South Fellowship Church

About Grace Hunter

Grace is married, has 4 children one of whom is now in heaven. She enjoys reading, crocheting, puzzles, baking and spending time with her granddaughter. She and her husband have attended South Fellowship Church since 2014. She and her husband Jeff enjoy singing in the choir, working in the nursery and helping with the South Food Bank.

Do you love me?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 NIV

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NIV

John adds an interesting epilogue to his book in chapter 21. He tells us his purpose in John 20:30-31, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” It would seem his book is finished, but in Chapter 21, John gives us another intimate glimpse into an encounter Jesus had with his disciples in Galilee.

In this conversation with Peter – Jesus asked 3 times, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” John 21: 15, 16, 17. In the Hebrew mind – loving God involved hearing God, and obeying God. Every Jewish man would begin his day by reciting the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” God goes on to say, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,” Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Peter responded to Jesus 3 times that he did love him, and then Jesus gave him a command to follow. Later in this chapter Peter was told 2 times, “You must follow me,” John 21:22b. My son in law, who has studied Hebrew, helped me to understand that in the Hebrew mind – loving God meant the same thing as hearing God and obeying His commands. Jesus was asking Peter to show, display, and fulfill his love for Jesus by feeding His lambs, taking care of the sheep, and feeding the sheep.

If we love Jesus, we are also called to take care of and feed the believers that we are called to teach, love, and come alongside in our everyday lives. Is there someone you can pray for or pray with? Is there someone you are being called to disciple? Ask Jesus to show you how he wants you to respond to His specific call to you, “Follow me!” John 21:19b.

Do you love me?2022-05-24T20:58:40-06:00

Encounter with a Holy God

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. John 21:4-7 NIV

When we read John’s account of the disciples fishing all night, but catching nothing, then Jesus telling these experienced fishermen to put their nets down on the other side of the boat – resulting in catching an extremely large number of fish – it sounds familiar doesn’t it? It should, we have seen this miracle before. Luke describes a similar scene in Luke 5:1-11. In Luke’s account Peter says and does something that I think is key in our relationship with Jesus.

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,” Luke 5:8-9.

What is going on here? I believe it is a recognition of Peter’s humanity, sinfulness and unworthiness when he is suddenly confronted with the incredible power of a Holy God. Peter recognizes this catch of fish as miraculous – only possible by an act of God.

We have other accounts in the Bible of men who were considered righteous – by God – declaring themselves to be sinful, nothing, dust – when confronted with the holiness of Almighty God. Abraham, Job, and Isaiah each expressed similar ideas in similar circumstances.

In John 21 the disciples have returned to what they know, to what they are familiar with – fishing. At this point in the story, John, the son of Zebedee, “the disciple whom Jesus loved declares to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” John 21:7a. John has recognized Jesus – as often occurred in the post resurrection appearances of Jesus to his followers – recognition was a bit delayed, but once they recognized Jesus, lives were touched, changed and important teaching and understanding followed.

What about for you and for me? Have you encountered God’s holiness, His incredible power, his healing in your life or in the life of someone you know recently? Look at these passages in Luke 5:1-11, in Genesis 18:27, in Isaiah 6:1-5, and Job 30:19 & Job 42:1-6. Ask God to reveal to you what you need to see, hear and understand about the powerful, Holy God we serve and how we might show proper reverence, love and devotion to Him. Thank Jesus for loving you, for dying for you, for providing a way to be in the presence of a Holy God. It is an incredible gift!

Encounter with a Holy God2022-05-15T21:06:15-06:00

Questioning God

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29 NIV

Thomas had questions that he wanted answered. He was not able to believe his beloved Lord and Rabbi was alive – simply based on another’s eyewitness testimony. Thomas did not understand events of the preceding week – the triumphal entry, the Last Supper, the arrest, the trial, the crucifixion of Jesus, and then the burial of His body. Even though Jesus had told his disciples that He came to suffer, to die and would rise again, Thomas still had questions.

