Devotions

Wednesday, July 8th

Psalm 131   Song of Quiet Trust. A Song of Ascents. Of David.


1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time on and forevermore.

 

Psalm 131 is titled "Song of Quiet Trust". Trust is a struggle for most people.  When we trust those in our lives we open ourselves up and risk getting hurt.  It requires that we let our defenses down, allow them to see us vulnerable, hoping they will not let us down.  It is a difficult risk to take.  But when we think about trusting, we tend to focus on the risks as opposed to the rewards.  With mutual trust also comes an acceptance of true self, honesty, reliance, reassurance and an understanding that they will look out for us.  Although it should be easier, trusting in the Lord is not any easier than trusting in the people around us.  We are trusting that God, who in the traditional sense we've never met in person or had a conversation with, will love, guide and support us through our lives.  That's a scary amount of trust! Looking at this passage, we see that David puts this trust in the Lord.  Although a King, he is humbled and entrusting the Lord with the greater things in life.  With that trust comes a great benefit.  Equated to a child with their mother, David trusting the Lord gives him comfort.  It calms and quiets his soul. It gives his soul peace.  This psalm reminds us of the benefits of trusting in the Lord.  When we put our trust in God, we know that God will ease our burdens and give us peace.  Trusting in the Lord comforts our soul.  

 

Let us pray:

 

Lord, We struggle with trusting those important in our lives, including sometimes even trusting you.  We are thankful for your patience with us and your continued support and guidance through life.  We understand that our relationship with you is a mutual one, we trust in you to love, protect and guide us, while you have trusted us with caring for your creation and all who live here.  We ask that you use our actions and our words to spread your message of love and grace to all of your creation; that you use our actions and words to speak to injustices.  We ask that you help us to have the patience for others that you show us every day.  Please provide us with the courage to take risks when trusting you and others so that we may enjoy all that you have blessed us with in our lives. All this we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 1st

Psalm 119:161-168

 

Princes persecute me without cause,

  but my heart stands in awe of your words.

 

I rejoice at your word

  like one who finds great spoil.

 

I hate and abhor falsehood,

  but I love your law.

 

Seven times a day I praise you

  for your righteous ordinances.

 

Great peace have those who love your law;

  nothing can make them stumble.

 

I hope for your salvation, oh Lord,

  and I fulfill your commandments.

 

My soul keeps your decrees;

  I love them exceedingly.

 

I keep your precepts and decrees,

  for all my ways are before you.

 

 

In these trying times, we long for happiness and peace of mind.  If we love God and truly try to live by his law, no matter how bad the world becomes, we will be able to have that peace of mind and happiness.  Our heavenly father is always with us and knows all that we do.  I believe that He will give us the strength to weather these storms and come out stronger on the other side.

 

Dear Lord, we pray for peace in our land and in our lives.  We implore you to help us begin to heal by building a future based on love, not on hate and destruction.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 24th

Matthew 10:5-23 New International Version (NIV)

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

Let us pray:

Jesus, sometimes what is asked of us is not easy. It is not easy to heal the sick or fight against injustices. Still, being your follower means we still must try to use the gifts we are given to help others.  We ask that you be with us, guide us and strengthen us to walk your path.  We ask that you lift up the voices of the oppressed and open our ears and hearts to hear them.  Amen. 

 

Wednesday, June 17th Proverbs 4:10-27.

 

"Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many. 
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep til they make someone stumble.
They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil."

   Wow, in trying to select a reading, this one resonated the loudest with our current situation facing us. I generally have been resigned to listening to current events "on delay", meaning I listen to current events with "a grain of salt", then process the information, listen for more, and as is almost always the case, the facts, after all the hype has settled.
   Too often it seems to me people/outlets that are able to have our attention on a regular basis inflect their opinion or version of interpretation of any event at any given time to suit their agenda. This could be obviously blatant as in your face delivery or subversive (whether intentional or not) so that with time, your thoughts mirror theirs. Sometimes, without realizing it, you have changed your opinion. Now I'm not suggesting that changing the way one might think of a situation should not happen, quite the contrary, it could and should change if, with more information learned, you find that it supports those thoughts. That's being open minded.

