From the heart of a local Youth Pastor, Jeremy Holland

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Local Youth Pastor, Jeremy Holland, shares his heart in the following devotion.

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Most people are busy enjoying the season with family and friends. We celebrate many things this time of year. We celebrate time with family, enjoy the festivity of gift giving, and most importantly revisit the plan of God to live among us.

The Gospel of John presents the incarnate Son of God as the Word of God. Jesus is described as the Instrument of creation and the Author of life.

John 1:1-5 (New Living Translation)
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Jesus is not only the Creator, He is also the source of Salvation.

John 1:10-14 (NLT)
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Think about what we are celebrating at Christmas. We are celebrating the desire of God to view creation in an up-close and personal way. The Creator of the universe stepped into humanity to offer us the gift of adoption.

Some may think that the Christmas story is the only time that God stepped down among humanity, but there are actually several other accounts when it appears that God walked among man. One such instance occurs in Genesis 11. These events take place shortly after the Great Flood.

Genesis 11:1-9 (NLT)
At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.
3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
5 But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

This story may seem like God was trying to hinder mankind from prospering, but since this was only a few years after the flood, it appears that God was actually trying to slow down man’s prideful march against God and toward sin.

First, notice that God came down. He visited mankind and interacted with them personally. His method of guidance in Genesis 11 might seem less personal than what we celebrate at Christmas, but God is always personal and just.

Second, God confused the languages and spread mankind around the globe with the goal of showing them their need for Him. They were growing in their accomplishments together, but they were not growing in their relationship with God. They were attempting to reach God on their own – in their own ability and with their own ingenuity. All of those efforts were empty and meaningless. No matter how great their physical accomplishments, their spiritual deficit would always be greater than their ability to atone.

Third, God’s visit was to establish the truth that man cannot reach God in his own ability.

John 14:6 (NLT)
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

The tower of Babel is a great example of humanity’s pursuit of independence from God. The builders decided to build a tower that reached to heaven in order to make a name for themselves. They were attempting to establish their own destiny without any reference to their creator. The irony is that in the middle of their attempt to reach God on their own, the Lord God came down to see the work of man. Human effort will never rise high enough or to the point where God doesn’t have to come down personally in order for us to be reunited with Him.

And that’s the story that was ultimately fulfilled in the Christmas story. God came down. God came down to offer humanity salvation. We have a great and mighty God that loves us enough to humble Himself in order that we might be saved. Have you placed your faith and your eternal destiny into the hands of the God who came down to offer salvation to you?

A little about Youth Pastor, Jeremy Holland…

Jeremy Holland and his wife, Laura, have lived in Mansfield most of their lives except for a couple of years in college.  Since college, the past twenty-two years, Jeremy has been involved with youth and music ministry.  He served two summers as an intern at First Baptist, and he also served as a youth  pastor and music minister at Caddo Valley Baptist Church outside of Arkadelphia.  He has been a youth pastor at Witcherville Fellowship Baptist since May of 2005, and he is an ordained Deacon.

Jeremy and Laura have been married for twenty years and have two boys. Gavin, fourteen years old, is a freshman at Greenwood Freshmen Academy. He is a member of the Bulldog Marching Band, an accomplished pianist, and a cellist in training. Drew is twelve years old and a 6th grader at Mansfield Middle School. He is also quite the pianist and enjoys playing video games and basketball.  As a family, the Hollands enjoy music, basketball, video games, and road trip vacations.  This past summer for their family vacation, they drove almost 8,000 miles.

Jeremy has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Henderson State University and Master of Science in Education from the University of Arkansas. Laura has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Arkansas Tech University. Jeremy taught Math at Mansfield High School for seventeen years, and for the past 3 years, he has been teaching College Algebra, College Trigonometry, Calculus II at Greenwood High School. Laura has taught 4th grade at Mansfield Elementary for 20 years.

When we asked Jeremy what he felt called him into ministry he responded, “God used several people and many circumstances to guide me into the work of the ministry. I have learned to make myself available to God guidance. I try to go where I see He is leading me. Since my days in college, I have learned that the paths that we choose for ourselves might not be what God has planned. When he has opened doors to ministry, I have jumped in and made myself available.”

Witcherville Fellowship Baptist student ministry meets on Wednesdays from 7:00 – 8:00 PM.  Chidren meet for AWANA at 6:30 P.M. on Wednesdays. Sunday School classes start at 9:30 A.M. and the morning Worship Service starts at 10:30 A.M. They also have Discipleship classes at 5:00 PM on Sunday evenings as well as a Worship Service at 6:00 PM.

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