Stories and News

Events

Classified Ads

Church Positions

Family Church Español, Port Charlotte, FL

Family Church Español in Port Charlotte is offering an intern position within the worship ministry to provide leadership in corporate worship, develop a team of worship volunteers, and grow as a disciple of Jesus. An intern must be teachable, humble, and willing to serve in several capacities. The intern is also prepared to commit to raising both prayer and financial support from a team of people during the…

Mt Paran Baptist Church of Branford, FL

Mt Paran Baptist Church of Branford, FL is seeking a bi-vocational Southern Baptist Pastor.  Mt Paran is a member of the Florida Baptist Convention and the Lafayette Baptist Association.  If interested, please send resumes to mtparanarlo@gmail.com.

First Baptist Church of Wakulla Station, FL

First Baptist Church of Wakulla Station is looking to hire a part-time youth director. The primary role of this person would be to lead FBCWS Youth in a better understanding of Christ. FBCWS Youth currently meet on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. To submit an application and resume, along with seeing a more detailed job description, please visit our website (fbcws.church) and click on the tab on the home…

Bible Studies

Bible Studies For Life

Rich Elligson

Richard Elligson

Richard Elligson earned a PhD in Theology from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Archives

Special Focus Session

May 26, 2024

THE JOY OF GIVING

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Years ago, a young church planter expressed to me his frustration that his fledgling congregation didn’t give much in support of the church. Come to find out, they never took up an offering! When I asked about this, the pastor explained that the church leaders “didn’t want to scare away visitors by focusing on money.” Instead of an offering, there was a “giving kiosk” out in the lobby. I carefully explained that the church was wrong in two areas. First, visitors to any church expect at least two things: a sermon and an offering. Far from being offended, many visitors actually feel a compulsion to give! But second—and most importantly—the pastor was wrong in withholding the opportunity to worship that giving to the Lord’s work provides. Within weeks, the pastor preached on the joy of giving, the offering plates were passed, and (not surprisingly!), the church’s financial situation improved dramatically.

In 2 Corinthians 9, the apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth to honor their previous commitment to collect an offering to send with his team back to Jerusalem for famine relief. In doing so, Paul highlighted the benefits and blessings of abundant giving.

Attitude (vv. 6-9). Three key considerations are expressed in this section. First, there is the amount. It’s clear that this offering was not the typical giving to the local church, but a specific, designated offering for people in need. Because of the “free will” nature of the offering, some church members were tempted to give only a little. But Paul wanted to assure them that simply tossing their loose change into the offering plate was not an option! All had been blessed by God; all were expected to give in abundance (v. 6). Second, there is intention. Verse 7 implies that individuals were to consider what God would have them to give…and then give it, as they had “decided in their hearts” (v. 7). The third consideration is attitude. While the amount matters, the attitude of the giver matters more. Paul could well be speaking to our church people today! We are not to give reluctantly or out of some sense of obligation. Rather, we are to give cheerfully (v. 7). That means “with merriment” …and with no strings attached! For reflection: What do you think motivates church people to give today? Do you believe that the Old Testament tithe is enough? Too much? Too little? Why?

Enrichment (vv. 10-11). Our God really is an awesome God. The God who made it all, owns it all, and controls it all uses fallen, sinful people to accomplish His purpose. Look at the sovereign cycle at work in these verses. The metaphor is that of baking bread. God provides the seed, the sun, the water…all that is needed to grow a crop of grain. I found that the average wheat seed can grow up to five separate heads, each containing about 30 kernels of grain. That’s 150 kernels of wheat from a single seed! From the grain, the bread is made. Paul used this principle of multiplication to explain God’s principle of blessing. He gives us all that we need to prosper and expects us to “reinvest” our prosperity (in this case our money) back into kingdom work. In doing so, we are “enriched in every way” (v. 11). And it costs us nothing but our commitment because God has provided it all! For reflection: These verses have often become the basis of the so-called “prosperity gospel.” Is that a valid application? Why or why not?

