Daily Devotion Thursday, August 17

Thursday, August 17, 2017 – Psalm 63; 2 Samuel 15:1-18; Acts 21:27-36 and Mark 10:32-45

Today, think of a time that you were really satisfied. Maybe as it says in the Psalm it was with an excellent meal. Maybe it was when you completed something that you’d been working on and it was done. Think of that time when you really felt satisfied.

So it is to be and many times over, with our love of and appreciation of God.

Psalm 63 (NRSV) – 4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
6 when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

During these times of turmoil, may we turn unto God and seek God’s guidance and direction.

As I’ve thought about the events of the last few days and all the words spoken and written about them, the following has come unto me.

Hate is not a Christian value/character trait. We are called to hate the sin, but not the sinner. We are called to love others. May Christ’s love for us and for all, guide us these days.

Has hate taken a seat in your life? How are you living out Christ’s call to love others as yourself?

What do you think needs to be our prayer during these days, during these times?

May all God’s people take a good look at their own lives and see where love needs to be lived out.

God has been and is our help in all times of trouble.

O God, throughout these troubling days, with the troubling events here at home and abroad, may we trust in YOU. Guide us as to our thoughts, actions and words that we lift up YOUR love, especially in the face of hate. We’re told, love will conquer all. May it be so, even today. In the name of the one who taught us to love others, even our enemies, namely YOUR Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Daily Devotion Wednesday, August 16

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 – Psalm 62; 2 Samuel 14:21-33; Acts 21:15-26 and Mark 10:17-31

Mark 10:17-31 (NRSV) – 17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”

21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Another way of hearing what Jesus says to the man is; go sell what owns you and give to the poor and you will find the treasures of heaven.

What owns you? What demands your attention or gives you security? Let go of this and trust in God.

23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Here is something I noticed. The rich man asked about eternal life. Jesus turns from this and talks about entering the kingdom of God.

Friends, Jesus invites us to abide in God’s kingdom that is here present with us today. This is not something that is waiting for us. God’s kingdom is present right here, right now and waiting for us to enter and claim being a part of it.

Meditate upon God’s kingdom that is now, is present, is inviting you to enter it. Ask yourself, ask God, what is keeping you from fully entering into God’s kingdom?

28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.”

29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

O Christ, may we not put it off. May we seek YOUR kingdom that is now and that we can enter. May we turn from trusting the things of this world and turn to trusting in YOU, the Lord and giver of real life. This we pray in the name of HIM who came to invite us into YOUR kingdom, YOUR Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Psalm 62 (NRSV) – 1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

“True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn

(Nourishment and refreshment . . . treat yourself to the gift of silence sometime soon.)

(Message of the Day, Daily Spiritual Seed 8/15/17)

Daily Devotion Tuesday, August 15

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 – Psalm 61; 2 Samuel 14:1-20; Acts 21:1-14 and Mark 10:1-16

Mark 10:1-16 (NRSV) – “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

What does Jesus mean when HE says; “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” ?

A child when young trusts, even before the other gives reason for them to trust. A child is open to new things. A child expresses love as he/she receives love. A child is open to adventures and new life. As we get older, we find many reasons not to trust others. Many lose their drive for new life. Many get set in their ways. (I’m including myself in these comments. So don’t think I’m only speaking to you.)

With the openness of a child, may we trust in Jesus who can guide us to experience God’s Kingdom even this day. Not only experience it, but to live in it.

Hear Jesus calling us, you and me, to come unto HIM and experience God’s love, God’s kingdom present this very day.

Here is a link to some pencil drawings of Jesus welcoming the little children.

https://www.google.com/search?q=pencil+drawing+of+Jesus+welcoming+the+children&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjZz5rakdnVAhUD5GMKHZoHA24QsAQIJw&biw=1025&bih=453

Which of these drawings of Jesus welcoming the children do you like best? Why?

Sense yourself being one of the children and Jesus welcoming you.

Psalm 61 (NRSV) – 2b Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
3a for you are my refuge,

O God, YOU are my ROCK, my foundation, in whom I trust. Help me abide with YOU. Thanks for welcoming me. Thanks for inviting me to experience YOUR Father’s kingdom, that is present even this very day. Help me abide on YOUR lap and learn from YOU. Thank YOU, O Christ. Amen.

 

Daily Devotion Monday, August 14

Monday, August 14, 2017 – Psalm 60; 2 Samuel 13:23-39; Acts 20:17-38 and Mark 9:42-50

Psalm 60 (NRSV) – 1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; now restore us!
2 You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open;

I don’t see God has having done this; rejected us, torn our land open. Yet, God has allowed this to happen as our sins stay with us and we are torn apart in many, many ways.

