Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, May 28. Read Colossians 1:15-20. 1) How does Paul describe Christ? 2) What do you think the implications are for us today, knowing the greatness that dwells in Christ?
Tuesday, May 29. Read Colossians 3:5-11. 1) What did Paul warn the Colossian church about? 2) How did “empty deceit” compare to Christ?
Wednesday, May 30. Read John 17:20-24. 1) What was Jesus’ prayer for our relationship to God? 2) To one another?
Thursday, June 1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. 1) The idea of darkness comes up in this text? How does the god of this world use darkness? 2) What is our God’s antidote for the darkness of the god of the world?
Friday, June 2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. 1) The 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians takes us the matter of Resurrection. How does Paul describe Adam’s birth? 2) What does he say about the second Adam (Christ)? 3) What does Paul say about our future?
Saturday, June 3. Read Genesis 1:1-2:4a. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God, we want to be your partners. Full-time, certainly not part-time. We want to be endlessly creative as we live our lives for you. Invested. Energetic. Worshipful and loving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
The spacious firmament on high
by Joseph Addison, 1712
The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display,
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth;
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll,
and spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball;
what though nor real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found;
in reason’s ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice,
for ever singing as they shine,
‘The hand that made us is divine.’
Devotional Article of the Week:
God’s Good Creation
Why such a sour look on our faces?
by Rubel Shelly
We tend to forget that Christianity was formed in the womb of Judaism. Born into first-century Hebrew culture. Received and interpreted to us by apostles and evangelists who knew Jesus in the context of his Jewishness. Yet most of us know the Christian faith as it has been passed through the vocabulary, culture, and mindset of Greco-Roman culture. So what?
One of the major “so-what’s” is the difference the two mindsets take toward material things. The human body in particular. And pleasure.
Greek religion and philosophy separate material and spiritual, body and soul in a way foreign to Judaism. Hebrew thought sees persons as “living souls” in their totality. The invisible, spiritual part of a person is not trapped in a body (i.e., the Greek idea), but is made real and functional by means of it. Thus the goal is not to escape or to chastise the body but to direct its energy God-ward.
Pleasure is not wicked. Laughter is God’s gift! But, that is hardly the notion most non-Christians reflect back to believers. They see us as a pretty joyless crowd. Rather prune-faced. And more inclined to scowl than to laugh.
We seem to have worked hard to create that unhealthy — and, I might add, uninviting — image. Our “saints” tend to be dour, rather than smiling. They look austere, rather than lovable. They often appear rigid and forbidding, rather than humane and merciful. What a pity!
Jesus went to parties. He enjoyed life so much that his critics tried to make him out to be a drunk and a glutton. He had friends. Enjoyed being with people. And made people feel comfortable around him. I have no problem whatever in seeing him raise a glass to say, “L’chaim.” To life!
A long list of negatives is a poor way to define the gospel. The very idea of “redemption” is less about going to heaven when we die as it is making life here something positive and holy. Paul says Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). Peter reminds Christians “that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you” (1 Peter 1:18).
Steak, golf, sunsets, music, sex, money — not one is unholy. All are given by God to meet human needs. Directed toward him, each is both a celebration of his goodness and a participation in his fullness. Divorced from him, both pleasure and pain become vulgar. Not the act, but its God-ward direction makes it holy.
In a world of wrinkled brows and wringing hands, one has to wonder if the rediscovery of godly joy might be our best advertisement for the faith we profess.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5 TNIV).