First Steps – March 13, 2023

It is alleged that Karl Barth once said that only Christians are sinners. That’s right, only Christians. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Actually, what he meant was that only people who know how much they are loved can ever sense how much they have betrayed that love. 
In Romans, Paul pondered the depths of betrayal when he said, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Until we first sense the grace of God in Christ Jesus, we will be unable to see that our real problem lies in our posturing and self-justification with which we are trying to earn what we already have as a gift. God has made us all somebodies though we live as if we are nobodies. 
It takes strong secure people to admit that they can be wrong and then to try to right their wrongs. Weak, insecure people are constantly trying to defend themselves, make excuses, and justify their actions. Christians realize such defensiveness is unnecessary because of our need for God’s grace. Repentance can be a gift of grace, for it opens the door for one to own who they are in Christ. Real change occurs when we are first honest with ourselves, owning our words and actions, and then inviting God into that level of honesty. Transparency and authenticity are the effects of a life that follows Christ. The Gospels are filled with examples of people who, in the presence of Jesus, found forgiveness and invited into a life of wholeness; however, the first step to wholeness was honesty. 

This Week’s Readings:
*Monday – 2 Corinthians 7,  2 Corinthians 8, 2 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 10
*Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 11, 2 Corinthians 12, 2 Corinthians 13
*Wednesday – Matthew 1, Matthew 2, Matthew 3, Matthew 4
*Thursday – Matthew 5, Matthew 6, Matthew 7
*Friday – Matthew 8, Matthew 9, Matthew 10

Prayer Requests:
*Heal those who are sick and protect those who are not.
*Comfort those who are grieving and in distress.
*Wisdom for our leaders as they navigate through uncertain times.
*Guidance for those seeking to find their way.
*Continued Growth Inside and Outside the Walls of St. Paul UMC.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6