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Sunday, December 13
Peace in Jesus
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)
These comforting words from Jesus to His disciples are most timely for us as we face the coronavirus pandemic. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we all seek the peace from the Prince of Peace who “became human and dwelt among us” that first Christmas.
The wearing of masks, social-distancing, hygienic protection, and a host of other precautions have altered our way of living and brought anxiety to us for fear of contracting this terrible disease. However, far worse than COVID-19 is the sin that has plagued the human race since the disobedience of Eve and Adam.
But Jesus, dying on a cruel cross, took my sin and yours upon Himself and provided the healing for our sin-sick soul!
Heal me, hands of Jesus, and search out all my pain; restore my hope, remove my fear, and bring me peace again.
Cleanse me, blood of Jesus, take bitterness away; let me forgive as one forgiven and bring me peace today.
Know me, mind of Jesus, and show me all my sin; dispel the memories of guilt, and bring me peace within.
Fill me, joy of Jesus: anxiety shall cease and heaven’s serenity be mine, for Jesus brings me peace!
Michael Perry: “Heal Me, Hands of Jesus” – Celebrating Grace Hymnal #541
By Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown and his wife, Mary Alice, were married for 47 years. Jerry was stationed in Korea in the Army. He served as minister of music in South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee churches, retiring in 1999. Jerry has three children, David, Stephanie, and Kevin, and three grandchildren. At Nashville First Baptist, he sings in the Sanctuary Choir and teaches 4th and 5th graders in Sunday School. Jerry likes writing greeting cards of all kinds, watching sports, and traveling. He enjoys his quiet time every morning, reading the Bible and devotional books.
Monday, December 14
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
When I read this verse, it’s like taking a deep breath. Yes! Of course! Only the promise of the Lord can make me lie down, sleep in peace, and dwell in safety.
These days, with two young children at home, sometimes sleep doesn’t come easily to our house. The kids are up and down. They request one more glass of water. They ask for someone to lie down with them because they don’t want to be alone. We hear these things nightly, we deal with them, and we move on with the evening. Then, when it’s finally my turn to lie down for the night, my brain decides to turn ON, and sleep seems to evade me. I cycle back over the things I’ve done during the day, or didn’t do, or could have done better. Can you relate?
When we lay our heads on the pillow at night, the only security we have is God’s presence. Even with all of the world’s security systems and planning for the future, the only real peace we can find comes from knowing that we will never face life alone. God will always be there with us.
I’ve had to work a lot on coming to terms with the fact that I am not in control of my life, my children’s lives, or what happens to my family and friends. I often remind myself that when I gave my life to Christ, He didn’t erase my problems or make things easy for me. But I am now firmly in the grasp of the One who will protect me, watch over me, help me through my problems, and make me a better person because of them. I can rest in peace knowing that I am never alone and that God is always watching over me.
My prayer for this season, and every season of life, is that you will be able to lie down AND sleep, knowing that the Lord is in control and will keep us safe.
By Marissa Moore
Marissa (Gentry) Moore began attending Nashville First as a second grader in 1987 and was involved in the children and student ministries from that time on. She and her husband, Jeremy, moved back to Nashville in June of 2019 and joined Nashville First along with their two children, Gentry Claire (8) and Jackson (5). Marissa currently serves as director of our weekday program: First Preschool Child Development Center.
Tuesday, December 15
He Will Always Be with Us
I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corner I called you. I said, “You are my servant”; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:9-10, NIV)
I love these verses in Isaiah because God is assuring us that we, as God’s people, do not have a reason to fear. God has not rejected us but has called us to be His own. He promises that He is with us at all times. He has given us the strength to overcome. We can rest in the security of His power and love. God is greater than any circumstance, any evil, any man. This is great news!
Many times in my life I have needed to trust in these assurances from God. Difficult times when I have dealt with health issues, relationship problems, deaths of loved ones. Times of uncertainty and fear. I have had to rely on God to fight for me and to trust that He is in control.
