December 2014

A spiritual resolution for the new year

December 30 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

The start of a new year causes many of us to stop and think about the plans we have and the goals we want to accomplish in the new year. As you think through the personal improvements you want to make next year, have you also considered developing a plan to grow spiritually in 2015? Better yet, have you thought about how you can invest spiritually in the life of another person in the coming year?

No matter if you resolve to read the whole Bible or even a single book repeatedly throughout the new year, faithfully meditating on God’s Word on a consistent basis is essential to our growth as believers. As you grow spiritually, consider sharing what God is teaching you with someone else in your life. You can do this by asking a friend, a family member, a neighbor or a co-worker to read the Bible with you and discuss it together. It’s been said that discipleship happens through our relationships – sharing your experiences and inviting people into your life is a great way to develop or deepen a relationship with someone.

It also allows them to see how your faith impacts your life on a daily basis. This is what the heart of disciple-making is all about. Disciple-making involves teaching others the biblical truths that God has taught you, so they can, in turn, teach them to someone else.

We probably don’t have to look very far to find someone we can disciple.

For many of us, we can start in our own homes. That might mean beginning a time of devotions together as a family. Or, it might mean beginning to talk about the truths of scripture with your children or grandchildren so their hearts will one day be open to trusting Christ as their Savior because of your godly influence. What a wonderful privilege it is to be used of God to help others come to faith and grow in their walk with Christ.

So, as we think through all of the things we want to accomplish in 2015, let us be sure to prayerfully consider all of the things that God might want to accomplish and the people He might want to reach through us in the year ahead.

As we ponder and pray over those things, let us all resolve to allow God, by His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, to use us to impact lostness by making disciples of Jesus Christ in 2015. Have a happy and blessed new year!

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

12/30/2014 9:52:12 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Christmas reminders

December 16 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I love the sights and sounds that remind us the Christmas season is here. Even if Christmas has become commercialized to the point that the true meaning of the season has been lost to some, it is still possible to find many reminders of the Christ in Christmas that can warm our hearts and point others to Him. As some examples, think about how the lights, the trees and the exchanging of gifts can remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.
 
When you see all the Christmas lights this year radiating in the darkness, be reminded that Jesus is the true light of the world (John 8:12).
 
On the night Jesus was born, the heavens were filled with light as the glory of the Lord shined around the angels who proclaimed His birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:10). When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate Him shortly after his birth, Simeon said Jesus would give light to the Gentiles and glory to Israel (Luke 2:32).

In John 1:4-5, the scriptures say in Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness. In verse 9 John proclaims Jesus to be the true light. After beginning his public ministry, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). Similarly, Christ calls His followers to be lights in a dark world. Think about ways you can shine your light for Christ this Christmas.
 
When we see the sparkling lights on Christmas trees, let’s also be reminded of another tree – the tree upon which Christ suffered and died to pay the penalty for our sins.
 
Following his virgin birth into this world, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, grew into an adult and lived a sinless life so that He could die a substitutionary death on our behalf.
The message the angels proclaimed that first Christmas is the same message we proclaim this Christmas: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Jesus was born in Bethlehem so that one day, He could take our place on the cross and be our Savior.
 
When we see those Christmas gifts, let’s be reminded of the greatest gift of all – the gift of salvation that has been offered freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).
In the midst of all the rush of the Christmas season, pause and reflect on the joy and peace that came into your life when you personally accepted God’s gift of salvation and committed to follow Him as your master.
 
Perhaps you will make a new acquaintance or see a friend this Christmas who needs to hear the story of how Jesus changed your life. Perhaps the sights and sounds of the season will provide an opportunity for you to share the real meaning of Christmas.
 
Enjoy and celebrate all there is to love about Christmas as we are reminded of all that God has done for us through His Son! What a wonderful gift, what a great story to share. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

12/16/2014 12:59:46 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



One sacred effort

December 2 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Since our Convention’s founding, Southern Baptists have worked together in “one sacred effort for the propagation of the Gospel.”
 
Those words come from the preamble to the original constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), adopted in 1845. Fittingly, “One Sacred Effort” is also the theme for this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
 
Last year, Southern Baptists gave an unprecedented $154 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO). I’m happy to report that once again, North Carolina Baptist churches were the leaders of this special offering. In 2013, when compared with all SBC state conventions, North Carolina Baptist churches led the way by contributing $12.5 million to the International Missions Board (IMB) for the LMCO.
 
As you pray and give in support of the LMCO, you join this one sacred effort of helping fulfill the Great Commission. Our Lord’s final words to His followers were to “go and make disciples of all nations.” That effort is one that God still calls all believers to join today.
 
Lottie Moon spent almost 40 years of her life making the name of Jesus known and sharing His love among the people of China.
 
Until her death on Christmas Eve in 1912, she urged Southern Baptists to make a greater commitment to reaching the world for Christ. Now, the offering that bears her name helps support more than 4,800 missionaries in countries around the world who are serving through the IMB.
 
Although we have made great progress in advancing the gospel, there is still much work to be done – 6.3 billion people on earth are not Christian.
 
Approximately 1.7 billion people still have no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and people are dying every day without having had the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
 
The goal for this year’s LMCO is $175 million. Meeting this goal would enable us to send even more missionaries to the field, and every penny that is given to this special offering goes to support our international mission work. The goal is lofty, but so is our task.
 
Lottie Moon lived in complete surrender, sacrifice and service to the Lord. As we approach this year’s LMCO, I ask that we all prayerfully consider how God would have us respond and participate in this special offering to support global missions.
 
Your prayers and financial gifts allow you to become directly involved in what God is doing to build His Kingdom all over the world.
 
And as you pray and give, you become part of this one sacred effort that has been the foundation of SBC life since our beginning.
 
Our collective efforts to reach the world for Christ serve as a reminder of the principle that has guided Southern Baptist missionary endeavors from the start: We can accomplish more together than we can by ourselves.  
 
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:5 

12/2/2014 11:52:18 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments