Sunday, July 11, 2021
A Discourse on Faith
Ian Sims

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14-26 NIV

Consider how you are able to put your faith into action.
Monday, July 12, 2021
A Vision of Unity
Psalm 133
Venus Butler
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing— life forevermore. Psalm 133:1-3 NJKV
Although most texts for this passage use the word brethren or brothers, we have come to know that this is an inclusive term that includes both men and women within the family of God and the people of God.
          Reading the text from the Message Bible it states:
1 How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! 2 It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. 3 It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. MSG
God had ordained that there in Jerusalem, his blessing would be bestowed upon his people as they gathered in unified worship. In this short pilgrim psalm, David exclaimed how wonderful it is for believers to dwell together in unity. This thought was appropriate for the religious festivals when Israelite families came together to worship their Lord.
Consider what it means to gather with singularity of purpose to worship the Lord. 
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. Psalm 133:2
David compared the unity mentioned in verse 1 to the oil that consecrated Aaron. This imagery from the priesthood was appropriate because of the pilgrims being in Jerusalem. The oil poured on Aaron’s head flowed down on his beard and shoulders, and onto the breastplate with the names of all 12 tribes. The oil symbolized the unity of the nation in worship under their consecrated priest. As the oil consecrated Aaron, so the unity of the worshipers in Jerusalem would consecrate the nation under God.
David then compared the unity mentioned in verse 1 to the dew that covers the mountains. The picture of oil running down (verse 2) suggested dew coming down from Mount Hermon in the north onto Mount Zion. The dew of Mount Hermon was heavy; it symbolized what was freshening and invigorating. The refreshing influence of the worshiping community on the nation was similar to the dew on vegetation. This was a fitting symbol of the Lord’s blessing on His people.
The oil symbolized the consecration of the whole nation. The aromatic oil would diffuse its fragrance all around, symbolizing the holy influence, which the life of Israel as consecrated people should have upon the world. We are God’s consecrated people, chosen by God and empowered by the Spirit of God; therefore, we should have influence upon the world; the world meaning – family, neighborhood, schools, churches, local, national, and international government, businesses, etc.
Consider what it means to have a fragrance surrounding you, energizing and invigorating you.  
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing— life forevermore. Psalm 133:3
Dew is a symbol of what is refreshing, quickening, and invigorating. We all stand in need of refreshing. Just hearing the news that we appear to be turning the corner of the Corona Virus, COVID-19 in the United States refreshes, quickens, and invigorates our present disposition.
It is God’s desire for us to live a life of unity. When we dwell in unity; we are united for a common cause; as Christians - the cause of Christ. We stand for what is right, that which is good, and denounce anything that is contrary towards the good of all humanity, i.e. injustice, violence, and anything that is opposed to the freedom and equality of humankind.
God’s word has been proclaimed from the beginning of creation; from the Old Testament and the New Testament; down to the 21st century. We remember that there was chaos, crises, death, and destruction; murder and unrest during the time these words were proclaimed as stated in the passage today: “How good and pleasant it is, for brothers and sisters to live together in unity! There were wars and rumors or wars, a time of uncertainty, a time of despair, a time plagued by factions, divisions, hatred, bitterness – this word comes forth – “How beautiful it is for God’s people to get along with one another. It’s a beautiful thing because it is God’s desire for all of God’s people.
Consider what it means to be refreshed like the dew in the morning resting upon you.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
The longest prayer Jesus prayed is found in John 17: Jesus prayed for himself, Jesus prayed for his disciples and Jesus prayed for all believers, that they would be united as one. Jesus proclaimed, “I do not pray for these only, but, also those who believe in me through their word, that they may be one, even as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me, and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This is a vision of unity – oneness, harmony, all in agreement.
A few scriptural example of unity include the following: Ruth and Naomi, Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.”
Another example is the relationship between Jonathan and David in 1 Sam. 18:1-3, “When he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.”
Additionally, the early church in Acts chapter 2:44-47, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Consider what it means to be unified in focus, purpose, and thought. 
Friday, July 16, 2021
A Vision of Unity – This concept may be a past, present, or even future reality to be obtained. Think about those times in your life when you experienced being on “one accord,” with an individual or group situation; you were united for a common purpose, cause or goal. During these time periods “all is well,” you feel really good, or some would say, “I am just too blessed to be stressed” – then something occurs to disrupt the sense of unity – unemployment, sickness, mounting stress, a major transition in life, death of a loved one, circumstances change beyond your control; as we have all experienced during this pandemic. All of our lives have been changed in one way or another.
