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Daily Devotional (GPS)

June 19, 2024

Juneteenth—freedom day!

Daily Scripture

Psalm 33:4-9, Philemon 1:15-16, Galatians 3:26-28

Psalm 33
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

Philemon 1
15 Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever—16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord!

Galatians 3
26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Did You Know?
Resurrection is hosting “Lift Every Voice and Sing – Together” at the Leawood location to celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 22 at 5 p.m., with a special pre-event about the history of the Underground Railroad in Kansas at 4 p.m. This event, jointly sponsored by Resurrection, the Allies for Racial Justice Ministry and St. James Church, is free. Click here for more information.

Today is Juneteenth. It celebrates the announcement of slavery’s abolition in Texas on June 19, 1865, by General Order No. 3. More than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, that order enforced the Proclamation, thus declaring the last enslaved African Americans free. Psalm 33 linked God’s love of justice with the idea that God created all that is. And the apostle Paul’s letters reinforced God’s aim that humans should act out righteousness through justice.

  • The letter to Philemon had only 335 Greek words. (If you have time, read the full letter.) Paul sent it with Onesimus, one of Philemon’s slaves who, against Roman law, had run away. Paul had won both men to faith in Jesus. He returned Onesimus to his owner (who by law could punish him any way he wished), asking Philemon to receive him “no longer as a slave,” but as “a dearly loved brother.” How did Paul’s example show Christians that slavery could not be God’s ideal?
  • In Galatians 3:28, Paul said Christ overcame “all ethnic barriers” (neither Jew nor Greek), “all social barriers” (neither slave nor free) and “all sexual barriers” (neither male nor female). * “When we say Christ has abolished these distinctions, we do not mean that they do not exist, but that they do not matter.” ** It took centuries too long, but the good news that God saves all people the same way (by grace) led Christians (including John Wesley) to work to end slavery. How can you let the gospel erase all those barriers in your own attitudes and actions?

Lord Jesus, keep transforming me in Christ. Help me pursue unity in Christ and justice through Christ for people who are like me and people who are very different from me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Gabby Delpleash
Gabby Delpleash

Gabby Delpleash serves Resurrection as a returning summer intern within the Worship Experience ministry, where her spiritual gifts are used to organize resources for the work of Christ. Gabby will be a sophomore at Creighton University as a College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fellow where she is pursuing a major in Biochemistry with a double minor in Biology and Music on the pre-medicine track. When Gabby’s not serving or studying, she can be found anywhere outside on a long run, obsessing over books from her favorite authors or getting way too competitive in a game of Pickleball.

“Who was Frederick Douglass?” Ms. James opened our eighth-grade English study on American abolitionism by posing this question. Douglass, an escaped slave who became a leading abolitionist, exemplified the pursuit of justice and equality and, ultimately, embodied the truths that are found in today’s Scriptures: God’s love for righteousness and justice (Psalm 33), the transformation of former slaves into dearly loved brothers (Philemon 1) and the unity and equality we all have in Christ (Galatians 3).

As we celebrate Juneteenth, we acknowledge the long-overdue justice for African Americans and recognize it as a reflection of God’s desire for righteousness and justice on earth (Psalm 33:5). In today’s Psalm, we’re reminded that justice is a fundamental aspect of God’s character, just like it was of Douglass’, and that God’s love for justice is woven in the fabric of creation.

In Philemon 1, Paul speaks to the transformative power of faith, which redefines the relationship of Onesimus to Philemon, Onesimus going from slave to “dearly loved brother in Christ.” This transformation mirrors the essence of Juneteenth and Douglass’ purpose for escaping bondage, where former slaves were recognized as free individuals deserving of humanity and dignity. Passages like Philemon 1 call us to see beyond labels and embrace each other as brothers and sisters in Christ just as God will when He receives us; it reminds us that true freedom is not just the absence of physical bondage but the recognition of our shared humanity and spiritual kinship.

Galatians 3 ties together the messages of Psalm and Philemon by underscoring the unity and equality of all believers in Christ, a message profoundly relevant to the meaning behind Juneteenth. This holiday marks not just the end of slavery but the beginning of a journey towards equality and inclusion, calling us to live out the truth that in Christ we are all His children, deserving of equal rights and opportunities.

Going back to eighth grade, Ms. James’ “Frederick Douglass” question was, at the time, met with stony silence. But it had challenged me to recognize the ongoing impact of slavery’s legacy and the importance of remembering those who fought for freedom and justice. Caring about who Douglass was meant acknowledging the power of God’s word in promoting justice, transforming relationships and uniting humanity. It meant celebrating Juneteenth not just as a historical milestone, but as a continuing call to live out these biblical principles in our lives.

So, as we celebrate Juneteenth, let us remember that God’s word is the foundation of righteousness and justice, embrace the transformative power of faith that redefines relationships and strive to live out the unity and equality that Christ made possible for all of us.

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