The videos and pictures have been rolling in all weekend of the devastation caused by Hurricane Micheal. It is worse than most anticipated. I have lived near the coast 14 1/2 years of my 26 years in ministry. My family and I have been through hurricanes and seen first hand the destruction these super storms can cause. This is one of the worst. The initial reports have been that what wasn’t destroyed needs to be knocked down because the damage was so bad. Neal Roe is with a company that helps to stabilize an area after catastrophes. He is in Panama City and reports “absolute destruction.” He calls on us to pray for the people as well as trying to figure out the best way to resolve the issues he is seeing. As a kid, my family took several vacations to Panama City Beach. A couple of years ago, my family, parents, siblings and their kids, went to Apalachicola for Christmas and spent a lot of time in the town of Port Saint Joe. These are small communities. Everyone we met was the definition of southern hospitality. Very kind and loving people. Join me in praying for everyone effected in these areas by Hurricane Michael. Joe Wild mentioned some places you can donate funds that will go directly to helping the people in these badly hit areas. Some of us have seen their work first hand and can attest to their effectiveness. One is the Church of Christ Disaster Relief (http://disasterreliefeffort.org/) and the other is Church of Christ Disaster Effort (http://disasterreliefeffort.org/).
Moving to a more positive picture. Some of you noticed how good the foyer looked Sunday morning. John Pickerill, and his crew, stripped off all the old wallpaper, filled in holes, added a nice texture and painted, giving it a fresh new look. Things are looking better around here all the time.
Speaking of things that are better, our text for Bible Class and worship exemplifies this idea to the highest degree. The Galatian Missionaries were teaching Messianic Jews and Gentiles that it was the works of the Law that justifies mankind. Ironically, the law never taught this belief. Over the years, a legalistic system had developed, believing people earned God’s favor by performing meritorious works. Yet, the Law had always taught it was trusting faithfulness in God. A better way had been prophesied and taught before the Law of Moses had ever been given. All humanity has fallen to unfaithfulness, but Jesus Messiah is the only one who was perfectly faithful to the Father. It is by the faithfulness of Christ we are justified. Israel had always appealed to the righteousness of Yahweh to deliver them. Praise God we are saved by his faithfulness opposed to our own.
Last night I began studying the text for this week. It is powerful. Paul makes his counterarguments against these Missionaries by appealing to the experience of the Spirit and the true understanding of Abraham. It will strengthen your faith in an amazing God of grace and mercy. My goal is to cover Galatians 3:1-14.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Steven Hayes and his wife will join us November 4th. Missy and I went to Faulkner with them back in the day. He is the head basketball coach at Mount Dora Christian Academy. More importantly, Steven and Sherrie lost a son to a tragic accident a few years back. On that Sunday night, Steven will be talking with us about this horrible time in their lives and the importance of faith that has brought him to this point. Everyone will be blessed by being here and we want you to invite others who may struggle with loss in their lives. Please make plans to be with us.
THE WRAP UP:
The grace of God is so amazing, we struggle not to turn it into a works based system. The problem is, when we are setting aside the grace of God in our lives and others. We are justified by God alone. None of our goodness adds to our salvation. And when we are tempted to set up a works salvation we eventually divide the body of Christ, because we all differ in what is and what isn’t acceptable. In trusting faithfulness, we experience the new creation brought about by the Messiah’s death. We no longer live for ourselves and the old life of sin, but Christ who has come to live in us. Being forgiven would have been amazing within itself, but Jesus lives in me so I may be transformed. I begin to put to death my fleshly side and live for Jesus. This is what unites us as a body of believers, not a set of rules. What a great God we serve! Let these verses transform your life and way of thinking. Continue to ponder the questions in the sermon outlines and the Discover Bible Study on the back. Live daily in light of Jesus. Pray to the Father. Allow the Spirit to do its work on you. What an amazing God!