Let’s look at another person who had questions. Job was a wise, wealthy, respected and righteous man who suddenly and without warning lost all his material possessions and all his children in one day. Then he was plagued by painful boils all over his body. Job had questions. He did not understand. Throughout the book of Job asked God what he had done to deserve the punishment he was enduring

“If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” Job 7:20.

Job is unique – in that we as readers have the eternal perspective throughout the book. Job, on the other hand, did not. At the end of the book, God spoke to Job and gave him a better understanding of God’s sovereignty over everything. Job said it this way, 

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” Job 42:2-3,5.

Job was never given a direct answer to his “why” questions, BUT he WAS given a better understanding of God, how he works and who He is.

Thomas was granted the answers he sought; he was given the exact proof he asked for. Do you ask God questions? When you do – know that God often answers us in different ways than we asked, or than we expected. But rest assured, know that if we continue to ask God our questions, HE WILL ANSWER. God will give us the answers WE NEED but not necessarily the answers we want.

Questioning God2022-05-08T20:25:08-06:00

It’s Hard To Believe

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. Luke 18:31-34 NIV

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27 NIV

These two men had some significant evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead – as he had promised he would. The women had gone to the tomb, they had seen at least one angel, Mary Magdalene had actually had a conversation with the risen Jesus. The women had witnessed first hand that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, just the burial cloth was there and the stone had been already rolled away when they had arrived at dawn.

Yet, these men on the road to Emmaus do not yet believe Jesus has risen from the dead. In fact, Luke tells us, “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him,” Luke 24:15-16. Cleopas and his companion did not recognize Jesus even as he walked and taught them along the road.

What sort of conclusion do you draw from this? It was true in Israel at this time, a woman’s testimony would be suspect. But Peter and John also saw that the body was not in the tomb. The concept of resurrection from the dead IS a difficult one to believe. Perhaps, it is even impossible to believe unless God – Himself – is involved personally in the process of believing.

Perhaps the only way for these men to believe Jesus has risen from the dead was to first be taught by Jesus from the Old Testament scriptures, and, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” Luke 24:31-32.

These two men had a personal encounter with the risen Messiah, Jesus, their teacher and Lord. I think this is actually what happens with each of us. We have a personal experience with the risen Lord Jesus, who then enables our belief in the resurrection and in the truth that there is forgiveness for our sins. These men desired more time with Jesus, their hearts burned as he taught them. Do you? Do you desire to spend more time with Jesus, with His Word, praising Him, talking to Him, learning about Him and His desires for you and your life? Examine your heart and desires. Seek the resurrected Jesus today – He wants to spend time with you.

It’s Hard To Believe2022-05-02T10:12:22-06:00

Imagine For A Moment

We are going to do our Daily devotional differently this time. First, pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to see and understand today. Next read Luke 24:13-35 here in the NIV. It might be helpful to read it in a few other versions as well. Here are NASB, ESV, AMP and the NKJV. If you would like to read it in another version, please do.

What do you notice? Are there words that are the same in all the different versions? One that is the same in all of these versions is the word Christ. It is the Greek word for anointed. In Hebrew the word is Messiah. Notice Jesus’ teaching style, how is it similar to the way he taught before his crucifixion? In what way? As you read this passage in different translations, what do you notice that perhaps you have not noticed before? What surprises you? There are several miraculous occurrences in this passage, what are they? The women told their fellow Jesus followers what they saw and heard at the tomb, why do you think they were not believed? Would you have found it difficult to believe the women? Which passages from the Old Testament do you think Jesus might have used to explain about how the Messiah had to suffer and die for the forgiveness of sins? In each of these translations the men describe their hearts as “burning” while Jesus taught them from the OT scriptures. Have you experienced this while reading and studying God’s word or perhaps in a time of prayer?

Thank God that we have his Word in a printed form that we can read, study, pray over and learn from as often as we want. Pray for those in the world who do not yet have a copy of the Bible in their own language – that God will reveal Himself to them, and provide them with Bibles.

