Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From the Pastor: Knowing God Gives Us Our Sense of Right and Wrong

Knowing God Gives Us Our Sense of Right and Wrong

by Rev. Jack Hulsey

Spirit, Soul, Heart, Mind: we use all of these concepts interchangeably at times, and you'll see this pattern in the Bible, too – when Paul talks about “being transformed by the renewing of our mind." In Romans 12:2, is he speaking of spiritual transformation, “a change of heart," or just perhaps just learning some new information?

The prophet Isaiah speaks of God "whose mind is steadfast,"(Isaiah 26:3). Jesus told people to love the Lord with" all your soul and mind." In Matthew 22:37. If you'll seek out all the references to “mind” you can find in the Bible (modern or K JV), I think that like me, you come to the conclusion that God places a high premium on improving the mind.

Education is something that's never far from a parent's mind. If you have children or if you are in a position of influencing children, you are constantly called to be a teacher. Your biblical calling to improve the minds of these young ones is one that must be heeded as diligently as any other biblical learning you apply to your life.  (Proverbs 22:6)

 Our public schools teach a standardized curriculum (math, english science) their goal is clearly to promote the students success in the worldly arena.  I In fact public schools today go out of their way not to teach anything with undertones of holiness, or spirituality. Children must learn the difference between right and wrong, and it is sad to say that some of those children have now grown up to adulthood without learning this vital lesson. Every child should know the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) and understand the vast implication of it. Children should learn the story of Jesus's life – His healing, His forgiveness, and His grace. They should know about the crucifixion and the resurrection, they should learn as young as possible that God knows every heart and sees through all fa├žades. They should know his sayings about the meek, the peacemakers, about going the extra mile and giving more than demanded.

It is out of knowledge such as this that people come to understand right and wrong because you aren't going to find a place in the Bible where it gives a strict definition of right and wrong, or say, right and wrong are shaped a certain way, smell a certain way, taste a certain way. It's not something you can close your hands around. The right thing is something you do when you are letting God lead your life.
In Jeremiah 31:33, God says" I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts." Knowledge of God produces knowledge of what is right. Every Christian is a teacher, in a sense and part of his great commission work is teaching an unsaved world about Jesus Christ. It makes sense that any of us in this position need to know everything we can learn about our Lord and our place in His life.

(Praise & Worship, Woodlake Baptist Church / March 29, 2015)


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sunday School Lesson for March 29 & April 5, 2015 Isaiah 2:1-4:6


In chapters 2 through 4, Isaiah speaks about "the day of the Lord." Judah knows it will be the day when the Lord triumphs over His enemies and restores justice to the whole world. Surely then (Judah reasons) that day will be glory and victory for us, God's chosen people! Well (the Lord warns in these oracles), that depends on Judah's attitude.

Read 2:1-4:6 before beginning the questions. Look for the two sides of the day of the Lord—joyful and terrifying. Notice how the subtitles in this lesson break the passage into four parts. The outline may also be helpful to you.

For Judah during the reign of Jotham, it is shocking that "many peoples" (2:3), not just the chosen nation of Israel, will be able to go to the Lord for instruction and revelation of Himself. This theme of God's welcome to the nations recurs in Isaiah's book.

The last days (2:2). These began with Christ's first coming (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2) and will be completed at His second coming. The prophecies of the last days have begun to be fulfilled, but their final fulfillment will be just before Christ's return.

Mountain of the Lord's temple (2:2). Jerusalem itself was on the peak of Mount Zion, and the Temple was at the city's highest point.

Law (2:3). Torah in Hebrew. This includes laws in the sense of rules of conduct, as well as instruction, guidance, teaching, and revelation. See Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 8:1-2; James 1:22-25

1.  What will God do for many peoples when they come to Him (2:3-4)?

2.  What will be the result when all people acknowledge the Lord as their Teacher and rightful Judge (2:4)?

3.  In 2:5, Isaiah tells how we should act in the present because of this future hope. What does it mean to "walk in the light of the Lord"? (Optional: See John 3:19-21; John 8:12. You might ask God to help you understand this concept.)

