Monday, December 29, 2014

New Online Media Archive

Miss a sermon?  Want to share a powerful message with a friend or family member?

Check out our brand new Online Media section. Browse our library of online media including sermons, bible studies, music, and more. Then listen and share!

UPDATE: Weekly Family Devotionals have been added as well.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Small and Insignificant: Micah 5:2

Ken Phillips
Stories have a way of moving people.  Whether it is a story that you are reading or a story that you are watching, stories can touch people's lives.  This is especially true of stories that are real.  True life stories have a way of impacting us at the heart level.

The story of the birth of Jesus Christ is such a true life story.  The Christmas story has brought comfort, peace, and joy to the hearts of millions of people throughout the centuries.  It is a story of innocence as Mary is presented, righteousness as Joseph is introduced, excitement as choirs of angels proclaim, inconvenience as a journey to Bethlehem in a late month of pregnancy occurs, and humbleness as a baby King is laid in a manger for a bed.

Yet one of the important events related to the birth of Jesus did not occur in a shepherd's field or in a stable, but occurred in the palace of a king.  I would like to review the events that unfolded in the palace of the King as recorded in Matthew 2.

In this story Magi arrived in Jerusalem asking where the new king of the Jews was located.  They saw a sign in the sky that he had been born, so they traveled to Jerusalem to worship Him.  Why did they go to Jerusalem?  Because Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, so that is where they reasoned a newborn King ought to be.

Word of their arrival and search made its way to Herod, and this news bothered him.  These Magi came to worship a king of the Jews, and that king was not him.  Herod recognized that this could be a reference to only one person:  the Messiah.  So he called together the ones who knew about theses religious things and asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born. These religious teachers knew immediately.  They quoted from a prophecy that was given 700 years earlier through the prophet Micah about the birth of the Messiah (Micah 5.2). 

Their quotation of Micah is not complete.  When they spoke to Herod they quoted only a few phrases from the prophecy that would apply to Herod:  the promised ruler sent from God would be born in Bethlehem and that One would be king!

The Prophecy's Context
Micah 4 began by prophesying about the Kingdom that was to come.  This kingdom was God's kingdom which He would establish on the earth during which Israel would be the chief nation (4.1-5).  God's rule would be personal and characterized by pilgrimages to Jerusalem to learn from God, righteousness being executed by God, and peace being established by God.  However, before that day comes, Israel would suffer greatly.  They would suffer in Babylon at the hands of the Babylonians (4.9-10) and suffer greatly at the hands of the rest of the world as the nations assemble against Israel to destroy her (4.11-5.1). 

The Prophecy's Promise
The nation would suffer, but the good news is that God would deliver them from the assault of the nations, and He would do it through a specific person (5.3-6) who the Jews recognized as the Messiah.  This is where the promise quoted to King Herod fits in.  There would be One who would come forth in Israel who would accomplish this plan of God.  This One was the Messiah. 

The Lord revealed through Micah the location of the Messiah's entrance into the world.  The Messiah would come out of (be born in) Bethlehem.  Bethlehem means “House of Bread”.  Bethlehem was special not because of its size (it was small), but because of its history.  Bethlehem was an old city.  It was originally known as Ephrathah (Genesis 35.19).  This name was also used to refer to the district in Judah in which the city was located in order to distinguish it from other Bethlehems in the nation, such as the Bethlehem in Zebulun (Joshua 19.15).  Bethlehem's specialness in Israel was rooted in its relation to Israel's greatest king, King David.  Bethlehem was the city in which David was born (1 Samuel 16.1).

It was from this small town God chose:
To bring forth the One who would rule over His people.
To bring forth the One who would shepherd His people.
To bring forth the One who would deliver His people.

All this would come from this small, insignificant town.  God could have chosen the great capital of Israel for the job (Jerusalem), but He didn't.  God could have chosen a great sea port, but He didn't.  God could have chosen any number of places, but He didn't.  God chose this small, old town to be the place from which the One who would be the focal point of history would come.

God did not tell Bethlehem all the details of how the Messiah would be born there.  From the New Testament we know that God would use a decree by Caesar Augustus to get the Messiah's mother to the town so that He could be born at just the right time in the right place.  However, in Micah's prophecy God did not reveal these details.  He only stated that through this small town He would do something magnificent for the nation.

Point of Application
Throughout the Bible we see God using the small and insignificant things to do His incredible works and accomplish His wonderful purposes (1 Corinthians 1.26-29).  For example,
Noah - the one who no one wanted to listen to as he preached to an unbelieving generation.  God chose to use him to save human life.
Moses - the one who was on the backside of the desert tending sheep.  God chose to use him to deliver Israel from Egypt.
Joseph - the one who was disrespected, in slavery, in jail.  God chose to use him to save the world from starvation.
Jacob - the one who was deceitful and self-seeking.  God chose to use him to bring a special nation into existence.
David - the one who grew up as a young shepherd boy.  God chose to use him to lead His special nation.
John the Baptist - the one who ate locusts and wore camel skins in the desert.  God chose to use him to get Israel ready for the Messiah's appearance.
Peter - the one who caught fish for a living and suffered from foot-in-mouth syndrome.  God chose to use him to proclaim the glories of Christ.
God is still choosing the small and insignificant things to accomplish His purposes.  We need to remember that as believers in Christ, God has chosen us for a great many things.  One of those things is to be His instruments in this world for His purposes, plans, and desires.

You may look at your life and think that you are too small.  You may look at your life and think that you are insignificant.  You may look at your life and think that others are better suited for the Lord's work than you.  The truth of the matter is regardless of how your life may appear, God has chosen you in Christ to be an important part of what He is doing in this world.  You may seem small, but out of your smallness God can bring forth the amazing.  It is through your smallness that people will see good and great things and recognize that this must be the handiwork of God.

We need to trust in the Lord because He can do wonderful works with you and me.  Just as He chose this little town of Bethlehem to bring the Messiah into the world, just as He used an unbelieving emperor of an empire that did not even exist when this prophecy was made to get a pregnant young virgin girl to Bethlehem at just the right time, so too God can take you and accomplish through you what He has purposed to do with your life.  He can use all the pain, heartache, people, and circumstances and mix them together to use them in ways that you never would dream of.  You might not know how He will do this, but that is okay.  You simply need to walk with God and leave all the results to Him.  It is then that you will see what God can do through someone who seems so small and insignificant.  Great is our God!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ALL Wed Night Services Cancelled: Due to Winter Weather

Winter Weather Alert
All Wednesday night services have been cancelled tonight, Jan-7th 2015, due to the weather... Be safe!!