Imagine For A Moment2022-05-02T07:55:11-06:00

Tunnel Vision

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” John 20:11-15a NIV

Let’s set the scene. Friday – Mary Magdalene witnessed first hand the crucifixion of her beloved teacher and Lord. She saw his broken, bloodied, definitely dead body placed in the tomb on Friday. If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know the grief that Mary was feeling. If perhaps you have not, let me give some insight. Intense grief for someone you loved affects every part of your being. Grief involves your mind, your emotions and your physical body. Many grieving people don’t remember to eat, have difficulty sleeping, or continually replay the trauma of the loved one’s death scene. Most likely, Mary has not slept much and was in an emotional state of shock. Yet she observed the Sabbath, she gathered spices and perfumes and brought them so that she could demonstrate her devotion to her Lord, by putting them on his body, as was the Jewish custom.

When grieving – tunnel vision is actually common. It is healthy to focus on just seeing and putting all of your available energy into doing the next task. For Mary, this is putting spices and perfumes on her Lord’s dead body.

But, when she gets to the tomb, the body is not there! In her grief, she cries, which is a normal, natural, even healthy response to grief. At this moment, all she can see and understand is “I have this task – I want to show my devotion to Jesus by putting spices and perfumes on his body, how can I do that if his body isn’t here?” Grief affects how your brain works; it can compromise your ability to process complicated thoughts. Mary Magdalene – in her tunnel of deep grief – can only see and understand that Jesus is not in the tomb – she is probably asking herself – how can I show my devotion to Jesus now?

How about you? Have you spent time this past week focusing on all that Jesus did for you as he died on the cross? Have you thought of how you might show your gratitude and devotion to him this week? At our Good Friday service, some beautiful pictures were displayed, some deeply moving hymns were sung, and we celebrated in many ways on Easter Sunday. Perhaps you could write a thank you letter, or a poem, sing a song or make a drawing to express your devotion and gratitude to Jesus for his sacrificial love for you.

Tunnel Vision2022-04-24T20:44:19-06:00

The Other Side of the Story

This week we are doing this daily devotional a little differently. First, I am going to ask each of you to read a part of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection story in each of the gospels for yourself. The Easter sermon used the Mark passage but it is helpful to look at all of them. So, first read Matthew 27:50-28:8, Mark 15:40-16:8, Luke 23:49-24:11 and John 19:38-20:2.

As you read these accounts, what stands out to you? Did you see something in this reading you had not noticed before? Are there words or phrases that you notice were used in multiple accounts? Does one of the accounts have information that is not in any of the others? Do you have questions that are not answered? Do you have a feeling of wanting to read farther? If so, is it because where I asked you to stop reading, does it give you an unsatisfying, hopeless ending to the story? Think about how the women and the disciples were feeling, thinking and processing everything they had observed and experienced in the days we read about. Pray about what you have observed, and ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to know about these scripture passages.

The Other Side of the Story2022-04-17T20:27:08-06:00

Do I Show Contempt?

He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. Acts 10:11-16 NIV

contempt means the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn

Throughout human history people of low socioeconomic class, people who are ill or disabled, or people who are extremely poor have suffered from others treating them with contempt or with disgust. Examples include lepers in ancient times, untouchables in India, people who are HIV positive, or disabled people in 3rd world countries today.

In Acts 10 and 11 Peter and the church in Jerusalem were taught directly by God through dreams, and a vision of an angel that Gentiles were and are loved by God, and were and are welcome in God’s kingdom. God did not want Gentiles to be treated with contempt or disgust.

The religious leaders of Israel in Jesus’ day were known for showing contempt for Gentiles, sinners, tax collectors and anyone they thought of as being unclean. But Jesus’ attitude toward these same people and his interactions with these types of people was a stark contrast.

In John 8:1-11 the religious leaders set a trap for Jesus using an adulterous woman. Jesus turned the situation around, by suggesting the person who had never sinned should throw the first stone at the woman. Gradually all the teachers of the law realized they all were sinners and left her alone with Jesus. He did not condemn her, but did tell her to sin no more.

