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By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
The inspiration for today’s message is from:
Genesis 1: 27: “God created humankind in his image.”
Psalm 139: 14: “ I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.”
As we begin the new year, I think it is important to acknowledge our Creator. We are lovingly and wonderfully made in God’s image – not just you and me, but everyone on this earth is created and born into this world as God’s masterpiece. Because all of us are God’s children and fully entitled to our love and attention, it is increasingly important for me to address problems that are hurting and minimize others. After all, Jesus makes it very clear that we are to love others and not to despise, reject, or harm them. If we are truly following Jesus, we ought to do the same.
The challenge for us in 2024 is to address social and spiritual issues in the light of God’s love and creation story. I am hopeful that if we confront our migrant-border issues, abortion, healthcare, and gun violence (to name a few) in the light of God’s command to love one another, we can arrive at workable solutions that honor God’s creation and follow God’s command.
My primary resolution for 2024 is to be more of a biblical, God-fearing sheep. In simple terms this means that I must learn to be more of a follower and less of a leader. It means that I work hard to give up my arrogance and independence. And it means that I work harder at “listening and being” rather than “talking and doing.”
Those of you who know me, realize that I have failed miserably at “following,” “meekness," and “mourning.” Unfortunately, I also have not done well with being a peacemaker or merciful. However, I continue to pray for these spiritual gifts and am hopeful that as the year progresses, I will improve. Doing God’s will is important to me, and I trust him to strengthen me and my resolve to be a better sheep.
Our church, families, friends, and communities deserve our very best. When I open my eyes and my heart to the activities of those Christians around me, I more clearly see those living in the spirit and doing God’s will by loving and caring for others. The truth is, what they have is what I want – and what I need in my life. I admit to being a bit envious of their energy and service to God. When I observe Christians working in our food pantries or providing food and shelter to migrants, I clearly see the hand of God. When I see Christians providing funds and resources to local schools and charities, I clearly see the hand of God.
The challenge for me, and I hope you, is to continue the good work that you are doing in serving the Lord and to acknowledge God as our Creator and honor his command to love others. And equally important, I want to be accountable to acting more like a sheep in my interactions with others in my service to loving God.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, please come and worship with us.
We will worship at the Parker United Methodist Church during January 2024.
We will worship at the Beagle UMC during February 2024.
We will worship at the Fontana UMC during March 2024.
All Sunday services are at 10 a.m.
All are welcome to worship in God’s House.
Dr. Bascom Ratliff (913-710-5748)
United Methodist Churches