Chronicles?

We have started reading 1 & 2 Chronicles in our daily Bible reading plan. Here is a great introduction video to help you understand the big picture.

Tuesday 11/13 read 1 Chronicles 1-2

Wednesday 11/14 read 1 Chronicles 3-4

Thursday 11/15 read 1 Chronicles 5-6

Friday 11/16 read 1 Chronicles 7-8

Saturday 11/17 read 1 Chronicles 9-10

Sunday 11/18 read 1 Chronicles 11-12

Christmas Eve & Morning Celebration

By Paul Duncan, pastor Mambrino Baptist Church

The following is a set of quick readings and visuals to help your family understand and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This post is set up for longer readings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. Tomorrow I’ll divide the readings up between three days.

Christmas Eve

Reader 1: Tonight on Christmas Eve we remember that God’s timing is perfect- Galatians 3:4

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a watch in the center of the table

Reader 2: God promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would crush the Serpent’s head- Genesis 3:15

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a hammer in the center of the table

 Reader 3: The prophet Micah said the Ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem- Micah 5:2

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a dress-up crown into the center of the table or you could have a child make one out of paper in preparation for this night.

Reader 4: The prophet Isaiah said that the people who lived in deep darkness would see a great light- Isaiah 9:2

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a battery-operated candle or flashlight in the center of the table

Reader 1: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and Joseph took Mary to be his wife- Matthew 1:18, 24

All: Jesus is coming!

Place a wedding ring in the center of the table (a piece of costume jewelry works well)

R2: You shall call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins- Matthew 1:21

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a cross in the center of the table

Reader 3: Zechariah the priest said that God will raise up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David- Luke 1:69

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a horn in the center of the table

Reader 4: So Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem- Luke 2:4

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a nativity scene in the center of the table but hold out baby Jesus, the angel, the shepherds, and the wise men

Dad or Grandad: Pray for your family asking that God would help everyone to understand the great blessing of Christmas.

Sing: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, hymn 76 in the Baptist Hymnal or you can find a good version on Youtube.

*Leave all the items on the table because you will add to them Christmas morning
Christmas Morning Celebration

Christmas Morning

Reader 1: While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem the time came for Mary to give birth and Jesus was born- Luke 2:6-7

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place baby Jesus in the nativity

Reader 2: An angel appeared to shepherds and said, “I bring you good news of great joy because Christ the Lord has been born in the city of David- Luke 2:10-11

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the shepherds at the nativity

Reader 3: Then an army of angels appeared and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth”- Luke 2:12

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the angel at the nativity

Reader 4: When the wise men saw the child they worshipped him and gave him gifts- Matthew 2:11

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the wise men at the nativity

 Dad or Grandfather: The two most important times of the year are Christmas and Easter. At Christmas we celebrate the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, has come. At Easter we celebrate the fact that Jesus, our Savior, died on the cross for our sins and three days later rose again. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” The greatest gift we could ever receive is the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate the fact that our Savior Jesus Christ has come, he has rescued us, and one day soon He’s coming again.

Sing: Joy the World! The Lord has Come, hymn 87 in the Baptist Hymnal or you can find a good version on Youtube.

Pray: have one of the children pray and thank God for sending Jesus

 

Note to parents or grandparents

I change the actual scripts before printing and put in the names of the people who will be reading, this way it is much less confusing. If kids are constantly asking, “What number am I?” it can be a distraction. If you have children who aren’t reading yet you can work with them to memorize their parts or simply include them in the statements that everyone will make.

I want to leave it up to you to decide who puts the items in the center of the table or in the center of the room if you have more people than places at the table. The person reading can place the item, or an adult can place all the items at the appropriate time. Use your better judgment concerning the ability of the children to do this without getting distracted or fighting over who gets to hold the item.

I plan to do the Christmas Eve celebration just before bed (after pajamas are on and teeth have been brushed) and then do the Christmas morning celebration first thing in the morning (if you have an early riser who likes to eat and might get fussy go ahead and give him/her a snack).

 

Items you will need for the Christmas Eve celebration

  • Watch or clock
  • Hammer
  • Dress up or paper crown
  • Battery operated candle or flashlight
  • Wedding ring
  • Cross
  • Horn
  • Nativity scene minus Jesus, angel, shepherds, and wise men

 

Items you will need for the Christmas morning celebration

  • Jesus for nativity scene
  • Shepherds for nativity scene
  • Angel for nativity scene
  • Wise men for nativity scene

Discuss Romans 16:1-16

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. What have you done today because of your union with Christ?
  3. What will it look like for you to rely on your union with Christ tomorrow?
  4. What surprises or interests you in Romans 16:1-16?
  5. What standard do you use to judge people? Do you welcome and accept people according to Christ or some other characteristic?
  6. Describe what it looks like to welcome one another like God in Christ has welcomed you (Romans 15:7).
  7. What does it look like for you to work according to Christ?
  8. How do you greet a stranger, acquaintance, coworker, friend, and family member? What do these greeting tell the person?
  9. How do you greet your fellow church members? What does this greeting say to those members?
  10. Can we kiss each other? Should we kiss each other?
  11. Make a list of Christian women who have influenced your life. Over the next two weeks write a thank you note to each one and include specific examples of their good works.
  12. Consider 1 Timothy 5:9-10. If you are a women, how can you grow in these qualities? If you are a man, how can you encourage the women around you?

