As you can imagine, we love Christmas here at BST. We especially love reading the Bible's account of the frist Christmas over 2,000 years ago. Each year, we learn something new as we explore Scripture, and we want to share that wonder with you.
How? Simple. Our site features a Christmas Bible reading plan that will take you 25 days or less. The readings start with Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Messiah and lead into His birth in Bethlehem.
But that's not the end. We want this reading to be more than just about Christmas. We want them to share the good news as well. That's why these readings lead you from the manger to the cross. You'll see why Jesus came to earth.
Make the Christmas Bible reading plan a part of your yearly traditions, and share them with your family.
And you certainly don't have to just use this plan for Christmas. It's also a great way to remember the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Here are some links that we think you'll find useful in your studies.
What Is Unique About Christianity Among The World Religions? (Jonathan Dodson, The Gospel Project)
Is Jesus the only way to God? I’m often asked this question. If the answer is, “Yes, Jesus is the only way to God,” a line is drawn where we would sometimes rather things remain fuzzy. Why would we prefer this particular claim to remain fuzzy? In many cities there are arrays of religious beliefs: Mysticism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, to name a few. The presence of so many different religions in cities leads people (Christians included) to conclude that all religious paths lead to God. Why does this happen in cities? In urban areas, we are more likely to develop relationships with people from various religions. When we realize that they are kind and sincere because of their religious beliefs, it seems arrogant to insist their beliefs are wrong. After all, their religion appears to have made them very likable, respectable people. I have met secularists and Buddhists who are more generous and sacrificial than many Christians I know. How, then, should we respond to this array of religions with the claim that Jesus offers the one, true way to God?
Jude the Obscure (Jacob P. Massine, Bible Study Magazine)
Jude’s letter opens with the greeting, “Jude (called Judas in his day), a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” (Jude 1). This sounds specific, but it isn’t. The very description that is intended to identify him, “the brother of James,” requires that we know which James he’s talking about.
The description “brother of James” is also problematic. The Greek word for ‘brother’ (ἀδελφός, adelphos), like the English slang word ‘bro,’ is ambiguous. Using The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament, we can make the switch to Greek and look up the word adelphos in A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament (BDAG). BDAG tells us that adelphos can be a term of friendship (Phil 3:13), specify membership in an ethnic group (Rom 9:3), and metaphorically reference a “fellow believer” (1 Cor 11:1). Nonetheless, since Jude only mentions one “brother” in his opening, unlike Paul in his letters, James is likely his biological brother.
Christian Group Takes to Sky to Sneak Gospel into North Korea (Christian Telegraph)
On a rainy afternoon last Spring, American pastor Eric Foley and his wife stood in a muddy field near the North Korea border and prayed, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.
According to a story by Cristina Corbin for FoxNews.com, their hands were clasped to a 40-foot homemade balloon that would carry Bibles to the communist dictatorship's underground Christians.
“I get choked up, every time, as I let go and watch it take off,” Foley told FoxNews.com.
3 Ways God Helps You in Your Journey (Erik Raymond, Christianity.com)
While going through life we hit many detours, potholes, and accidents. Some will be as small as a lost GPS signal. Others will be life changing, like a job layoff just as you need to pay a child’s tuition, a relationship break-up when you think you have found bliss, or a spiritual failure when you were supposed to be on top of your game. For these times when the straight and narrow path takes us through long and exceedingly dark tunnels, Psalm 121 shows that God’s people are not given to our feeble resources alone, for we have help for the rest of our journey.
On his way to Jerusalem, the pilgrim encounters some challenges that anyone on his same journey would face. In looking all around for help, he takes his eyes up into the mountain ranges, from which, possibly, aid could come from fellow countrymen, or, if wavering in his faith, from the gods of the nations.
Yet the psalmist’s help is not from mountains, or resources in the mountains. His help is from the one who made the mountains: “The Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” His help is from outside of the realm of this world, from one who spoke and all came to be. The help is revealed in three promises in the rest of the psalm.
[Editor's note: Links to posts do not constitute an endorsement of all content on a website or blog. Be discerning with anything you read and test it against Scripture.]