     I try to listen to people's opinion on things and try (sometimes very hard) to understand where they are coming from for them to think the way they do. Is it their work environment, is it their home life, the way they were raised, or an event(s) in their life that has influenced them? I am very capable of being one sided, I think we all are. It's easy to be that way because it is easy for us to follow people/groups who want to reinforce what we think. We subconsciously try not to think other ways because sometimes it's not what "everyone else" is thinking or does. The hard part is listening to our hearts, being that other person for a moment to understand them, to have the compassion and empathy to realize who they really are deep down, sometimes even when they don't know themselves.  We all, deep down in our consciousness and heart, know what is right or wrong. We sometimes need great courage to acknowledge this to ourselves. 

   We have been blessed with the ability to make choices; we shouldn't suppress what God has given us. It also doesn't mean we need to tell others what we think or shout what they should think. It means peaceful conversations and really listening to what people say, rather than just waiting for them to stop talking to get our thoughts out (I may have done that...once), as in a quote I've heard more than once lately: "If you're walking through the gauntlet of hell, keep walking to get through to the other side". I might add, if you are on the sidelines of a gauntlet, help widen the path to let others through or go along side so they don't go alone.

Let us pray:

God, give us the strength to endure these turbulent times. Give us the patience and empathy to listen to those crying out. Help sooth the hearts of the restless and raise the consciousness of the quiet ones. Give those, with voices to the many, the courage to tell the truth. Amen.

Devotion for June 10th, 2020 Psalm 29.

 

"The Voice of God in a Great Storm: A Psalm of David.

1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,[a]

    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;

    worship the Lord in holy splendor.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

    the God of glory thunders,

    the Lord, over mighty waters.

4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;

    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.

8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,

    and strips the forest bare;

    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

11 May the Lord give strength to his people!

    May the Lord bless his people with peace!"

 

Over the weekend some areas of the island had storms.  I was disappointed that they missed where I live because I love watching thunderstorms and the feeling of peace they bring.   Despite all our knowledge and technology,  nature and storms remind us that we are not all-powerful.  To sit and watch a thunderstorm is to acknowledge the strength and beauty of God's creation.   As I read Psalm 29, about the voice of God in a great storm, I wonder what a beautiful and strong storm David was witnessing.  In his writing we hear the admiration of God, "the voice of the Lord is full of majesty ".  We hear strength, "the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness".  We hear of this power,  God's power in the storm, and then David asks "May the Lord bless his people with peace."  Storms come in many forms, nature such as thunderstorms as well as personal emotional storms. Although we don't necessarily hear it as the 'voice' of God when we experience storms, God's presence is with us just as it was with David.  We still experience the Lord's power, strength and peace. 

 

Let us pray:

Almighty and everlasting Father, we are in awe of your creation, its beauty and its strength. We thank you for the blessings and peace you bring into our lives.  We ask that you be the voice and light in the storm for all of your children, providing comfort and peace. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen

Friday, June 5th  Blessings for your day.

Joel, 2: 18-29   God’s Response and Promise

18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land,
    and had pity on his people.
19 In response to his people the Lord said:
I am sending you
    grain, wine, and oil,
    and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
    a mockery among the nations.

20 I will remove the northern army far from you,
    and drive it into a parched and desolate land,
its front into the eastern sea,
    and its rear into the western sea;
its stench and foul smell will rise up.
    Surely he has done great things!

21 Do not fear, O soil;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for the Lord has done great things!
22 Do not fear, you animals of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

23 O children of Zion, be glad
    and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
    he has poured down for you abundant rain,
    the early and the later rain, as before.
24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
    the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

25 I will repay you for the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent against you.

26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

God’s Spirit Poured Out

28 [b] Then afterward
    I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
    in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

As locusts devastated the land of Joel and his people, so we are presently being attacked by a pandemic covering the world.  It has been a shock to see all aspects of our lives changed or stripped away and new unfamiliar words have become the norm in our vocabulary. (Coronavirus, isolation, social distancing, face masks and Zoom meetings with our families and friends).  These are indeed sad times but we must keep our faith in the Lord for He is with us.  As stated in this bible passage “The Lord will be zealous for His land and will have pity on His people”.  We know that we are not alone at this difficult time in our lives.  He is with us always - to strengthen and comfort us when needed.

Dear Lord:

Replace the tension within me with Holy relaxation.  Replace the turbulence within me with Sacred calm.  Replace the anxiety within me with quiet confidence, and replace the fear within me with a strong faith.   Amen

Wednesday, June 3rd

Numbers 11:24-30

24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people and placed them all around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ 28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ 29 But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’ 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

What an inspirational story for members of both Jewish and Christian congregations. Although God chose Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery into freedom, and empowered Moses with great gifts and knowledge, God’s Holy Spirit also chooses and empowers all those who genuinely believe. In our other reading for today from the 7th chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says that the gift of the Holy Spirit will “flow like living water” from the hearts of believers. When we trust in God’s love, compassion, justice, and mercy, we cannot help but share it.

