Joy to the World, from the Word

18 Advent Blog 2

“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:4 ESV)

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. At Advent we read again and reflect on the birth of our Lord and the events surrounding it. But what if someone had something more to say? What if the rest of Jesus’s life - his teachings, his miracles, his death & resurrection - were meant to change how we think and live?

What if Christmas was about more than baby Jesus?

What if it was about you, and me, and our relationship with the Father through Jesus. What if it was about what our lives should look like here and now - between Jesus’s first and second coming? What if those things were written down for us, to encourage us to continue in them till the day we die?

Let me introduce you to an old man, named John.

For preaching texts this Advent, we’ll look at several passages out of the apostle John’s first epistle. Following the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ, we will see what the disciple whom Jesus loved had to say about Jesus’s coming.

In the opening to John’s first epistle he describes what he is writing about - namely “the word of life” made flesh (1 John 1:1; John 1:14). John saw Jesus, heard Jesus, touched Jesus, witnessed the miracles Jesus did.

But he also knew that Jesus existed “from the beginning” and “was with the Father” yet “made manifest to us” (1 John 1:1-2). And John wrote his first letter to fulfill his own joy, and ours.

Christmas is about so much more than baby Jesus.

Christmas is not just about the fact that Jesus came, but why he came: that we may have fellowship “with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

John’s understanding of “fellowship” is different than our own. He moves beyond enjoying one another’s company to changing how we think and how we live. As John Stott said in his commentary on his letters, the apostle John wants to help us learn “how to think and live Christianly.”

“John is above all else a pastor, entrusted with the care of a group of local churches, and anxious to help their members to learn how to think and live Christianly.” - John Stott

I encourage you to read and meditate on our Advent passages with me during the week leading up to each. My prayer is that our own joy in Christ would increase through his Word, and spread from us to the world.

Dec 2 - 1 John 3:1-3 Dec 16 - 1 John 1:1-4 Dec 23 (5p) - 1 John 5:1-5
Dec 9 - 1 John 1:5-10 Dec 23 - 1 John 4:7-12

- Pastor Jonathan

Thank You

Thank You

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3–5)

It’s been three years since I officially became the pastor here at FBC Willow Park. As I look back over three years (11 years total on staff, if you can believe it!), I’m drawn to this passage from Paul.

I want to say “Thank you.”

First, thank you for partnering in the gospel. Over three years I have seen you (us) grow in your desire & effort to spread the gospel to our community & world. Trunk-or-Treat was a prime example. Can you believe our little church of 130 hosted between 600-700 people in our parking lot for a free community event?! A special thanks to those who put in the extra hours needed to organize and prepare for it. We couldn’t have done it without you. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Each time we have an event like Trunk-or-Treat, VBS, Easter Egg hunt, etc. where we want to be good neighbors & meet people from our community, you step up. Thank you for that!

Second, thank you for supplying for ministry needs. One way the church at Philippi partnered with Paul was financially. They gave him a gift to sustain him in his ministry.

“I am well supplied, having received … the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18).

Because of your generosity, our staff is able to receive compensation for their work in the gospel. On behalf of all of us who work here, thank you. And your generosity extends beyond our staff. Through you, support is given each month to missionaries in Vancouver, and now a local Christian Counseling Center. Not only that, but through special Southern Baptist offerings throughout the year, you support missionaries in Texas, North America, and around the world. Also, 10% of the monies we receive from your tithes we give back to our County Association, and our State and National Conventions.

Lastly, thank you for being a great church family. Families grow together through good times and bad, and from one life-stage to the next. Families encourage and support one another. On a personal note, your prayers, cards, words of encouragement, and help mean a lot to me and my family. Please don’t stop doing that. Some folks think because I’m the pastor, or my family is the pastor’s family, that we have it all together. I’ll let you in on a secret: we don’t. We are human just like you. So thank you for being our church family, and even more so for being the family of God to each other!

There are others who need to experience what that kind of family is like. So let’s continue to partner in the gospel together to know Christ and make Him known. Let’s share the gospel and invite others into the family of God. Let’s give so that the gospel goes forth to the ends of the world, that all families of the earth might worship Jesus (Gen. 12:1-3). God has more work for this church family to do, and He will see we do it!

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

- Pastor Jonathan