Tuesday, February 19

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are warm and dry wherever you are. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 123 & 146         Evening – Psalm 30 & 86 

Our Epistle reading for today is 1 Timothy 1: 18 – 2: 8. Following the traditional greeting and thanksgiving, Paul begins to explain the importance of faith and a good conscience. He offers specific instruction to his pupil regarding the importance of prayer. 

First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people.

1 Timothy 2: 1    CEB

Dean Thompson, President of Louisville Seminary at my time of graduation, imparted many pearls of wisdom to our graduating class. The focus of his message to all students was to keep God’s call central to everything. He placed the significance of call discernment above all other priorities in obtaining a seminary education. Dean had a thirty year career in parish ministry before entering the world of seminary academia. 

One of those pearls went something like this. Dean told us, “Seminary prepares you to lead the church of the ‘not yet’, but you will be called to serve the church that is”. He explained the comment by emphasizing the need for all people responding to a call to ministry to do as Jesus did and meet people where they are, not where we might want them to be. 

Dr. Thompson did not quote 1 Timothy as the scriptural background for his comment, but her certainly could have. After explaining the role Paul hoped Timothy would play in ministry, Paul went straight to work telling Timothy how to go about it. Paul plainly instructs Timothy to pray for all people in every circumstance. 

More than that, Paul urges Timothy to include thanksgiving as part of those prayers. It seems that Paul was trying to encourage his apprentice to embrace what the call from God is all about. Sharing the love of God is the first and foremost aspect of ministry. 

Every follower of Jesus Christ is called to share the love of God in all things. We sometimes struggle to know how this happens and what it means. Our reading today makes it abundantly clear. Pray for all people and give thanks for every person God brings you into contact with. God will take care of the rest. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s.

Shealey Millergren is home resting following a successful hip surgery yesterday. Please continue to keep Shealey and the entire Glass family lifted up in prayer. 

Ralls Colston, volunteer Mission Coordinator for our Presbytery, will be meeting with our Disaster Relief Team tomorrow at the Freeman House at 1pm. 

If you know of anyone who has reached out to our church offering support, please communicate their contact information to wetupres@bellsouth.net. Thank you.


Monday, February 18

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope your Monday is off to a good start. 

Our readings for devotion this week will be the Epistle selections from the daily lectionary. We will be reading portions of 1 Timothy. I will also include the daily Psalm readings. Consider adding daily Psalm reading to your practice of daily devotion.

The Psalm readings for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 135 & 145         Evening – Psalm 97 & 112 

Our Epistle reading for today is 1 Timothy 1: 1 – 17. Two of the letters Paul wrote to his most beloved apprentice made it into the canon of Christian scripture. The letters demonstrate the blessings of mentor relationships. Paul’s words of encouragement speak to those just beginning to become established in ministry. 

The goal of instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1: 5    CEB 

Early in God’s story of covenant relationship with humankind, we find scripture speaking of the need to focus on God’s instruction. Life in the earthly kingdom has limits for children of God. Those limits are established by God in order to insure a peaceful life of prosperity for all. We refer to God’s commandments for living as “God’s laws of love”. 

From the very beginning, some mortals have sought to manipulate divine instruction. Since the beginning of time, people have engaged in destructive practices in the name of abiding by God’s teaching. These misinterpretations are often enticing and difficult to identify as false teaching, because they appeal to our human needs rather than reflecting God’s divine intentions.

Early in his first letter to Timothy, Paul makes a statement that provides clarity for every child of God seeking to learn from God’s instruction. The Greek text of verse 5 reads “but the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith not pretended;”. Paul characterizes divine instruction in a way that is easy to understand and embrace. 

In our daily efforts to abide by divine teaching as witnessed to by Jesus Christ, our foundation is clear. We are to have a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. If we focus on these as our starting point, then we need not worry about being lured in by false teaching. God in Jesus Christ provides all we need to discern teaching that comes from God.

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s.

Please keep Shealey Millergren and the Glass family in your prayers. Shealey has her second hip surgery today at UAB. 

Persons interested in assisting with correspondence needs of the church are invited to come to the Freeman House today at 3pm.

Friday, February 15

Dearest church family,

Good wet Friday to you! I hope u are doing well today. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 51 & 148            Evening – Psalm 65 & 142 

Our final Gospel reading for this week is Mark 10: 32 – 45. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection for the third time. He then fields a request from James and John. 

