Southern Baptist Convention

Ron Shepard

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Today we're going to the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, Washington, where our missionary, Ron Shepard, serves. We support Ron through our Cooperative Program giving. About 4.7 million people live in the Seattle area, and they are some of our country's most highly educated people. More people there hold library cards, percentage wise, than any other city in America. But, sadly, they are not reading the Bible. Ron knows because he has studied the city and helps train church planters in how to serve there. Seattle has fewer than 200 Southern Baptist churches. Many more are needed. People there are friendly but bring up a spiritual topic and often they become skeptical, Ron says. You have to know people a while before they will listen to the gospel, and most will have to hear it presented seven times before they will respond. Despite all this, Southern Baptists have started new churches all over the Seattle area. The work is slow, but it is happening. Ron thinks they will plant another 135 new churches over the next five years. Today, let's pray for Ron Shepard as he serves in Seattle. Let's pray that hundreds of new churches can be started in the years ahead.

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January Devotion

Redemption is the Ultimate Stone

DR. KEN HEMPHILL

"God will accomplish His eternal purpose through those who follow Christ and invest their lives to advance His kingdom..." In Revelation 2:17, the apostle John wrote that those who overcome will be given a white stone on which will be written a new name that no one knows but him who receives it. White stones were used in several different contexts in the ancient world. They signified acquittal by a jury, whereas a black one signified condemnation. They were used as tickets of admission to public festivals. Both uses may signify that those in Christ are fully acquitted and welcomed to the messianic feast. The stone with a new name conveys both assurance and full blessing for those who receive it. Revelation 21:2-19 tells of a new Holy City. The 12 foundation stones supporting the wall of the city were visible to all. They were gloriously adorned with beautiful jewels. The stones are indicative of beauty and majesty beyond earthly description. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that this city is where God will dwell among us and where we will be His people eternally. As we contemplate the ultimate outcome of all things, we are called to invest our earthly resources in the endless pursuit of establishing missional communities that reflect and foster God's eternal purpose.

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