First Central Bible Church‘s Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner is one of our more effective outreach events of the year. The women invite their friends, coworkers, and family for an elegant evening of good food, great conversation, Christmas music, and a gospel message. Thanks to all who made it a wonderful and effective evening–the women’s leadership team who planned, the men and women who decorated, the guys who cooked and served, our musicians and sound personnel, those who invited friends, and everyone who prayed..
Saturday was First Central Bible Church’s annual Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner. The gym and tables were decorated as beautiful as can be.
Shopping for Christmas presents is a high-pressure challenge. You search for the perfect gift. The one you hope will be met with “It’s what I’ve always wanted!” Instead, your child would rather play with the box than the gift. Your teens are nonplussed by your gift choice and respond with, “meh, you shouldn’t have.” Your spouse can hardly wait for December 26 to return it for a different color, size, or …
In my opinion, Simeon (Luke 2:21-35) is one of the more interesting characters in the Christmas pageant. However, if you blink, you will miss him as he only makes a cameo appearance in the drama.
By all appearances, Simeon was a godly senior citizen (25). Tradition says he was 113 years old, but Scripture does not give us his age. What it does say is that he felt he could die in peace after seeing the baby Jesus (29).
What impresses me about Simeon is that he spent his entire life longing for Christmas. His expectations were more than met because he discovered that God’s Christmas gift satisfies the deepest longings of our heart.
Simeon encountered Jesus when his parents brought him to the temple to be dedicated (22-24). According to the Old Testament Law, the event occurred 40 days after Jesus was born, or when he was almost six weeks old.
Though we don’t know how or when, Simeon received advance knowledge that he would live to see the day when the Messiah appeared (26). Waiting with confident expectation, I’m sure he asked the Father often, “Is this the one?” as he saw parents come into the temple to dedicate their children. Something stirred in his spirit when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus (27-28).
Like a child on Christmas morning, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and exclaimed, “It’s what I’ve always wanted!” He recognized the significance of the little baby. Not only was he God’s instrument of salvation (30), but he would bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike (31-32). This child would bring people to a point of decision (34) and reveal the hidden secrets of each one’s heart (35).
What are hoping to receive this year for Christmas? Are you looking for something that truly satisfies? Do you need a sense of direction or purpose? Are you hoping to find security? Do you long to belong? Do you want a sense of hope for the future? Are you searching for a sense of certainty? Do you long for a sense of significance?
If you turn to Jesus, you can realize what Simeon discovered—God’s best gift satisfies the deepest longings of our heart.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 4, 2016. It is part of a collection of messages on Christmas. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
This Saturday is First Central Bible Church‘s annual Women’s Christmas Friendship Dinner, one of our major outreach events of the year. Jim, Lisa, Spencer, Rachel, and others are working hard to transform the gymnasium into an elegant dining room. They are doing a beautiful job and it should be a wonderful evening. The excitement is building.
Book Review: Strengths Based Marriage: Build a stronger relationship by understanding each other’s gifts, by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey
It is often said that communication is the key to building a stronger marriage. Marriage experts Jimmy Evans and Allan Kelsey go one step further by helping couples better understand each other so that they can communicate better.
The premise of their book, Strengths Based Marriage: Build a stronger relationship by understanding each other’s gifts, is that our greatest contributions in life as well as our greatest joy will come from knowing and operating within our strengths. The authors believe that the same can be said of marriage. With that in mind, they show how couples can make use of the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment tool to better understand each other. This will not only promote better understanding but will also help to break some of the negative cycles that creep into marriage.
To get the most out of the book, each partner must be willing to not only read the book but also take the assessment tool. (What the book does NOT mention is the cost of the assessment tool. It is $15/person to identify your top five strengths and $74/person to identify all 34 strengths & weaknesses. The extra cost will hinder many couples from taking the next step and getting as much out of the book as they can.)
In addition, it would also be helpful if a couple would engage a mentor couple or counselor to help them think through the material and how to practice it in their daily lives. Without the commitment of both partners and the guidance from a neutral third-party, the information will have limited benefit.
While the book is informative, they are too many drawbacks to recommend it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Book Review: A Minute of Vision for Men: 365 Motivational Moments to Kick-Start your Day, by Roger Patterson
Pastor and author Roger Patterson has written a one-year devotional guide for busy men. The goal of the book is
To engage men where they’re at while also helping them succeed spiritually. During my years as a pastor, I have learned that there are a number of men who want to grow spiritually but aren’t sure how to do it. Though successful in nearly every other area of their lives, they are intimidated by spiritual things, including the Bible and devotional books that take fifteen to twenty minutes a day to read. A Minute of Vision for Men is written to engage you in a daily thought from Scripture that should take just about a minute. In short, this book is a starting point to help you grow spiritually or a supplement to what you are already doing.
The book contains 365 daily readings, which are made up of a motivation thought, an inspiring quote from business or sports figures, and a verse of Scripture. The bulk of the illustrations and quotes come from NFL players and coaches. There are a few from baseball and basketball and a smaller amount from business leaders. As a result, the book will find its greatest audience among those who follow sports, especially the NFL.
My concern with devotional books like this one (and I comment from personal experience since I wrote a similar volume many years ago) is they should be a supplement rather than a substitute for Bible reading and study. Basing your entire spiritual input on a one-minute devotional would be like eating a multi-vitamin in the morning and skipping meals the rest of the week. The vitamin may keep you healthy, but only marginally so. Read this devotional as a motivational thought, but make sure you are also in the Scriptures on a regular basis.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.