All posts by: Anthony Stephens

The Promise of a Savior

There is nothing like the Christmas season. It comes rushing in like a hurricane and overtakes everything. Music. Movies. Even grocery stores. When Christmas comes in, you cannot miss it.

While you cannot miss the presence of the season, it is not that hard to miss what has been known as the “Reason for the Season.” It is not about white chocolate Oreos (even though they are oh so good and should be available all year long). It’s not about Christmas trees, ornaments, lawn decorations, or lights (although I like all of these). It is about the greatest gift in the world. It is the celebration of the birth if the Messiah: Jesus Christ.

Every year, I try to take the congregation that I lead through a series to remind us of the “Reason for the Season.” This year, I am preaching through a series that looks at the promises of Christmas. Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, I will be sharing here a written version of those messages. I welcome feedback and discussion, but mostly hope that they help you focus on Jesus this Christmas season.

The Promise of a Savior

Some of us get irritated when stores begin getting ready for Christmas. It seems like it is earlier and earlier. There are differing opinions as to when getting ready is too soon. When we look at the Bible, one could easily make an argument that God is in favor of an early preparation of Christmas. How can I say that? We see the first promise of Christmas mentioned in the Garden of Eden.

A Promise Broken (Genesis 3:1-7)

When Genesis 3 opens, we are introduced to a new character in the Bible: the serpent. This was a creature that was created as good by God but had been indwelt by Satan himself and used for his ungodly purposes. We see that this serpent has a conversation with Eve and causes her to break her promise to God.

Prior to this conversation that we see, Adam had been told by God to enjoy all of the creation that God had made except one tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). After God created Eve, it was Adam’s responsibility to share this with her.

We see that as Eve has this conversation with the serpent, she gives in to the temptation and breaks her promise to God. This is what the Bible calls sin – the breaking of God’s laws… disobeying what God has said.

We may be tempted to point a finger at Adam and Eve and say, “How could you do that? You had everything in all of creation, and you went after the one thing that you were told not to!” But how quickly do we see ourselves following Adam and Eve’s ways? How many times do we crave the very things that we are told that we are not to have?

We see that the very first promise that man made to God was broken. The result of this broken promise was judgment. We see that in the rest of the chapter. God shows up and deals with sin.

A Promise Made

As God came and brought judgment upon creation because of the sin that was present, we see an interesting sight. When we hear the word ‘judgment’, we tend to think of negative things. It does not normally compute with our minds that something good might actually come out of a judgment where we are completely in the wrong. God blows everyone’s mind in Genesis 3:14-15.

As God pronounces a curse upon the serpent, He makes a promise in verse 15. This is the first proclamation of the Gospel in creation. God says that He will rise up One that will bruise (or crush) the head of the serpent while he will bruise this One’s heel. It is interesting that the same word is given in action of the One and the serpent. They will deliver equally damaging blows, but the difference is that the One will have the ability to come back from it because He is not a creation. In Genesis 3:15, we have God making a promise to provide a Deliverer from the sin that has brought about the judgments of God on us.

A Promise Kept

If we fast-forward to Matthew 1:20-21, we will see that God keeps His promise. In this verse, we see an angel of the Lord coming to Joseph and telling him not to hesitate in taking Mary to be his bride. The child that she is carrying is the promise that God had made in the Garden of Eden. This “seed” would be the One who would save people from their sins.

God is not in the business of breaking promises. If God has made a promise, you can take it to the bank that He will make good on it. The promise might not come in the timing that we would want, but it will always come right on time.

We can celebrate this Christmas season in knowing that God is a promise-keeping God. He sent His Son, Jesus, into this world to redeem us from the sin that we were guilty of. God did not weigh the scales and say, “I didn’t realize there was going to be THIS much sin.” God did not look at the types of sin and say, “I’m not sure about taking care of THAT sin.”

God showed His great love to us by saying to all who have sin – many or few, big or small – “I love you… this gift of salvation is for you.”

This Christmas season, my prayer for you is that you might experience the fullness of the gift that God gave to the world that first Christmas morning. If you have never received this gift of forgiveness and a new life through Christ, then you can today by surrendering your will and life to Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving

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May the Lord bless you and your family this Thanksgiving as you remember the many blessings He has showered upon you.

~ The Stephens Family

Whom Do We Thank?

In 1621, the colonists of Plymouth and the Wampanoag Indians shared a harvest meal with each other. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established a national holiday. This was to be a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

I do not know of many who are not a fan of Thanksgiving. It seems to be a time where just about anyone can get involved. A time where we gather around a loaded table with family and friends, watch parades and football, and give thanks for the blessings in our lives.

While so many seem to get involved in this time, I think that it is important that we remember the specifics of this “holiday.” It was set aside as a holiday not to just load up on refreshments and early Christmas shopping. It was intended to stop and remember where our blessings truly come from.

In this age, where there are a rising number of “Nones” (those claiming no religious affiliation), there is a temptation to make our Thanksgiving as generic as possible. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, right?

I would like to encourage any follower of Jesus to not fall into the trap of generic thanksgiving this year – or any other time. Remember as President Lincoln boldly reminded the nation, it is the Lord of the Bible that provides each and every blessing we enjoy. It is to Him that we should offer our gratitude and be intentional with it.

When you express your thanks this Thanksgiving, will those around you know who it is that you are thanking?

We’re Coming To Your City


Well, it is getting about that time again. The holiday season is upon us. While this means many things to different people, it means spending some time with family that we do not get to see often. 

We wanted to let our friends and family in the Huntsville, Alabama area know that we are planning on being in the area during the week of Thanksgiving. We plan on coming in on Tuesday and heading out on Friday. I know that is not long, but you can only do what you can do. 

If you are available during this time, we would love to get up with you. Feel free to contact us and see if we can work something out. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

Book Review: “Discerning Your Call to Ministry”

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Discerning Your Call to Ministry

I received a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry by Jason K. Allen recently.  I had heard about this book while listening to the Rainer on Leadership podcast.  I was intrigued by what I had heard on this book.  I believe that the content of this book covers some thoughts that those who are wrestling with what God is wanting to do in their lives wrestle with.  Below are some of my thoughts about this book.

At the beginning, Allen jumps right into definition mode.  In the introduction, he shows the difference of being called to minister, called to ministry, and called to the ministry.  This is an important distinction that I believe many do not see.  Allen does a good job of showing the difference and importance of each term.

The meat of the book is divided up into 10 chapters.  Each chapter deals with a question to help the reader better see what God may be doing in his or her own heart.  He uses Bible verses, thoughts from Christian ministers of the past, and personal stories to help the reader wrestle with each question.

The conclusion of the book helps the reader by giving points to pursue in relation to what the reader has discovered about himself or herself through the questions.  It is good that Allen not only helps those who come through the questions still feeling that God is calling them to the ministry of the gospel, but he also shares encouragement for those who do not sense that call.  Allen does not devalue those who are not called to the ministry, but he encourages them to be faithful to what God is calling them to.

As one who has felt the call to the ministry, I remember the times of wrestling and trying to figure out what that meant.  I also remember hearing the stories of many who wrestled much longer with what God was doing in their lives – those who were called to the ministry and those who were not.  I am grateful to Dr. Allen for the work that he has put forth here in Discerning Your Call to Ministry.  I believe that this small book will have a big impact on many men and women going forward who are wondering what God is up to in their lives.

If you sense that God might be up to something and calling you to a deeper service… if you find yourself wrestling with what God is wanting you to do with your life… I would encourage you to get a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry and let this great tool help you discern what God is doing in your life.  It will be money well spent.