AM DEVOTIONS @ 205.825.9633
Senior Minister Ricky A. Woods
at 8:15am on Tuesdays for
Dial (205) 825-9633 a few minutes ahead of the scheduled start time.
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Josiah became one of Judah’s youngest kings when he started his reign at the age of seven. He was blessed with a godly priest who counseled him in the ways of the Lord. It is said of Josiah that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.
One of the things that Josiah did that was right was to restore the house of the Lord and start a revival in the nation. When Josiah discovered the laws of Moses, he organized the priests and Levites to engage the people in the work of restoring the temple and the rituals taught by Moses.
Josiah used his office as king to marshal the people and the resources to work together to restore the worship of God to a nation that had drifted away from God.
When the Levities did not act quickly to carry out the necessary work of restoring the temple. Josiah had a chest made and set it outside the gate of the house of the Lord to have the people to come and give so that the work of restoring the temple and the service of the temple could be completed.
Because of a king’s leadership and the cooperation of the nation, the people filled the chest each day and the proceeds were used to restore the temple. Day after day the people contributed to the work of restoration because of a leader and because of a people engaged in the work of restoration. So those who were engaged in the work labored and the repairing went forward and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.
This story provides a beautiful picture of cooperation when the people know what they are to do. Each group had a vital part to play in the restoration of the temple and a return to the worship instructed by Moses.
Restoration is never a one- person job but requires the commitment of many working under a clear vision.
The church will go through a period of restoration once we return to public worship after the pandemic. The church will look different and be different than it was pre -pandemic. We now have a clearer understanding of the value of the church in a community to be a difference maker no matter the size of the building or the number of members a church may have.
The mission focus discovered in the pandemic cannot be lost with a return to public worship. We need even greater cooperation and a determined focus to restore the church to being defined by its worship, mission, evangelism and call for justice. So that we might be salt and light making the world better because we are here.
It never was supposed be about us but it is all about Him. We know that now.
There may be no task more difficult in the life of the church than that of holding believers accountable.
The church possesses a uniform theology that is based upon the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The life and ministry of Jesus provided the church with its understanding of its mission in the world and how the church is to relate to each other and the broader world.
However, as members of the church we are called to perform this task amidst the pressure to conform to the standards of the culture or to the temptation to do what is convenient and pleases us. The witness of the church is weakened when its theology is compromised. As members of the body of Christ we are called to be different as Christ was different. Different not by thinking outside of the box but being different because we are informed by the cross of Christ.
When Peter came to Antioch to visit the work of a growing Gentile church movement, he celebrated the success of the gospel until other Jews came down from Jerusalem to investigate the work as well. When Peter saw other Jews, he pulled away from fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians at Antioch. This was an affront to the claims of the gospel and how Jesus had died for Jews and Gentiles.
Paul--a Jew himself--knew this was wrong and called Peter out. Paul made it clear publicly that Peter’s conduct was inconsistent with the claims of Christ. Paul was willing to hold Peter accountable regardless of how uncomfortable it was and regardless that Peter was looked upon as the leader of the Christian Church.
Paul reminded Peter that as believers in Christ we do not live by law but by grace. Grace is available to both Jews and Gentiles. Grace places nothing over what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Grace has replaced the law and by grace we are saved through faith in him.
Accountability is what helps to keep the church strong. Accountability is never to be done in an effort to injure but always with restoration in mind. Accountability is a witness of love at work because it says I care enough about you to correct you when I see you going wrong. Accountability is not just the responsibility of church leadership but the role of the congregation as well to ensure the values and theology of the Christian Church are upheld to the glory and honor of our God.
If there is anything that Americans struggle with it just might be patience.
The modern society, with all of its advancements that save time and energy, has made us unwilling to accept almost anything that does not come quick and in a hurry. We just got a special pot that will cook pinto beans in 30 minutes, the same beans my grandmother cooked all day.
Whereas quick and in a hurry may help to manage time demands of a crowded life, it will not work for a life of faith. There are still things that require patience. Thus, the psalmist tells his community to wait on the Lord be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait on the Lord.
Waiting on God is the ultimate act of faith because it recognizes there are things outside of our control. There are some things that can only be done by God. I know people are growing impatient with the restrictions caused by the recent pandemic. However, we are not out of the woods and Covid-19 is still infecting people and claiming lives.
We need to rediscover the value of patience and what it means to wait on the Lord. God moves in his own time and as persons of faith we are to discern the times and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us even if it means we have to wait.
Waiting is what David did between the time of his anointing and the time he took the throne.
Waiting is what Jesus did between the cross and the resurrection.
Waiting is what the disciples did when they returned to Jerusalem in anticipation of promised power.
Waiting is what you and I have done for the last twelve months in hopes of a return to public worship.
Our time of waiting serve as a means of strengthening us for the day of our return. So, on that day it will not just be another day but it will be the day that wait is over. For now, be strong, take courage and wait upon the Lord.
One of the most important lessons in life is knowing what not to accept from others. It was a lesson that Peter learned the hard way.
Peter--warming himself by the fire of the opposition--forgot who he was. It was a cool night in Jerusalem when Jesus was arrested and to Peter’s credit he had attempted to defend Jesus in the garden when the soldiers came to arrest him. Peter even followed Jesus after his arrest as other disciples scattered. However, by the fire of the opposition this once brave defender of our Lord denied that he knew him.
Those around the fire are certain that Peter had been with Jesus in spite of his denial. Some may have seen him with Jesus. Others heard something in his speech that gave him a way. A person who was a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off in the garden was certain Peter had been with Jesus.
The old preacher used to say that you can tell who has been with Jesus because they bear the mark. There is an indemnifying symbol that tells the world you have been with Jesus.
In spite of what others said about him, Peter denied time and time again that he had been with Jesus because he was warming himself by the fire of the opposition. Peter had forgotten what not to accept from others if it threatens your values.
After Peter’s third denial the cock crowed and Peter was reminded of what Jesus said about him. “Peter, you will deny me three times before the cock crows.” Peter leaves the court yard and weeps bitterly knowing that he had accepted what he should not have received--warmth by the fire of the opposition.
Beloved there are some things in life that come with too high of a cost--the denial of faith, the compromise of values, the lost sense of purpose.
May we be always mindful of what we are willing to receive from others even if it has possible temporary benefits for us. For nothing means more than be fully devoted to the master. I’d rather have Jesus more than anything this world can afford.
As we approach Easter and all that it means to the Christian church, we are made to ponder the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of all of humanity.
In an area where sin is seldom called sin and therapy, elections, improved economic conditions are viewed as cures for what ails us, sacrifice can easily be dispelled.
For the writer of Hebrews, his concern was that the constant witness of sacrifice in the Temple had reduced sacrifice to a ritual that had little value to those who participated. The writer also wanted to point the community to the higher meaning of sacrifice as reflected in what Jesus did and accomplished on the cross.
Jesus is the better high priest and the better sacrifice because he is the priest who is also the sacrifice as well. Jesus does not take an animal to the cross to die a substitutional death. Jesus died for us. In doing so Jesus is the single sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity.
What Jesus did on the cross settled all accounts. Now Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercessions for us. The right to make intercessions on our behalf did not come without sacrifice.
Each time we ask God for forgiveness we should be remained of the debt paid for us to receive the forgiveness. Sacrifice that Jesus made for us should strengthen the bonds of our relationship with him.
He loved us so much that while we were yet sinners he died in our place. We have been redeemed by the power of sacrifice. May that knowledge inspire us to live for his glory until he comes again.