But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.

Mark 10: 43        CEB 

There are two narratives combined in our reading today. First, Jesus travels with the disciples and many other followers towards Jerusalem. He shares word again foretelling what is to take place. Second, Jesus responds to a request from James and John regarding occupying the seat of honor. The underlying message of both narratives is servanthood. 

In the first narrative, those traveling closest to Jesus were amazed while those further back were anxious. What this means for the reader in later times is powerful. The closer followers are to Jesus, the less anxious they are about the future. In other words, followers of Jesus benefit from a closer proximity to Jesus and his teachings. 

In the second narrative, Jesus clarifies his role as a servant of God rather than God’s deputy. What this means for the reader in later times is also powerful. Serving God is the primary function of the earthly ministry of Jesus. The disciples sometimes struggle to grasp that reality. 

We often sing the song We Are All Children of God, which reminds us of our belonging to God. We also sing I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me, which reminds us of God’s call to serve. As children of God, we must always remember that our belonging to God calls for serving God. Perhaps a song mashup is in order! 

Peace,

Jonathan

p.s. 

We will be fielding a team of volunteers at the Food Pantry tomorrow. Any time you have to give between 9:30 and 1:30 would be greatly appreciated. 

Yesterday, I mentioned having a few folks sort through the remaining rubble piles on site today. Alabama Power is working to re-establish electrical service, so it is probably best for us to keep people traffic to a minimum today.


Thursday, February 14

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are doing well this morning.

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are:

Morning – Psalm 97 & 147: 12 – 20           Evening – Psalm 1 & 33 

Our Gospel reading for today is Mark 10: 17 – 31. A rich man approaches and asks him a question. The man’s question and Jesus’ response led the disciples to ask, “Then who can be saved?” 

His words startled the disciples, so Jesus told them again, “Children, it is difficult to enter God’s kingdom!”

Mark 10: 24        CEB 

A rich man approached Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by telling the man to keep the commandments, which the man proclaimed he was already doing. Jesus acknowledged the man’s obedience to the commandments and added that the man needed to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor in order to receive God’s gift of eternal life. 

The man already had the answer to his question before he asked it. He knew full well what the life of faith required. He engaged in that life willingly and faithfully. His actions did not allow him to receive the gift of eternal life. 

Jesus’ subsequent teaching regarding wealth initiated confusion that remains with us in our time today. The statement that a rich person cannot enter the kingdom of heaven is challenging and perplexing. It does not need to be. Jesus makes his point very clearly. 

In other places in the New Testament, we hear the word of God reminding us that what we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and what we bind on earth will be bound in heaven. This statement speaks to the teaching Jesus shares in our reading today. 

The reason Jesus says it is difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven has to do with possessions; material and emotional. The possessions themselves have little to do with anything. What matters is our approach to them. If we value possessions more than God and other people, there is no hope of realizing God’s gift of eternal life. 

This does not mean that we lose our inheritance. We cannot be cut out of God’s will. What is does mean is that we can cut ourselves off from realizing God’s gift. 

When possessions of any variety rule our lives, we have fallen into idolatry. God is not an idol to be appeased or worshipped. God is the Creator who is to be given glory. God does not give possessions. God gives life. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s. 

If anyone wants to come help sort through the last two piles of rubble on the church site tomorrow, you are welcome to do so. The clean up phase is nearly complete. You must wear hard soled shoes and have work gloves if you come to help with this project. 

Arrangements are being finalized for Jake Watkins. Services will take place Saturday, February 23rd, at the Depot. Visitation will be in the lobby from 10am – 11am. The memorial service will be at 11am in the theatre. Fredna’s address is 3614 S. Georgetown Drive Montgomery, AL 36109 if you want to reach out to her. Memorials can be sent to the church. 

We will have our team of volunteers working at the Food Pantry this Saturday, February 16. Any time you can share between 9:30am – 1:30pm would be greatly appreciated.


Wednesday, February 13

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you all. I hope you are well as the sun shines this morning.

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 89: 1 – 18 & 147: 1 – 11               Evening – Psalm 1 & 33 

Our Gospel reading for today is Mark 10: 1 – 16. Jesus offers teaching regarding the laws of man and of Moses and their relationship to the law of God. Jesus continues to bless children and identify them as the true heirs of the kingdom of God. 

Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your unyielding hearts.”

Mark 10: 5           CEB 

I have shared a particular teaching I learned in seminary in ministry multiple times. It is the basic teaching that whenever we are trying to discern whether something is faithful or not, we need only to use the witness and example of Jesus Christ as our litmus test. As I was taught, if what we are considering is in keeping with the teaching and witness of Jesus, it is of God. If it conflicts in any way, it is not of God. 

An application of that teaching fits well with our reading today. Folks listening to Jesus asked a question about the law of Moses, specifically as it relates to divorce. They cited a “standard” issued by Moses as a commandment regarding marriage. The Pharisees specifically ask Jesus what the law allows. 

In answer to their question, Jesus asked about the origin of the law. The Pharisees responded that the law was given by Moses. Jesus quickly points out that the law did not come from God and that it violates divine intention regarding covenant relationship. 

Every human being in every time and place can remain on the right side of the law of their land by being obedient to it. Violating the law comes with consequences. You break the law, you pay the price. 

This relationship with human law is true. It does not effectively reflect the relationship between humankind and the law of God. Each and every human attempt to equate the two violates divine intention. 

Taking a legalistic approach to covenant relationship with God and / or sisters and brothers is self-defeating. If we begin our interactions with the question, “What does the law allow?”, we have already lost. If, on the other hand, we carry God’s laws of love as the guide for living God intended them to be into every interaction, we become free to embrace all God makes available. 

Peace,

Jonathan

p.s. 

We were spared any further damage to church properties in yesterday’s straight line winds. Please keep folks who did receive damage in your prayers. 

Bible Study meets today at noon in the Freeman House. 

Children’s Community Choir meets at Trinity Episcopal this afternoon from 3 – 5.


Tuesday, February 12

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are well and dry this morning. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 42 & 146            Evening – Psalm 102 & 133 

Our Gospel reading for today is Mark 9: 42 -  50. In sharing the prediction of his own death, Jesus shifts focus to the need to recognize your allies. This follows his teaching regarding embracing the kingdom of God on earth as children. 

As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and to be thrown into the lake.

Mark 9: 42           CEB 

A couple of nights ago, the girls came across a commercial for a television special on Ted Bundy. They were drawn into the sound bite / video clip presentation. As is usually the case, they both asked who Ted Bundy was. Ah, the joys of parenthood! 

One of the sound bites featured a detective who made the statement, “I never believed people could be pure evil until I met Ted Bundy.” The horror one of the most infamous serial killers instilled in those processing the case remains as powerful today as ever. 

There seems to be a temptation whenever Jesus warns against misleading others, especially children, to think of extreme cases like Ted Bundy. It is easy to personify evil in such a way, and the details of his gruesome existence certainly support that personification. It is doubtful that the teaching we find in our reading today was directed at extremists. 

It is far more likely that Jesus’ words were directed towards common, everyday folk. You know, folk like us. Jesus spoke to crowds of people in general and the disciples in particular. His teaching was never directed towards some “other”. It was directed at the very people he was speaking to. 

It is worthwhile for every child of God to consider the ways we might cause others to stumble, especially children. In other words, we should all constantly evaluate the ways we misrepresent Jesus and the gospel, either by intention or unknowingly. If our focus is on the truth Jesus’ witnessed to, this evaluation should not be complicated. 

Our daughters asked us about something neither of us ever wanted to discuss with them. That is how the gospel works. We had the choice to tell them the truth without inflicting further trauma to them or to be silent and / or try and scare them to death. This is how the truth Jesus speaks to works. 

Trauma of one variety or another is what causes human beings to stumble. God is not the author of trauma. God is the author of healing. God does not inflict trauma in the name of gaining faith. God rescues the faithful from whatever trauma they encounter. 

Peace,

Jonathan


Monday, February 11

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are doing well as another work week gets underway. 

Our readings for daily devotion this week will be the Gospel selections from the daily lectionary. We will be reading portions of the Gospel of Mark. I will also include the daily Psalm readings and encourage everyone to incorporate those into daily devotion practice. 

The Psalm readings for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 5 & 145              Evening – Psalm 29 & 82 

Our Gospel reading for today is Mark 9: 30 – 41. Jesus predicts his death for a second time. He shifts his focus from teaching the crowds to specifically teaching the disciples. 

They entered Capernaum. When they had come into a house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about during the journey?”

