Week Four

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Sunday, December 20

Indestructible Love

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

The early morning hours of Tuesday, March 3, of this year will be forever etched in our minds. With little warning, we experienced the full force of the powerful EF3 tornado as it passed through our house. While the event itself lasted less than a minute, the feeling of complete helplessness overcame us; we were powerless to control it in any way.

Once it had passed, we realized that we were all physically fine but did not know the full extent of the damage the tornado had caused. It wasn’t until sunrise that we were able to see the full extent of the physical damage and realized that our house was left in an unlivable state. We were faced with the tremendous task of not only cleaning up the damage but also securing and furnishing another location to live.

The days that followed were nothing short of miraculous as people began showing up, out of the blue, to help out. An individual that I hadn’t known previously came with a chainsaw and helped remove the fallen trees in our backyard. Many friends also came to help. On Thursday of that week, I lost count of how many friends and coworkers showed up to help pack, put tarps on, and board up the shattered windows. By the end of the week, all our salvageable possessions had been moved and situated in our rental house by our friends, who even stocked the refrigerator and kitchen pantry with food.

Despite the traumatic event of the tornado and still facing issues rebuilding our house, we feel blessed. The individuals who helped us that week demonstrated God’s love to us and helped us make it through what was one of the worst weeks of our lives. The tornado left a trail of destruction that we have never seen or hope to see again. But even with its power to destroy, it is powerless to separate God’s love from us, His children.

By  Jason and Michelle Harper

Jason Harper has been a member at NFBC since 1997. He works for HCA in IT&S department. Michelle, a member of NFBC since childhood, is an RN. They have celebrated 20 years of marriage. They are active in the Cornerstone Department and a part of the Open Door Sunday School and serve in various roles around the church. Their children, Will and Abigail, are active in the children’s ministry.

Monday, December 21

Ever-Present Help in Trouble

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

When I reflect on this verse, I think of God’s having been my refuge and strength when people were rude to Skiles and me and cursed at us. We were on a Youth Choir Mission Tour passing out granola bars and informational cards for a church in New York City. God was there with us, two teenagers who were experiencing sadness in an unfamiliar city, and we kept going.

The word “ever-present” is extremely powerful to me because He is always near us. A song that I enjoy says God is our ”way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and light in the darkness.” For many people, the Christmas season is a time that brings back painful memories. These may involve the death of a loved one or the loss of a relationship. People may be experiencing concern over friends who don’t know Jesus, unemployment or other financial problems, racial difficulties, health issues, or even grades. The list could go on and on! Things are not as we want. There is a lot of pain and suffering.

But into this world came the Good News – a little baby in a manger – and His name is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Trust God as your refuge and strength. We have nothing to fear even when life throws its worst at us. Thank You, God, for giving us Jesus, who is the light that shines in our dark places – no matter where we may be.

By Ah-Gust Overbeck

Ah-Gust Overbeck is a freshman in high school. In addition to engaging in our youth group, she enjoys running, kayaking, hiking, playing violin, and participating in school clubs such as Student Council and FCA. 

Tuesday, December 22

A Good Purpose

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

There are times in the Bible when it becomes clear that the decision to follow Christ is a costly choice. And that following in the steps of Jesus Christ is to follow a path fraught with moments of hurt, discouragement, and disappointment.

It is natural to want to avoid hurt and anguish, but if we believe that all things work together for the good and that our lives are created with intention by God, then we know that there is a purpose in the suffering. We know that there is a purpose in the lament. And that there is a purpose in the hard.

In many cases, good may be understood to mean easy, financially secure, painless, or even happy. But that is not what this Scripture assures. God’s supreme goal for our lives cannot be defined or reduced to our having privileged experiences here on Earth. Ultimate comfort in this life is not the “good” that is promised here.

This verse is a reminder that though God does not promise that our lives will be easy nor that they will be without hardship, He does promise that whatever we experience and endure will be for our good. May we take comfort in knowing that even the difficult moments in life have a purpose and are part of His plan.

