From Pastor Johnny

The Impact of Christmas On Our Families Sermon Blog Day 1

          God was dealing with a man named Tim about a possible local church ministry, as he worked in a successful career in sales. He and his wife were a young married couple, but without kids yet. He was serving in his local church. He surprisingly was allowed enough time off and went on a short-term mission trip with that church. In coming back from the mission trip, he sensed a leading toward serving within ministry somewhere. 

            His Director of Missions told him of a scholarship at a Baptist college. He was awarded that scholarship and began attending the school. Being at that school put him in a position to be asked to start a new church.  It took almost 2 years to transition his family to the new ministry field. He finished school and pastored that church for 12 years.  That same man, whose family was totally and completely relocated then became an associational missionary for that local Baptist association in his area.

            God sometimes does radical work in the lives of families to accomplish His purposes.  Last week we examined how God can radically move governments to accomplish His plan.  What if, amid upheaval within governments, we remembered that God also moves families.  When God is bringing His plan to pass, He will impact families.

            As Luke 2 progresses, and the census that Caesar Augustus ordered takes place, the young couple, Mary and Joseph, head toward Bethlehem (85 miles south of their town) to be counted in the census. As we see their family moving, consider some areas that God might move your family.

  1. He Might Move their Location: Luke 2:4

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”

           There are three thoughts about “city of David, which is called Bethlehem.”  First of all, the meaning of Bethlehem is “house of bread”, which is appropriate since Jesus would be called the bread of Life. Second, the prophecy of Bethlehem occurred hundreds of years earlier in Micah 5:2, where the prophet wrote,

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

          Third, the identity of Bethlehem is “City of David.” Since David’s ancestral lineage ran through Bethlehem, it was his family home. Jerusalem was a city that David built as the king of Israel, and it was the political home of David.  

        God has never promised us that life would have no interruptions.  He sometimes will relocate us to places we had never considered. 

            In December 2018, I had been the pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Warner Robins, GA for almost 14 years. We had experienced some of the most challenging work I had ever done in ministry but a lot of victories. When I arrived in 2005 the church was in crisis and had lost many people over the previous 12 years. One dear lady, who had been at Green Acres more than 20 years, said to me when I first arrived, “Pastor, a couple of people said that, if things did not change, we would have a for sale sign in the yard within 2 years. I told them, ‘Well, you will have to push me out and lock the door behind me before I give up.’” She was one of the few who was that tenacious at the time. This was the mindset of the fellowship when I arrived.

            We saw tremendous things take place in that fellowship, and by December 2018 ministries had expanded, buildings had been renovated and rebuilt, and people were steadily joining. There was almost never a time where we did not have people in our new member classes. Yet, I sensed a lull. I sensed that, after all those years, we needed a new, fresh vision before us. I met with my pastoral staff at that time and said, “Guys, I believe a fresh vision is needed as we look to 2019. In fact, I believe this so much so that either God is going to give us a fresh view or he is going to move one or more of us to bring a new view in.”

            Later that week, Elissa and I were coming out of John’s Mexican Restaurant in Warner Robins. It is an old Mexican restaurant that has changed names once through the years but has been a Mexican restaurant for over 30 years. We had stopped to pick up a 12 pack of soft, beef tacos. We were leaving the restaurant, and I remember the conversation to this day. I said, “Baby, I really believe we are seeing a bit of a lull in outreach and ministry. I believe one of two things is going to happen in 2019. Either God is going to give us brand new fresh vision, or he is going to replace one or more of us on my staff.

            I’ll never forget her next words. “Well, I think it is highly doubtful that it will be you.”

       And…4 ½ months later I began as the pastor of Golden Acres Baptist Church. Oh how our Savior will sometimes move the location of families. Would you be open to God changing your family?

The Impact of Christmas On Our Communities Sermon Blog Day 2

Moving Right within His Plan:    2:2

          “This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.”  This is all about timing. The mention of Quirinius by Luke was to specify the exact time in history by using a historical reference. God’s timing is never off and never wrong.  It is not late nor is it early.  I love what Paul writes in Galatians about the coming of Christ.  “In the fullness of time, God sent His Son...”

            God’s timing is perfect. God’s timing is impeccable. Sometime man’s time is off, but God’s timing is perfect.

             Some years ago the Associated Press ran a story about a lady named Cathy Mullikin in Jackson, Tennessee. It seemed that her bird was cooked, and her calendar was toast.

              Mullikin had her Thanksgiving turkey dinner already cooked on Thursday, November 21 of that year, “and my friends and family are coming on the 28th and they’re going to think I’m a kook,” she said.

               She should never have believed that free calendar. Jackson-Madison County General Hospital gave out 40,000 of them last year and every last one said Thanksgiving was on the 21st instead of the 28th.

      THANKFULLY...GOD’S CALENDAR IS NEVER WRONG.

               Do you fret over something that has not worked out or shown a clear solution? What may appear to be askew, God is working with perfect precision. Continue to seek the Lord, fellowship with Him, and follow Him.  His timing CANNOT be wrong.