Mark 9: 33           CEB 

Jesus had been teaching the crowds through his ministry of healing. The crowds believed and followed him. The disciples became more confused about what the kingdom of God on earth actually looked like. 

As they journeyed along, the disciples began to argue amongst themselves regarding who was the greatest among them. Jesus, knowing the content of their discussion, took a moment to stop and allow the disciples to find clarity. Jesus shared his teaching regarding being first and last. 

Mark captures the powerful challenge the Gospel presents to all claiming to be followers of Christ. Jesus calls out the disciples, but his demeanor in doing so differs significantly from the ways of the world. Jesus’ rebuke is neither threat nor attack. It is a reminder of the truth and what matters most. 

The teaching method of God in Jesus Christ asks questions. God, the creator of all things, gives us the freedom to think for ourselves. God allows us to learn from our own mistakes and to see the error of our ways on our own. God does not do this for us. 

The disciples were missing out on God’s ongoing teachable moment. They became focused on self and therefore missed God’s teaching. Every follower of Christ must always welcome the corrective, challenging nature of the gospel as witnessed by Jesus Christ. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s.

Jake Watkins passed away peacefully earlier this morning. Please continue to keep his family, especially his wife Fredna, in your prayers. Arrangements will be shared as soon as they are determined.


Friday, February 8

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope your Friday is off to a good start. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 84 & 148            Evening – Psalm 25 & 40 

Our final Old Testament reading for this week is Isaiah 55: 1 – 13. Isaiah shares an invitation to the feast God provides. The refrain, “Come to the water” marks the invitation. 

My plans aren’t your plans, nor are my ways your ways, says the Lord.

Isaiah 55: 8          CEB 

Our reading today captures the beautiful language of invitation God extends to the whole of humanity. All who hunger or thirst are invited to come to the feast God provides. There is no fee or price; only unconditional invitation. 

Accepting that invitation requires accepting God’s terms. Again, this is not the price of admission. It is necessary in order to accept the invitation. God’s invitation comes on God’s terms rather than ours. 

What this means is simple. Whenever you or I prepare a feast, we issue invitations. We have our own criteria for whom we invite. This is the way it works and there is nothing wrong with it. 

Accepting God’s invitation means setting aside our own terms and conditions in favor of God’s. It is our nature to want to apply our terms and conditions to God’s invitation, but it does not work that way. This reality is easy to understand and challenging to embody all at the same time. 

The beauty of accepting God’s invitation on God’s terms is the liberating power of it. We do not need to put together any type of guest list. God has already done so, and that action on God’s part frees us to fully accept all God makes available. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s. 

The last of the rubble piles from the sanctuary will be separated and sorted today. Anyone wishing to assist with that process is welcome to come help. Again, hard soles shoes and work gloves are a must. 

Utilities are being re-established for Fellowship Hall so that repairs to it may continue. The plan is still to have us back in that space by the end of February.


Thursday, February 7

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you. I hope you are doing well. 

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 116 & 147: 12 – 20        Evening – Psalm 26 & 130 

Our Old Testament reading for today is Isaiah 54: 1 – 10 (11 – 17).  As a sign of God’s promise, Isaiah speaks directly to “the barren woman”. God’s constant call,
“Do not fear” is echoed.

These are like the days of Noah for me, when I promised that Noah’s waters would never again cover the earth. Likewise I promise not to rage against you or rebuke you.

Isaiah 54: 10       CEB 

God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would be the parents of an entire nation. Scripture tells us they tried to take matters in their own hands in the childbearing years and laughed at God’s promise in their old age. There is no record of the lament either experienced because of their reality as barren. 

Our reading today contains a call from Isaiah to “the barren woman”. Isaiah calls this woman to rejoice and give glory to God. I don’t know about you, but I have never encountered a barren woman who was joyous about it. 

The significance of Isaiah’s call relates to God’s promise in the face of human reality. God directs Isaiah to provide a reminder that nothing is impossible in God’s hand, and that God is not in the business of rage or rebuke. Long before the incarnation of the word of God, the message was clear. 

It serves us well to remind ourselves daily of God’s promise following the great flood. God keeps God’s promises. We are children of God’s promises…all of them.

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s. 

We will be transferring pew pieces and other ornamental woodwork salvaged from the sanctuary to an offsite location today. We will begin around 11 and could use a couple of extra hands. You must wear hard soled shoes and work gloves is you plan to help with this effort.

