“When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…..” (Galatians 4:4)
How is “the fullness of time” determined? Ultimately we can never know the formula God used to determine when “the right time,” or “the fullness of time,” or “the perfect moment” came for Christ to be “sent forth.” We can, however, discern some remarkable things that were happening in the hour of Christ’s birth:
- The Dispersion of the Jews. The Jewish people by now had, due to persecution, military conflict, and an evangelistic zeal among some of them, moved to most parts of the known Roman world of that day. The first thing they did when establishing a colony was to build a synagogue where Torah and Law could be taught. These were the birthplaces of some of the earliest Christian teaching with ready-made public platforms.
- The Protection of the Jews. For the first seventy years following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Christian faith (“The Way”) did not exist as a “stand alone” religion but instead was considered legally a sect of Judaism under Roman Law. Because of their inability to break the Jews by making them worship Caesar as every other religion under Rome was forced to do, they granted an exemption to this idolatrous act. Christianity was protected under that same principle of law.
The Culture of the World. The culture of that day had been overtaken by Greece. While the Romans conquered the world militarily and enforced the rule of law of the people conquered, Greece captured the hearts and minds of the people. Koine Greek was spoken almost everywhere by nearly every person. It was in that common (koine) language that the New Testament was first written.
- The Peace of Rome. Christ was born into a world no longer at war. Rome had conquered the world. This left thousands of unemployed soldiers looking for work….and they were hired by Rome as “security guards” to build and protect the intricate highway system that interconnected the empire. Early Christians could travel safely on these roads and even the waterways courtesy of the “pax Romana…” The peace of Rome.
These factors alone made this “the right time;” the FULLNESS OF TIME for God to send forth His Son into the world….to redeem those who were under the law. The early church thrived in this environment socially, culturally, politically, and philosophically. It was, indeed, a time of the Father’s choosing.
The “fullness of time.”
During a recent staff meeting at the Jacksonville Baptist Association, the following incident was shared and sent around through the JBA’s online newsletter. Thought that, as our year ends, you can see again the difference you make in the lives of people…some you will never meet.
Walter Bennett shared about a beautiful moment he had experienced this past week. While serving as interim pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church they have been serving the needs of their local public elementary school, Normandy Village Elementary. This particular school serves some of the most under resourced children in our city. One of the needs the principal had expressed to Walter was that many of the children did not have winter coats and come were coming to school in t-shirts on the coldest days.
Meanwhile, Macedonia Baptist and Fruit Cove Baptist congregations have been exploring a church revitalization partnership. When Walter discussed the need of this elementary school with both congregations – they responded. Pastor Tim Maynard stood before his congregation and put the call out for members to respond by donating the coats in just a couple of weeks before winter break. He had one request – please donate new coats as some of these children have never had the joy of tearing off the tags of a new coat. Members of both congregations responded with missional generosity and this past week they were able to deliver over (460) coats, which nearly all of them were new, to this school – providing a coat for EVERY child in the elementary school. As the coats were being distributed the volunteers and school administrators stood by with tears in their eyes knowing that every child would have the opportunity to stay warm this Christmas season.
The church was also able to place a tag on each coat indicating the donation on the part of Macedonia. As their local church, it was important to Fruit Cove that they could help enhance the relationship between Macedonia BC and their partner school. What a beautiful picture of churches collaborating together in a selfless way! What a beautiful picture of engaging our city! What a beautiful picture of the gospel! (From JBA Newsletter)
And what a great way to celebrate “the Reason for the Season!”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially on TV. All our favorite holiday movies are being broadcast….again and again and again and again… Sunday afternoon for a few moments I visited again with the Griswald family as Chevy Chase hung precariously from the second story of his home stapling Christmas lights…and his shirt sleeve…to the siding. I flipped past the black and white “It’s a Wonderful Life” as the bells chimed and “another angel gets his wings.” I watched Jim Carey as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and eveyone’s favorite overgrown “Elf.” I haven’t yet seen the rerun of “A Christmas Story” but I’m sure I’ll watch Ralphie again as he’s ominously warned “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” by overly responsible adults who don’t want him to have his “Red Ryder” bb gun.