The sense of peace, comfort, unity that was once obtained is suddenly lost. You struggle to put the pieces of your life back together again. You reflect back towards the past and remember the good times; then you look forward with hope that your sense of unity will be restored or obtained once again.
We are the sons and daughters of God. Someone mentioned that as a result of the global pandemic, we have connected with others across this nation and across the globe in ways that have not been experienced before this time period. We have connected and shared in our sorrow, grief, pain and concern during the loss of millions; shared in our present uncertainties, loss of jobs, businesses, and finances, but we have also shared in our perseverance, endurance, hope and faith, as the family of God.
In the text, Pastoral Theology by James H. Harris, he states: “To live to oneself is to exclude God and everyone else. Living thus becomes a manifestation of what we can justifiably call false pride. To live to oneself is to deny the words of the psalmist, 'How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity'! (Psalm 133:1). Jesus did not live to himself, but lived in community with tax collectors, sinners, lame persons, the blind, poor and the hungry. In essence, he lived in community with all of God’s children. There is the need for the church and community to further understand their interdependence.”
As the people of God, we find that there is often a sense of unity when individuals within a community, a nation, or the world grieve. In our pain, every time we hear of a fatal shooting due to acts of gun violence or police brutality - we grieve. When we hear the news about the condo that collapsed in Surfside, Florida - we grieve. When we hear about COVID deaths - we grieve. When people lose their life and or property as a result of a fire, flood or hurricane - we grieve.
There are also times when the people of God celebrate and rejoice: When we receive the news that a child is born - we rejoice. When someone recovers from COVID or other illness - we rejoice. When someone graduates from High School, College, or Professional degree program - we rejoice. When someone is hired for employment - we rejoice. Oh, but when a man, woman, boy or girl gives their life to Christ - we rejoice and as it is stated, even the angels in heaven rejoice!
Consider what it means to be united together in times of crisis as well as times of joy.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
As David penned the words to this Psalm, we must remember that David sent men into battle to kill Uriah because he wanted Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife for himself. It was David who had witnessed many wars, fought many battles throughout his lifetime; conquered many enemies and purged nations, witnessed death and destruction. God touched David’s life and transformed him to become “a man after God’s own heart!” Yes, there is hope for humanity! We remember Paul, once known as Saul, who persecuted many Christians. God touched his life and he would later proclaim, “we are all one body with many members, working together for the common good” and “we are growing in the unity of faith in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” He also proclaimed “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
It is God’s love that holds us together. God’s love enables us to overcome the hardships of life and unites us as one; although at times we are unaware of this ever present reality. It is God’s powerful, pervasive Spirit that transforms human lives, communities, the nation and the world. We must never forget that God knows all things, God sees all things and God is with us!
When we reflect upon the current times of rising hatred, bigotry and attacks on our children, God’s children and God’s people, it is an awakening. It is a quickening in our spirit that shakes us to the core, letting us know – that there is still work to do – to bring about justice, racial reconciliation and healing. We must continue to proclaim the name of Jesus and be the voice, the eyes, the hands and feet of Christ. Jesus proclaimed, “In this world there would be pain and suffering but I have overcome the world” It is not by our might, not by our spirit but empowered by the Spirit of God.
There is a God who continues to be concerned about the welfare of God’s people. There is a God who is able to turn adverse circumstances around. There is a God who is able to bring about the necessary healing of the land. There is a God who has brought us from a mighty long way. There is a God who knows that we are still on this journey. There is a God who walks with us, talks with us and claims us as his own! We draw our strength from Jesus, the one who was not guilty of any crime but yet he died on the cross, so that we might live and receive the promise of eternal life.
Consider how you have observed God uniting people as one.
How beautiful and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity – united for the cause of Christ – united for justice, liberation and equality for all of God’s people! This concept of unity is also intergenerational and includes our children and teens. We are thankful that one of our teens had the opportunity to share his beliefs and discourse on faith. Representing the next generation is Ian Sims, one of our rising stars. It was a blessing to see and hear one of our youth carrying the touch and lifting his voice as a witness for Christ.
2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318