Loving and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of your Spirit which empowers and chooses us to share your message with the world. During these trying times it is the presence of your Spirit in our lives that enables us to demonstrate your love to others, especially those who are suffering, and helps to ease our fears and give us hope for the days to come.  Amen.

 

Monday, June 1st, Romans 8:14-17
 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba![a] Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness[b] with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.


  For many of us the Holy Spirit remains a puzzle.  The other members of the Trinity are better defined, Father and Son.  But there is confusion about the Spirit.  The Spirit makes us children of God. 

  The HUMAN spirit is part of our creativity and imagination.  It helps people practice their gifts. Some are musicians, singers, dancers, painters, writers or poets. 

  But when the word Holy is attached to the word spirit we move beyond the human realm.  We are speaking of God. (8:14)  The Holy Spirit wants to bring us into a relationship with Christ. (8: 15-17) Romans assumes that those who are part of God’s family will experience difficulty.  We suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.
                                                      
I pray that the peace of the Holy Spirit may comfort us during this difficult time.  We are afraid of the unknown, we are worried about getting this virus. We worry about finances, jobs and family. We are worried about getting back to our lives as the new normal. We wonder and worry about when this will end.
  The holy Spirit can bring us hope and peace.  We must know God is in control.  Holy Spirit please help us. In Jesus name,  Amen.

 

Friday, May 29th Blessings for your weekend.

1 Peter 4: Verses 1-6

Stewards of God's Grace

4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

When I think of the word “suffering”, I think of someone in pain or going through a difficult time. But I don't think our suffering is God's work. God is not responsible for the misfortunes in the world, such as the violence against minorities or the Covid-19 virus.  What I do know is that we, as God’s children can make a difference and change the world's flaws if we just work together. We can prevent unnecessary death and violence if we just accept one another. God gives us the chance to make things right in this world because he loves us.  If only everyone would have faith in him, the world might be a more loving place.  God offers us grace and forgiveness of our sins which is something we should never forget.  He also offers us his love and maybe it’s time we work harder trying to spread that love. 

Dear God,

Thank you for Love. Amen.

Wednesday,  May 27th  John 3:31-36a

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life

The focus of the Gospel of John is on belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as being the one sent by the Father who will impart his Holy Spirit to all believers. We learn that it is of primary importance to equip and send men and women to share the gospel message throughout the world. These words of Jesus to his followers - which includes us - remind us that Jesus came into the world in order to share the words of God, and before he departed this world he gave us the gift of his Spirit, which is nothing less than the fullness of his own glorification.  That empowers us to accomplish things we could never do on our own that will reveal God’s truth and enable others to share in the gift of eternal life that we have been given.

Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who came to earth so that we might believe and share your compassion, mercy, and justice throughout the world. We thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, which empowers us to accomplish this mission you have set for us. Help us to answer your call and make your truth known by our words and actions.  Amen.

Friday, May 22 on Ephesians 2:1-7 
2 You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ[a]—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

All of mankind lived in sin. Then God in his mercy and love sent us his son. A Gift. By dying for us and by his resurrection he defeated Satan and saved us. Through our faith in Christ we are forgiven our sins and are granted eternal life. We are saved by grace through faith.

 

Let us pray:

 

Lord God, we thank you for giving us Christ who takes away our sins and grants us eternal life.

Lord God, the need for your mercy is great here and around the globe. 

Lord God, we thank you for hearing our pleas. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Wednesday, May 20th.  Have a blessed day.

Genesis 9:8-17

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ 12 God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17 God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

During times like these we may despair and lose sight of the promises God has made with us. But despite the fear and anxiety we are experiencing, and the loss of life that we mourn, God keeps God’s promises by walking with us during this dark valley. God will never forget us or abandon us, there are signs of God’s Holy Spirit all around us. 

Spirit of God, we thank you for your eternal presence with us.  During these troubled times, we sense your presence. We see you at work in the people who give of themselves for others. We ask for inspiration so that we may stay strong and patiently wait for better times to come.  Amen.

May 18, 2020

Psalm 86: 1-5

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor
and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; Save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to
you do I cry all day long. 

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you,
O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.


