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Devotional from Pastor Mike

The Power of the Gospel

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16–17 (NRSV)

The world in which we live is a world where destruction and chaos occurs regularly.  All one has to do is to look at the daily news and somewhere in this world injustice is taking place.  Although it may occur anywhere, it is often right in our own country – our own state – our own city- our own neighborhood- and at times even in our own families.  The world around us needs Good News.  The Good News is that God has become King and saves us in order that we may serve in a Kingdom where righteousness is the way of life.  We are saved for a vocation to reflect the image of God in the world around us.  In other words, God saves us to be an instrument to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the world around us.  The task is beyond grasp, but God does not expect us to do this alone; we are given the Holy Spirit and we live communally with other Spirit filled believers.   Some will gladly receive the Good News of this Kingdom, but those who worship power, authority, money, sexual gratifications, and other selfish gods will not receive it gladly. 

The Apostle Paul states that he is not ashamed of this Good News.  Those who worship the selfish gods find it ridiculous and absurd for our God or any god to be crucified.  Yet, that is what happened.  Christ is the exact image of the God who calls us to be rightly related. We do not worship abusive powers but a God who becomes King of a righteous kingdom.  Christ was killed in a shameful way by abusive unrighteous powers and it seemed that those gods had won, but death couldn’t hold Him.  Jesus has defeated the selfish abusive gods. King Jesus is alive.  He is coming again and setting up His Kingdom in a new world where those who believe will eternally live in righteousness.  To this Good News we are called to participate.  We are saved for vocation in the Kingdom where the Church lives out righteousness in this world.  Just as Jesus walked the roads and streets in and around Jerusalem, we too must reflect the image that God calls us to be and reflect right relatedness in the streets and roads, which we journey.  We do this trusting that God will pour out the renewing of the Spirit upon us so that we are able to bear witness to the Kingdom in each situation we encounter.  Don’t be ashamed of the Good News, but share it and live it faithfully.

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Devotional from Pastor Amanda

During camp meeting Dr. Hoskins, a church historian and professor, gave a lecture about the history of camp meeting. In the lecture he explored the history, traditions, and theology that created and sustained camp meetings from the late 1700s to now. One of the resounding themes in this lecture was theological democracy. This idea is that the Gospel and participation in the Kingdom is for all. Even before the Civil War, Civil Rights and Suffragette movements, the community of faith provided space for all to come hear the word, sing in harmony, preach, pray, and receive communion. Meetings went further than just a service but also provide space for education in various subjects. The entirety of life was filled up with the dangerous and entertaining work of the Holy Spirit. There within camp meeting people encountered God, were filled with the Holy Spirit and sent out to tell and invite others. The purpose of camp meeting has changed as time and denominations have come and gone, and yet the meaning of camp meeting remains the same. Paul writes to the church in Galatia as conflict arises about just how much space should be made within the Kingdom. Can those who do not first accept Judaism become real Christians? Paul’s answer is simple “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 4:28-29) The call to salvation, the call to holy living, the call to live in right relatedness with self, others, God, and creation has remained the same from Paul to Wesley to camp meetings to now. The invitation remains available to all. The reality that all can be transformed more and more into the image of God is one that all can experience.

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Devotional from Music Minister Jesse Fortner

This past Church season we have been singing songs that remind us of the grace given to us through the sacrifice of Christ. Foremost among these is the hymn Rock of Ages, written by Augustus Toplady in 1776. Amusingly, it was originally published in Gospel Magazine along with an article about the national economy. There Toplady argued that Great Britain's national debt had grown so large that Parliament could never hope to pay it back; likewise our debt of sin is so great that we have no hope of being free from it by our own actions. It is only through the sacrifice of Christ that we can be saved from our sins. Even as we fasted during Lent, we sang this song and are reminded that our fasting, prayers, and offerings have no power to redeem us; we sing to Christ, "Thou must save and Thou alone!" We now rejoice in this Easter season because we experience Christ’s salvation and resurrection.

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