 Moving Radically among His People: 2:3

          “So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.” These words remind us of the vast scope of God’s movement among His people Israel.  This act by Caesar was fully ordained of God.  This act also caused ALL of God’s people to be put into motion. Everyone of the people under the Roman rule would be registered for the census. This census would determine taxation for the Roman government. Oftentimes, God will move us in ways we could not have anticipated even months earlier.

            I am currently finishing up a book by Dr. Tony Evans titled Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We Are Stronger Together. Part of this book is the personal story of Tony Evans, and how God put him in a place to be influenced by both the traditionally white and black evangelical churches. His experiences there have helped him to bridge the gap in ministry, and impact a nation in ministry, in a way that very few have.

            One of his stories is how his father would not go to church, but one time he visited with Dr. Evans’ mother. While there, several men witnessed to his father and he was born again. This changed their family. God moved radically.

            Another story was how Dr. Evans, as an 18 year old kid, was invited to Ghana for a month long crusade. While in Ghana assisting in ministry, he met a lovely young lady named Lois. That young lady would become his wife Lois. They would be married almost 50 years before she died last year. Their ministry together, as well as the ministry of their children, has impacted the world. God moved radically.

            God does not need you or your family in a particular place. All He needs is for you to walk in His will.  GOD DOESN’T NEED YOU ANY PARTICULAR PLACE TO BE SUCCESSFUL OTHER THAN HIS WILL.

 CONCLUSION

When God is bringing His plan to pass, He will impact our communities for His purpose.

WHY WOULD GOD NOT IMPACT:

YOUR COMMUNITY USING YOU…?

YOUR NEIGHBOR USING YOU…?

YOUR STREET USING YOU…?

YOUR SUBDIVISION USING YOU…?

           

 

 

The Impact of Christmas On Our Communities Sermon Blog Day 1

          How many of you have already watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the Christmas holidays?

            George Bailey, who owns a small savings and loan in a small New York town called Bedford Falls, has helped people for many years.  In a turn of events, a large deposit is misplaced, and his business stands on the verge of bankruptcy.  At that point, he believes that he would be better off having never been born. 

            Clarence, a bumbling angel, comes along to help George see what things would have been like in the small town of Bedford Falls if he had not been born.  Clarence takes George to the small town without George Bailey.  In a series of scenes, George comes to see how drastically things would have changed if George had never been born.

          It is amazing how many people and events can be impacted by the life of one individual. Lives, events, actions, and individuals can radically impact the events of history. But, in reality, it is God who controls all of these things. In fact, God can move entire nations just for the purposes of His plans. Christmas is a great example of that.  Is there any story that more clearly exhibits the sovereignty and omnipotence of God better than Christmas?  When God is bringing His plan to pass, He will impact our communities for His purpose.

           As the book of Luke begins, the last prophetic word 400 years before was in the book of the prophet Malachi. In Luke 1 an angel arrives to speak to Zechariah the priest as he serves in the temple. Later in Luke 1, an angel appears to Mary to inform her of the coming pregnancy, in spite of her status as a virgin. In Matthew 1 an angel appears to Joseph to inform him of his fiancée’s miraculous pregnancy. Then, in Luke 2, after the birth of Christ, angels appear to the shepherds to announce his birth.

          From 400 years of silence to multiple appearances by angels, God begins to speak to his people just before the birth of the Savior. It is in this context that God begins to move and take steps to impact the world.

          In the same way that He impacted the communities of Luke’s time, so God can and will do the same things today through His people. Consider three steps God might take in impacting our communities like He did in the Christmas story.

 Moving Rulers for His Purpose:            2:1

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”

           Caesar Augustus was the ruler of the entire Roman Empire beginning in 44 B.C. His name had been Octavian Caesar until he crushed Egypt in 27 B.C., then the Roman leaders attached to him the name Augustus (“the illustrious one). Many see him as the greatest emperor of one of the greatest empires in history.

          At a point in history, this greatest emperor issued a census. In issuing a census that Augustus believed he controlled, he was part of the sovereign will and plan of the God of the universe. It was the census that would bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  It was while they were in Bethlehem that Jesus would be born and fulfill the prophecy regarding His birth. 

          Scripture is clear that, though God places rulers in positions to lead, He ultimately controls all things.  He will position a ruler to carry out His purposes.

          In the Old Testament, after Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt and his family moved there as well, a new Pharoah came to power who eventually enslaved the Israelites.  This would set things up for the eventual Exodus led by Moses. God moved the government to fulfill His plans.

          Later, in the New Testament days, it was the Roman Empire – originally gaining power under Alexander the Great – who paved a system of roads and set things in place for the perfect time of a coming Messiah and growth of the church.

         The Sovereign God of the Universe, at times, will move rulers in order to accomplish His plans. Why fuss, fret, and wail over a government official?  There are times where government officials are certainly better than others.  Yet, ultimately, these officials are overseen by God Himself.

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