Monthly Archives: December 2011

Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 

The Magi add a fascinating twist to the Christmas story. They were ancient astrologers who were regarded as the wise men of their time. They were not Jewish and this is the only time that they are mentioned in the Scripture. Their appearance and departure is mysterious and full of imagination. Notice the two groups who knew of the Christ: poor shepherds and respected wise men. Jews and Gentiles. God wanted to make it clear that the gospel was meant for rich and poor alike. It was meant for the smart and the uneducated. In other words, the gospel has been sent to the entire world.

Micah 5:2 (NIV)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

We find a pattern with the Scriptures: Abraham was called out of his established place in his father’s household to become a nomad. Once he was outside known territory, God could use him. Moses was required to live in the desert for 40 years before he could lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. It seems that God loves to take mighty things and make them smaller in order to confound the world and its wisdom. Bethlehem was a border town with the Gentiles. It was considered unclean and totally out of touch with the rest of the Jewish realm. Yet it was Bethlehem that God chose to birth the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. Do you feel that God is whittling you down? Rejoice, he’s getting ready to use you in a great way! Do you see yourself on the margins and insignificant? Congratulations! You’re positioned to do great things for God. He has a record of taking weak and foolish things to confound the strong and wise.

Luke 1:76-77

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.

Zechariah was speaking to his newly born son who would become John the Baptist. Notice what he prophetically speaks to John and ultimately to us: We come to the knowledge of salvation when we understand our sin and the need for forgiveness. We can talk of Jesus being our Savior, but do we realize that means we are not able to change ourselves and need to be rescued? The good news becomes good when we truly realize the state of our souls before God. The birth of John the Baptist reminds us that we are more flawed than we want to admit, but more loved than we could dream. This exposes our fallen nature while embracing the love of God. This empowers us with salvation.

Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. As the priest Ezra was reading the Law, many of the Jews began to weep, for they were hearing the words of God for the first time in their lives. When we understand something about the nature of God, we too, can be overwhelmed by the years of ignorance and the toll it has taken upon our lives. But now we can obey the Scripture and be filled with joy. God wants to strengthen us according to His word.

Christmas Festival Pictures

It was great to see the turnout we had at the Christmas Festival this past Sunday. If anyone has any pictures that they took that they’d like to get on the website please send me an email and I will get them on here as soon as possible. My email address is jmilam613@gmail.com

1 Chronicles 16:27

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

One of the things that will mark God’s dwelling place is joy. This is more than happiness. Joy is a sense of satisfaction that causes us to be overflowing with life. A joyful person is a satisfied person. That is one reason why God tells us not to try to get life from the things of the world, for joy only resides in Him. As the saying goes: happiness is based upon happenings, but joy is based upon Jesus.

John 15:12-13

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus is very clear on how to love one another: lay down your life for your friends. This goes beyond just verbal expressions. Notice how forcefully Jesus states this; He commands us to live sacrificial lives for each other. Take some time to see how you can obey this command today.

Christmas Festival

Now that we have made it through Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to look forward to  the best one of all…CHRISTMAS. We have an exciting festival at Union Grove coming up on December 4, 2011. Bring your family and friends and tell everybody you know. It will be from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. What kind of things will we have you might ask? Well……

– Gingerbread house building contests

– Ornament and garland making.

– Games with prizes

– Free gift wrapping

– Live carolers

– FREE pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause.

– Great snacks like Wassail, hot chocolate, cookies and sausage balls.

It’s going to be a great time at Union Grove Baptist Church and I hope that you will come join us in the festivities.

Here is a flyer if you know some people who might enjoy an awesome time to come and have fun and get into the Christmas spirit:

– Christmas Festival

Daniel 5:23b

You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

 

One of the judgments that Daniel gave to Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, was that he worshipped his possessions. Like Belshazzar, we need to be careful of what we praise. What thoughts dominate our mind the most? What we think of the most, or what we fear losing the most, is what we actually worship. Remembering that God holds our life in His hands helps us to place our attention on the things that really matter.

Psalm 119:130

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

You don’t have to be a scholar to understand the Bible, for the Scripture is a portal that reveals itself to us. This is not to diminish the need for scholarship, but that is not where wisdom starts. It starts when we approach the Bible with faith that God will use His words to open our mind. When we do, God answers with amazing insight that can cause the simplicity of the gospel to confound the wisdom of this earth.