Daily Bible Readings
Monday, December 27. Read Colossians 1:19-20. 1) What is Jesus to the church? 2) What is his relationship to God? 3) How do humans benefit from this relationship?
Tuesday, December 28. Read Romans 8:14-17. 1) What does it mean if one is led by the Spirit of God? 2) What change does adoption bring us?
Wednesday, December 29. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-21. 1) How do most people view the message about the cross (crucifixion of Jesus)? 2) What did Paul call our message? What is the message about?
Thursday, December 30. Read Colossians 1:13-14. 1) What has God done for us? 2) By what means did he accomplish this?
Friday, December 31, 2021. Read 1 Peter 1:1-5. 1) How does Peter address the “exiles of the dispersion?” 2) What did God make possible for us through Christ’s resurrection? 3) What kind of inheritance is awaiting us?
Saturday, January 1. Read Ephesians 1:3-14. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, We are thankful for your love of us, in spite of the fact that we have been full of rebellion and the source of much grief in this world. We thank you for the grand plan you established with Jesus to save us from the sin and confusion of our lives. Blessings, adoption, rescue, and destined, all because of Jesus. Through whom we pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Only in Thee
by T. O. Chisholm, 1916
Only in Thee, O Savior mine,
Dwelleth my soul in peace divine,
Peace that the world, though all combine,
Never can take from me.
Pleasures of earth, so seemingly sweet,
Fail at the last my longings to meet;
Only in Thee my bliss is complete,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!
Only in Thee a radiance bright,
Shines like a beacon in the night,
Guiding my pilgrim bark aright,
Over life’s trackless sea.
Only in Thee, when troubles molest,
When with temptation I am oppressed,
There is a sweet pavilion of rest,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!
Only in Thee, when days are drear,
When neither sun nor stars appear,
Still I can trust and feel no fear,
Sing when I cannot see.
Only in Thee, whatever betide,
All of my need is freely supplied;
There is no help nor helper beside,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!
Only in Thee, dear Savior, slain,
Losing Thy life my own to gain,
Trusting, I’m cleansed from ev’ry stain;
Thou art my only plea.
Only in Thee my heart will delight,
Till in that land where cometh no night
Faith will be lost in heavenly sight,
Only, dear Lord, in Thee!
Devotional Article for the Week:
Co-heirs with Christ
Paul blows away the confusion and declares us all equally heirs of God’s promise!
by Phil Ware
[F]or in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29).
At first listen through our twenty-first century ears, this translation of Paul’s words to the Galatians appears exclusivist or sexist or at least gender limiting. That’s why most modern translations change the phrase “you are all sons of God” to “you are all children of God” (Galatians 3:26). While the latter seems more inclusive in phrasing, it misses the radical point of Paul’s original wording.
In a world where most cultures granted the rights of inheritance only to the “right kind of son,” Paul’s declaration to the Galatians is a racial, social, and gender earthquake. His emphasis in this passage is on who is the “right kind of son.” His answer is liberating.
The “right kind of son” is not based on race — “neither Jew nor Greek”!
The “right kind of son” is not based on social status — “neither slave nor free”!
The “right kind of son” is not based on gender — “not male or female”!
The “right kind of son” is now determined by faith in Christ Jesus as Lord (Galatians 3:26), baptism into a new identity and relationship with Christ (Galatians 3:27), and the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives each person access to the Father as a beloved child (Galatians 4:6-7) — these are the same three points of emphasis at Pentecost (Acts 2:22-41).
This standing as the rightful male heir (the “right kind of son”) for every Christian is true regardless of race, regardless of social standing, and regardless of gender. The newly created person in Christ has the right to call out “Abba! Father!” with all of the full rights of the son who is the rightful heir to all of the Father’s inheritance. As Paul announced to the Corinthians, a new creation had begun and we no longer look at people from a human point of view any longer (2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
Paul’s declaration is sweeping and vast. It is full of promise and rich with implications that would take generations to work out in culture, but was present in the moment the first people called on the Lord to be saved, were baptized into Christ, and were given the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This declaration is re-declared and fully realized each time those events of new creation occur in the life of a person in any age.
What Paul said about race to the Ephesians, he also intended to be true with social standing and with gender:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:14-18)
Paul returns to this theme in several of his letters, extending the theme to all of Jesus’ disciples — those who believe in Jesus, have been baptized into a new identity with Jesus, and have been filled with the Spirit — being heirs of God’s promise and co-heirs with Christ, regardless of race, social standing, and gender:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:14-17; see also Titus 3:3-7)
With his words to the Romans, Paul moves beyond his expansive you are “all sons of God… and heirs” to you are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”! The human barriers and distinctions have all fallen away with the confession of Jesus, baptism into Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Before God, there is no distinction. We have equal access to the Father. We have equal value and are respected and cherished as God’s children equally. Male and female both are equal heirs to God’s promise and are co-heirs with Jesus!
Yet that leaves some important dangling questions we must address if we are to be honest with the Scriptures and honest with ourselves.
If with Pentecost God brings into being a new humanity free of the distinctions that separate us, how far does this go in its implementation in our new life together in Jesus’ church?
Did Jesus value and empower others to serve beyond the distinctions that divided people in his day?
Did the early church begin to empower people to serve in Jesus’ Kingdom beyond the social distinctions of their day?
How do we apply these principles in our own day?