4.  Since Christ first came, 2:2-5 has begun to be fulfilled. Why must we be walking in the light of the Lord (2:5) in order for the nations to stream to Him (2:2-4)?

The dread of God's justice (2:6-22)

The day when the Lord's authority is exalted will be good news from one point of view (2:2-5), but 2:6-22 looks at that day from another point of view. Notice the repeated verses in this passage.

Majesty (2:10, 19, 21) and pride (2:11-12, 17). Literally, "loftiness" as in nasb and kjv. The same Hebrew words are used for an attribute of God and a sin of man.

 5.  Why is loftiness (exaltation, highness) acceptable for God but wrong and foolish for man {2:21-22)?

Cedars... oaks... mountains... hills... tower... wall... ship... vessel (2:13-16). Even natural and man-made things that impress humans will be leveled before the Lord when He alone is exalted.

 6.  How do men show their pride and arrogance, according to 2:6-8, 15-16? (List as many ways as you can.)

7.  What will make men abandon their pride (2:10, 19, 21)?

8.  Consider each of the things in which Judah found pride and security (2:6-8). Do you take pride in anything besides God? If so, what are you proud about, and how do you show it?

In chapter 2, Isaiah seemed to be talking primarily about the end times (2:2), although in some sense his prophecy applied to his own generation of Jews (2:6-9). Chapter 3 seems more directly addressed to Judah in the time of Jotham, but it has a message for every age.

Soothsayer... enchanter (3:2-3). "Prudent" and "orator" in kjv. Occult practitioners were forbidden sources of help (Deut. 18:10-12). The other sources of help in Isaiah 3:2-3 were normally legitimate, but the Lord would remove them also.

9.  In chapter 3, the Lord portrays the way He will humble His people by taking away all sources of support. Write down as many lost supports as you can find in 3:1-7 and 3:16-4:1.

 The prophets sometimes conveyed the Lord's message in certain literary forms that people would recognize. One such form is the lawsuit, which portrays the Lord as a sovereign bringing suit against a subject for breaking a covenant/treaty. "The full lawsuit contains a summons, a charge, evidence, and a verdict, though these elements may sometimes be implied rather than explicit." 

In Isaiah 1:2, the Lord called heaven and earth as His witnesses. Now in 3:8-15 He uses the lawsuit form more fully. Notice the judge (3:13), the defendant (3:14), the accusation (3:8-9, 12, 14-15), and the verdict and sentence (3:10-11). Watch for the lawsuit form in later passages; Isaiah uses it frequently.

Women (3:16-4:1). In the Near East, a person's manner of walking showed her attitudes, and her clothing and ornaments displayed her station. Shaving the head bald (3:17, 24) was a sign of mourning, and the rope belt, sackcloth clothing, and branding (3:24) were marks of a slave. In other words, war was going to reduce Judah's well-to-do women to childless, widowed, impoverished slaves—the lowest status possible in the Near East.

After humiliation comes restoration. As he began this set of oracles in 2:1-5, so Isaiah ends it—with an oracle of hope. The very day of Zion's desolation (4:1) will be the day of her restoration (4:2).

Branch (4:2). The Hebrew words for shoot or branch do not mean just a part of a tree or a little sprout of growth. Rather, a "branch" is an abundantly and freshly alive "growing thing." 

In Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zech. 3:8; Zech. 6:12, the "Branch" is a title for the Messiah, the Savior King who would be descended from David. In Isaiah 4:2, however, the "Branch" may be the holy nation or the great work of salvation which will flourish when God brings it to fulfillment. Compare John 15:5.