Effects (vv. 12-15). But the results of our giving don’t end with the gift itself. The worshipful act of giving produces a whole list of blessings: (1) needs are met; (2) thanksgiving is offered; (3) God is glorified; (4) the gospel is proclaimed; (5) obedience is affirmed; (6) affections are developed; (7) prayers are offered; and (8) God’s goodness is exalted; all because believers learn the blessing of abundant giving. For reflection: Of all the acts of worship we do, why do you think giving has such an impact? What applications can we draw from this?

Session 6

May 19, 2024

DOING LIFE TOGETHER IN CHRIST

1 Thessalonians 5:4-15

Everybody needs some encouragement, and Christians are no exception. New believers especially, who are filled with questions and sometimes doubts, often need a quick word to encourage them in their new-found faith. The apostle Paul wrote the letter of 1 Thessalonians for just this purpose. After preaching there for several weeks, Paul and his team were forced to leave. After arriving in Athens, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to check on them. When Paul heard how well the new congregation was doing, he penned 1 Thessalonians to answer a few of their questions and to encourage them in their spiritual walk. In the focal text, three exhortations stand out.

Stay conscious (vv. 4-7). This portion of chapter 5 follows the context of the rapture of the church Paul mentioned in 4:13-18. Even that passage, while eschatological in its content, was meant primarily as an encouragement to the church (see 4:18). Here, he reminded them that they should not be alarmed at Christ’s coming as though it would consume them. Notice the contrasts Paul used to differentiate between the lost people of that city and the saved. In relation to the lost (who would be ultimately consumed by God’s judgment), Paul floated terms like dark and darkness (vv. 4, 5); thief (v. 4); night (vv. 5, 6, 7); sleep (vv. 6, 7); and drunk (v. 7). All are used negatively, and all carry a negative connotation. In contrast, Paul reminded them that they were different. For the saved, he used words like light (v. 5); day (vv. 4, 5); awake (v. 6); and serious (v. 6), all of which are positive. His purpose? To encourage them that while they knew people like that, and were at one time people like that, they weren’t anymore. They had been changed! The old was gone, and they were new creations (see 2 Cor. 5:17). And since they were different…they should conduct themselves that way. For reflection: When you hear the word “drunk,” what comes to mind? What about the word “sober?” Why do you think Paul used the contrast between the two so frequently? How does this apply in our culture today?

Stay committed (vv. 8-11). In this section, Paul strung verses together like pearls. Each one flows into the next, but each one has a beauty of its own. Verse 8 is logical. As children of the day, believers are to be serious. Again, the literal word is sober. How are we to demonstrate our seriousness? By putting on the armor of God. While not as comprehensive as the list given in Ephesians 6, the principle here remains the same: as disciplined soldiers in the Kingdom army, we are to be appropriately and intentionally equipped for our calling. Here, it is interesting that the “helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17) is adjusted to the “helmet of the hope of salvation” (v. 8). This isn’t meant to cast doubt on one’s salvation (as something “hoped” for). Rather it looks to the future and the product of salvation, which is the return of our Lord mentioned in the previous chapter. Verse 9 tells us that God’s salvation is meant to save us from His wrath, not to face it! Verse 10 is all about our fellowship. Christ’s death paid the penalty for our sin. So whether we are vigilant (as we should be), or not so vigilant (as we often are), our destiny is to be together with one another, and together with Him. The inference is for both the here-and-now, and for eternity. The final pearl in verse 11 is all about encouragement. Just as Paul was encouraging them, they were to encourage one another. For reflection: By the way, verse 9 is one of the primary arguments for a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. In both content and context, it seems to teach that believers will be taken out of the world before God’s wrath is poured down upon it.

Stay consistent (vv. 12-15). As a final encouragement to the church, the text actually stretches all the way down to verse 22. Once again, it sounds like Paul was running out of time…so he jotted down a bunch of one-liners! The result is another strand of pearls. Here, the encouragement is for consistency. For reflection: Notice that each verse can apply to the individual, but the emphasis is on the body as a whole. Why do you think this is? What word clues indicate this?