Ironically, among our younger generation, there is a revival of interest in these old reruns of Christmas movies. “Miracle on 34th Street” show the reconciliation of two competing materialistic giants at Christmas time, “White Christmas” showcases the crooning of Bing Crosby, while Clarence the angel earns his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But of all the movies the one that ranks as their favorite (according to a Harris Poll), is “A Christmas Story.” This hilarious retelling of young Ralphie’s efforts to gain possession of the “holy grail,” an all-important BB gun, in spite of curmudgeonly teachers, mean-spirited Santas, and all the mishaps that can befall a nine year old at Christmas time has, somehow, captured the hearts of another generation.
It’s interesting because (1) There is no mention ANYWHERE of Jesus in this movie. (2) The focus of the movie is on the acquisition of a possession which is GUARANTEED to bring happiness and fulfillment. (3) There is no motive for Christmas being about selfless giving, reconciling enemies, or seeing something come about for the common good. It’s all about Christmas as a means to gratify the needs of one person: Ralphie.
Does this mean I won’t watch it….again? Probably will, but I don’t watch it anymore uncritically or just for the sake of nostalgia. I watch it aware of the successful efforts of the filmmaker to create a new meaning for Christmas that has drawn away the hearts of our culture.
And again we ask, “is there room for Christ in Christmas?”
On December 16, our church and community was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic and unexpected death of Mr. Jimmy Saffold. Jimmy was a man of faith and family: he loved God and he loved his family. Jimmy didn’t stop there. He loved his faith-family – the people of Fruit Cove Baptist Church – as well. From driving the golf cart, to VBS preschool recreation, to RA’s and GA’s, Sunday School, Deacons and James Gang, Jimmy Saffold’s life served people of all generations.
Tonight and tomorrow, we’ll join his family in celebrating his life. There are so many stories of how Jimmy served others. We have created this post as a place for you to add you comments. How did Jimmy encourage you? How did he impact your life? Please use the comments below to reflect on his life of service and know that the family will find comfort in your words.
Hey Parents, Merry Christmas!! As we prepare to open gifts, enjoy meals, put up with in laws and watch Elf, we want to add one thing to your agenda this Christmas, specifically Christmas Eve. This year we have put together a devotion for families to do together. Technically we have written two; one for parents of teens and one for parents of children. These devotions are an opportunity for you as parents to be the spiritual leaders in your homes as God intended. See, ultimately the church should be secondary in our child’s spiritual development and home should be primary. So this Christmas we have made it easy for you, we have even included directions on how to lead theses devotions. Christmas is the perfect time for families to talk about Jesus at home. One note, don’t expect revival. A lot of parents get discouraged when leading family devotions or trying to lead at home spiritually. We often over- think leading spiritually, looking for life change immediately, not realizing that the Holy Spirit is the changing agent in all people, not man. Even in the ministry of Jesus, after He performed a miracle or preached a sermon, we have no reference point to say that revival broke out. Leading spiritually is more about obedience than about results. Click here to download the devotion
So as you prepare to lead your family to Jesus this Christmas, allow me to say a few things…
- They will get more out of how you live, than anything you will ever say
- Emotions fade, but the truth remains.
- Kids will be kids, let them talk, let them have fun, let them be loud, let them be silly… God made them this way. BUT, don’t think for a second they are NOT listening. They are!
- Have fun.
The greatest investment you can ever make in the lives of your children is the gospel. Share the gospel with your kids, and do it often. We can’t repeat the gospel to our children enough.
2 Corinthians 5:21 & Romans 5:8
Christmas Eve, devotion, devotional
Wednesday, Dec. 24
4:00 pm: Christmas Eve Worship Service featuring Daniel Crews & Friends
6:00 pm: Christmas Eve Worship Service featuring Daniel Crews & Friends
Bring your family to Christmas Eve service, no childcare.