Discuss Romans 15:22-33

  1. What do you think about this picture?
  2. solidarity
  3. With whom do you have solidarity?
  4. What missionaries do you have solidarity with?
  5. Describe the last time you spoke with a friend about what Christ is doing in him/her.
  6. How can your home become a place of refreshing for those who work hard?
  7. Is hospitality more about food and decor or being mutually encouraged by one another’s faith? How can you better live this out?
  8. Who do you know that is suffering? How can you help spiritually? How can you help materially?
  9. What will it take for you to become more joyfully generous?
  10. What does striving prayer look like in your life? How would striving prayer look?
  11. Where does hospitality and missionary support fit into your budget?
  12. Spend time praying for opportunities to encourage your brothers and sisters.
  13. Spend time praying for missionaries who need your support.

A Funeral Sermon

King Solomon wrote these startling words, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart…The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning (Ecclesiastes 7:2,4)

It is startling to hear that there is good to be gained by being here today. There is a good for us that is sweeter and better than the pleasure we might feel if we went to a party instead. Our time is short and valuable; I want to make the most of the time we have. I want to hold out the possibility of good and I want to encourage you to go after it.

Let’s begin with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (read it)

I must be clear with you that everything good I hold out to you depends on Jesus’ perfect life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and promised return. Everything good depends on him.

In those verses I read, you heard God’s plan for the future. Jesus who died and rose again, will return to this earth. When Jesus returns he will bring with him all those who have died trusting in him. We look forward to a mighty and wonderful reunion when Jesus returns and unites all of us always. We are told to encourage one another with these truths.

Take courage. All those who died trusting Christ will return with Christ and we will be united with them always.

The Gospel of John, chapter 11, holds out good to us because it is the account of Jesus attending a funeral. The chapter opens by telling us that a man named Lazarus is sick. Now, this isn’t just any sick guy, Jesus is very connected to this family. So, Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, write to Jesus telling him, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” This is classic humans interacting with God; if you love me, you will do what I want. I want Lazarus to be healed, if you love me, you will heal Lazarus. In more specific terms we say, “If God is good he must always do good and I get to define what is good.” God, you love Lazarus so heal Lazarus.

Early on in chapter 11 we are given insight into what Jesus is going to do. It’s like the narrator explaining the story to the audience. Jesus said that the purpose of Lazarus’s sickness, even his death, is to demonstrate the greatness of God. The purpose of this bad thing is to glorify Jesus who is the king (11.4). We are meant to learn something and believe something about Jesus. Let’s recap. We approach God demanding he do our good thing, but God is God and he is committed to doing his glorious thing.

Fast forward. Jesus doesn’t go and Lazarus dies. This obviously puts Mary and Martha into a state of shock and confusion. Is God good? Is God all-powerful? Does God love me? Maybe that’s you today. At the hospital or here in this room you have begun to think about deep and painful things for the first time in a long time. Is God even there? Is God good? Is God all-powerful? Does God love me? Those are good questions to ask because the answers are wonderful.

We’re told that after Lazarus died, Jesus went to the city. There, like today, Mary and Martha were surrounded by friends and family who sought to comfort them. Even this, your presence today, is evidence of God’s grace. You are not alone. God shows his care for you by sending friends and family to care for you.

Imagine Mary and Martha grieving and surrounded by comforters. Word comes to Martha that Jesus has finally arrived; finally arrived. He’s late. He did nothing. Martha is honest. We should be honest. She says to Jesus, “If you would have been here my brother would not have died.” You can hear the pain and anger and confusion in her voice. Where were you? I thought you loved us? There is a tear in her eye.

Alongside the pain you can hear the faith. Next she says, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” There is a twinkle in her eye. “Jesus, you are powerful. Jesus, you are good. Jesus, you do love us. Help us.” Death does this to us. Death reminds us of our weakness and drives us to seek strength.

Listen to Jesus, “Your brother will rise again.” This is 1 Thessalonians 4 language. There is a resurrection coming. This funeral is not the end of the story. This death is not final. Your brother will rise again. Your mother will rise again. Your wife will rise again. Your friend will rise again.

