Year of Scripture – Colossians

Today’s Reading:
Day 346 – Thursday, December 12: Colossians

Who wrote Colossians? It bears Paul’s name, but did Paul really write it? Good question, and one we may never know the answer to. Scholars will point out some theological differences between Colossians and some of Paul’s other letters. Others will point out a difference in Greek vocabulary and usage that hadn’t been used by Paul before. So did Paul write it, maybe/maybe not. Perhaps if he didn’t one of his “disciples” did, either way, there is still a great message to be told, especially in the words of 3: 12-14:

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another,
forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you,
so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Can’t get any better than that!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus & Philemon
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13

Year of Scripture – Philippians

Readings for:
Day 345 – Wednesday, December 11: Philippians

A happy quick read to the people of Philipi, which can be summed up with one verse:

In the chaos of this busy time of year, I pray that you can always find a reason to “Rejoice!”

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 346 – Thursday, December 12: Colossians
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus & Philemon
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13

Year of Scripture – Ephesians

Reading for:
Day 343 – Monday, December 9: Ephesians 1 – 3
Day 344 – Tuesday, December 10: Ephesians 4 – 6

To the Saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus . . .

Paul begins the letter to the Ephesians with a traditional greeting, but what it this letter was never sent to the Ephesians? You might be scratching your head and saying what? It’s addressed right to the, it says so right in the opening verse. True . . . it does. However the word “Ephesus” is believed to be a later addition. So perhaps this letter was meant for those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. I like that!

Here’s the simple truth, many of Paul’s letters were likely circulated from one “church” to the other. Which meant that the letter to the Romans, may have made a pit stop in Ephesus, Corinth, and a few other places along the way. Same could be said for the letters to Corinth, Ephesus, etc. The Gospel was meant to be heard, taught, and spread, and Paul’s letters were great teaching and preaching tools for the early church. So like chain mail, these letters went on and on.

This proves to be an important factor as we read Ephesians and those beloved words from Paul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God!
Not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 
For we are what he has made us,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

(Ephesians 2:8-10)

God’s grace through faith. How beautiful. How simple. How wonderful. For we did nothing to deserve the good graces of God, but through our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, we have been saved! And saved for what? Good works in the kingdom of God. Works that do not, and cannot earn salvation, for only Christ can do that. But good works that promote God’s kingdom here in this place. Good works that are done as a joyous free will offering back to God.

Grace through faith! What a concept that is meant not just for the people of Ephesus but for all who call on the name of Christ!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 345 – Wednesday, December 11: Philippians
Day 346 – Thursday, December 12: Colossians
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus & Philemon
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13

Year of Scripture – Galatians

Today’s Readings:
Day 341 – Saturday, December 7: Galatians 1 – 3
Day 342 – Sunday, December 8: Galatians 4 – 6

When you think of St. Paul and the letters he sent out into the world, we are usually quick to remember his letters Corinth, the letter to the Ephesians, or his writings to the Thessalonians. For what ever reason, Galatians, Colossians, and the Pastoral Letters (I’ll explain that in a few weeks) don’t seem to stick in our minds. Regardless of why, each still has something unique to offer to us as people of God.

For Galatians . . . the gift that Paul gives us comes in Chapter 5. You’ve probably heard these words before:

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

The “by contrast” is important, for just a few verses before Paul reflects on the “works of the flesh.” Let’s be honest here, there isn’t a lot of kindness in the images he presents. Let’s be even more honest here, the works of the flesh continue to work their ways into our wold today. Always have, always will.

Yet with Christ, there is a better way! For God’s way that reminds us that we are all called to share the gift of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. I am reminded of Tina Turner’s 1993 hit song, “what’s love got to do with it.” Well absolutely everything. We could turn back to I Corinthians and see how love shapes us to be a people of God. Here, in Paul’s words to the Galatians, we are reminded that love us just one of the Fruits of the Spirit. However it is love first, which brings to life the ability to share joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. What a gift! What a challenge to give and receive these gifts.

