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April 26th, 2010

DAILY BIBLE READING

Apr 26: Ps 73/77-78
Apr 27: 1Chron 6
Apr 28: Ps 81/88/92-93
Apr 29: 1Chron 7-10
Apr 30: Ps 102-104
May 1: 2Sam 5:1-10; 1Chron 11-12
May 2: Ps 133

May 3: Ps 106-107

 

NOTES ON THIS WEEK’S READING

·         I don’t have a lot to add from last week.  We continue to read about the transition to David’s rule in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles.  It’s a gradual transition.  It took a while for the whole nation to accept David’s kingship.  Many were loyal to the house of Saul.

·         What’s great about the “chronological” Bible reading plan is that as we read about the history, we also read the “journal” of David in the form of some of the songs and poems he wrote, most likely during this same period.  So enjoy the back and forth and see how he reached up when his life was anything but certain in terms of outcome.

·         Congratulations, by the way!  If you are up-to-date, this week (April 30) you’ve read one-third of the Bible this year.

 

DEVOTIONS

The visible unity of God’s people is a critical but elusive goal.  It is one of those priorities we may never get fully right – but we must never lose our passion for it.  Jesus himself prayed for his followers that they would be one as he is one with the Father (John 17:21).

Yesterday the Corinth and Exodus church families experienced just a little of that visible unity through a pulpit exchange.  I’m still hearing about the experience at Corinth – everything I’ve heard so far has been very positive.  For Linda and me, the day was pure joy.

Exodus Missionary Outreach Church is a multi-ethnic congregation with racial diversity not only in the pews but on the church staff.  However, the primary worship style and ethos of the congregation reflect many African-American traditions.

Nobody seemed time-conscious yesterday at Exodus.  I didn’t get up to preach until about 12:10.  That means Rev. Longcrier, who had preached at Corinth, was able to slip in the back with Bill and Susan Howell and hear most of my sermon at Exodus!

The service began with “Sunday Morning Live” as worshipers had the opportunity to share testimonies and prayer requests.  One man stood up to say he had just been released from prison the week before and wanted to spend his first Sunday in worship with God’s people. 

The mission of Exodus is to provide a warm welcome and church home for those who otherwise don’t feel welcome in church – the homeless, the recovering drug addict, the prisoner.  Most Sundays a bus load of prisoners from the Catawba Correctional Center join the worship service and stay for lunch afterwards, including homemade fried chicken.

Worshipers and staff at Exodus were certainly very gracious to Linda and me, and appreciative of the message.  (Click here to read my sermon at Exodus.)  But the larger significance of yesterday was taking a step in the right direction toward the visible unity of the church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said when we love each other, we show the world we belong to him (John 13:34-35).

As I said earlier, this visible unity is critical but elusive.  We get it wrong more than we get it right.  We get it wrong when we focus too much energy on organizational unity.  We get it wrong when we neglect the boundaries of what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ.  We also get it wrong when we look down on others who do believe in Christ and just look different or worship differently or have different priorities.  We get it wrong when think we have nothing to learn or gain by listening to and cooperating with other parts of the body of Christ.

My friend John Armstrong recently published a new book, “Your Church Is Too Small.”  Reggie Longcrier will join other pastors and me this summer in a book read to discuss Armstrong’s point that we need to partner across denominational boundaries to do the mission Christ has called us to.

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