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Sunday, November 29
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. While some reiterate a promise already made, I think it’s a way God is reassuring us that when He makes a promise, He keeps it. Of the many and very crucial promises God made, for me, one in particular is the most important of all. That is the promise of sending His Son to redeem us from eternity without Him.
John explained the promise: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). In Luke 2, the angel announced the joyful news that He was born.
Christ would offer Himself as a sacrifice to provide redemption for all. What a blessed and wonderful promise God gave us! Knowing Christ died for me, forgave me of all my sins, and now has prepared a place for me in Heaven is the reason this promise means so much to me and my family.
This time of year has always been a special time in my life, not just because of gifts we exchange or even our family gatherings – and both are great – but because I can celebrate the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ, knowing He did all of this for me.
By Ted Beard
Ted and Mona Beard joined First Baptist in 2010, and are members of the Encouragers Sunday School class. Ted currently serves as a deacon and on the Personnel and Baptism Committees. They have lived in Brentwood for 30 years. Mona is a retired pharmaceutical sales rep, and Ted has been in sales & marketing throughout his career.
Monday, November 30
A Home in Heaven
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
Any time I read these verses or hear them read, my memory travels back to a Sunday afternoon 65+ years ago. When I was three months old, my daddy died unexpectedly of kidney failure. After his death, Mom and I lived with her parents while she healed and started over with her life. In my mind’s eye, I see myself sitting on the four-poster bed in the bedroom my mother and I shared in my grandparents’ home in Jackson, Mississippi.
That memorable afternoon, Mom, an elementary school teacher, had helped me sound out the words and read these verses in her Bible. Even though I was not old enough to comprehend all I read, I later understood that she wanted me to know Jesus’ wonderful promise that comforted and sustained her in her deepest sorrow. As she explained to me, Jesus had prepared homes in heaven for His disciples and all who believe in Him. My daddy was in heaven, and some day we would live there, too.
Now, fast forward to another Sunday afternoon 60 years later. Mom was 98 years old, and her sister and another family member had gone to visit with her in her assisted living apartment in Nashville. When Mom did not respond to their knocks, they pushed open the door and found her lying on the floor. She had a smile on her face, and I have no doubt her eyes were on Jesus as she slipped away to her heavenly home.
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
when Thou camest to earth for me, But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity. O come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee.
By Gay Campbell
During her 43 years as a member of First Baptist Nashville, Gay Campbell has served as a deacon, on numerous committees, and as a member of the Family mission trip team. Gay is a member of the Encouragers class and has worked with young marrieds and singles in Sunday School. She has two children, Ben Campbell and Jenna (Zach Rozar), and three grandchildren. Gay is retired from the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt.
Tuesday, December 1
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.”
I’m reminded of walking together with my kids and now grandkids. Parents know that to keep a child safe, preventing a fall or a dart out in front of a car, it’s best to hold their hand rather than let the child hold your hand. Otherwise, the child may slip, trip, or let go of the parent’s hand and fall.
In verses 29-30 of John 10, Jesus says, “My father is greater than ALL and I and my Father are one.” Growing up, I thought my dad was the absolute best at everything. Now picture the image of Jesus Christ the Son and God the Father holding us by the hand. The hands that created everything, that healed the sick, that raised the dead, and that rescued Peter when he was sinking after he took his eyes off Jesus. Those same hands … which hold the past, present, and future throughout eternity … are holding on to us.
The promise of this passage is clear – when we are born again, we are eternally saved. We are God’s children and joint heirs with Christ. Jesus’ death for us on the cross was an eternal sacrifice, once for all. Jesus triumphantly proclaimed on the cross, “It is finished.” The good shepherd with those nail-pierced hands firmly, yet lovingly, holds and protects us, his sheep. This verse reminds us that we have eternal security as believers. It reminds us of the loving relationship between God and His children. God has us and ain’t nobody or nothing going to snatch us from His grip. Our God always keeps His promises.
Jesus is born! And “all the promises of God find their YES in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
By Steve Goins
Steve and Alyssa Goins joined NFBC in 1982. Both are retired. Alyssa enjoys doing crafts, and Steve likes chasing the golf ball around the links. He works part-time for Missional Business Services owned by Nathan Edwards (Mark’s son) providing support for churches around the southeast. Their three children were at NFBC from birth through high school: Drew (Rachel), Diana (Mark Newlin), and Emily (Ryan Thomas). They have three grandsons and three granddaughters.
Wednesday, December 2
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Oliver and I grieved a miscarriage early last year. In the midst of it all, the word on our hearts was Immanuel—God with us. We wanted so badly to be in a different reality that didn’t hurt so much, or at least to have the ability to skip that season and fast-forward to “the happy part” when we would hold a baby we had so longed for in our arms.
But that desire, though completely human, was not God’s promise to us. He didn’t promise that this walk through our earthly lives wouldn’t hurt, nor did He promise we’d one day have a baby. The promise was His presence and the peace and reassurance that though we would not be spared seasons of trial and tears, He would be with us always.
We felt His presence oh so clearly during those days! We felt Him during our reading of Scripture and during our times of prayer and quiet reflection. We felt Him as our friends, family, and fellow church members loved us and were the hands and feet of Christ. We felt God with us, gently guiding us and walking with us day by day.
Shortly after our season of pain, God so kindly and graciously gave us Ivan, whom we got to welcome into our arms and our home in January. Even so, the Lord’s promise to us was not the hope of our precious baby Ivan, but the hope found only in precious Baby Jesus—Immanuel—whom Mary held in her arms one starry night in Bethlehem long, long ago.