11. Isaiah lists many things that will be true "in that day," in contrast to what he has described in 2:6-4:1.

a. In contrast to the women in 3:16-23, "the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious" in that day (4:2). Who do you think the Branch is in this passage?

b. Recall the sources of pride named in chapters 2-3. What will be the source of pride for those who survive God's judgment (4:2).

c. According to 4:3, how will the survivors' moral character be different from the character described in 3:8-9?

d. What will be the survivors' source of security (4:5-6), unlike the sources named in 2:6-8 and 3:1-7?

Cloud... fire... canopy... shelter (4:5-6). During the forty years when Israel wandered in the desert before entering the promised land, a cloud led and protected the people. It was a cloud of smoke to shade from the sun or storm during the day, and a cloud of fire to warm and ward off animals during the night. As it hovered overhead, it was like a canopy or a tent (tabernacle, shelter). The cloud was called the shekinah, the glory of the Lord, the outward manifestation of His presence. See Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 40:34-38. Isaiah foresaw God again doing something like what He did at the Exodus.

 Your response

12. In general, chapters 2-4 are about the effects of God's exaltation (2:2, 11) and judgment (3:10-11; 4:2-4) on two kinds of people. How would you summarize what the Lord says in 2:1-4:6?

13. What seems to be the most important insight you have gained from studying 2:1-4:6? Prayerfully review this lesson, and write down any ways that the Lord's words apply to you.

14. Is there any action (including prayer) you plan to take in response to what the Lord has said? If so, what is it?

Study Skill—Application

 It can be hard to be "doers of the word, and not merely hearers" (James 1:22 nasb), but the key is to be actively relying on God. For instance, let's say your desired application for chapter 2 is "I need to be more humble." How can you accomplish that? Not overnight. Still, here are some beginning steps:

1. When you decide you can't achieve humility without God, you are on your way. Ask Him for the power and wisdom to become more humble. Ask repeatedly, daily. Listen for guidance.

2. Confess any ways you show pride: boasting, craving praise, hurting when criticized, criticizing yourself. Confess any sources of pride: appearance, possessions, intellect, accomplishments. Ask God to forgive you, and believe that you are forgiven (Psalm 32:1-5).

3. Look for circumstances that require humility—times when you succeed and times when you fail. If you find yourself feeling either proud or worthless, then humble yourself before God and repeat (1) and (2).

4. Using a concordance of the Bible (see Study Aids), study many references to pride and humility. Write down as accurately as you can exactly what pride and humility are. (Is humility the same as feeling worthless?) List as many reasons as possible for being humble.

15. List any questions you have about 2:1-4:6.
From the LifeChange Series

From the Pastor - Patience Reflects Our Trust in God

Patience reflects our trust in God

by Rev. Jack Hulsey

If Americans were a patient people, there'd be no such thing as the internet, microwave ovens, cell phones, or instant mashed potatoes. Like so many of the biblical virtues (humbleness comes to mind), patience is one of those things we know we should practice but find dozens of reasons not to. Does the term “instant gratification” spring to mind? This is a mind-set that pervades modern society like a computer virus, don't save up to buy something purchase it on credit! Get it now – life's too short to wait. Hurry and grab your piece of the pie before someone else gets it.
I've had so many people tell me they “sat for 45minutes at a railroad crossing” so, one day I decided to time an average train going by. It took a little over 2 min. to get through the crossing, but for those of us whose lives are jet propelled rushing from point A to point B, two minutes of a train clickety-clacking past your windshield is like holding your hand over a flame.  We simply don't want to wait. We are an impatient people. Sometimes we take that attitude toward God. “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now," isn’t that what some of us seem to be saying? For those of you who are too new at being Christians to know this, God rarely works on our schedule. In this sense, we can say that patience understands that God takes care of things at his own pace and in his own time.
I sometimes think that when we all get to heaven and God's full plan is revealed to us, we’ll understand that in His eyes we are like children in the back seat of the car during a long vacation trip (Are we there yet? Are we there yet?) . He knows exactly where we’re going, when we’re going to arrive, and all the stops along the way. Our job is to trust Him. We are on our way to the greatest blessing there ever was, which is eternal life in him, and whatever may happen along the way – whether good or bad – is just scenery we should learn to enjoy.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," says the writer of Hebrews 12:1. I don't know if it's possible to be patient and enjoy it at the same time. He didn't say "sit still in the back seat of the car,” He used the analogy of running a race, which, when you think of it, involves working about as hard as you can. Running a race with perseverance means to me performing maximum labor even when you can't see the finish line. But there is a finish line. The closing words of Hebrews 12 describe it as a “kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Heb.12:28).  To have patience is to pursue that kingdom with all your might, not just sit with a bland smile on your face waiting for it to happen. Patience is the measure of our trust in God.
(Praise & Worship, Woodlake Baptist Church / March 22, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

