Advent Devotional eBook

Our Providence worship staff is pleased to present an Advent Book. This devotional guide is divided into the four weeks that lead up to Christmas. Advent begins on Sunday, December 2. Each week focuses on a theme relating to Christ’s first coming. There are daily devotional readings written by our pastors for Monday through Thursday. At the end of the week, there is a selected passage followed by questions for reflection. We pray this is a helpful resource for personal and family devotions this Christmas season.

The PDF eBook is available at: http://www.pray.org/media/publications/publications/

This is a great opportunity to slow down during the busy Christmas season and meditate upon the wonder and miracle of Christ’s coming. It is also a great opportunity to lead your family in a weekly Bible study relating to the season. Christmas is filled with song, food and spending time with family inside and outside the home. This devotional guide includes suggestions for these items as well. Throughout each week, you will see Christmas recipes for the dinner table, familiar Christmas carols that retell of Christ’s miraculous birth, craft ideas for the home and for the kids, and dates and times for local Christmas events.

Special thanks to our worship intern, Michael Carter, for spearheading this project.

May Jesus Christ be our treasure this Advent season and all year long. God bless and keep you.

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Good Friday Tenebrae Services

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Here are some scripts & resources for Good Friday Tenebrae services. In 2011 we explored Old Testament passages that predict the cross and New Testament Gospel accounts of fulfillment. In 2010 we used Scriptural highlights from the Gospels tracing the Last Supper through the Garden, continuing with Christ’s trial and crucifixion, and concluding with His death and burial. In 2009 we used devotional readings considering eyewitnesses of Christ’s death at the foot of the cross. In 2008 we used devotional readings considering what Christ has accomplished for us through his life, death, and resurrection. In 2007 we used devotional readings on the seven sayings of Christ from the cross. I pray these will be a resource and blessing to you.

These scripts were prepared by the pastoral staff of ODBC.
© Open Door Baptist Church. Raleigh, NC.

For the 2011 “OT Prophecy” service,
click here: otprophecy-gf11.pdf

For the 2010 “Gospel Highlights” service,
click here: gospelhighlightsgf10.pdf

For the 2009 “Eyewitnesses” service,
click here: eyewitnessesgf091.pdf

For the 2008 “Accomplished” service,
click here: accomplishedgf08.pdf

For the 2007 “Sayings from the Cross” service,
click here: sevensayingsgf07.pdf

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Open Door Baptist Church. Raleigh, NC. Websites: http://www.opendoorlife.com and http://www.joshberrus.com.

Class Notes: Rescuing Ambition

James Garriss and I are facilitating discussion and teaching through Dave Harvey’s book, “Rescuing Ambition,” on Sunday evenings. Ambition is the instinctual motivation to aspire to things, to make something happen, to have an impact, to count for something in life. John Adams said every person is strongly actuated by a desire to be seen, heard, talked of, approved, and respected. To rescue is to save something, to prevent it from being discarded or harmed. The purpose of the book is to snatch ambition from the dust heap of failed motivations and put it to work for the glory of God. Join us on this 8-week journey in Feb/March as we consider Christian ambition.


Our main textbook is:

Harvey, Dave. Rescuing Ambition. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.


Class Notes:

Syllabus & Outline

Intro & Ch 1: Ambition Conceived

Ch 2: Ambition Corrupted (Selfish Ambition)

Ch 3: Ambition Converted
Bonus: Active & Passive Obedience of Christ

Ch 4: Ambition’s Agenda

Ch 5: Ambition’s Confidence (Faith & Doubt)

Ch 7: Ambition’s Contentment

Ch 8: Ambition’s Failure

Ch 9: Ambitious for the Church

Class Notes: Respectable Sins (Bridges)

Kevin Jones and I are teaching through Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.” In this discipleship class we will carefully examine the most common overlooked and pervasive sins we encounter and succumb to on a daily basis. Join us on this 8-week journey in April/May which will challenge and encourage us to examine our thoughts and actions more closely.


Our main textbook is:

Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007.


Class Notes:

Outline & Recommended Books

1. Understanding Sin

2. Remedy for Sin

3. Ungodliness & Unthankfulness

4. Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment

5. Pride & Selfishness

6. Impatience, Irritability & Anger

7. Judgmentalism & Sins of Tongue

8. Self-Control

Some Thoughts on Decision-Making

Below is a recent letter I wrote to a friend seeking advice for wisdom in decision-making. I pray these thoughts are helpful.

Generation X tends to often struggle with doubt and indecision, and that has been my story. I have regrets of hopping churches and dabbling in dating over the past 10 years and had developed a reputation of being indecisive and uncommitted. It took most of my 20’s to conquer doubt and indecision with church ministry and dating relationships. I’m so glad the Lord restores, gives substantial healing, and uses us in spite of ourselves.

These 2 books have been very helpful to me:
1) God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt by Os Guinness
2) Just Do Something: How to Make Decisions Without Visions, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Wet Fleeces, etc. by Kevin DeYoung

Os Guinness’ book helped me identify that struggles with doubt and decision-making were linked to sin issues of ungratefulness, lack of commitment, and fear/running from pain/difficulty. I am learning to be grateful where I am, commit long term, and embrace suffering through Christ.

This may sound crass . . . God doesn’t care where you live or where your paycheck comes from. Yes, he cares because he loves you, but ultimately, He cares more about HOW we live than WHERE we live. God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice, give thanks, pray, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve in the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, marry a Christian, etc.

The place you live doesn’t matter. There is no perfect job, and there is no perfect spouse. Life is hard. It has it’s challenges. But things usually get sweeter through longevity and stability. Yes, there is a time to leave and a time to stay. But our generation is poor at commitment and sticking it out for the long haul. Our grandparents’ generation did much better at this. They got married, got a job, and made it work. There’s something good about that. We have so many options available to us, and we grow idealistic. We also tend to overanalyze and consider the repercussions of every decision, which becomes paralyzing and leads to worry.

Psalm 46:10 says to be still, relax, let go, cease striving and know that He is God. Relax. God has promised to meet your needs. Jesus promised to be with you even to the end of the age. Christians will go through trials and suffering, but the Lord will not give more than we can bear. He will provide all that you need so that your faith will not fail.

The godly man/woman of Proverbs knows truth and is a wise, confident decision maker. Be careful to not overspiritualize your decisions. We cannot trust emotion, feelings, etc. Walk in confidence in Christ. Know the Bible, pray, get counsel, and make wise decisions. As you move forward, trust God to meet you on the other side of that decision. He appoints the very times and places that we live.

Another comforting thought . . . nothing is wasted. God uses even our mistakes and sins for His glory. As Paul said, “Forget what’s behind and press on to what’s ahead. I press on toward the goal of the prize” which is knowing Christ.

So what is the Lord’s will? Again, God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, etc. Do these things, and everything else will fall into place.

Press on. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Run the race with endurance. You are in my prayers.