Advent 2019

The Whys of Christmas

It’s Advent season, again. I suspect some of you may love the feelings of Christmas, but you are not as excited to hear the stories of Advent yet again.

We need to guard against familiarity. The challenge for seasoned believers is that as they enter Advent yet again for the umpteenth time, they enter with fresh eyes and new wonder. While you may have heard the Advent story for years, I want to encourage you hear it again with wonder and excitement.

The Advent sermon series I’ve prepared this year is THE WHYS OF CHRISTMAS.

  • December 1, Why the Genealogies? (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 2:35-38)
  • December 8, Why the Virgin Birth? (Matthew 1:8-25; Luke 1:26-28)
  • December 15, Choir Christmas Musical; Why the Name Jesus? (Matthew 1:21)
  • December 22, Why the Wise Men? (Matthew 2:1-12)

The goal of the sermon series is to go deeper into these questions so we come away with a greater sense of amazement of what God did in sending His Son, Christ, to be our Savior.

This is also the reason we produced this devotional guide. My hope is that you will use this devotional guide every day through this Advent season. When you ponder the weekly sermons on the whys of Advent, my prayer is that you will experience hope, peace, joy and love in Christ.

Parents, I want to encourage you to use this devotional guide every day with your children. The Advent season is a great opportunity to teach theology to your children. Use the sermons I preach on Sunday mornings to explore the meaning of Advent with your children.

And may God deepen our love for Christ and the story of Advent.

Making Your Time with God’s Word More Profitable

Pastor David and I are teaching a class on Wednesday evening on How to Approach the Study of God’s Word. Last night (10-30-19) I shared a resources from the Navigator Organization that has been around for at least forty years. It is a simple, but effective way to develop a profitable time with God as you study the Word. Here’s the approach.

As you study, keep these questions in mind:

  1. What example is there to follow?
  2. What command is there to obey?
  3. Is there a sin to avoid or forsake?
  4. What does this passage teach about Jesus Christ and God?
  5. Is there a promise to claim?
  6. Is there a difficulty with which I need help?
  7. What is my prayer from this passage for today?

From experience it has been proved that we both receive and retain more if we write down our findings. Here are a few more suggestions:

  1. Read over and study the preceding questions until they are fixed in your mind.
  2. After reading through the portion you are studying, go back and take it a verse at a time. When that is an answer to one of the questions, jot it down as briefly as possible on the sheet provided for that question.
  3. Study a book through from beginning to end, either a paragraph or a chapter a day.
  4. Each day add to what you found the preceding day.
  5. When you finish studying a book, file the sheet for the book. Soon you will have your devotional commentary on the Bible.
  6. Do not become discouraged when you receive only a few definite answers for some particular portion. The important thing is that you receive something. As we walk in obedience to what we have revealed to us, we shall receive more.
  7. It may take a couple weeks—or even a month—to really become acquainted with this method of study. Stay with it until regular habits are established. Once you start, you will always thank God for firmly establishing the habit of daily Bible study.

It takes time to develop this discipline, but it is time well spent. Begin to apply this approach to your Bible study. You’ll discover a deeper experience with God and His Word.

Join us on Wednesdays at 6 pm in the Worship Center as we practice this approach. We’re covering 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

Learn the Gospel (Part 2)

In the previous blog (Learn the Gospel, Part 1) I said that the first task in learning the gospel is to be sure we know what the gospel is. The gospel is God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself for His glory and their good.

The gospel is called “good news” because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human begins, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I am not! God extends to us His grace in Christ to redeem us from our sins.

The question I’m posing is this, “How does a believer learn the gospel beyond an intellectual definition?” In other words, how does a believer come to learn, that is to possess a deep understanding, of the gospel.

I’ve asked this question to our Deacons and Yokefellows and to several other people. Here’s a list of responses: 1) By preaching; 2) through teaching in Sunday School and/or small group studies; 3) by personal daily Bible study; 4) by living the gospel out each day of our lives; 5) by sharing the gospel with others; and 6) by singing the gospel. Those are all great answers.

But here’s one on my list that may shock you! We learn the gospel when we sin.

The gospel encourages us by reminding us that God’s grace covers our every failure. No string of obedient days would bring us closer to God and no streak of bad days is going to condemn us.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). This does not mean we have a license to go out and sin so we can learn the gospel. But what it does mean is that when we sin, we experience the grace of God to forgive us.

The grace that justified us is the same grace that sanctifies us. Thank God for His amazing grace!

Learn the Gospel (Part One)

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. There is no greater message to be shared than that which we call the gospel. But as important as the gospel is, it is often given to huge distortions or over simplifications.

So, the first task in learning the gospel is to be sure we know what the gospel is.

Some people think they’re preaching the gospel when proclaim: “Come to Christ so you can have a purpose to your life.” Or “Christ will give you meaning to your life.”  Or “Christ will help you achieve your goals in life.”

