December 2017

Stay focused on the ultimate goal

December 28 2017 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

As we turn the page on the calendar to begin a New Year, our thoughts often focus on fresh starts, new beginnings and new opportunities. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions and set out to accomplish certain goals over the course of the coming year. In the process of making resolutions and setting goals, have you ever stopped to consider the goals that God may have for your life?
 
The apostle Paul was someone who was given a fresh start, a clean slate and an opportunity to begin again after meeting the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. In part of his personal testimony recorded in Philippians 3, Paul writes of his strong desire to know Christ more intimately and become more like Him. 
 
Paul desired to bring glory to the person of Christ. He was not satisfied with just knowing about Jesus. Paul longed to experience Christ’s abiding presence, to become more like Jesus and for other people to see Christ manifested in his life. I submit to you that Paul’s ultimate goal should also be our ultimate goal in life – to know Christ and make him known.
 
In his testimony, Paul shares three timeless truths that can help us stay focused on knowing Christ, growing in Christ and sharing Christ with others.
 
First, we must maintain a healthy perspective about the past. In Philippians 3:13, Paul writes of “forgetting those things which are behind” (NKJV). I believe there is value in remembering some things about our past. We often need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and work in our lives, but other things are best forgotten. 
 
Many Christians are burdened by their past sins and failures. But the truth is that we have no reason to carry that guilt if we have genuinely repented of those things and asked God to forgive us. In addition to past sins and failures, we need to forget some of our successes, as well. We should never allow past accomplishments or past failures to keep us from future achievements. Paul didn’t allow his past to keep him from his goal of knowing Christ. 
 
Second, we must “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (verse 13). God has a plan for every one of us. Seek the Lord regarding His will and plan for your life rather than allowing others to determine it for you. Throughout scripture, Paul often uses illustrations from athletic contests in his writings. When I think of pressing toward the goal, I picture a runner going as fast and as hard as he/she can to reach the finish line. Pursue Christ in the same way with all of your being!
 
Third, we should imitate those who are mature followers of Christ. In the latter part of Philippians 3, Paul writes about following his example and the example of other Christ-followers (v. 17). Those words set a high bar for us, but stop for a moment and think about the individual who led you to Christ. Think of those who discipled you and invested in your life. They were simply being obedient in teaching you what God and others had taught them. That’s what disciple-making is all about, and it is the life to which we are all called to as part of the Great Commission. Let’s focus on knowing Christ and making Him known throughout 2018.
 
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” – Philippians 3:7. 
 

Milton Hollifield’s top five most read columns on BRnow.org in 2017:

1. At the 2017 SBC annual meeting, an opportunity for the gospel (April 17)
2. The significant influence of a godly mother (May 2)
3. In Baptist life, a special place for associations 
(May 15)
4. Giving: the best way to make a difference 
(March 21)
5. Bearing God’s image: racial reconciliation (Jan. 24)
 

12/28/2017 10:16:27 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Consider the Christ of Christmas

December 13 2017 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Perhaps the most well-known prophecy about Jesus’ birth is found in Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (NKJV).
 
This verse is read and recited frequently during the Christmas season, but have you ever stopped to reflect and meditate on what this one verse teaches us about the Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime?
 
For unto us a Child is born,” reminds us of Jesus’ humanity. Christ humbly took on flesh and came to earth as a baby so He could grow and experience life as we do, except that He experienced it without yielding to the temptation to sin. A reference to Jesus in Matthew 1:23 calls Him Immanuel. The name Immanuel, meaning “God with us,” tells us who He is. The name Jesus, meaning, “Jehovah is salvation,” tells us why He came.
 
Unto us a Son is given,” reminds us of Christ’s deity as the second person of the Trinity. As God in human flesh, Christ lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in order to defeat sin and death forever.
 
The government will be upon His shoulder,” reminds us of Christ’s ultimate Lordship. Although many in Jesus’ day were looking for a military leader, Christ said His Kingdom was not of this world. When Christ returns to rule and reign, the full extent of His Kingdom will ultimately be realized.
 
In his book For These Tough Times, Max Lucado describes the coming of Christ into the world in these words: “Stepping from the throne, He removed His robe of light and wrapped Himself in skin: pigmented human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He whom angels worshipped nestled Himself in the placenta of a peasant, was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on a cow’s hay. Mary didn’t know whether to give Him milk or give Him praise, so she gave Him both – since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy.”
 
Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation, that is God becoming flesh. It commemorates the time when God invaded this small planet; when omnipotence was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
 
Preacher, author and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Annuity Board Paul Powell wrote, “it is the fact that God has come to live among us, to reveal Himself to us, to identify with us, and to give Himself for us. It commemorates a time when God became flesh and dwelt among us in order to be our Savior. Jesus is God in flesh, getting down on my level where I can comprehend him.
 
“Michelangelo expressed himself in marble;
Rembrandt expressed himself in oils;
Handel expressed himself in music;
Shakespeare expressed himself in prose and verse;
God expressed himself in flesh.”
 
Consider and worship the Christ of Christmas!

‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” – Matthew 1:23 (NKJV).
 

12/13/2017 8:24:20 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments