AM & PM DEVOTIONS

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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!

Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:45 PM

Jesus Is A Healer - Oct. 28, 2020

Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:45 PM
Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:45 PM

Matthew 15:29-31

A central belief in the Christian Church is that Jesus is a healer. The confidence in Jesus' ability to heal has provided hope and strength for persons to keep pressing on against sickness and disease in spite of the difficulty.

The healing power of Jesus is displayed as being all encompassing in the gospel of Matthew through the crowds that came to Jesus and the various sicknesses Jesus healed. Jesus healed the lame, the blind, the mute, the maimed and many others. The many others had no specific desription of the nature of their illnesses but Jesus healed them all. Jesus willingness to heal reveals how God wants to make right in the world what has gone wrong.

It was never God’s intention for creation to be marred by sickness and pain. However, in a world of sin, greed and decay, people will always suffer. What Jesus shows us is how the things that restrict life, make life difficult and that rob us of life do not have the last word. Healing is always near in the presence of Jesus. In His presence, we can be restored, renewed and redeemed.

The healing power of Jesus not only gives us hope but gives us a reason to praise God. Our praise of God is our protest against sickness and disease. Our praise is our affirmation to what the presence of Jesus can mean in a world of sickness. The current pandemic has introduced us to new forms of sickness: sickness in a virus that continues to take lives around the world, and sickness in our body politic where the needs of American families and businesses are made to take a back seat to the agenda of career politicians.

Now more than ever we need to rediscover the faith that believes that Jesus is a healer and make our way to His presence to seek His healing power for both THE people and the land. What the Bible makes clear is that when people came to Jesus and surrender their needs at his feet, Jesus cures them.

Let’s decide to bring our needs to the feet of Jesus and surrender ourselves to His power, plan and purpose. Remember, Jesus is a healer. There is healer for all that afflicts us. Lord send a healing.

Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:26 PM

Recalling, Reclaiming & Renewing - Oct. 16, 2020--ABCOTS Regional Meeting

Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:26 PM
Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:26 PM
Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica is largely believed to be the first letter Paul wrote to a church. The letter was written probably between 48 AD-50 AD. Given it is Paul's first letter, it is important to note what was on his mind and what he wanted to achieve in writing the letter.
 
I want to suggest that Paul was thinking about our ABCOT (American Baptist Churches of the South) theme of Recalling, Reclaiming and Renewing.

However, Paul was not thinking of these terms with church growth in mind nor the development of a marketing campaign that would grab religious consumers’ minds and hearts. Paul was thinking of these terms in order to provide encouragement and challenge. Paul was thinking of these terms in ways to help the community know that the gospel was building a beachhead in a hostile world. The church was not to expect the cooperation of Rome nor economic interests to assist them in their work. The church was not to expect acceptance by the various other religious groups that checked the empire.

The church’s work was counter cultural work that was subversive in its operation. The church’s work was not to make the world better but bring into view a whole new world called the kingdom of God. A kingdom that was not distant but near by the witness the church bore and the fruit their lives made possible.

Paul did not want the church to be confused about the nature of the work nor what to expect as they labored for Christ. Just as they had witnessed the persecution Paul encountered, they needed to be prepared to face their own persecution and remain steadfast.

Recalling was more than remembrance of past fellowship and service. Recalling was a battle cry not to give up nor give in no matter what may come your way. Recalling was to remember the ways that God works with us and through us to achieve his aim to receive glory. Recalling remains important in a pandemic environment where the church has to be reimagined and retooled.
 
Covid-19 has presented the church with a set of challenges never imagined. Public worship has moved from the sanctuary to the internet. Ministry has had to look beyond the walls of the church to see how the church might bear witness in this moment through feeding programs, making church parking lots mobile testing sites for Covid -19, distributing mass, having prayer calls and making greater use of social media.

Recalling has reminded us that as important as public worship is, that it is not the only work of the church and now is the time to be busy providing light in dark places.
 
Paul’s message did not end with recalling. It also included reclaiming. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that He has chosen you. The challenge of being a subversive group that worked against the norms of the culture was that it was hard to always see progress and discouragement was never far away.

Paul’s way of reclaiming the Thessalonians started with a reminder of who they were. They were not chosen by Paul. They were not selected because of personal merit. They were not recommended with letters from a high ranking official. They were chosen by God.
When you are chosen by God you are introduced to God’s way and God’s will. When you are chosen by God you accept and come to grips with three words that the world resist: Submission, suffering and sacrifice. Submission, suffering and sacrifice is what God saw in his son Jesus and is a part of the journey for every believer. Submission, suffering and sacrifice are the ways that Jesus is formed in us
and how we become like him.
 
Do not think that the present trail is something strange. Trials come to allow us to be the instruments God will use to bear witness
to the kingdom. Trials come so the church may display its real power. Not the power of budgets, buildings and body but the power to redeem, restore, and reclaim.
 
Finally, Paul says something about renewing. Renewing has to do with defining the work that the church is to be engaged in. The church can sometimes get distracted and think that it is a social service agency responsible for meeting human needs, particularly in places the government or other non-profits have failed. The church can sometimes get distracted and think it is a business so it gives itself to business ventures that can increase revenue and attract customers. The church can sometimes get distracted and think it is a political organization whose task it is to find candidates for public office and support their campaigns.
 
Whereas all of those things may be helpful and involve some portion of the church’s attention, the church exists to imitate Christ. You became imitators of the Lord. What made the Thessalonians imitators is they received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.

My brothers and Sisters even in a pandemic, we can be renewed if we will but be imitators of Jesus. For in doing so we go forward not in our strength but the strength He provides. Although the natural person may be decaying every day, the inward person is renewed day by day when we imitate Jesus.