From the Pastor - What the Bible Claims for Itself


By Rev. Jack G. Hulsey II

Timothy is one of the best-known characters in the Bible who says absolutely nothing. Much is written to him and about him, but nothing by him. He was like a son to Paul, was the second pastor of the church at Ephesus (founded by Paul), and is mentioned not just in the two pastoral letters addressed to him (1 and 2 Timothy), but also in the books of Acts, Philemon, Hebrews, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians and Romans.  The church he pastored (starting in about 64-67AD) is the first church mentioned in the book of Revelation, which was probably written about 30 years later. Of that church, Christ says this: “you have persevered and have endured hardship for My name and have not grown weary. But the Lord went on; you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Was Timothy still pastor at Ephesus when John wrote his words from exile in Patmos? It's possible, but it's also hard to imagine that the man Paul lauded for “…his proven character… as a son with his father, he served with me in the gospel.” (Philemon 2:20-22) would have let the church slip into disfavor with the Lord. But it may have happened. Ancient church tradition holds that Timothy held the title of Bishop of Ephesus until his death at more than 90 years of age.

Although we have no writings by Timothy to give us any measure of the man, it was one of Paul's letters to him that we receive a bit of doctrine on which you might say our whole faith hangs.

In 2 Timothy, Paul starts out telling Timothy to “boldly and faithfully preach the word of God." (2 Timothy 4-6.)  He tells him to continue what he has learned, (2 Timothy 1); avoid foolish arguments (2Timothy 2); trust the Word of God (2 Timothy 3) and preach God's Word with faithfulness (2Timothy 4).  Paul sums this all up by telling Timothy this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, or correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

If you ever hear the term" divinely inspired” with reference to the Bible, this is where it comes from. We Christians are sometimes faulted for believing the Bible is God's Word because the Bible says it's God's Word. These same critics have no trouble believing that a math book, history book or comic book is what it says it is. Note that Paul doesn't say that Scripture is the ultimate authority on science, history, world politics, philosophy, sociology or so many other things people often wish it would be. Read it for what it says it is – a tool to equip each of us to do the work God calls us to do. That's not an outrageous claim at all. It's a pretty modest one, when you come to think about.

God wants Christians to trust His Word.  Paul told Timothy to rely on God's Word and not on his own cleverness or wisdom.  Speak My Word and I will take care of the rest, God seems to say.  That advice is as good today as it ever was.
(Praise & Worship, Woodlake Baptist Church / March 15, 2015)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sunday School Lesson for March 15 & 22, 2015 Isaiah 1:1-31


Isaiah doesn't begin his book with his vision of the Lord calling him to be a prophet (6:1-13). Instead, he leads up to it with 1:1-5:30, prophecies that show the reason for his startling commission. Chapter 1 begins this opening section and in fact summarizes the whole book. Therefore, we've allowed a whole lesson for this one chapter.

Before you begin the questions below, read 1:1-31 carefully. Ask the Lord to guide you as you look for His message to Judah and to you.

Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! (1:2). The Law of Moses required two witnesses to convict a person of a crime. Therefore, when the Lord established His covenant with Israel, He called the heavens and the earth as the two witnesses who would testify that Israel had promised to love and obey Him (Deut. 19:15; Deut. 30:19; Deut. 31:28; Deut. 32:1). Now the Lord calls His witnesses to review the evidence against Israel, so that they can testify that the people have broken their part of the covenant, while the Lord has kept His part. You will notice a lot of legal language in Isaiah's prophecies.

Daughter of Zion (1:8). Zion is the mountain on which Jerusalem is built. The prophets and psalmists often portray the people of Jerusalem collectively as a young woman.

Sodom... Gomorrah (1:10). Two cities that the Lord utterly destroyed because of their unrepentant wickedness (Genesis 18:20-21; Genesis 19:5, 24-25).

1.  Observe how God described the people of Judah and Jerusalem in 1:1-31. What do these names tell you about their relationship to Him and about how He regarded them?

[my] children (1:2), my people (1:3)

brood of evildoers (1:4), people of Gomorrah (1:10), harlot (1:21)

Sacrifices (1:11-14). God's Law commanded all of the religious acts described in 1:11-14—the burning of animal sacrifices and incense, offerings of agricultural produce, the weekly Sabbath, festivals on the New Moon of each month, and the annual feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles.

Fatherless (1:17). These were the most vulnerable members of society, so they became symbolic of anyone powerless to defend himself. Widows and fatherless children were easily defrauded because only males could take legal action, make contracts, and manage property. Also, a family without men to help work the land was often poor.

Sacred oaks... gardens (1:29). God had commanded the Israelites to stamp out the practices of the Canaanites, but instead Israel had adopted those practices alongside the worship of the Lord. The people sought the power of divine (demonic) beings who dwelt in sacred trees and gardens.

2.  How had the people of Judah sinned against their Lord and Father?

Desolate (1:7). If this prophecy dates from early in Isaiah's ministry, then he may have foreseen the desolation that came during the next few decades. Aram, the northern kingdom of Israel, Edom, and Philistia all invaded Judah between 740 and 730 bc, Assyria devastated most of the country in 701; Babylon finished the job in 605.

Shelter... hut (1:8). When their fruit was ripe, farmers would set up temporary huts in their fields and vineyards. They would spend the night in the huts, watching for thieving people and animals. After the harvest, such huts were abandoned to decay in the rainy season.

3.  What were the consequences of persistent rebellion (1:5-6, 7-8, 15)?

Eat... be devoured (1:19-20). To emphasize the contrast, these are the same Hebrew verb: "eat... be eaten."

Turn... restore (1:25-26). Again, the same Hebrew word in each case.


4.  What two alternatives did the Lord put before the people (1:18-20, 27-28)?

a. the wise thing the people could do

how the Lord would respond

b. the foolish course the people could take

how the Lord would respond

Purge... dross (1:25). Gold or silver ore is melted in fire to remove its impurities, its dross.

 5.  The Lord planned to purge the dross from His people by turning His hand against them (1:25). What was His purpose in doing this (1:26-28)?

6.  What do your observations from chapter 1 tell you about God's character and desires?

Study Skill—Summarizing the Passage

 You will remember more of what you study if you summarize the main teaching of each passage.

7.  How would you summarize the message of chapter 1?

Study Skill—Application

 It can be helpful to plan an application in five steps:

1. Record the verse or passage that contains the truth you want to apply to your life. If the passage is short enough, consider copying it word for word, as an aid to memory.

2. State the truth of the passage that impresses you. For instance: "The Lord hated Judah's worship because the people's professed love of God was false—it didn't move the worshipers to treat others with justice and compassion (1:10-17)."

3. Tell how you fall short in relation to this truth. (Ask God to enable you to see yourself clearly.) For example: "I don't personally cheat anyone, but I don't spend much time seeking justice and encouraging the oppressed either. I'm not even sure I know what that means. I don't know any vulnerable people like widows or orphans—at least, I haven't thought about whether I do."

