"Rejoice evermore!" This two-word verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:16 is one of only two in the New Testament with only two English words comprising it. (The other one is John 11:35, the familiar "Jesus wept."). Nestled in the middle of thirteen unqualified commands from Paul to the church at Thessalonica, this one is easy to overlook. But its message is packed with power for us as believers for whatever we face from the world: sorrow, sadness, sickness, and even death are ultimately overcome through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In these weeks leading up to Easter, remember to "rejoice evermore," for the Savior has bled and died for the remission of our sins and that isn't all: the tomb is empty, our Savior is risen indeed!
TODAY remember our Bible Quiz team "Contagious" as they compete with 25 other teams from our region in this final competition of the regular season. They have done well this year and deserve our congratulations. If you would like to watch them compete today, go to Journey Baptist Church, 5708 King Hill Ave., in St. Joe. You will need a mask once you go inside. Competition starts at 12:30 pm and usually goes until about 4 pm.
TOMORROW is THE LORD’S DAY, so don't forget to join your fellow-believers in corporate worship. As Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves, and so much more as you see the day approaching." We are blessed to be able to gather, and we treat it as a privilege to do so. In this country, that God-given right is guaranteed in our Constitution. May we never take it for granted. Here's what's happening tomorrow:
CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 19:1-11
OLD TESTAMENT: Exodus 20:1-17
NEW TESTAMENT:1 Corinthians 1:18-25
PRAYER OF CONFESSION: Psalm 19:12-13
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: Psalm 28:8-9
SERMON TEXT: Luke 4:31-37
BENEDICTION: Numbers 6:24-26
THIS WEEK in addition to our regular opportunities for Monday Evening "Sunday School" via ZOOM at 7 pm (see Pastor Kyle for details) and Midweek Service in person and via ZOOM on Wednesday at 6:30 pm, don't forget:
Currently, these things are tentatively scheduled and will likely take place. Please stay tuned as we keep this information updated.
ICYMI Last Sunday’s Message Jesus, the Incarnate Word Luke 4:31-37
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READ THROUGH THE BIBLE
Week 10 of the 5 Day Bible Reading Program. Read through the entire Bible following this plan, or read only the New Testament (in italics).
Day One: Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1
Day Two: Numbers 12-14; Psalm 28; Colossians 2
Day Three: Numbers 15-18; Psalm 113; Colossians 3
Day Four: Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4
Day Five: Numbers 22-25; Luke 1
How are you doing with this? If you have kept up with the plan, you are more than one-sixth of the way through your Bible reading for the year. Congratulations! But what about if you haven't? I want to encourage you: it is common to fall behind and give up altogether. Resist the urge to give up! Even if you have fallen behind, just do one of two things: keep going at your own pace until you have read the Bible all the way through. This might take two years instead of one, but that is ok. The other thing you can do is to simply start afresh this week with the assigned reading. You can then come back to the part that you missed later. Either way, keep pressing on!
BONUS: Some of you have been thinking about the various vaccines that have rolled out for the COVID-19 virus. Please allow me to stress at the beginning that I am neither recommending that your obtain the vaccine nor that you avoid obtaining it. I am simply providing what I believe to be true and accurate information in order to help us think through the moral and ethical implications. Pfizer and Moderna have been on the leading edge of vaccine production back before the first of the year, while Johnson & Johnson just completed the third clinical trial and is just on the horizon of availability. A number of ethical considerations have been raised concerning how these vaccines were tested and how they will be produced. The primary question, as I understand it, revolves around the role of fetal tissue lines. A little history here. Two fetal tissue lines, the so-called "immortal lines," came from two aborted children in the 1960s. One abortion in particular in the Netherlands at that time produced the HEK293 cell line in 1972. These lines have been replicated ("cloned") for use in much current medical technology, not just the COVID vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna did not involve fetal cells of any kind in the production of their vaccines, although some of the replicated fetal cells may have been used in the testing of those vaccines. The J & J vaccine used replicated fetal cells from the aforementioned immortal lines both in the production and in the testing of the vaccines. It is important to note that none of the vaccines currently in production involve or rely on the current aborting of babies or the use of aborted baby parts. The involvement with abortion is an historical involvement with two babies which were aborted more than 50 years ago. Does this remove the the taint of abortion from these vaccines? No, it doesn't. If it were not for the abortion of two babies in the 1960s, the J & J vaccine would not exist at all. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may have an indirect relationship to these replicated cells in the testing phase, as mentioned above. If given a choice, it appears that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not have a direct link to these two abortions, while J & J does. But it is likely that, if and when you decide to obtain the vaccine (and I believe this is a matter of individual freedom and choice), you will not, as Al Mohler puts it, "be given a menu. You will be given a vaccine." In order to arrive at the most ethical choice, one must take into consideration proximity in time of the vaccine to the actual abortion, directness or indirectness of the use of fetal tissue obtained from those abortions, and whether any more babies will need to be aborted in the future in order for the vaccines to be produced. (The answers in order are: 50+ years ago; a mixture of direct and indirect use, depending on the company; and "no"). For a more thoughtful discussion of this subject, I recommend that you listen to or read the transcripts from The Briefing with Al Mohler from Monday December 14, 2020 (concerning Pfizer and Moderna) and Wednesday March 3, 2021 (concerning Johnson & Johnson).
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See you in church!
Grace and peace,