The kitchen ceiling and vent hood in our new kitchen will have to be replaced. We need a few volunteers to pack up the kitchen tomorrow. We have boxes and will only need to pack up items from the shelves and move the boxes into Fellowship Hall. Anyone wishing to help can come to Fellowship Hall tomorrow morning around 9.


Wednesday, February 6

Dearest church family, 

Good morning to you all. Greetings to you from the Freeman House and from my office computer! Sometimes it is the little things. 

The Psalm readings for today are: 

Morning – Psalm 96 & 147: 1 – 11             Evening – Psalm 132 & 134

Our Old Testament reading for today is Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12. Isaiah begins a prophetic description of God’s suffering servant. God’s servant will astonish many nations. 

The Lord’s plan will come to fruition through him.  

Isaiah 53: 10b     CEB 

I have the solution to the woes of our divided federal government. I believe we should invite our President and Speaker of the House and their cohorts to come and do their work in Wetumpka for a couple of weeks. Perhaps they would see the true fabric of our nation and get on with the work they have been called to do. 

Isaiah’s prophecy regarding God’s suffering servant is difficult to process. It is hard to imagine that there could be so much spoken about Jesus so many years before his actual birth. I don’t know about you, but I find it more than a little unsettling that God knew so far ahead of time how his Son would be received in the earthly kingdom. 

What is significant in all this is the supremacy of God. In the latter half of verse 10 of our reading today, Isaiah makes a powerful declaration. It is one we have all encountered from our first days with scripture, but it bears repetition. God’s plans for the earthly kingdom come to fruition through the servanthood embodied by Jesus Christ. 

This is the servanthood we are called to embody in our own discipleship. While we align ourselves with human systems and structures as part of the natural process of living, we must always remember that God’s plans are revealed and made real through the ways of God represented in Jesus. Humble servanthood to the ways of God is our constant call. 

Peace,

Jonathan 

p.s  

Wednesday Bible Study meets at the Freeman House today at noon. 

Children’s Community Choir meets at Trinity Episcopal this afternoon from 3 - 5 

We will need a few volunteers tomorrow, beginning around noon, to load up salvaged materials that will be stored off site. You must have hard soled shoes and heavy work gloves if you plan to help out tomorrow. Thanks


Tuesday, February 5

Dearest church family,

Good morning to you. Greetings from Shocco Springs Baptist Retreat Center in Talladega! I am here for the annual Board Retreat for the Presbyterian Home for Children. I will be headed back home this afternoon.

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are:

Morning - Psalm 12 & 146        Evening - Psalm 7 & 36

Our Old Testament reading for today is Isaiah 52: 1 - 12. The prophet calls the city of Zion to awake. Isaiah calls for giving glory to the rule of God.

Therefore, my people will know my name on that day; I'm the one who promises it. I'm here.

Isaiah 52: 6      CEB

Lt. Dan and Forrest spent many days searching for shrimp in the waters off the Alabama coast. They fished to no avail and Lt. Dan began to chastise God for being absent just as Lt. Dan had always believed God was. Then one day, as Forrest narrates, "God showed up."

Scripture often explains that God comes in a whirlwind. The presence of God is described biblically as a mighty force, a fierce storm, an earthquake and so on. No wonder Forrest interpreted a hurricane as the presence of God.

More often than not, however, scripture describes a different variety of divine presence. That presence is comfort, rescue, relief from burden, and so on. This divine presence is calmer than the other variety, but equal in power.

In the quiet of the evenings over the last couple of weeks, when the machinery shut down and workers escaped the darkness, there was a peaceful quiet in the area of Bridge and Bridge. You can hear the IMPACT Center at the Baptist Church creaking and popping as it collapses. Other than that and the occassional passing vehicle, all is quiet.

This is the presence of God. All of it. It is sometimes forceful and other times gentle. It is sometimes noisy and other times quiet. Isaiah's words remind us of the constant throughout every variety of divine presence. God is here.

God is present wherever you are today. This is true whether we recognize that presence or not. Trust that presence at all times. We have every reason to do so.

peace,

Jonathan

p.s.

For those available to begin a conversation about long-term assistance to our community, remember our meeting at the Freeman House tomorrow morning at 9am. Thanks to all who have expressed an interest in serving in this capacity who work and cannot attend the meeting. You will be updated on how the conversation develops.