Session 5

May 12, 2024

SERVING IN CHRIST

Ephesians 4:1-7; 11-16

The book of Ephesians is Paul’s most complete treatment of ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. The epistle is divided in the middle. The first three chapters deal with doctrinal issues. The final three chapters make practical applications of those doctrines. Our focal passage represents the first part of those applications. Three key themes emerge.

Unity (vv. 1-7). The apostle Paul was indeed a prisoner when he penned this letter. But his emphasis here is not the Roman jail in which he sat as much as the reason for which he was jailed. He was a prisoner “for the Lord;” (literally, “in” the Lord) that is, for the Lord’s sake and by the Lord’s calling. First, he gives an exhortation; to “walk worthy of their calling” (v. 1). The word walk is a good one. The root word denotes movement, as in a journey. Indeed, the Christian life is a journey! There is a beginning point (the new birth) and a destination (heaven), and lots of interesting stops between. The word’s prefix, however, means “around.” So the idea is that while we have a definite destination, we must thoroughly cover the road getting there. To me, that’s a gentle reminder not to rush things. There is a lot of living to do between our new birth and our final destiny! And that’s Paul’s point. As we are moving along, our entire lives are to be lived in a way that honors and reflects the calling we have received. In this case, I believe the calling is general to all believers; the call to salvation, sanctification, and service alluded to in chapter 1. Paul’s exhortation is followed by a description of the “walk” (vv. 3-4). Humility, gentleness, patience, and acceptance (or forbearance) are all selfless characteristics. Hence, the believer’s lifestyle is to be one of Christlike humility (see also Phil. 2:5-8). The remaining verses provide the explanation. Believers in the church setting get along when everyone is united. Regardless of our backgrounds, ethnicity, or stations in life, we are united by the one God and Father and participate in the one true church. And we do so with selfless humility. For reflection: Paul used the word unity rather than uniformity. Why did he do that? What is the difference between unity and uniformity?

Variety (vv. 11-13). If you took a look at the “For reflection” question above, you can check your answer in these verses! The church has unity in its general calling and purpose, but diversity in its membership. For the church to function as a single body, its members must be equipped with a variety of gifts to exercise a variety of functions. Paul speaks more fully about spiritual giftedness in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12-14. But here he mentions some distinct categories of Christian workers. Notice their source: “He personally gave…” (v. 11). Then notice their purpose: “For the training of the saints in the work of ministry” (v. 12). Then comes the final goal: “to build up the body of Christ.” Finally, Paul mentions the stopping point: “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son” (v. 13). For reflection: What do you think: Where is the stopping point of the church’s work? When will it happen? How will we know when we get there?

Maturity (vv. 14-16). Paul’s defined the church’s maturity in two distinct ways. First, there is maturity in doctrine. The characteristics he used reflect stability and discernment. The doctrinally mature church is not tossed about by every fringe teaching (think “interpretation”) that comes along. Like the Berean church in Acts 17:11, the mature church is wholly and soundly biblical. As to discernment, the doctrinally mature church is able to identify and avoid the deceptive teaching of cunning and clever false teachers (v. 14). Second, Paul defined the mature church by its demonstration. The mature church demonstrates its doctrinal maturity by speaking that truth in love (v. 15). When it all comes together, the body of Christ is just that: a living, growing, functioning expression of Christ and the truth He represents. For reflection: Why do you think God’s word describes the church as a body? What are some other metaphors the Bible uses to describe the church? How does each contribute to our understanding?

Session 4

May 5, 2024

WORSHIPING GOD

Psalm 34:1-3; 8-10; 15-18

I have always believed and taught that there are five major functions of the church: (1) worship, (2) missions/evangelism, (3) discipleship, (4) ministry, and (5) fellowship. And while all are essential elements of a healthy and vibrant church, none is more important than worship. In fact, I always said if we gather together on Sunday morning and fail to worship, we have failed as a church! Psalm 34 is a psalm of deliverance, penned by David. In it, three worship themes are highlighted.

