AM & PM DEVOTIONS
Call-In Devotions @ 205.825.9633
No matter how your schedule changes, you can now pick from AM or PM Devotions with our senior pastor Dr. Ricky A. Woods. Early birds can join at 8:15am and night owls can take advantage of our new evening devotion at 7:15pm. Either way, dial the SAME number -- (205) 825-9633 -- a few minutes ahead of the scheduled start time.
p.s. REMEMBER, DON'T ANNOUNCE YOURSELF AFTER THE START TIME AND PLEASE PUT YOUR PHONE ON MUTE!
There are occasions in life that drive us to look for sources of assistance and aid outside of own ability. There are moments in life that bring us face to face with human limitations no matter our station or standing.
It was in just this sort of moment that the psalmist turned his attention toward God.
The psalmist begins be declaring that he lifted his soul toward God and put his trust in God. But before asking God to intervene in any way with the condition of need that he faced, the psalmist begins his engagement with God in an expression of worship. If we are not mindful of our need to worship God, we may skip worship and be moved to bring our petition to a God and never stop to take time to worship.
Worship should always be our entry point with God, the time we take to acknowledge him for who he is--not what he does.
Worship reminds us that God makes us a relational being in order to enjoy a relationship with him designed to last an eternity. The season of Lent slows us down from the hectic pace of life that can makes us seekers of benefits without ever fully knowing the security of being sons and daughters of God.
When we understand and value our positions as sons and daughters of God, we know there will be times we will have to wait on God to act. Waiting is not a pacifying act. According to the psalmist, waiting is a militant act that is bold enough to believe that God will act in our favor at the right time.
No one knows for sure how long the current pandemic will last. But while it lasts, we are to worship, to wait and to work with the conviction that God will not put us to shame. He will vindicate our trust in him.
In the words of the old timers, he may not come when you want but whenever he comes, he is always on time.
This month is set aside as Black History Month in our nation. It is the time of the year when the entire nation is attuned to the contributions of Black Americans.
It was no easy task getting our nation to A place of celebrating the contributions of people of color. For years the stereotypes and false history told a story that blacks had made no significant contributions to our national welfare. However, through the tireless efforts of trailblazers in history such as Carter G. Woodson and W. E. B. Dubois, to name a few, the truth began to come out.
The unknown writer of Hebrews provided his community with a truth about Jesus that needed to get out.
Jesus did not come into the world because of his concern about angels. Nor did Jesus come into the world absent the limitations of humanity. Jesus our savior and deliver was made like us in every way. Jesus did not pull back from what it meant to be like us. He accepted what it meant to be like us in order to endure our trials and every test we would encounter, but remain true to God’s will. Being like us is what allowed Jesus to conqueror death and the grave. We now have a high priest who is not unfamiliar with our needs, our trouble and our sorrows.
Because he was like us, it was the shedding of his blood that provided the covering for our sins and opened the door to our acceptance with God. The Hebrew writer is putting an end to the false notion that Jesus did not share our humanity. Jesus was never so divine that he was out of touch with human needs. He knew what it was like to cry as he wept at the grave of Lazarus. He knew what it was like to feel the sting of disappointment when his closest friend abandoned him. He even knew what it was like to question God--why have you forsaken me.
Having gone through all that we go through in our own journey means that Jesus is able to help us and all of those in need during our time of testing. He was not ashamed to be made like us in order to save us. May we never forget that truth.
Jesus was clear about his purpose and mission to be sin offering for all humanity. Whereas there are many good things he did to point persons toward the love of God, his ultimate purpose was to die in our stead. He who was rich became poor for us that by his poverty we might be made rich.
Luke records the determination of Jesus to move toward his destiny at Calvary with a visible look. Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. The look that Luke records is a determination that could be seen by all of those who came in contact with Jesus.
Disciples, friends and foes could all clearly see the determination of Jesus to move in the direction of his destiny. Jesus would not allow himself to be side tracked by well-meaning disciples nor admiring crowds that wanted to hold onto him. He was determined to meet destiny with a cross maker.