Deep and wide

Deep and wide

There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

 

Deep and wide

Deep and wide

There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide!


When I was little, I loved going to Sunday school—even though the kindergarten teacher could never remember that my name wasn’t Michelle. I especially loved all the great Bible songs we learned, and a few have stayed with me after all these years. One song—“Deep and Wide”—was, and remains, one of my favorites. 

As we sang “deep,” we’d stretch our little arms as far as they could go from floor to ceiling. As we sang “wide,” we’d stretch our arms as far as they could go from side to side. When my mom would ask me how much I loved her, I’d shout, “This much!” and stretch my arms from side to side so wide that they’d extend behind my back. My mom knew that this was the ultimate amount of love one could have for another.


I recently came back to church after a very long absence. Even through many years filled with doubt, the love of God and his message for us to love each other always felt true. To love one another as God loves us felt like an important message—one that could positively affect a lot of our personal (and our world’s) difficulties if we only heeded it. Paul’s reminder that of faith, hope, and love the “greatest of these is love” also always resonated with me. It may be cliché, but “Love conquers all things” has real meaning at its heart. 

 

Dear Lord, Remembering God’s love is deep and wide conquers doubt and restores faith. As the psalmist prays, may God’s love gladden all our souls. Amen.

May 15, 2020 

Acts 27:13-38 

The Storm at Sea

13 When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete.[a] 15 Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. 16 By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda[b] we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. 17 After hoisting it up they took measures[c] to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. 18 We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, 19 and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22 I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we will have to run aground on some island.”

27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift.

33 Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.” 35 After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. 37 (We were in all two hundred seventy-six[d] persons in the ship.) 38 After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

 

Especially during these times we may feel we are being thrown overboard. However, we must notice that Jesus our savior and Lord is with us always during good and difficult times. Our cries of pain are shared with Jesus.
God always lets us know that we should be grateful for what we have. We have amazing essential workers helping us everyday to make sure we are safe.  Acts of kindness are displayed throughout the Bible and we as Christians can step up to help others in need. A quote that relates to this time is from Acts 27 verse 31“unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved”. Right now we need to stay in our homes to be safe just like this verse from this passage and practice social distancing and stay positive.


Dear God, you have equipped us with strength for this battle. Help us to keep pressing forward even when the way is littered with uncertainties. Please keep us all safe during this time. We live in the present and trust in a God who will provide. Throw out the doubt, our HOPE is found in Jesus! Amen.

Wednesday, May 13

Proverbs 3:13-18

The True Wealth
13 Happy are those who find wisdom,
   and those who get understanding,
14 for her income is better than silver,
   and her revenue better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
   in her left hand are riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
   and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
   those who hold her fast are called happy.

The sages whose writings are compiled in the Book of Proverbs, rooted their theology in the knowledge of God gained through the study of creation and human nature.  The world of the sages was international and so there are many parallels to Egyptian and Mesopotamian culture. The teachings are personified in Woman Wisdom, an intriguing figure who speaks with divine authority, played a part in creation and is more than just a simple literary device.  In these verses we are taught the meaning of true wealth, which is measured in how much wisdom and understanding we acquire rather than in material objects. Acquiring and embracing wisdom enables us to be a source of life and inspires us to be agents of harmony and peace.

Gracious God, we pray for the gifts of wisdom and understanding, especially during this trying time. Times such as these often help us to realize what is truly valuable, rather than those things we sometimes place too high a value on. We give thanks for our faith, our loved ones and for those who have responded to the pandemic with their talent, kindness, and generosity.  Help us to remember these lessons when we return to a time of prosperity.  Amen.

Monday, May 11 on Acts 7:17-40 

17 “But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied 18 until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. 19 He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. 20 At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house; 21 and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.

23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites.[a] 24 When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. 26 The next day he came to some of them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor pushed Moses[b] aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’

35 “It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people[c] as he raised me up.’ 38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’

 

Moses sensed God's calling to deliver his people. I wish we could sense God's call for our lives. God has chosen each of us for a specific purpose. He has placed us in Christ's body to fulfill his calling.  Somewhere, in the scheme of things we have lost a sense of God's calling.

Our modern idea that winning is everything forces us to hide from our failures.  Also, our modern seas about success and failure force many to see themselves as failures.  It is one thing to fail, but quite another thing to see yourself as a failure.  