Monday, February 4

Dearest church family,

Good Monday morning. I hope the work week is off to a good start for everyone.

Our readings for devotion this week will be the Old Testament selections from the daily lectionary. We will be reading portions of Isaiah. I will also include the daily Psalm readings and encourage everyone to read at least one Psalm daily as part of your daily devotion practice.

The Psalm readings for today are:

Morning - Psalm 62 & 145    Evening - Psalm 9 & 73

Our Old Testament reading for today is Isaiah 51: 17 - 23. This portion of Isaiah includes prophecy regarding faithful servanthood. Isaiah draws on the example of Abraham and Sarah and calls Jerusalem to wake up.

The Lord, your Lord and your God, who contends for his people, says: Look, I have taken the cup of reeling, the goblet of my wrath, from your hand. You will no longer drink from it.

Isaiah 51: 22    CEB

Isaiah is the lengthiest of the prophetic works found in the Bible. It mirrors a pattern familiar in the majority of its companion prophetic writings. The sinful nature of humankind is called out and the ensuing destruction decried. What follows is a call to repent or perish.

One fo the best pieces of advice I ever received in regards to engaging scripture came from several of my Bible professors in seminary. They collectively taught us to look for the activity of God in all passages. They further encouraged is to distinguish human behavior from divine.

Prophetic writing is sometimes difficult to engage because it often speaks in harsh language about destruction and the wrath of God. It causes us to wonder how a loving, compassionate God can allow such things to happen. When we follow my professors' advice, we somtimes find that God has the hammer of destruction clenched in the almighty hand.

While this is true, what we also find is the constant call to repent and return. In our reading today, which comes from the latter portion of Isaiah, we find Isaiah delving deeply into the eternal character of God. Wrath has come from God, but that is not the end of the story. What a perfect message for us as a church family at this particualr moment in time.

We are not living in the time of God's wrath. We cannot assign the destruction we see right before us to God. What we must do instead is acknowledge that our hope and promise for what we have come through and what lies ahead comes from God. God takes away all destructive power we willingly give and replaces it with hope, love, and comfort.

peace,

Jonathan


Friday, February 1

Dearest church family,

Good morning to you all. I hope you are doing well this morning.

The Psalm readings from the daily lectionary for today are:

Morning - Psalm 88 & 148      Evening - Psalm 6 & 20

Our final Epistle reading for this week is Galatians 3: 15 - 22. Paul continues his teaching regarding the source of our righteousness. He uses Abraham as a case study for covenant relationship with God.

If the inheritance were based upon the Law, it would no longer be from the promise. But God has given it graciously to Abraham through a promise.

Galatians 3: 18  CEB

It is always important when thinking of God's complete story found in the Bible to remember God's ordering of things. From Genesis to Revelation, we find a complete story that represents the full character, nature, and plan of God. We also find God's promise that the story will continue to unfold throughout eternity.

The Jews in Paul's time believed that the way to achieve righteousness was by strict adherence to the laws of Moses. The fact that Jesus was a Jew strengthened their belief. The Gentiles coming to God in and through Jesus Christ believed the way to righteousness was to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus identified himself as the fulfilment of the Law. He was challenged and ultimatley crucified for preaching righteousness apart from adherence to the Law. Jesus kept God's commanments, but only out of love and obedience to God.

Paul helps to clear the way regarding debates over the role the Law plays in the life of faith. He identifies a reality from God's timeline. His point is simple. The promise God made to Abraham predates God's giving of the Ten Commendments and the creation of Mosaic Law.

What does this mean? It informs the faith of all who call on the name of God. God acts first. God does not wait for us to do anything to make righteousness available. God makes it available first. Adherence to the commandments is a means for realizing the righteousness God has already freely given to all.

peace,

Jonathan

p.s. 

Please keep Jake and Fredna Watkins and the Fain family in your prayers Jake is in ICU at Baptist South with pneumonia and other health issues. He is in critical condition and needs our prayers. Visitation is not possible at this time.

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, which means that our youth will be taking up collections for the Souper Bowl of Caring following worship Sunday. Please bring a nonperishable food item or make a financial contribution to this nation wide hunger awareness eve

We will have a brief congregationl meeting following worship to discuss plans for the immediate future of ministry needs at the church. Please make plans to a