One such time was when I became a foster parent. I was very afraid because I knew that bringing a toddler and a baby into our home would be a very difficult and emotional journey. These little ones had already dealt with so much in their short lives. Could I handle their needs as a single mom? My other two children were a high school senior and a junior in college. I was no longer a young mom. Overnight, our home life changed. There were meetings, court dates, visitations. Not to mention diapers and sleepless nights. We grew very attached to these beautiful babies and dreaded the day that we might have to say goodbye.
I prayed constantly for God’s strength because mine was gone. God came through every time. He put people into our lives to walk beside us. Even older moms like myself who were going through the adoption journey at the same time. He gave us peace after a judge decided to send one child back to live with her family and the other stayed with us. What a blessing! God sustained us through years of uncertainty and fear. We learned yet again that we can lean on Him!
By Darlene Cates
Darlene Cates has been a member of Nashville First Baptist for 32 years and is a member of the Eaton/Smith Sunday School class. She is the mother of three wonderful children. Hannah is married to Matt and teaches 5th grade in Nolensville. Wesley is a software engineer living in Connecticut. And Jason is a 5th grade student. Darlene enjoys outdoor activities, sports, and volunteering.
Wednesday, December 16
The Gift of Peace
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27, NLT)
During this past year we have seen abundant changes, and the comforts of our world have been threatened. The news cycle and discussions among friends have often taken on a tone of fear, anger, and an endless search for answers from sources that can be trusted. There are parallels between these days and those when Jesus was facing His death on the cross. His disciples were confused and hurt by the events that ultimately took the human life of the Son of God. We can read in the gospel of John about the fear and inner turmoil the disciples were experiencing leading up to His death on the cross.
Our human nature equates peace with worldly comforts such as good circumstances and good health. Jesus, however, prepared His disciples for an upheaval in their world by giving them the gift of peace, telling them that “the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” This is one of God’s promises to all of us: In the most troubling of times in our lives we can have peace through our heavenly Father.
Many people in today’s world do not know who Jesus is and cannot comprehend the wonderful gift of His peace. We can choose to live in the encompassing love and peace of Jesus. We can find strength and comfort knowing that regardless of current circumstances or tragic events in life, our heavenly Father is always faithful and always honors His promises. In the midst of turmoil, God offers us his gift of peace and it is ours to accept.
By Joy Harris
Joy Harris is the wife of Dennis and mother of Julia (9) and Vann (7). She attends the Young Married Sunday School class and is a Trustee of NFBC. She likes being active in her community and enjoys most hobbies; a few of her favorites are hiking, tennis, and reading.
Thursday, December 17
Peace of Mind
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
I am a planner. I like having a general idea of what to expect in any given situation (daily activities, personal goals, etc.). Sometimes my plans are successful, but sometimes everything seems to go awry. Daily activities can be easily adjusted. But when the unexpected happens in life – jobs, health, relationships – it is easy to worry. Sometimes worry quickly turns into anxiety that overwhelms me. It makes me feel helpless and desperate.
The Bible does not say we will not worry or feel anxious. But it does remind us God is near and we do not have to worry or be anxious about anything. Not only is it okay to admit when we feel overwhelmed or helpless, as believers it is empowering. In that moment we can truly humble ourselves and admit God’s sovereignty. It does not have to be a moment of weakness but of strength. We can approach the foot of God’s throne through Jesus in prayer, express our worries, and rest in thanksgiving for His love and sovereignty in all things.
We are never alone in our trials. God is near. He promises that when we turn to Him, tell Him our worries and focus on who He is, He will protect us with His peace that guards our hearts and minds.
I am learning that planning – in everything – must begin with prayer, so that when the unexpected happens, I can rely on God’s peace to center my thoughts and emotions on what is true and honorable in Christ Jesus. The more I pray and petition God, the more I am reminded and thankful for His promise of peace, nearness, sovereignty, and love.