4. State precisely what you plan to do about having your life changed in this area. (Ask God what, if anything, you can do. Don't forget that transformation depends on His will, power, and timing, not on yours. Diligent prayer should always be part of your application.) For instance: "First, I'm going to pray daily this week to learn who the 'oppressed' are in my community. I don't want to run off championing a cause where the Lord hasn't sent me. I'm going to discuss this with my small group to see if they have any ideas. It occurs to me that Marsha across the street isn't a widow, but she is divorced and her children are effectively 'fatherless.' I wonder how well they are managing? I think my wife and I should drop by with some brownies and find out if Marsha and her family need anything."

5. Plan a way to remind yourself to do what you have decided, such as putting a note on your refrigerator or in your office, or asking a friend or relative to remind you.

6.  Reread your answers to questions 1-7, and read the optional questions in the margins. Then, describe some ways in which you think 1:1-31 applies to Christians in general and you in particular.

7.  What truth from 1:1-31 would you like to apply to your life this week?

8. How do you fall short or want to grow in this area?

9. What steps can you take toward accomplishing this, by God's grace?

10. How can you remind yourself to do this?

11. If you have any questions about 1:1-31 or this lesson, write them here.
(LifeChange Series)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The kind of indegestion that none of us need

From the Pastor's Study, by Rev. Jack Hulsey

The kind of indigestion that none of us need

When sin creeps into our lives – and believe me, it will – we have to choose how we will respond. We can look to others for help, we can seek all the advice we want to seek, and our friends and loved ones may very well try to come to our aid with good opinions and great intentions. But the reality is that the choice is ours and ours alone. God holds us responsible for our own sin. We can't face Him like Adam did and cry that “someone else made me do it.”

I ran across an interesting little morality tale the other day, which I think illustrates this idea in a unique way. An old desert nomad, sleeping in his tent under the stars, woke up in the middle of the night and was hungry. He lit a candle, and finding some dates and a bowl beside his bed, he began eating them.

He took a bite from one date, and saw it had a worm in it. So he tossed it out of the tent and picked up another date. He bit into it and it also had a worm, so he threw it away, too. He did this a few more times, and then it occurred to him that if he kept doing so soon he'd have no dates left to eat but would still be hungry.

Well, his answer to this problem was just the kind of solution many of us are often tempted to apply to our dilemmas like this: he blew the candle out and ate the rest of the dates in the dark. I hope I haven't spoiled your appetite by telling you this story. What does it remind you of? Isn't it something like the story where the man told his friend," I've been reading so much about the dangers of drinking lately that I'm going to give it up."" You're going to give up drinking?" his friend asked in amazement." No, I'm going to give up reading," the man said.

Unfortunately, you can close your eyes to sin, or you can turn the light off so you don't see it – but it's still there and it's still sin. Obscuring it doesn't make it go away, doesn't make it less sinful, and really doesn't make it taste any better, either.  The Bible tells many stories of people who tried to cover up their sin, Adam & Eve, Achan, Saul, David, and many others.  Proverbs 15:3 (NASB) tells us that, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.”  There is no way that closing our eyes or turning away will erase what is being done. All have sinned, that separates us from God, and sin brings death. But there is hope! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)  The choice is yours, turn away or turn to Him.

Now back to our story about the nomad. It doesn't tell us how the rest of his night went, but it's not hard to imagine. Sin is the most toxic substance there is, and the wages of it are a whole lot worse than a case of indigestion.

From the Pastor's Study -- by Rev. Jack Hulsey
(Printed in the March 8, 2015 Praise & Worship, Woodlake Baptist Church)

Jude Part Two

Jude-Part One

Monday, March 9, 2015

Something New!

Welcome to the blog of Woodlake Baptist Church!  We are trying to use whatever resources are available to us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and opportunities to be involved in the ministries and activities of the church body.  We are still in the learning phase, so please be patient.

Each week you will find the Pastor's Article and the next week's Sunday School lesson.  We will also share information, scripture, and news when we can.  Keep checking back and join us on this journey!