Take a look around as you are out shopping (assuming you still go out to shop and aren’t just pointing to click). Take a look around and see if the “Works of the Flesh” are at hand, or if the “Gifts of the Spirit” are physically present. Chances are you might see a bit of both! Then filled with the Holy Spirit, work for the greater good in how you interact with those around you.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 343 – Monday, December 9: Ephesians 1 – 3
Day 344 – Tuesday, December 10: Ephesians 4 – 6
Day 345 – Wednesday, December 11: Philippians
Day 346 – Thursday, December 12: Colossians
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus & Philemon
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6

Year of Scripture – I & II Corinthians

Readings for:
Day 333 – Friday, November 29: I Corinthians 1 – 4
Day 334 – Saturday, November 30: I Corinthians 5 – 8
Day 335 – Sunday, December 1: I Corinthians 9 – 11
Day 336 – Monday, December 2: I Corinthians 12 – 14
Day 337 – Tuesday, December 3: I Corinthians 15 – 16
Day 338 – Wednesday, December 4: II Corinthians 1 – 4
Day 339 – Thursday, December 5: II Corinthians 5 – 9
Day 340 – Friday, December 6: II Corinthians 10 – 13

Tis’ the most wonderful time of the year! Wow where did the last week go. Throw in Thanksgiving, Black Friday Shopping, Strep Throat that was picked up at the Thanksgiving Table, a Funeral, the church boiler on the fritz, our Youth Group Cookie Walk and their Christmas Party, and now the stomach flu is going around our house. Phew! What a whirl wind! Yet, we still call this the most wonderful time of the year. Right now, I’m questioning that, and praying that I don’t get the stomach bug that my wife and son seem to have at the moment.

To the Church in Corinth . . .

While we have two letters included within the Bible addressed to the Church in Corinth, there were a variety of communications that were written either by Paul or by the church that have been lost over time. Take for instance:

  • I Corinthians 5:9 – Where Paul refers to a letter about “Sexually Immoral Persons” that he had written earlier to the people in Corinth.
  • I Corinthians 7:1 – Refers to a letter the Corinthians had written to Paul with various questions they had concerning the faith. Questions the remaining portion of I Corinthians goes on to address.
  • II Corinthians 2:2-4 – Paul makes mention to a letter of “distress and anguish” which he had written to the people . These themes don’t fit the nature of I Corinthians, we we can assume there was another letter written by Paul in anguish.
  • Then of course we have I Corinthians,
  • and II Corinthians.

Add that all together, and we have at least five different “Letters” sent back and forth between Paul and the Church in Corinth. Pretty impressive, considering this was well before the days of word processing, texting, or a simple email. Let alone, things like FedEx, UPS, and the USPS weren’t even thought of. Sending a letter took work. You needed pen, paper, a scribe who could write, and finally someone reliable enough to get it delivered safely. As we read through the rest of the Bible, remember that this was not small task as we treasure these words of communication back and forth between God’s people.

I Corinthians . . .

We can’t go through this letter without mention of Chapter 13. All of u s know it . . . or should, “Love is patient, love is kind . . .” You’ve probably heard it at nearly every wedding you’ve been too. As you read this text, I want you to try something. For this is the heart of Paul’s message of love and building up the kingdom of God in Corinth. Substitute your name in place of the word “Love.” If you are in a relationship substitute both of your names. This is how the pastor read it at our wedding . . . “C.J. and Wendy are patient. C.J. and Wendy are kind. . . .” How does that change the reading for you? It makes you think doesn’t it? How often do we fall short of sharing the love entrusted to us through patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control? My friends we are in trouble!

Now just when all seems hopeless. Make one other substitution for me. Read it again and substitute Jesus for “love.” Ah!!! Now we get the idea. For Jesus is always patient, kind, never envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. Jesus never insists on his own way, and he will always believe all things. This is the heart of the Gospel and the reminder that Pastor John Mawhirter preached at our wedding 21 + years ago. Love is what is entrusted to us. We are called to give, receive, and life in love. Yet, being human we will fail. While we may not live in perfect love, thanks be to God, someone does . . . Jesus!!

II Corinthians . . .

My take away from II Corinthians was Chapter 11 whee Paul lists his sufferings. If you are going to read anything, read again II Corinthians 11:16-33. I know ministry has its challenges, yet my sufferings are nothing compared to Paul, and indeed nothing compared to the cross. Friends . . . let us not take our faith for granted! Persecutions still happen today in the name of Christ. So together let us boast in the goodness of God!

Finally a quick glimpse at the videos from thebibleproject.com if you are interested:

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 341 – Saturday, December 7: Galatians 1 – 3
Day 342 – Sunday, December 8: Galatians 4 – 6
Day 343 – Monday, December 9: Ephesians 1 – 3
Day 344 – Tuesday, December 10: Ephesians 4 – 6
Day 345 – Wednesday, December 11: Philippians
Day 346 – Thursday, December 12: Colossians
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy

Year of Scripture – Romans

Reading for:
Day 328 – Sunday, November 24: Romans 1 – 3
Day 329 – Monday, November 25: Romans 4 – 7
Day 330 – Tuesday, November 26: Romans 8 – 10
Day 331 – Wednesday, November 27: Romans 11 – 13
Day 332 – Thursday, November 28: Romans 14 – 16

I’ve gotten a bit bogged down trying to get ready for Advent and squeezing everything in before Thanksgiving. It’s been an exhausting joy to be a part of our community Thanksgiving baskets. I was able to help pass out and distribute 30 baskets in the past few days. What a blessing. Truly helps to to remember all the blessings that we are blessed with, little or great, they are still a blessing. I pray that as you begin to gather around the table with friends and family that you might pause long enough to give thanks!

One prayer concern please. I have a wonderful church member who has been put on Hospice Care. His name is John. He has “fought the good fight” for a long time and now he is in the process of gaining a different victory than originally hoped for. I’m not sure why, but this one seems to be playing with my emotions a bit more than others. So keep John’s family in your prayers . . . and a few for my pastoral guidance wouldn’t hurt either.

As we move from the Gospels and the story of the Act’s of the Apostles , we turn the page to Paul’s letters. I haven’t decided how I’ll approach these yet for your reading and discernment, but I might share my thoughts one letter at a time. But since I’ve been bogged down with everything else, for now, I’m going to pass you off to our friends at thebibleproject.com and let us learn and reflect together on Romans.

Blessed Thanksgiving!
Pastor Bailey

Year of Scripture – Day 324 – 325

Reading for:
Wednesday, November 20: Acts 18 – 20
Thursday, November 21: Acts 21 – 23

Paul begins to travel
And travel . . .
And travel . . .

Let’s keep in mind that Paul and his companions didn’t have the luxury of jumping in the car and making a quick trip to the neighboring church. There weren’t any boarding passes on the express flight from here to there. These were labor intensive journeys. On foot. Maybe if you were lucky via caravan, riding on a mule, horse, or donkey. It took days, if not weeks and months to get from point A to point B. Some scholars estimate that Paul traveled over 10,000 miles. That seems hard to fathom. Yet, devoted to Christ, his very lift centered on sharing the good news everywhere he could.

As he did, and as we read, we encounter names that will be important to us especially as we work our way through the rest of the New Testament. Some of these include mention of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Rome, Philippi, Thessalonica, and others. Keep that in mind as we soon turn the page, moving from Acts into the Letters of Paul.

However, before we do that, ponder with me the many many miles that Paul traveled as you reflect on his four different journeys out into the world, proclaiming the good news of Christ!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Reading for the next few days:
Friday, November 22: Acts 24 – 26
Saturday, November 23: Acts 27 – 28
Sunday, November 24: Romans 1 – 3