DEVOTIONS @ 205.825.9633
Senior Minister Ricky A. Woods
@ 8:15am & 7:15pm
Dial (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!
Devotional Reflection -- May 23, 2023
One of the things believers must be continually reminded of is that we do not do the work of ministry alone.
In a world that champions individualism, in a world of growing isolation, in a world of eroded trust, it is so easy to be tempted to live independent of others.
However, as great as Moses was, as an anointed leader of God’s people, he was not permitted to do the work alone. Moses had to be willing to trust others, work with others, see the gifts of God at work in others. God called Moses together along with seventy elders of the congregation and God took some of the spirit that was upon Moses and placed it on them. When the spirit rested upon them, they immediately began to speak about God’s goodness and God’s grace. The spirit gave them a different spirit, a different perspective and a different responsibility.
When the spirit is present empowering others, there can be well intended persons present who want to limit the work of the spirit to a single person.
Joshua was upset that there were others able to do what only Moses used to do. Joshua thought that he was protecting Moses when he was making an idol out of Moses because he would limit what God could do to only working with Moses.
We need to always be open to working with others and open to the spirit moving upon us in a way that we are equipped to do what we have never done before, just as the seventy elders did in this story. It is always the spirit that makes the difference, and the good news is that the spirit can use and often uses persons that are open to the things of God. So always be open because this may be the day that the spirit uses you in a special way.
Devotional Reflection -- May 16, 2023
1 Peter 5:6-11
There are common themes to the Christian faith that are passed down through the centuries. Themes such as joy, love and peace.
However, there are other themes not as celebrated in our times as the forementioned, they are humility, discipline and suffering.
It is the last three themes that Peter emphasizes at the close of his ministry. They are themes of the faith that he struggled to maintain in his youth, but years and maturity has brought him wisdom that humility, discipline and suffering are as important as joy, love and peace.
In fact, one may say that the presence of the later themes makes the other themes possible. Because life is not an even journey, we need a way to interpret suffering and hardship.
Peter informs us that hardship and suffering are normative for the Christian walk. They are not the things that happen to those who fall out of favor with God as Job’s friends suggested. They are things that can happen living in a world infected by sin and with an enemy that is always on the prowl looking for prey.
The good news is that we have one that will support us through our time of suffering. The good news is that suffering at best is always temporal. After you have suffered a little while, the God of grace, mercy and compassion, additional themes of the Christian faith will appear.
When he appears, he will restore, support, strengthen and establish. Peter is particular in the usage of the words of what God will do.
Restore, he will return whatever was lost during the time of suffering.
Support, he will establish a place for you to stand that will be secure no matter what.
Strengthen, he will lend his power in the fights of life to ensure victory.
Establish he will plant you so that the question of security is never in question no matter the season.
Like the flowers that bloom in the spring after being dormant during the winter. Peter’s words were words of hope and encouragement, and just as they encouraged early churches living in a difficult world, they can encourage us as well. Be encouraged for the chief Shepherd of your soul is near.
Devotional Reflection -- May 9, 2023
It is possible to forget that Christians are supposed to possess certain character traits given what we witness in our current culture.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are not to be driven by selfish interest and personal agendas. We are to be guided by principles that display compassion, humility, kindness and patience. We are to bear with one another, not condemn each other for different views on the world.
Our faith values patience and what God can accomplish through patience as we are all witnesses to God’s patience with us.
The church must rediscover the ability to teach and preach the values of the faith that place sacrifice, service and submission at the center of life.
We are not called to follow a crucified savior for the benefit of our comfort, but to follow so our lives might be changed and in the process the world may change.
We are to be the salt and the light that performs what cannot be done by public policy or political action.
We are called to be the change not just seek the change and the change is in how we conduct ourselves through acts of humility, meekness, compassion and patience.
Let’s show the world how to be different by the ways we are different with each other and allow the light of the gospel to shine bright. As dark as our world is we need the light so let it shine. This little light of mine, I am going let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.
Devotional Reflection -- May 2, 2023
There may be no greater need in life than the need for direction. It is the challenge in every stage of life: what am I to do, and which way am I to go?
What makes knowing what to do so difficult is our inability to be able to see. To see sometimes what is clear and obvious, and to see what is sometimes hidden that could cause us to stumble along the way.
The psalmist knows something about this problem and confesses that there have been moments when his way was dark. In those moments, the Lord was his light. He had to lean into the need to discern God’s movement in his life and the world to determine his direction. He had to avoid the temptation to lean solely upon his own understanding or even the counsel of others. He made God’s will a priority in his life, and God has been his guide and light to show him the way through the darkness.
Discernment comes through engagement with God through acts of devotion that include worship, prayer and meditation.
Discernment requires some understanding of the ways of God and his vision for creation.
Discernment requires resisting the temptation to want God to want what we want.
Discernment is all about following the direction he leads even when the way is unsure.
But through discernment we discover the light that lights our lamps on the path that God leads.
The darkness of life cannot be avoided, but we can rest assured in the darkness we have light that makes the path clear. God is the light to all who would chose him and he will lead us safely through every dark moment. It is you Lord who lights my lamp, the Lord my God lights up my darkness.
THE GIFT OF AUTHENTIC CONCERN -- OCT. 6,2020
There may be no gift that we receive from others more valuable than the gift of authentic concern for our well-being. When there are those who are concerned about us, they look for ways to express that concern in ways that alter our situation.
Authentic concern will not allow barriers to stand in the way of people showing their concern-- they find a way.
Paul is in prison and will never taste freedom again when he pens this letter to the Philippians. Paul is an old man whose youth and energy has been spent. There is very little that Paul can give or do in return for the Philippians. However, they do not allow these limitations to stand in the way of showing their concern for him. They send one of their own on a mission to find Paul and give him a gift of money that may assist him with his needs while in prison. Epaphroditus remains with Paul for some extended period of time to assist him in whatever way he could as a further expression of the Philippians’ concern for Paul. The concern that others had shown him was enough to move Paul to praise God, display humility and affirm his gratitude.
Paul immediately recognized that it was God at work in the Philippians that led them to show their concern for him. The bonds of Christians fellowship tied them together in ways that would not let them forget Paul or be dissuaded from helping him in any way they could. Paul rejoiced in the Lord that word and work are lived out within a church community willing to be led by the spirit. The Philippians response to the spirit’s leading is an indication that Paul’s service in the gospel among them had not been in vain. Praise to God is always due when the church is able to live up to kingdom expectations.
Paul’s gratitude comes coupled with humility. The gift from the Philippians does not come because of a request or command on Paul’s part. Paul tells them, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” He knows what it is like to have little and he knows what it like to have much.
Contentment for Paul comes as a result of his belief that God can and does use him in whatever condition of life he finds himself. God’s glory was Paul’s ultimate aim and concern even when God’s glory caused hardship or inconvenience for Paul. The gospel is not the good news of our personal pleasure but the good news about a suffering savior whose sacrifice has secured eternal life.
Lastly Paul affirms his gratitude. It was kind of them to share in his trouble. Congressman John Lewis has told us the value of good trouble, the trouble we get in and share with others that can alter the course of our world.
Paul is grateful that he has partners in ministry willing to share not just the glory but the agony as well. The Philippians are not ashamed of Paul’s chains. In a world where shame and glory are the lens through which the world is viewed, this is not small matter.
In the days that we live in it is vital that we learn the lesson from the Philippians and show our concern for each other in ways that can be life changing. Send a card, make a call, whisper a prayer, carry a meal and do whatever God leads you to do to show others that the bond of Christian devotion is greater than any pandemic. Outdo one another in showing Christian love.