We have written a family devotion for you to use with your family for Christmas Eve. Click here to learn more
Sunday, Dec. 28
11:00 am: Family Worship Service
Preschool Sunday School during this service.
It’s completely invisible. Odorless. Colorless. Weightless. And yet, it’s indispensable. Without it, life becomes intolerable. Relationships become impossible. The future becomes unthinkable. To live without it or to try and do so, is an exercise in doing the impossible. Recovery for the cancer patient becomes unlikely…and the grieving find the path ahead impossible without it.
This indispensable reality, of course, is hope. Four simple letters frame one of the most important realities for all of us…and in a special way for those who are Christians. It is hope that helps us press on through difficulty, believing a better day is coming. It is hope that moves us past the graveyard to life again. It is hope that allows us to experience a new beginning for broken relationships and to focus on the dawning of a new tomorrow and not the death of dreams from yesterday. It is hope that moves us beyond failure.
“Hope,” the Word of God assures us, “ does not make us ashamed.”
One day, our hope will be confirmed by what we can see, feel, hear, and touch. Until that day, hope holds us tightly and keeps our eyes focused on that which is still to come. And of course, we have the “blessed hope” of Christ returning. We have much to be hopeful for and Christmas is an annual reminder of the hope which is ours through the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. My prayer for you is that, during this season, your hope will be strengthened and renewed, and that we will all experience a hope-full Christmas!
Make your plans to attend the 2015 Ladies Retreat!
September 25-27, 2015
Epworth by the Sea
St. Simon’s Island, GA
Registration Begins: Monday, January 5, 2015
Retreat Registration Cost:$40 (Non-Refundable but is Transferable)
Room Cost/Payment Options: Cost depends on room choice and number of roommates.
Cost Includes: 2 nights and 6 meals
Guest Speaker: Angie Smith
Women around the world feel as though they’re lifelong friends with Angie and most of them have never met her in person. They’ve come to know Angie through her transparent, warm, and witty blog, Bring the Rain. It began as the story of her fourth daughter Audrey’s brief life and became an opportunity to combine Angie’s two greatest passions: helping to heal people’s hearts and writing. Angie is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award-winning group, Selah) and best selling author of I Will Carry You, What Women Fear, Mended, Chasing God and two children’s books.
You don’t want to miss this fun retreat with praise and worship music, group breakout sessions, teaching, food, fun and girlfriend time!
For more information and to register stop by the Women’s Ministry table at Bldg. B on Sunday’s beginning January 11, 2015 or stop by or call the church office at 287-0996.
SPACE IS LIMITED! Reserve your rooms as soon as possible!
Once again the Women’s Ministry is promoting church-wide participation in providing toys and gifts for the families at Trinity Rescue Center for women and children.
This project allows the mom’s to choose Christmas gifts for their children-and gives them a way to give that builds dignity into their own lives.
Bring new unwrapped toys, games and gift wrap to the Women’s Ministry table at Bldg. B beginning Sunday, November 30-Sunday, December 21.
Make this wonderful way of showing Christ love to these moms and their children a part of your Christmas!
From a song stage in Sweden to pregnancy health classes in Southeast Asia, IMB missionaries find creative and effective ways to meet people where they are. And they are grateful for Southern Baptists’ prayers and gifts that make it possible to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him.
This year’s eight Week of Prayer stories illustrate how we are united as we join God in His work. When you pray and give, you support those who extend your outreach from your church to those without Christ. You become part of God’s story around the world!
In these Week of Prayer stories, you will learn how your support enables your missionaries to:
- help churches like yours partner on the field
- share Jesus through human needs ministries
- disciple church planters to take the Gospel to their own people
- reach people creatively through songwriting and broadcasts
- take the Scripture to a remote people in their heart language
- minister even in war grounds
Click here to learn more and watch the church’s twitter feed in the footer below for daily updates.