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  • Pastor Linda Settles

Surrounded by Faith


Theme for 2023: Faith Forward – The Year of Extraordinary Faith!


If you’ve ever been the parent of a pre-teen, or had the pleasure of babysitting one, you know that they can be pretty precocious at times. Well, believe it or not, such was the case with Jesus.


The Bible records a time when Jesus separated from his parents and was missing. For days! Mary and Joseph thought that he was with the caravan, so they weren’t worried at first. But when Jesus was nowhere to be found, panic set in.


Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him… 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.”

Luke 2:44-45, 48


Kids! Mary and Joseph were surrounded by family and friends in the caravan. But Jesus surrounded Himself with something else…


46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Luke 2:46


Jesus surrounded Himself with the teachers who were no doubt expounding on the sacred texts of the Torah. He surrounded Himself with the Word of God and those who were studying the Word. Wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall when Jesus asked them questions? Can you imagine this youngster daring to ask questions of the elders? But not only that, Jesus jumped in and amazed them all with His wisdom.


47 And all who heard him were amazed at his

understanding and his answers.

Luke 2:47


Who and what we surround ourselves with makes a difference. It makes a difference in how we see ourselves, in what we believe about others, and even in what we believe about God. Jesus’ response was simple, yet profound for his tender years…


49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them,

and his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and

in divine and human favor.

Luke 2:49-52


Jesus thought it was quite logical that He would be found in the Temple. Isn’t that where people of faith go? And when you think about it, haven’t some of your most sacred moments, times when you’ve felt the presence of the Holy One, been in the house of God?


Friends, I encourage you to surround yourself with people of faith. Do some house cleaning in 2023. Remove some dead weight. Prune some dry branches. Do whatever it takes to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative in your life.


Surround yourself with the things of faith. Where’s your Bible? Is it on the coffee table collecting dust? You may have it as an app on your phone, but is it hidden among many apps or can you get to it when you need it? Have you memorized this month’s memory verse? Did you read the Upper Room for today? Are you doing the Faith Forward Challenge (see below)? With what are you surrounding yourself? Surround yourself with faith and watch your faith move forward!


I invite you to join us for worship this Sunday, as we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord, the time when Jesus, in His humanity, was baptized by John the Baptizer. It was a theophany, a visible manifestation of God, as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, and the voice of God was heard, declaring Jesus as His beloved Son. Surrounded by love, surrounded by holiness, surrounded by God!


We will also continue our sermon series, based on our theme for the year - Faith Forward: The Year of Extraordinary Faith! This Sunday’s message is: Surrounded by Faith. You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.


Bach Concert on Sunday, January 15 at 3:00pm. Come and hear this glorious concert of truly gifted musicians, and the amazing things that our new organ can do!


CDF Survey Extended to January 8! As part of the Green Trails church’s participation in the Children’s Defense Fund cohort, each congregation is being asked to complete an anonymous survey on the ministries of your church. Please click the link and complete the survey at your earliest convenience. Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UnitedMethodistGreenTrailsCDF

If you would rather do a paper copy, you can pick one up at the Welcome Center and drop it off at the church office during business hours. This will also help us to get a finger on the pulse of our church!


Charge Conference for 2022 in 2023! The charge conference that we normally have in October has been scheduled (by the district) for January 7, 2023 via Zoom. This is when the church recognizes the change in leadership on the Leadership Board and the Nominations & Leadership Development Team (NLDT), as well as other reports on property and lay ministry. The conference starts at 10:00am, and the Zoom link went out in our e-blast.


WOW Returns! The Word on Wednesday Bible study will start back on Wednesday, January 11. We kick off with a time of fellowship and potluck dinner at 5:45p. If you have questions on the potluck, please contact G-Gay Harris. If you want to come for the Bible study only, that begins at 6:30p and ends at 7:30p. Our study for this session is on Christian Virtues, led by Tim Felthouse. Let’s move our faith forward by studying the Word together!


Faith Forward Challenge A brand new year is on the horizon. A great time to challenge yourself to do something new. So, I have a challenge for you. I’m calling it Faith First because the goal is to put God first in our lives by:


First 15 – use the first 15 minutes of each morning to engage in:


GRATITUDE 5 minutes being grateful


RENEWAL 5 minutes reading


WORSHIP 5 minutes in prayer and meditation


First Day – spend the first day of the week in worship


First Fruits – increase your generosity of time, talent, & treasure


What a way to start your year! In fact, we could start our meetings with First 15, start Sunday School with First 15…get it? Set the tone for the day or whatever the activity is, by spending the First 15 minutes with God. Then spend the first day of the week in the house of God with the people of God. And may I encourage you to consider God first, before we plan our time, talent, and giving elsewhere. When God is our priority, things begin to change! Moving forward in faith by putting our Faith First! Take the challenge!


Blessings,

Pastor Linda

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