Praise (vv. 1-3). Praise is the cornerstone of worship. By its very nature, praise consists of exalting the Lord while humbling the believer. There are three words in the Old Testament translated as praise. All three connote honor and thanksgiving; and all three underscore the worthiness of the recipient. In these first verses, three aspects of praise are mentioned. First, there is continuity. David said he would praise the Lord “at all times,” and that praise would “always be” on his lips (v. 1). Second, there is humility. Interestingly, the word “boast” has the same root as the word hallelujah. So, to “boast in the Lord” doesn’t imply some kind of arrogant bragging, but rather a humble exaltation that points all attention to the Lord. Notice the positive vibe of his praise as well. Those of like mind will hear his praise and rejoice in it (v. 2). Third, there is community. Proclaiming the Lord’s greatness is the essence of praise, but here David invites the congregation to join in (v. 3). While solitary praise is certainly a part of our quiet, personal devotion, exaltation is multiplied when other voices join the choir. For reflection: Think about the whole “praise chorus” phenomenon in our churches. Do you think praise teams and praise bands enhance our worship? Do they ever distract from it? How do you decide?

Provision (vv. 8-10). Few phrases capture the senses better than this: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” While verse 3 invites the congregation to give Him praise, verse 8 invites the congregation to receive of His goodness. To taste is to sample it; to try it out. There is great confidence here. David, a man after God’s own heart, had experienced the Lord’s bounty and he invites others to come beside him. In Him, they will find refuge (v. 8). The word translated “refuge” is literally the word “trust.” The idea here is confidence. Blessed in the one who is fully dependent upon Him; in Him, there is security. Those who revere Him are rewarded by Him. Literally, they “lack nothing.” The illustration that follows is dramatic. Even lions that are young and strong find themselves hungry at times! But those who pursue the things of God will never lack that which is good (see James 1:17). For reflection: The words “fear” and “seek” have prominent positions in these verses. How does one fear the Lord and still seek Him?

Compassion (vv. 15-18). The third element of worship is compassion. Notice the features of the Lord turned towards man. His eyes are vigilantly watching the righteous; and His ears are trained towards us lest some evil threaten us (v. 15). To “set one’s face against,” is to confront head-on. David knew no warrior would dare turn his back on the enemy. Here, the Lord is confronting the threat of evil face on, with the intent that the wicked, all their ancestors, and all their influence be obliterated from memory (see Ps. 109:13). Verses 17 and 18 are set in startling contrast to the harshness of those before. With the same intensity that he punishes the wicked, He will deliver the righteous! With the same passion He judges the proud, He will bind up the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. For reflection: Look up Jesus’ pronouncement in Luke 4:18-19. How does this portrait of Christ fit into our discussion?

Meet Our Writers

Margaret Colson

Margaret Colson

Margaret Colson began serving as consulting communications editor for the Florida Baptist Convention in April 2022, but she has a long history of working with Florida Baptists in telling the story of how God is at work in the Sunshine State.

Margaret earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Georgia and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is a leader in denominational communications, serving as executive director for Baptist Communicators Association as well as for Association of State Baptist Publications. She is married to Keith Colson.

Keila Diaz

Keila Diaz

Keila earned a B.S. in Communications from Florida International University in Miami. She writes news and stories about Florida Baptist churches, creates and posts social content to the FBC’s social media channels, and is a Baptist Press contributor.

When she’s not working, Keila enjoys bike rides and spending time with her family.

null

Brooke Mannion

Brooke Mannion is a Pensacola native and longtime member of Hillcrest Baptist Church. She is a graduate of University of West Florida and has a diverse work history in advertising, interior decorating and accounting. Now she finds joy as a wife and stay-at-home mom of three children. Brooke enjoys home schooling, cooking, connecting with others and studying God’s Word.

David Moore, Florida Baptist Convention, Writers' Network

David Moore

David Moore has been writing and editing for newspapers and magazines in Florida for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. A proud member of First Baptist Church of Ocala, David serves in the worship, deacon and NextGen ministries. He and his wife Beth have three children.

Jessica Pigg, Florida Baptist Convention, Writers' Network

Jessica Pigg

Jessica received her B.S. in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She contributes to Florida Baptist Conv, Biblical Woman, Baptist Press, The Devotional for Women, and Daily Devotional Bible for Women. Her greatest joy is serving beside her husband who is the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church.