Determination is the inner drive to keep going toward a goal, a direction, an achievement or the thing that has assigned value that one will not give up on. Determination is why slaves risked everything to follow the drinking gorge. Determination is what made domestics walk to work as opposed to riding a segregated Montgomery bus. Determination was why a group of believers gathered at 1020 Church Street and for 13 years labored with their hands to build their house of worship.
The Christian journey is one that calls for determination. The world will offer every possible lure to distract us, to cause us to become disillusion with the faith and draw us away from God.
The season of Lent--the 40 days to Easter--has been used for generations to remind us that a journey of faith demands determination. Lent invites us to faith not through the lens of celebration but through the lens of struggle, sacrifice, surrender and service. Lent removes us from the ideas of a God that exists solely to bless us. And brings us into contact with the God who invites us to journey with him and in so doing discover a world of what is possible when we are determined.
The song of the Civil Rights Movement heard most was not We Shall Overcome but I Ain’t Going Let Nothing Turn Me Around And March Up Freedom’s Way. May we mirror their determination.
A vital witness in scripture is the role of social justice. The Bible is filled with stories of persons who acted to change the course of wrong regardless of what the wrong may have been.
In this lesson the action comes from a most unlikely source. Ebedmelech is an immigrant and outsider living in Judah. But he is not a man that is afraid to speak out against what he believes to be wrong. Ebedmelech provides a witness from a person of color in scripture who comes from the land of Cush on the continent of Africa.
What Ebedmelech choose to speak out about is the mistreatment of the prophet Jeremiah. Ebedmelech the foreigner tells the king the truth that Jeremiah did not deserve to be put in prison and his life placed in danger for telling the truth about the nation. Jeremiah had informed Judah that they would be driven into exile by a foreign power because of their idolatry and because of their abuse of the poor.
The king, however, preferred to listen to those who told him that Jeremiah was a threat to national security and should be put away. The king believed it would be a lot easier to get rid of Jeremiah than for the nation to change and become more just in its dealings with one another.
Ebedmelech would not remain silent and dared to speak up.
The voice of a single man was enough for the king to change his mind and spare Jeremiah. However, for the prophet to survive it would require additional work on Ebedmelech's part. He also took a group of men with him and acquired the necessary resources to recuse Jeremiah.
It is not always enough just to be willing to speak up. Sometimes what we need are those who will speak up and take the necessary action to bring the justice sought into being.
Ebedmelech is an African in the mold of other persons of color who would follow him and who were willing to speak up and take action. Persons like Medgar Evers, Reginald Hawkins and Clara Hawkins Jones. Our own Mrs. Jones—who recently passed--not only told young people what was possible in life but she helped them to achieve it through music, scholarships, sponsorship and a host of actions that gave them the confidence to produce even a sitting judge.
May the tribe of all those who work for justice grow so there will always be someone who will stand for justice.
1 Samuel 3:1-10
The story of Samuel’s call to ministry reveals how age nor experience are factors in who God can use. However, the story does reveal that because of Samuel’s age and inexperience, there were some things he missed.
Samuel could sense someone calling him, but he did not possess the discernment to know it was God calling him. Each time Samuel heard his name called he went to Eli because he believed it had to be Eli calling him. No one else was at the temple with them. Samuel could hear but he did not know what he was hearing. Samuel needed someone to guide him, to help him be able to respond to God the next time he heard God’s voice.
Although Eli no longer heard from God, he knew enough to know when God was speaking. So he told Samuel what to do the next time he heard the voice calling his name. Eli told Samuel to simply say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Eli told Samuel not to just settle for hearing the voice of God but to be prepared to act when God spoke.
When God speaks it is often a call to action on our part. There is something that God wants us to do for his glory and the good of creation.
A new year provides an opportunity for a fresh start and the ability to do some things different this year. This may be our time to listen to God instead of telling God what we want. As opposed to asking God to bless us and our efforts, this may be the time to listen and hear what God wants from us.
The tempter would have us believe that there is nothing that God wants from us and there is nothing we can do for God. The continued call of God in our lives dispels that myth and tells us of the potential that lies within us to do the master’s bidding--if we pause to listen.
Let’s join in with Samuel in a newfound commitment to listen to the voice of God. Then may our listening lead to action that makes the world know that God is working, because he is working through us.