Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, May 10. Read Colossians 1:3-14. 1) In verses 3 and 9, what does Paul say he does for the Colossians? How often? 2) What evidence for growth existed at Colossae? 3) What did Paul hope (verse 9,12) would occur for the Colossians?
Tuesday, May 11. Read Colossians 2:6-10. 1) What advice did Paul give the Colossians? 2) What did he warn them about? Why would their growth be important in this case? 3) What value would wisdom have in Paul’s warning?
Wednesday, May 12. Read Philippians 2:9-11. 1) What does Paul say about Christ in verses 6 and 7? 2) By contrast, what happened to Christ when he was resurrected?
Thursday, May 13. Read Revelation 3:17-18. 1) To whom is this message written? 2) What is Christ’s beef with them? 3) What were they told to do?
Friday, May 14. Read Revelation 2:1-7. 1) To whom is this message written? 2) What are the positives of this church? 3) Why was Christ complaining about the church? 4) What was the solution that Christ offered.
Saturday, May 15. Read Ephesians 1:15-23. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God our Father and our convener. In the church, we recognize your love for us, expressed in the beauty and diversity of this family you have called and constituted. With Paul we are thankful for each person and we pray that the whole body of believers will grow, gaining more insight and wisdom each day. We pray that your church will be a bright reflection of your love and power to our world. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
I love thy Church, O Lord
by Timothy Dwight, 1800
I love thy church, O Lord,
the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God:
her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye
and graven on thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall,
for her my prayers ascend;
to her my cares and toils be giv’n,
’til toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heav’nly ways,
her sweet communion, solemn vows,
her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou Friend divine,
our Savior and our King,
thy hand from ev’ry snare and foe
shall great deliv’rance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be giv’n
the brightest glories earth can yield,
and brighter bliss of heav’n.
Devotional Article of the Week:
When a Church Stops Being a Church
When does Jesus close a church’s doors?
by Tim Archer
In the New Testament, we read about a church that was very hard-working and careful to defend all the correct teachings. They were quick to expose those that tried to teach untruths. They had maintained their faith during difficult times. They had done all of these things … yet Jesus told them that if they didn’t change, they could no longer be counted as one of his churches!
Jesus said this to the church in Ephesus: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4). Just as married couples can lose the romance from their relationship, churches can lose their love. They begin to focus on ritual perfection and doctrinal hairsplitting, and they forget their reason for existence. They lose their first love. Instead of being an organism, Christ’s body, they become an organization. Rules, regulations, and rituals replace relationships. What gets lost along the way is the loving spirit Christians should have.
Jesus rejects empty rules and hollow rituals. That’s not how he envisioned the church, nor what he will allow his churches to be. The church must be a community of love, characterized by a fervent love of God and of fellow man. It is to be an accepting place, not accepting intentional error, but accepting imperfect people.
If you haven’t found the church to be this way, don’t give up! There are churches out there who remember their first love and continue to live it. There are Christians who work every day at becoming more like Jesus.
If you are a Christian but have forgotten what you are supposed to be about, it’s not too late. Jesus said to these Christians in Revelation: “Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). We can go back to our first love, living out that love in our daily lives. We can replace empty ritual with a fulfilling life of love. We can return to being the body of Christ.
The church is an organism, not an organization. It is fueled by love, following the God that is love. We must never forget.