Our site features a number of free illustrations to help pastors prepare for sermons. Here are a few to finish off that Thanksgiving sermon.
One Thanksgiving season a family was seated around their table, looking at the annual holiday bird. From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good. After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. He joined together a whole hidden multitude of benefactors, linking them with cause and effect.
He said, "I thank the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey. I thank the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank the farmer who made it fat. I thank the man who made the feed. I thank those who brought the turkey to the store."
Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate. And then at the end he solemnly said "Did I leave anybody out?"
His 2-year-older brother, embarrassed by all those proceedings, said, "God."
Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, "I was about to get to Him."
Well, isn't that the question about which we ought to think at Thanksgiving time? Are we really going to get to Him this Thanksgiving?
Citation: Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker," Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.
A church had gathered to pray for a needy family around Thanksgiving. The family needed food and concerned folks from the church got together to pray for them. While the prayer meeting was going on, a young boy came and knocked on the door of the home where members had gathered, entered into the house and told them, "My father said to tell you that he can't come tonight to pray because he is too busy unloading his prayers at the Jones' house. He said to tell you that he is taking a side of beef, a sack of potatoes, a bushel of apples, and some jars of jam. He said he could not be here to pray, but that he has taken his prayers and unloaded them at their house."
Thanksgiving by way of daily thanksliving demands that we pray, yes; but it also demands that we "unload" our prayers at the doorsteps of those who are hungry, lonely, and just plain without.
(Jimmy Gentry, Temple Baptist Church, Carrollton, GA)
Melodie Beattie, a noted self-help author, often stresses the importance of gratitude. She says, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." If we believe Melodie Beattie is right, it will make us appreciate Thanksgiving Day, as well as make us more grateful the other 364 days.
Whenever you need illustrations, we have thousands to help you out.
On Friday, November 8, Typhoon Haiyan struck a devastating blow on the Philippines. So far, the estimated death toll from the catastrophic storm is 10,000:
Stockpiles of relief supplies were moved into position before the storm to speed up the response effort, said Pat Melancon, managing director of disaster response and training for Baptist Global Response.
“The aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan is still being assessed and drawing a limited response due to road conditions and other lingering issues,” Melancon said. “A number of NGOs prepositioned stockpiles of water, sanitation, and hygiene kits and are prepared to begin immediate distribution of those items to those in need.
“Initially, teams will carry out a rapid assessment as soon as possible, following up with subsequent in-depth assessments as time and the situation allow,” Melancon added. “Water, food, and shelter will be the priority for the next few days. Shelter solutions to meet the essential needs of all the disaster affected population will be sought.”
It forced more than 750,000 from their homes as it lashed Leyte and Samar with strong winds and 15-19-foot waves. The fast-moving storm quickly moved across the central Philippines, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.
“It was utter devastation,” said Les Tilka, a church pastor partnering with Samaritan’s Purse. “Especially on Bantayan Island which is already very poor. Their form of livelihood is egg production and dried fish. All the egg farms and fish processing plants were leveled, along with 90 percent of the homes.”
In times such as these, many people ask the question, "Where was God?" We must remember that this is not what God intended:
Genesis 1:1 shows the Creator to be transcendent, sovereign, personal, immanent, and good. God's goodness is displayed in his turning the chaos into something good—the heavens and the earth. His goodness is even more clearly reflected in the goodness of his creation, evidenced by the steady refrain, "And God saw that it was good" (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), a goodness accentuated on the sixth day: "Behold, it was very good" (1:31). God's generous provisions of light, land, vegetation, and animals are blessings given for man's benefit, as are the abilities to know God, work, marry, and procreate. God blesses man with the Sabbath, places him in the delightful garden of Eden, gives him a helper, and establishes only one prohibition, given not to squelch man but to promote his welfare.
The conclusion is clear: God is good and did not create suffering or evil. He created a good world for the good of his creatures. Humans too were created good and blessed beyond measure, being made in God's image, with an unhindered relationship with God, and with freedom. As a result, casting blame for suffering on the good and generous God is unbiblical and unfounded.
We welcome you to offer your prayers in the comments and share other ways we can all help.
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