed on the path not become trampled? Is there any way that a seed among the thorns might still be fruitful? Are they doomed?

The answer lies not around us, but within us. Contrary to our natural inclination, surrender is the first step to safe passage toward a joyful and fruitful life. Full surrender is an act of love to Christ.

Inside our scared exterior is just someone who wants to be loved. And there’s no greater love than the Lord.

The first step is ours to take. So, wave your white flag.


What Does Peter Teach Us?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus and Peter on and in the stormy seaChristian life is an ongoing battle of the sinful flesh against the new nature given by Christ. We know the enemy.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

To win this battle we must be skilled in using our weapons.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

A closer look at our tools is described here thanks to John O. Reid writing on The Berean website.

Love: Outgoing concern for others. True concern for all of mankind. Not being self-centered. Doing for others what is right, despite their character, appearance, social status, etc. (I Corinthians 13).

Joy: Related to happiness, only happiness requires right circumstances where joy does not. Jesus Christ felt joy though He faced heavy trials (Hebrews 12:2). We should all be joyful having been called by God.

Peace: Peace of mind and peace with God (Philippians 4:6-7).

Longsuffering: Bearing with others who are working out their salvation. Being slow to anger (Romans 15:1; Luke 21:19).

Kindness: Behaving toward others kindly, as God has behaved toward us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Goodness: Generosity of spirit that springs from imitating Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4-5).

Faithfulness: Being reliable. This describes a person who is trustworthy and will always stand up for God’s way. We can count on, and should work at imitating, the faithfulness of God (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Gentleness: Considerate and tactful in conduct and correction. Never angry at the wrong time (Matthew 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:26).

Self-Control: Discipline which gives us victory over the wrong pulls of our mind and body (I John 2:15-17).

As with all tools it takes time and experience to use them well. Hammers will hit your thumb. Crayons will draw outside the line. Sewing needles will prick your finger.

Never be discouraged. Pick up and start over. In this, Peter the Apostle may be our best example.

 


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Circumstances and Contentment

You make known to me the path of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Ancius Boethius (born: circa 475–7 AD, died: 526? AD)

Ancius Boethius was living the good life. He was born in sixth-century Rome to an ancient and prominent family, which included emperors and many consuls (the highest elected office of the Roman Republic). He himself served on the royal court as a highly skilled politician until his career ended abruptly when he was convicted of treason, put in prison, and executed.

As he sat in those bleak surroundings, Boethius recognized that our view of changing circumstances is a personal choice. In his book titled The Consolation of Philosophy he wrote, “Nothing is miserable, but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content.” (more…)


BCBC Preschool: Time to Register for Fall Classes

…in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Christian Preschool at Bent Creek Baptist Church offers a loving and secure space where children develop socially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually in a Bible-based program run by a dedicated and loving staff.

It’s time to register for BCBC Preschool this fall.

We offer half-day classes for 3- and 4-year-olds. Call 828-667-1778. And check us out on Facebook.

What do parents say about BCBC Preschool?

5 stars: Not only do I love this preschool and all the great teachings. My granddaughter loves it and really wants to go everyday. That says a lot for the instructors.  (Kellie Case Whittemore)

5 stars: Both my children and my grandson attended preschool at Bent Creek — a first class mission work!   (Joe Belcher)

 


ABCCM Requests Donations of Food

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)

ABCCM (Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry) is requesting donations of cooking oil, sugar, canned meat such as chicken and tuna, salt, jelly, and jam in support of its assistance program for the poor.

ABCCM helps our neighbors in need, combining public funds and with local contributions to meet critical needs. You can learn more about ABCCM here.

The BCBC Young at Heart Sunday School Class will have a collection area in its classroom and will deliver all the items collected. If you are able to donate any of these items, or other things that could be used to help provide food for the homeless or those in need, please bring them to the BCBC Worship Center.  This is a continuing project sponsored by the class.


Fellowship Begins With an Invitation

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)

FellowshipIn his book, Evangelism in the Early Church, Michael Green reminds us that when Jesus was crucified there were only 11 men left to carry on his work and bring the gospel to the entire world!

Undistinguished, poorly educated, and with no influential supporters, they were nobodies living in a second-class province on the Roman frontier.

How could they possibly succeed? And yet, they did. By one estimate, Christianity grew from about 1,000 believers in 40 AD to 5 to 8 million in 300 AD — a growth rate of 40% per decade and the dominant religion of the Roman Empire! Today, Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with about 2 billion followers.

The rise of a secular judgmental culture challenges our efforts to spread the Good News. When it comes to discipleship, today’s church-going American Protestants often struggle in their efforts to share Christ with non-Christians. A recent survey of 2,930 Protestant churchgoers in the US revealed that a majority agreed it’s their duty to share their faith. Yet, over the preceding six months just 25% had shared their faith once or twice, 14% had shared at least three times.

The survey also asked how many times they personally “invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or some other program” at their church in the last six months?

  • 48% of church attendees responded, “zero”
  • 33% had personally invited someone one or two times
  • 19% at least three invitations

Inviting someone to join you in attending church is probably the easiest form of outreach. And it may be one of the most effective based on the findings from a survey of 15,000 Americans who were asked to list the best of 13 approaches when a church wants to be heard.

Getting them to visit a church:

  • 67%: a personal invitation from a family member would be very/somewhat effective
  • 63%: a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very/somewhat effective

Get them to receive information about a local congregation or faith community:

  • 63%: very/somewhat willing when it comes from a family member
  • 56%: very/somewhat willing when it comes from a friend or neighbor

Bent Creek Baptist has a history of commitment to missions and community outreach. As we gear up to increase our efforts it might be best to remember that a simple straightforward invitation to come to church is one of our best God-given tools.