Jesus called a tax collector to be his disciple and had dinner with his fellow tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13), touched lepers in order to heal them (Matthew 8:5), had public conversations with women, even a Samaritan prostitute (John 4). Jesus touched both a man with dropsy to heal him (Luke 14:1-4), and let a woman with hemorrhaging touch his cloak (Luke 8:43-48).

In Peter’s vision about what is clean and unclean God tells him, “The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,’” Acts 10:15. In the middle ages, when the plague was ravaging the populations, it was people who worshiped God, who took care of the sick and buried the dead.

All people are loved by God. We are all sinners in need of a savior. Examine your heart. Ask, do I have contempt for someone or for a group of people? Ask God to help you know how to pray for that person or that group of people.

Do I Show Contempt?2022-04-08T09:48:44-06:00

Fear Is A Liar

So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. (I Kings 19:2-3 NIV)

Elijah’s story in I Kings 17-19 is fascinating. Elijah was miraculously provided for by God, in I Kings 17:1-6, he participated in God’s provision for a widow and her son. Then in I Kings 17: 7-16, he prayed and raised her son from the dead. In I Kings 17:17-24, he participated in and witnessed God’s great triumph over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. And in I Kings 18:19-46, Elijah was at the pinnacle of his ministry, yet when Jezebel threatened to kill him, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life,” (I Kings 19:3a). Why? Elijah had personally witnessed God’s incredible power to save, to provide, and to protect. Why was Elijah afraid? Why are we afraid? Shouldn’t Elijah’s and our past faith, our past witnessing of miracles and God’s past provision for us keep us from being afraid?

Jesus spoke to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). Fear is something we have to deal with while we are on this earth. But Jesus has overcome this world, Jesus has won the war, and we know the ending and where we will spend eternity. We will have difficulties and troubles and storms in this life. But – we can trust Jesus to be with us, to walk beside us, to guide us and to help us to not let fear keep us from doing everything God wants us to do. When we listen to our fear only, we fail to trust God. Fear tells us we are worth nothing, we are having no effect, our ministry is worthless and we might be better dead. Elijah felt this way, too (I Kings 19:4-8). But in I Kings 19:9-18, we look at the end of the story, God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice. God assures Elijah he is valuable, this his ministry is not done, and he is not alone. Fear can prevent us from seeing our storm, ourselves, and our impact on others – from a Godly perspective.

If you struggle with fear, or with believing the lies fear tells you, perhaps this book may be a helpful resource: What Are You Afraid Of? by Dr. David Jeremiah. It has some good insights into how we can overcome fear with faith.

Fear Is A Liar2022-04-03T20:55:04-06:00

What Is Grief

“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11 NIV)

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV)

What is grief? At its core, it is a sense of loss of something or someone we either possessed or hoped to possess. We feel loss and grief when a loved one or friend dies. We also feel loss when a relationship ends, or we lose a job, or we move far from home, or a dream dies. Someone else’s loss, or someone else’s suffering causes grief too – like the stories we see unfolding in Ukraine and Afghanistan right now.

What do we do with these feelings? Jeremiah experienced incredible grief and wrote, “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city,” (Lamentations 2:11). Jerusalem was under siege, people were starving and the city was being destroyed and then its people were exiled for 70 years. Jeremiah told us he was pouring out his heart. When we feel grief, we need to express it, we need to lament, we need to cry, we need to pour out our heart and soul to God and express our pain.

What do I do when it feels like I am all alone and I can’t feel God’s presence? Imagine going into an interior room in the basement, with the light off. All you can see is darkness. The sun is shining outside, but where you are – you can’t see it or feel it. Award-winning author, Pastor Paul David Tripp says, “Grief blocks our ability to see God, but I should not conclude that means He is absent.”. When we can’t feel God’s presence, because of loss, Psalm 143:7-8 tells us what to d,. “Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” In our loss, we trust that God is still there, we pray – telling Him all of our emotions, and we read His word and remind ourselves of His love, of His presence, of His continued working in our lives.

If you are in a season of grief and loss, spend time reading and praying in Psalms. Also, South is offering a support group called GriefShare starting April 11, 2022.

What Is Grief2022-03-29T07:51:25-06:00
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