All of those things can be true, and they’re all important, but they miss what the heart of the gospel is all about.

We define the gospel this way, “The gospel is God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself for His glory and their good.”

The gospel is called the “good news” because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. At the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His sake but for the sake of His people.

He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. When you do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

This was, is and will remain God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself.

Let’s be sure that when we’re talking about the gospel, we understand that the good news is all about what God did in Christ to reconcile us to Himself. Everything else is secondary to this greatest need!

40 Days for Life

Forty Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses.

Each day during 40 Days for Life, individuals, churches, families and groups will be asked to join together in prayer for a specific request so the entire Body of Christ can unite around a common focus.

The visible, public centerpiece of 40 Days for Life is a focused, daily, prayer vigil outside a single Planned Parenthood center or other abortion facility in your community. Yes, we have an abortion facility in our community.

Yes, we have an abortion facility in our community. Carafem, opened in Mt Juliet this Spring at 5002 Crossings Circle (across from the Hampton Inn). While they are not yet equipped to do surgical abortions, they do offer pharmaceutical abortion, also known as “chemical abortion.” Whether it is surgical or chemical, the end result is the same–the death of unborn child.

Would you join believers from all over our local communities to stand for life? Here’s what you’re asked to do. First, sign up for a weekly time. Follow the link below to sign up. Even though there are hour time slots, if you only have 30 minutes, that’s fine. Second, Invite someone to go with you. Third, when you go to pray, park at the Hampton Inn and walk over. Fourth, stand on the sidewalk and pray. You can hold a sign if you’d like that says, “Pray that Abortions Will End.”

My timeslot is Wednesday from noon to 1 pm. You are welcome to join me. To sign up to pray with me or for another time that works better for you click on the link below. You’ll need to create an account, which is very easy to do. They want you to do this so they have an accurate number of people who are praying. You will also receive timely updates on the campaign.

A Huge Field at Our Doorstep

We continue with our 40 Days of Prayer for the Harvest. We are asking the Lord to raise up workers to go into His harvest (Mat. 9:35-38). Remember, the focus of our praying is for workers to be burdened for the harvest.

Jesus tells us to look around us. When we look, we will see there is a great potential of souls all around us! Look around your neighborhood. Look around your school? Look around your office. There are souls who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is also a huge field of opportunity right at our doorstep! It’s our Mother’s Day Out program. We have 163 preschool children who come weekly to our campus. From what we’ve discovered, there are over 50 families who do not have a church home. Talk about a field that is white unto harvest! And it is right here at our doorstep.

God has placed a burden on David/Kendall Shirey for these family. I trust He will burden you as well. Would you pray for the Lord to raise up workers to reach into this harvest? Would you pray asking the Lord to create opportunities for us to share the gospel with the children and families.

Pray for the moms (and some dads) to respond to the invitation come to the Selah time in the Youth Basement once a month. Selah is the Hebrew word that means “pause.” Pray for moms to spend one hour with Kendall and other ladies of our church building relationships so they can plant the seed of the gospel.

The first Selah time occurred this past Tuesday, September 17. Six moms form our Mother’s Day Out program came. Praise the Lord for a great start!

So, please join us in praying that we might be faithful to reach the harvest that is at our doorstep.

Romans 8, The Greatest Chapter in the Bible

I return to the marvelous book of Romans this Sunday (09-15-19). I can hardly wait! Many consider Romans 8 the greatest chapter in all the Bible. I agree!

One person wrote: “If I were on a desert island and I could only have one book it would be the Bible, and if I could only have one book in the Bible it would be the book of Romans, and if I could only have one chapter in the book of Romans, it would be chapter 8.” John MacArthur stated, “I really don’t believe that a person can be the same after they have internalized and meditated on these truths.”

Here are eight reasons why Romans 8 is considered the greatest chapter in the Bible.

1) It is Trinitarian. It presents all three persons of the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and also presents their different roles in the trinity.

2) It is gospel-centered, teaching about Jesus’ death and resurrection (34) and that Jesus died for our sins (3).

3) It presents in detail the three major doctrines of the Christian life: justification (1-4), sanctification (5-17), and glorification (18-30)

4) It presents the full order of salvation: “For those God foreknew he also predestined … and those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

5) It presents a number of other key doctrines including: the incarnation of Christ (3); our adoption as sons (14-16); our future inheritance in heaven (17); the resurrection of the body (11, 23); and the work of the Holy Spirit for the believer (26-27, 34).

6) It presents the full sweep of salvation history including: creation (19); fall (20, 22); redemption (24-25); and consummation (21, 23).

7) It contains some of the best known and most loved verses in the Bible concerning God’s great love for us in Jesus Christ: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

8) It is the bedrock for the security of the believer (Romans 8:1 -39).

God has packed so many wonderful truths into this one chapter, it is truly amazing. I look forward to bringing you God’s message from the first two verses of Romans 8 this Sunday!