My encouragement to you is to embrace the walk with Christ, with all the good and the hard that comes with it, always knowing that in the end, when it is finished, it will all have been a part of His plan for your good. May you embrace and endure with wild abandon and with joy, knowing your Father in heaven watches.

By Shonna Greer

Shonna Greer enjoys trying new foods and meeting new people. You can find her around church either making lunch plans with the Young Professionals, dancing with children in the Children’s ministry, or asking people ice breakers while greeting at the main doors. When she is not at church or hanging out with children, she can be found on Vanderbilt’s campus working in Academic Affairs or completing a writing assignment for her Masters in Public Service.

Wednesday, December 23

Power Over Fear

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Such a powerful promise! It’s a promise to run to when we have zero control over circumstances that overwhelm us with feelings of impotence and paralyzing fear. Stating the obvious here: this probably includes all of 2020 for nearly everyone. Fear is part of the human condition. What we do with it is the challenge.

It may not be realistic to think we can just pray this verse and the fear will disappear. Yes, God chooses to bless that way sometimes. More often, though, He leads me through the fear gradually as I lean on His promise never to leave me, learning to battle the fear by trusting in His love for me. He teaches me the self-control of prayerful dependence and of calling on His power to overcome my fear with faith.

One time, though, He taught me a valuable lesson about fear in a dream. It was a chilling nightmare of raging conflict with demons: they were winning, and I was fatally wounded. But I woke up, and for long minutes continued battling those dream entities that were still with me. I prayed. I sang. I begged God to take away the terror, but He didn’t.

Finally, I surrendered and prayed, “Lord, I know this fear isn’t coming from You, and I don’t understand why You aren’t removing it. But if for some reason it’s your will for me to continue to be afraid, I know You love me and I yield to You.” I immediately fell back asleep. The dream picked back up where it had left off except that now hosts of angels greatly outnumbered the foe. The euphoria of victory and peace was with me when I woke the next morning, and it lasted for weeks afterward.

I’ve never forgotten the dream’s lesson: Our deliverance from fear is possible when we remember the power of Almighty God, when we remember His great love for us and when we refuse to allow fear to rob us of the disciplines of self-control that lead us to the ultimate safety found only in His hands.

By Margi Hawkins

Margi Hawkins has been a member of NFBC since 1985 and retired after serving almost 23 years on the church support staff. She has two children, Travis and Hannah, and a 5-year-old grandchild, Alice. Margi loves turquoise jewelry, old stuff, and war movies, and she believes in angels. She has had solo parts in many church “Broadway Dinner Theater” productions.

Thursday, December 24

He Cares for You

Humble yourselves, therefore, … casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

What are some of those fears so common to the human condition that man is consumed by? A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. The Washington Post lists these as the top five phobias:

  1. Public Speaking (Glossophobia)
  2. Heights (Acrophobia)
  3. Bugs & Insects (Entomophobia)
  4. Drowning (Aquaphobia)
  5. Blood & Needles (Trypanophobia)

Do any of these fears describe you?

Acrophobia and Neophobia, are two of my greatest fears. MedicineNet describes Neophobia as “the fear of anything new, of innovation, an irrational fear of new situations, places, or things.”

The source of so many mistakes and spiritual pitfalls in my life seems to be Neophobia … an ugly fear of not allowing God to change, form, and rearrange my life. This fear has caused me to bail on living life in God’s design and to settling for less than God’s best. I truly realize that fears have the potential to continually rob us of our peace and joy in life.

However, Jesus came so that we might have life and life to the fullest. (John 10:10) That must be why the phrase, “Do not be afraid” is by far the most frequently given biblical command. It seems God’s care and love for people moves Him to address this issue so often. He knows that we have lots of fears. (I know I do.)

In the story of Jesus’ birth, when an angel appears to different people, the first thing the angel says is, “Fear not.” Over and over we see the Father encouraging and admonishing: ”Do not be afraid.”

So, do we have fears? Sure, we do. But as one writer stated, “We weren’t saved and redeemed only to limp through life riddled with fear and anxiety.” Remember that God has called us by name; we are His (Isaiah 43:1). And we are living within God’s story – watching for Jesus’ return (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The story will end gloriously, joyfully, as promised.