By Savannah Payne
Savannah Payne is wife to Oliver and new mama to Ivan. She has called Nashville First home since 2016 and teaches 1st through 3rd grade Sunday School for First Kids.
Thursday, December 3
When We Pray
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
“What if the armies of the Lord, picked up and dusted off their swords; vowed to set the captives free and not let Satan have one more.”
That’s the start of an old (2003) Casting Crowns song entitled “What if His People Prayed.”
As Jesus’ followers we are called to pray, and we are called to act as well in accordance with God’s plan and direction. But first and foremost we are called to PRAY, to seek God, to spend time in communion daily with our Father.
Each day we encounter challenges and situations that only our Father can truly solve. 2020 has certainly shown us that! We cannot walk through this life alone, and we really don’t ever know what tomorrow may bring. Jesus reminded us to pray with that in mind: Give us THIS day our daily bread. Humbly seek our Father TODAY and follow where He leads us.
Pray in all things … in ALL things!
God promises that if we do humble ourselves, repent of sin in our lives, pray, and seek His face, He will heal our land. God is the answer. But we must SEEK Him, knowing that He has the answers and that it’s not about us. It is about our God – the God who saves.
He is the God who sent His one and only Son to die for our sins. The veil separating us from God was torn in two. We can directly seek God – seek His face and His will. Jesus made the way.
- Commit with me today – individually – TO PRAY.
- As a church body – TO PRAY.
- As a city – TO PRAY.
- As a people of God – TO PRAY.
Prayer is our greatest weapon. And as the song says: pick up and dust off your sword and do not let Satan have one more. Commune with the Father daily and seek HIS will.
May God Bless you and keep each of you – DAILY.
By John Galloway
John Galloway has attended Nashville First since he and Sarah married here in 1999. They have three sons – James (19), Will (15) and Chandler (12). John works for a local construction company and enjoys watching sports and coaching youth baseball.
Friday, December 4
A New Heaven and Earth
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)
Second Peter 3:13 includes themes of promises, waiting, and righteousness, but the central subject is the idea of new heavens and new earth. Advent, as we know, is a season of expectant waiting as we reflect on how the Jewish people waited long for the coming of a Messiah who would deliver them from the rule of the Roman Empire and lead them to an era of peace.
Just as ancient Jews waited for the deliverance and a hope of peace, followers of Christ have awaited and continue to wait for a second coming which shall bring new heavens and new earth where righteousness and justice will be at home. As Galatians 3:28 informs us, this new heaven and earth will transcend gender, race, ethnicity and other divisive qualifiers and make us one in Christ. There will be peace and civility, forgiveness and compassion, and respect and empathy for all other beings.
But this dream of new heaven and new earth is not one we have to passively wait for. We can actively do our part as followers of Christ’s teachings to care for the least of these, to love our neighbors and our enemies, and to strive to make earth as it is in heaven. We can fight injustice where we see it rather than being complacent with our current systems of disparities and discrimination. We can recognize where we ourselves have bias and prejudice, and seek to educate ourselves so that we can love others well, as they would be loved in new heaven and new earth. God loves people of all races and ethnic groups, all political persuasions, all religions and those of no religion, the righteous and the unrighteous. All are precious to God.
When we fight injustice in this world, we are honoring God and Christ’s example to contribute to a just and righteous earth here as it is in heaven and as it will be in the promised new heavens and a new earth.
By Lucinda Stewart and Emily Stewart
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)
Lucinda Stewart, a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid, joined Nashville FBC in 1987, and has served as a member of the choir, dinner theater, and medical on-call team. She and her husband, Tim Stewart, are active in the Galatians 3:28 S.S. Class. Their children, Benjamin and Emily, are members of the Young Professionals S.S. class.
Emily Stewart works full-time at Vanderbilt University and part time at the Green Hills YMCA as a swim and lifeguard instructor. Her hobbies include playing the harp, acting, dance, wellness, and women’s rights.
Saturday, December 5
The Advent Candle Words
One evening after dinner, my Arab housemates, Khalid and Moullor (from Egypt and Saudi Arabia), were talking about the words HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE. They told me how these words are used in their countries.
HOPE – (Tamana in Arabic). A positive emotion from heart to head. Hoping that something good will happen. (Inshallah – if Allah wills)
PEACE – (Salam in Arabic. Shalom in Hebrew). No violence. Comfortable. Seeks the best for neighbor.
JOY – (Sadah in Arabic). Happiness. Creates positive action. Achievement of a goal.
LOVE – (Hob in Arabic). Feeling/actions towards others. The idea of “Do unto others.”
Conversation in my home, with these men (Coptic and Muslim), reminded me that word meanings may vary greatly according to the culture in which they are used.
Where we are living, people also give various meanings to these words depending on the context. When we are speaking of biblical truth, these word meanings are based on the character of God.
HOPE – (Yakal in Hebrew). Rather than optimism, this is waiting and expecting that God Himself will act to rescue all of creation for a better future than the present.
PEACE – (Shalom in Hebrew). Not just the absence of conflict but the presence of completeness. It restores wholeness from brokenness.
JOY – (Chara in Hebrew). Not just happiness, which is a mood based on circumstances, but an attitude of anticipating the future with gladness.
LOVE – (Agape in Greek) Seeking the well being of others regardless of their response and without expecting anything in return. Trusting that God loves.
The question for us: How do you define these words that we read and hear in the season of Advent, and as we light the Advent candles?
By Fred Linkenhoker
Born in Virginia, Fred Linkenhoker has been educated at various universities and seminary. He has lived and taught in various countries for about 20 years. At present Fred is an ESL teacher for a community center, an active member of Nashville First Baptist since 2001, and also active in the Sanctuary Choir. He is basically enjoying LIFE.