With great faith and clarity Martha holds on to this promise. Martha replies, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” This is beautiful faith. She is a bit angry, hurt, and confused. She is grieving. She is hoping. She is believing. This funeral is not the end. Resurrection is coming. Martha is in a good spot. It hurts and its hard but its good. She’s putting what she believes into practice. Jesus wants to take her further.

Jesus responds, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus is the cause and the power and the ruler of the resurrection. Jesus is the cause and the power and the ruler over life. Jesus gives life and Jesus raises the dead. Jesus is the center of the future of us all. It all hinges on him. Jesus promises resurrection. Jesus promises the gift of eternal life. There is healing coming for Lazarus. There is life coming for Lazarus. There is healing coming for Betty. There is life coming for Betty.

Whoever believes in Jesus, though she die, yet shall she live. Everyone who lives and believes in Jesus shall never die. Death is not the end of the story for those who trust in Jesus.

Then comes the question, “Do you believe this?” Martha says yes, she believes. What about you? What do you believe about life and death and the future?

The story ends with a soul-stabilizing act. Words are good but promises without power are pointless. Jesus can talk all day but if he doesn’t have the power to back up his talk then he should not be trusted. However, if Jesus does have the power to back up his resurrection talk then he should be trusted. We should trust him.

To prove his point and strengthen our souls, Jesus goes to Lazarus’ tomb. He orders the stone to be rolled away and then he faces the darkness. Lazarus has been dead four days. With a cry of command, Jesus demands, “Lazarus, come forth.”

Lazarus once dead becomes Lazarus now alive because Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

The question for us today is what will we do with this? Some of us will shrug it all off as a myth, a fairy tale for the weak and foolish. You will try to comfort the family, but you know at the end of the day you have nothing comforting to offer. You’ll go from this place and keep doing your thing.

Some of us will begin to consider the life and promises of Jesus. Maybe you’ll get a Bible on the way home and read it for yourself. I recommend you start with the gospel of Mark and then read the gospel of John. Start with Mark then read John. Make plans to attend a Bible believing church. Today you will gain the good of beginning your journey of figuring out what life is all about.

Still others will drink deeply of the good. Like Martha, you will feel the emotions of fear, anger, and confusion. Why did this happen this way? But in your trouble, you will look to Jesus who is the resurrection and the life. You will grieve but not like those who have no hope. As you ache, you will hope. Jesus said he is coming and he will bring with him all that have died believing in him. There is a good future coming after this bad day.

Drink deeply of the truth that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He will raise the dead and he will give us life today. Jesus has strength for you in your weakness. Jesus has joy for you in your sorrow. Jesus has wisdom for you in your confusion. Jesus has hope for you in your pain. Jesus has forgiveness for you in your failings. Because Jesus has died and rose again, because Jesus is the resurrection and the life, we can start fresh and keep going. There is good for us even on days like today. Let’s seek the good that is Jesus.

Praying for Jay Collier

Be praying these things for Jay Collier, our newest elder among Mambrino Baptist Church.

  1. A gospel minister is made competent by grace

Pray for Jay to depend on grace to do the work among us and not on his own intellect. Pray for Jay to boast in his weakness and depend on grace. He will be tempted to fear because of his weaknesses. Ask God to make his grace known to Jay.

  1. A gospel minister ministers the gospel

Pray for Jay to deliver the gospel like a faithful workman. Pray for him to be a skilled master builder working always with the gospel. May God help Jay apply the gospel to the unbeliever and believer.

  1. A gospel minister is aware of Christ

Pray for Jay to boast in and depend upon Christ.  Pray for Jay to work by the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way Jay is going to make it as a pastor among us is if he is aware of how the Father, Son, and Spirit make him competent for this work.

  1. A gospel minister is fruitful

Ask God to use Jay to bring many sons and daughters to faith in Jesus Christ. Ask God to use Jay to disciple believers, reconcile family members, heal marriages, and instruct the saints.

  1. A gospel minister is ambitious

Ask God to give Jay clarity concerning the work he needs to do among us. There is much to do. What is Jay’s role? Pray and ask God to show Jay how to please Christ as he works among us.

Discuss Romans 15:14-22

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. According to Romans 15:14, what are three marks of a healthy church?
  3. Of these three marks, which do you need to be reminded to give to the church and receive from the church?
  4. What work did the apostle Paul do and what enabled him to do it?
  5. What makes the Gentiles acceptable to God? What does this look like in your life?
  6. Was the apostle Paul concerned primarily about people making decisions or people obeying the gospel (see Romans 1:5)?
  7. What signs of an apostle accompanied the apostle Paul’s preaching?
  8. Do you think the apostle Paul was wrong to speak so boldly about his work? Why or why not?
  9. What is the ambition, aim, or goal of your life? Does it agree with, or fit with, God’s goal for all of creation?