SO … Don’t Live in Fear but LIVE GOD’S STORY!!

By Gary Morgan

Gary and Johni Morgan have been married for 28 years. Johni is a mercy-oriented lover of life and people. She enjoys recipes and horror movies. They haven’t figured out the horror movie part of that yet. They have two daughters at The King’s College in NYC: McKenna in her 4th year and Story in her 1st year

Gary, Pastor of Urban Missions, says: “My hope is to come alongside those living in and those curious about the story of God by helping them navigate life’s challenges in a rapidly changing world, so they can live the story they were designed to live.”

Friday, December 25

He Is Coming Again

(1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11)

A number of times this year I have simply whispered the ancient one-word prayer Maranatha. This word is a prayer phrase used by the early church and means “Our Lord, come.” It was probably a call for the presence of the Lord similar to what was experienced shortly after the resurrection when Jesus revealed himself in the upper room to the disciples. I believe it became a prayer to hasten the day of his coming for the Bride of Christ, that glorious day when the church would be taken up out of this world and the events that we refer to as end time prophecy begin to unfold.

2020 started off with about twenty of us gathered in the Chapel on New Year’s Eve to pray in the new year. We had no idea what the year was going to bring. To say that it has been a year that brought us to our knees would be an understatement. Disease and death, natural disaster, cities under siege, multiple injustices, economic losses, dreams shattered, hopes diminished, setbacks and cancellations that no one dreamed on New Year’s Eve. No one. You’d have all been present for the prayer time in our Chapel had you only known.

When I breathe out the phrase Maranatha, Our Lord Come, I am begging the eschatological calendar that only God knows to begin to unfold. I want to hear trumpets. I want to see the dead in Christ rise first; then I want to experience the rapture Paul talks about in our text. I am more than ready to be with the Lord and then to see the theology of end-times play out as only God knows it will. Maranatha, Our Lord, Come! Put an end to all of this. Come, Lord Jesus, please come.

The promise of His coming is comforting as it assures us of reunion with our loved ones. It reaffirms that God is sovereignly in control of the universe. This promise declares that Christ’s kingdom will triumph in the end as Satan is utterly and ultimately defeated.

The promise of His coming is a warning just as certainly as it is a comfort. The coming of Christ for His Bride (the Church) is the plain and clear teaching of Scripture. No one knows when it will happen for it is described as a thief coming in the night. It makes no sense to speculate on the times or the signs of the seasons, but it makes perfect sense to be spiritually prepared for this event. The only way to be prepared is to respond in faith to the convicting awakening of the Holy Spirit who convinces us of the truth of the gospel, that we are dead in our sins and cannot save ourselves.

God, who is rich in mercy, has graciously provided a way of escape through the substitutionary death of Jesus. As the Spirit of God draws us to the Son of God, we can be born again by placing our trust and faith in Jesus. Christ took upon himself the punishment due for the sin of every man, woman, and child. His death was sufficient for all and effective for all who will call on the name of the Lord to be saved. If you have done this, you are prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus for His Bride. If not, and if His coming were today, you would be lost and separated from Holy God for all eternity. My friend, this promise is a warning. Do not put it off. Trust Christ as your Savior today by throwing yourself on His rich and abundant mercy.

The promise of His coming is also a challenge to every believer to live a life of personal holiness. Your heart must be right with God, your relationship right with your fellowman, and your daily walk consistent with your profession of faith. The promise of His coming encourages you to pursue a godly life that produces the fruit of the Spirit. And if you truly believe in the promise of His coming, you will have a passion to see as many people come to Christ by your witness as possible.

He is coming back again! Let your light be burning bright when He does.

Maranatha! Our Lord Come!

By Frank Lewis

Frank and Lori Lewis have been a part of the Nashville First family since 1997 when he became the 20th Pastor of this church. “We are thankful that we got to raise our children in this church because it gave them an incredible foundation in their faith. Today as we look forward to the ministry that will be supported by our new building, we hope that our best days for reaching young families are ahead of us. Church, thank you for being a blessing to us, and Merry Christmas to each of you!”