That said, please consider this an invitation to our neighbors living in the Bent Creek area, as well as residents in Buncombe and Henderson Counties to join us for Sunday worship service at 11 am.


In His Will is Our Peace

One day after Easter we remember the secret of true discipleship—we are subject to the will of Christ, and we know that, as Dante says, “In His will is our peace.”

 

Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica

My future I can leave;

safe in Thy care;

I place it in Thy hand

and leave it there.

It is so sweet to feel

My whole life long

Thy loving plan for me

Cannot go wrong.

I know that thou wilt choose

The best for me,

And I can be at rest,

And trust in thee!

 

Griffith Thomas, W. H. (2016-12-29). The Apostle John: Studies in His Life and Writings (Kindle Locations 951-958). CrossReach Publications. Kindle Edition.


Passion Week: The Resurrection of Christ

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

This is the last in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 8: Easter Sunday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith — the foundation of all Christian doctrine is based on the truth of this event.

Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome go to the tomb and discover that the large stone covering the tomb’s entrance was rolled away.

There’s an earthquake. As the guards shake and become like dead men, an angel proclaims…

“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Learning of the event, John and Peter run to the tomb. Peter enters and sees the linen cloth and a neatly folded handkerchief. Among Jews of the time a master let his servants know whether he was finished eating or coming back to the table by the way he left his cloth napkin. If he tossed it aside, he was finished. If he folded it, he would return.

The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. (John 20:7)

On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ makes at least five appearances. The first person to see him is Mary Magdalene.

she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:11-18)

Jesus then appears to Peter, then to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all of the disciples, except Thomas, while they gathered in a house for prayer.

After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)

These eyewitness accounts in the Gospels offer undeniable evidence that, in deed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened. However, the resurrection of Jesus is not our ticket to “abundant life” in this age. Today, we die. In the age to come, we live. As Jesus said to Martha…

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 25-6)

Do you believe this?

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: Holy Saturday

Peace be with you. (John 20:19)

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

This is seventh post in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 7: Holy Saturday

After the crucifixion, with hopes dashed, undoubtedly Jesus’ followers questioned all that happened during the past 2 years.

It’s been said that faith isn’t something that arises after moments of understanding. Rather, faith is what you cling to when understanding and reason lay dead.

Faith is what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea showed during those dark hours of Holy Saturday.

They were closet followers of Jesus, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, the court that condemned Jesus Christ to death. Before this day they were too fearful to publicly profess their faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. Now, deeply affected by Christ’s death, they come forward and risk their reputations and lives because they realize Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah.

Joseph asks Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)

The Pharisees, on the other hand, are uneasy. They remember what Jesus said.

Jesus answered and said unto them destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)

They turn to Pilate.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62-64)

And Pilate responds.

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:65)

Through growing faith Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea play their role in the Passion. In contrast, the Pharisees, who just a few hours earlier engineered the death or Jesus, are now powerless to block the unfolding events. Not even Roman guards can help them.

Tomorrow: Easter Sunday

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.



Passion Week: Good Friday

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5)

This is the sixth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 6: Good Friday

Yes, it’s Friday, but as Pastor S. M. Lockridge tells us, Sunday is a comin’.

 

Praise the Lord!

What a mighty God we serve. Amen? Amen!

 

Tomorrow: Jesus in the Tomb

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: The Last Supper

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:16)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

This is the fifth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 5: The Last Supper

While at Bethany in the morning, Jesus sends Peter and John to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover. Later, Jesus comes from Bethany into Jerusalem to eat the Passover with the Twelve.

On the road, the Disciples argue about greatness. But greatness is serving, as Jesus shows by washing the disciples’ feet, beginning with Peter who is sitting at the last place at the table.

Then, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:5)

This day, which has been called “Maundy Thursday” or “Holy Thursday” commemorates this act of service that took place during the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and the command Jesus gave them to love and serve one another.

Jesus says one among them will betray him. He dips bread and hands it to Judas, who took first place at the table. After Judas leaves, Jesus breaks bread and lifts a cup of wine, signifying his broken body and blood.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Around the table, Jesus predicts Peter’s (and all of the disciples’) denial.

Peter is adamant.

“Even though all may fall away because of you, I will never fall away… Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33, 35)

Jesus answers.

“Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matthew 26:34)

Jesus tells them not to worry.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that here I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

Later, Jesus and the disciples leave the Upper Room and go to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus prays in agony to God the Father.

“his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He’s taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the council has gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.

Meanwhile, in the early morning hours as Jesus’ trial is getting underway, Peter denies knowing his Master once, twice, and then three times. The rooster crows.

One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. (John 18:27)

Tomorrow: Good Friday

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives

Click here to read Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal


Passion Week: Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (John 6:64)

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

This is the fourth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal

The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of the Passover.

In contrast, the Great Sanhedrin is busy this day. This supreme court of ancient Israel includes 71 members. It’s constituted with a Chief/Prince/Leader called Nasi,  a vice chief justice (Av Beit Din), and sixty-nine general members. At this time the position of leader (High Priest) is held by Caiaphas.

So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” (John 11:45-48)

They have powers to try Jesus.

They plot to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)

The price negotiated with Judas to identify the One of inestimable worth is 30 pieces of silver (wages for about 4 months). Judas agrees to betray Jesus and says…

“What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

Tomorrow: The Last Supper

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.