By Renee Matthews
Renee Matthews has been a member of Nashville First since 2010. She has enjoyed serving in various leadership positions at church: GA director, Family Enrichment Committee member and chairperson, Childhood Ministry chairperson, VBS, and 7th grade AXIS leader. Renee and her husband, Andy, have three children Harper, Dabbs, and Catherine.
Friday, December 18
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I sometimes tease my wife, Eleanor, by telling her something that is not true or is make-believe. Something like, “My friend Tom is finally getting a pet snake.” She will look at me startled, “You’re kidding.” “No,” I reply, “He’s gone after it now.” She looks at me again and asks, “Do you promise?” With a grin I say, “No, I’m just kidding you.” Her “do you promise” always brings out the truth from me.
This Scripture passage is a promise, not a tease. It is true. If we trust God, we don’t try to figure out the things we are incapable of knowing. We say, “I know that God will follow through. He’ll make things the way they should be according to His will.” Trusting is faith in action. It is knowing that a parent will help a child when they tell her, “Jump in the water, I’ll catch you.”
Trust implies dependence. The sense of trust in this passage is compared to leaning against a big oak tree and knowing it will not fall over. It is a conscious dependence on God. It is bringing Him into life choices before trying to figure things out completely on our own or relying on own own perceptions.
When we acknowledge God, we observe His actions in our lives and get to know Him in the process of living. In doing so, we find that time and time again, God makes things work. He will guide and direct us in the correctness of life’s decisions. He is trustworthy, and He is faithful – even when we are not. He prepares the way for us when we rely on His goodness and faithfulness. He will do what is best for us – if we are attentive to His leadership.
This verse is my life verse and the life verse of my grandson, Jacob Whitehurst. We attest that it is true.
By Larry Yarborough
Larry Yarborough loves Eleanor, his children, his grandchildren, hiking (it used to be running) and reading. He serves our church by working with newborns (this is his 45th year) and as a life-deacon. Larry is a volunteer chaplain for BrightStone (an organization with a ministry to adults with special needs) and the Gilda’s Club (multiple myeloma patients).
Saturday, December 19
For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him …” (2 Corinthians1:20)
If you are of a certain era, you may remember the Burt Bacharach tune, sung by Dionne Warwick, “Promises, Promises.” Every day we make promises, and promises are made to us. Most are kept. Many are not.
God has made promises to His people throughout history. The Bible calls them covenants. Unlike our promises, God’s promises have all been kept.
He promised Noah that never again would a flood destroy the earth, and set His rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant.
He promised Abram, whom He renamed Abraham, and his descendants, that He would be their God and that through Abraham all nations on earth would be blessed.
He promised the children of Israel through Moses that if they would obey Him, they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He gave them the law, the sacrificial system and the Passover, when the Angel of Death passed over the firstborn of each house where the blood of the lamb was smeared on the doorpost.
He promised David that His throne would be established forever.
He promised through His prophets a Messiah who would deliver His people.
Then, at just the right time, when oppression reigned and deliverance seemed impossible, He sent Jesus. Jesus fulfilled perfectly the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, descendant of David, riding on a donkey, not a bone would be broken, and many more. He fulfilled the promise of the prophet Isaiah, that the people living in darkness would see a great light.
The Old Covenant pointed to Christ, our Passover, the perfect, sufficient sacrifice.
Jesus fulfilled the Old covenant and in its place gave the New Covenant of His blood, “which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We are heirs to these covenant promises of God. All have been kept. Look at history, and you will see. This Christmas, Jesus offers you the greatest of all gifts, heirship to the kept promises of God. Have you claimed your gift?
By Wes Turner
Wes Turner came to First Baptist in 1978, just out of law school, with new wife Vicki, to take a position with a Nashville law firm where he has worked for 42 years. Wes and Vicki raised three children, Becca, Sarah, and Will, at FBC, and now he has been blessed with 12 grandchildren. Vicki passed away in 2018. At FBC Wes is a deacon, co-teacher of the Encouragers Sunday School Class, and currently on the Building and Finance Committees.