Recalling, reclaiming and renewing
Saturday, October 31, 2020 1:44 PM

The Need To Be Generous--Oct. 13, 2020

Saturday, October 31, 2020 1:44 PM
Saturday, October 31, 2020 1:44 PM

2Corinthians 9:6-15

There may be nothing the church is reminded of more in scripture than the need to be generous.

When we are generous it becomes one of the ways we display the grace of God at work in our world. When we are generous, we build a hedge against the temptation of greed and selfishness that is at the center of a broken world.

When we are generous, we become like Christ who from his generosity made new life possible. He who was rich became poor for us that by his poverty we might be made rich. It was an act of generosity for Christ to come into the world and die in our place for the sins of all of humanity. Generosity is central to the church and it is one of the many things that makes the church different and Christian witness different.

Paul reminds the Corinthian church of its need to be generous. The church at Corinth had an abundance of gifts, resources and people but it lacked in its willingness to be generous. The Corinthians were quick to take note of what they had but gave little attention to what they gave away.

Paul has been collecting gifts to assist the church at Jerusalem that was going through a famine. Paul believed it was only right for the churches that he had planted in the faith to give. The Corinthians were lacking behind in their gift and were resistant to the idea of helping persons they did not know.

We can always find an excuse not to be generous. If there was ever a time the church needed to be generous it is now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Countless persons are unemployed, suffering from food insecurity and mental health needs. Politics has prevented Congress from passing an economic aid bill that could have been a lifeline for many.

The church is able to be a beacon of light that shines in the darkness by its commitment to generosity. The rendering of generosity not only meets the needs of others but overflows as a witness of thanksgiving to God. Generosity can be symbol of hope that says what is possible in our world when people choose to be generous.

As much as you possibly can, be generous. Tip service providers, provide a meal for someone, provide an unsolicited gift. Do the things that tell others that grace is alive in a pandemic because grace is leading you to be generous. For Christ’s Sake, be generous.

Friday, September 25, 2020 12:13 PM

The Day of Judgment--September 15, 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020 12:13 PM
Friday, September 25, 2020 12:13 PM

Matthew 21:33-43

When I was a boy growing up in my rural church it was not uncommon to hear the saints sing about going to the judgment. The only song I remember hearing my grandmother sing was a song about the judgment—"Judgment Bound.” Pastor McLaughlin would sing “Have You Anytime for Jesus.” The course of the song declared that soon the summons from the portal from that great mansion in the sky may be sounding your departure, you must then take time to die.

Those songs often led to outbreaks of praise and thanksgiving to God for the judgment. The judgment was the place where God would settle all accounts and those who had been marginalized, taken advantage and wronged would be vindicated. The judgment was also a place where those who had taken advantage of others, wronged others, destroyed others would receive their just due.

The parable in this passage is a judgment parable told by Jesus. The focus on the parable is upon just how outlandish the situation was described by Jesus. There is a man who has taken special effort to make a piece of property fruitful. He has planted a vineyard, built a fence to protect it from wild creatures, constructed a winepress nearby to produce wine from the fruit of the vineyard and employed tenants to work the operation. The owner had made every investment necessary to see the operation produce and only expected from the production a percentage of his investment back.

However, what occured is the tenants treated the operation as if it belonged to them. They refused every effort by the owner to collect only a small percentage of what rightly belonged to the owner. The tenants went further to commit murder--even the murder of the owner’s son. Those listening to the story know that there is only one outcome for the tenants and that is they have to be brought to justice, they must give an account for what they have done.

The parable is told to shine light on how God’s grace in Jesus Christ had been rejected by the religious leaders and many of the people. The ways in which our lives bear fruit are determined by our response to Jesus. Without him our lives our fruitless and we are driven by greed and power. This is a lesson in what we should NOT DO because we have time to respond to God’s love toward us in Jesus Christ. If we fail to respond, rest assured the judgment is coming and it will be a day of dread--not a reason to shout.

Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:16 PM

The Great Way Maker - Sept. 8, 2020

Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:16 PM
Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:16 PM

Exodus 14:19-30

The pivotal event in the life of faith for Israel was the crossing of the Red Sea. The Red Sea crossing was not the first time that God had acted on behalf of his chosen but the Red Sea crossing displayed a unique way God acted by fighting for one group and fighting against another group.

The Red Sea crossing was more than liberating Israel from their oppressors. It was God showing Israel He could be counted on in the hard moments of life. God would not leave His people in a place of hopelessness but God would show up with power to turn the tide.

The way God showed up for Israel was by making a way through the barrier that blocked them. God divided the Red Sea and allowed Israel to walk over on dry ground. When the Egyptians attempted to follow Israel, two things happened that spelled their doom.

First the Egyptians were thrown into a panic. They encountered mass confusions on what to do and which way to go. In essence they were leaderless in a crisis moment. The current crisis that engulfs our nation is causing some persons to experience panic. The protests in the streets, the pandemic that is still present and the economic shutdown that has left many struggling to survive cause us to wonder is there anyone that can lead us out of our situation?

The second thing that happened to the Egyptians as they tried to follow Israel through the Red Sea is their chariots got clogged in the mud and turned with difficulty. The very thing that represented the power of the Egyptian army was rendered useless in the mud of the Red Sea. Whenever we count more on the things we have than the God that has made us, a day will come when we will see those things let us down. Things--no matter how powerful--are no substitute for God.

Only the people who trusted God and followed God made it through the crisis safely.

The way we trust in God in a crisis is to follow His word, stay in community and follow proven leadership who are clearly following God. The Red Sea crisis was not Moses’ first crisis and he had proven himself in prior crises that he could be trusted. So, Moses raised his hands and God parted the sea and Israel walked over on dry ground. There is no crisis we cannot survive when we trust God to guide us through it. He is the Great Way Maker.

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