 God shares the failures of great persons in the Bible.  He wants to encourage us by helping us realize they were as human as we are.  Noah got drunk, Abraham lied, Jacob was a cheat, Joseph was arrogant, and Moses was a murderer. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, please make me an obedient child. Let me listen and obey your instructions...Enable me to always be conscious that "you see all things and you will appropriately judge all things - either with blessings or with disciplines."

Amen.

Friday, May 8th, 2020 based on Exodus Ch. 3 v. 7-12 

Exodus Ch. 3 v. 7-12

The  Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land , a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you.....

 

Lots of times in life we may feel like we are unworthy of God's blessings.  The truth is that we are not just worthy of God's blessings, but are capable of anything through God.

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise and we welcome you into our hearts and into our homes.  We thank you for your son, Jesus. Please bless us with the mental strength we need to get us through the day and we pray that you end Coronavirus and take your crown here on earth. Thank you God for granting us your Peace, good health and for getting us together again soon, in the name of your son, Jesus, amen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
   God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
   see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God!
   I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth.’
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

I just heard the most remarkable story from a friend about her great-aunt who is 104 years old.  As a young child she survived the Spanish flu and during her lifetime she went into remission from cancer, recovered from two broken hips, and was just released from the hospital after surviving COVID-19. Psalm 46 is her favorite, she reads it every morning as she begins the day.  Although it is not assigned for today, I wanted to share her story and the psalm in her honor. Also, I confess, it has often given me strength and courage during difficult times in my life. Like so many others, we have had news of people who have not fared as well during this pandemic. Not every story has the outcome we pray for, nor do we understand the random effects of this disease. Psalm 46 affirms that no matter how anxious and fearful we become; we still trust that God offers us protection even during such times as these. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

God of wisdom and strength, we turn to you during this time that is trying our souls.  We do not understand why some have no symptoms of the virus and others become seriously ill, or why some survive, and others die.  We ask for courage and strength as we attempt to live each day in the best way we can, without succumbing to the fear we have for ourselves and our loved ones.  We thank you for those who work every day to protect us, and we ask for your comfort for those who mourn loved ones.  Grant us patience as we await the day when we can gather again.  Amen.  

Monday May 4, 2020 based on Psalm 100

 

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations."

 

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord."  The last few weeks haven't been overwhelming in reasons to be joyful.  Some people have been home for weeks, either forced to work from home or not even able to work at all.  Those who have been deemed essential may be worried about the risks they take leaving their house each day.  We're worried about loved ones.  We may be grieving loved ones. This is a difficult time.  And yet, this Psalm of thanksgiving and praise of God reminds us to make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. As I reflect on this, i realize that even during this difficult time, we are also surrounded by joyful noises and songs praising God. There are videos of singing on balcony's, church choirs singing virtually, and communities clapping in appreciation of essential workers.  Each of these instances is a form of people giving thanks to God, giving thanks for community finding a way to be together while apart and giving thanks for all of the people that God works through to take care of his flock. One of my favorites has been seeing singing and celebration of life when recovered patients are being released from hospitals.  These are the joyful noises that I look forward to seeing online and in the news.  These are the signs of hope, of recovery, and of society coming together. 

 

Let us pray:

 

Loving God,  We give thanks for your everlasting love and support. We pray for all of the essential workers and ask  that you protect them as they continue to care and protect others.  Please help us to see the hope and joy in the world each day.  Be with us all and give us peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Old Testament 


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Moses.
He grew up in a rich palace and had everything, until one day GOD speaks to him and tells him he has a job for him. Moses leaves EVERYTHING and with the promise of GOD, he does everything GOD asked of him. Moses has GREAT FAITH. Now he must convince the same people he helped work as slaves to listen to him about GOD, who has sent him to lead them out of Egypt to a land with milk and honey.

Sometimes I believe happy is a temporary thing. It's easy to be happy when things are going your way and nothing bad is happening.  But FAITH is something more.  Faith is all the time, GOOD times and BAD.
Our FAITH gets put to the test when things aren't going "GOOD".  GOD is still here.
GOD is here when:

People say hi or wave to complete strangers as they pass by. People have ZOOM calls to connect with people. 

People stream the church service so we can share our faith. 

Parades of cars pass hospitals and people's houses for birthdays.
People make masks for people to wear.

People collect donations of food.
People continue to work on the front lines.
People stay home, doing their part.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for your constant reminder that you are with us during all times, and that a little kindness goes a long way. Help us to remember to do our part today. And to keep each other close in prayer.
Amen  

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