I’m reminded of the saying; “a house divided cannot stand”. Abraham Lincoln said this and so did our Lord, Jesus Christ, (Matthew 12:22-28 & Mark 3:25). So, that is with us these days.

I believe we have to come together to stand up against the evil that is amongst us. The problem comes in defining the evil and then seeing how that evil may even abide in us.

Psalm 60 concludes with the following. (NRSV)

11 O grant us help against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

Amen.

Here is a prayer that was written Saturday evening by The Rev. Jill Duffield, editor of the Presbyterian Outlook – an independent Presbyterian magazine. I find her prayer helpful for the times we find ourselves.

http://pres-outlook.org/2017/08/a-prayer-for-charlottesville/

Here these words of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:42-50 (NRSV) – 49“For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Everyone will be salted with fire – purified, strengthened, that we might be God’s salt unto the world this day. Salt helps preserve.

This day, pray for our country, pray for the world, asking God to raise up leaders and work through our leaders, that new life can be offered to all.

Love is stronger than hate my friends, yet love has to show up to prove that.

O God, help us be YOUR salt unto our world this day. Use us to help share YOUR love with others, proving that love is stronger than hate. O God, guide YOUR people, YOUR body these days. Amen.

Daily Devotion Saturday, August 12

Saturday, August 12, 2017 – Psalm 59; 2 Samuel 12:15-13:22; Acts 20:1-16 and Mark 9:30-41

Continuing from my devotion of yesterday concerning our enemies, I’m going to modify Psalm 59 so it is plural instead of singular.

Psalm 59 –(NRSV)  1 Deliver us from our enemies, O God;
protect
us from those who rise up against us.
2 Deliver
us from those who work evil;
from the bloodthirsty save
us.

3 Even now they lie in wait for our life;
the mighty stir up strife against
us. ….

16 But we will sing of YOUR might;
We will sing aloud of YOUR steadfast love in the morning.
For YOU have been a fortress for
us
and a refuge in the day of
our distress.
17 O
God our strength, we will sing praises to YOU,
for YOU, O God, are our fortress,
the God who shows
us steadfast love.

Thanks be to God, that we can trust in God even as enemies taunt us and threaten to take the lives of many. O God, be with us, guide the leaders of the world and protect us, especially the people in South Korea, Japan and Guam. Amen.

Mark 9:30-41 (NRSV) – 5Jesus sat down, called the twelve, and said to them,

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

How have you been a servant of others? When have you welcomed a little one, one of the least of these? As you have served others and welcomed others you have shown that you are a disciple of Christ. Thanks be to God.

O Lord, Jesus, help me truly be a servant unto others and one who welcomes even the least of these into my life. Guide me, guide us, O Christ. Amen.

Daily Devotion Friday, August 11

Friday, August 11, 2017 – Psalm 58; 2 Samuel 12:1-14; Acts 19:21-41 and Mark 9:14-29

Psalm 58 (NRSV) – Prayer for Vengeance

6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.

Before us today are many who we would call our enemies; ISIS, North Korea. Psalm 58 is a prayer calling for vengeance. As I read this, I hear Jesus’ words to HIS disciples.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NRSV) – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What is my prayer for those whom I see as my/our enemies?

I pray God’s protection upon us, us – the USA and all those who oppose evil. I pray God’s protection of the innocent in North Korea, Muslim countries/regions, all the innocent of the world. I pray for a change of heart of those involved in violence against others. I pray that God’s Spirit can break into their very life, just as Jesus appeared and broke into Saul’s life, Saul who became the Apostle Paul. I pray that God guide our leaders and leaders of our military, to be wise in the use of any of our weapons of mass destruction. I pray for President Trump that God’s Spirit rest upon him and guide him. And I pray that God’s will be done. May all this be so. Amen.

About prayer, Jesus has something to say to us about that.

Mark 9:14-29 (NRSV) – 21Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23Jesus said to him, “If you are able! — All things can be done for the one who believes.” ….

28When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

So, friends, let us pray.

Daily Devotion Thursday, August 10

Thursday, August 10, 2017 –Psalm 57; 2 Samuel 11:1-27; Acts 19:11-20 and Mark 9:2-13

One reason I enjoy doing my daily devotions at the start of my day is to awaken my soul, even as I awaken my whole self to this new day.

Too many people go about their day with souls that are either asleep or clothed in darkness.

This day, may we seek to awaken our soul unto God’s presence that is in us and all about us. If you want there is some good music on YouTube featuring a lyre and harp.

Psalm 57 (NRSV) – 8     Awake, my soul!

Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

Throughout this day, a day that God did not promise us yet is giving to us, let us open ourselves to God’s presence, love and his desire to appear unto us and others through us.

In today’s gospel reading we hear what God said of HIS Son, when HIS Son was transfigured.

Mark 9:2-13 (NRSV) – 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

Then from the Old Testament we hear of King David’s sin. This is why I appreciate the Holy Scriptures, the bad is included amongst the good. I’ll include a link to the whole reading. Today, I’m going to ponder these few words.

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (NRSV) – 2a It happened, late one afternoon,

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+11%3A1-27&version=NRSV;MSG

My how David’s day went from doing good, to doing evil. As you read the text, one can sense David stewing about his situation. What happened one afternoon, lead to other horrible deeds. David stewed over what to do. He couldn’t admit his mistake. He had to cover it up.

May we ourselves be watchful for how easily evil can creep into our very lives.

O God, today awaken my soul unto YOU and may YOU work through my very soul, that which is to be closely connected to YOU, revealing to me sin creeping into my very life. Awaken my soul, even as I awaken to this new day that YOU are giving me, a day YOU did not promise me, yet are giving to me. Thanks be to YOU, O God. May I be YOUR servant throughout this day. This I pray in the name of Jesus of whom YOU said; This is MY Son, the Beloved. Amen.

Daily Devotion Wednesday, August 9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 – Psalm 56; 2 Samuel 9:1-13; Acts 19:1-10 and Mark 8:34-9:1

Psalm 56 (NRSV) – 9b This I know, that God is for me.

11a in God I trust; I am not afraid.

I invite you to say this over and over and over to yourself. Speak it out loud. Say it and really hear it.

This I know, God IS for me.

Wow! What a blessing! What a true gift of life.

Now hear Jesus speaking these words to you.

Mark 8:34-9:1 (NRSV) – 8:34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

True life comes to us as we take up our cross and follow the Christ. We lose the very life offered to us, as we chase after the things of this world.

Hear our Lord, say unto you; (name), take up your cross and follow me.

When I think of the cross, I think of the sacrifice Jesus made for me. So, as I hear this text, I hear Jesus calling us to sacrificial living. Living so that others can have life.

Meditate today upon how God IS for you and the cross you are to take up.

Praise be to YOU, O God, that YOU are for us. What a blessing, what a life giving gift. Reveal to us the cross we are to take up and help us fully follow YOU. For in doing so, we will find real life. Thanks be to YOU, who did this for us, that we might live for YOU and for others. This we pray in YOUR name. Amen.

Daily Devotion Tuesday, August 8

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 – Psalm 55; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; Acts 18:12-28 and Mark 8:22-33

Psalm 55 (NRSV)– 22a Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;

Yesterday at the presbytery meeting we talked about prayer. A good friend of mine, K. O. Noonoo, pastor at Pittsburg Presbyterian Church, Pittsburg, KS, talked about centering prayer.

Today, I invite us to center on this word from God’s word.

22a Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;

Cast your burden on the Lord,

Cast your burden

Cast

Another word in our readings may stand out to you. For me, it is cast. Until I cast my burdens on the Lord, I keep them as my own. Today, let us cast our burdens unto God and let God handle them.

O God, too often I tell you what troubles me, yet I hold on to them. I claim them as my own. This day, may I truly cast them upon YOU, truly allowing YOU to guide me, help me. So, O God, this day, I cast my burdens unto YOU. Casting. … giving them to YOU. Amen.

Daily Devotion Monday, August 7

Monday, August 7, 2017 – Psalm 54; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Acts 18:1-11 and Mark 8:11-21

Mark 8:11-21 (NRSV) – 14Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

15And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out — beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”

16They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.”

17And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

As I focus upon this reading, I think back to the times during my ministry when the session has been concerned about finances. We look at the scarcity instead of what God has done. I recall several elders who proclaimed have faith.

We got through those times by trusting in God, watching our pennies and giving thanks for the gifts of every person. Just as God fed the 5,000 and 4,00o; so God provided and provides for HIS church.

How quickly we fall into fear and looking at the scarcity, instead of God’s abundant gifts.

I can think of many times in my life, where I focused upon my fear of not having, instead of having faith in God who provides all we need and more.

I know of no theology built upon scarcity. What God gives us is a theology, a faith, built upon the many gifts, many blessings God bestows upon HIS people.

Let us not be a people who fear, let us be people of hope.

19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Psalm 54 (NRSV) – 4 … surely, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.

The Message –4 Oh, look! God’s right here helping!
God’s on my side,

O God, forgive us for not trusting in YOU. Forgive us for not having complete faith in YOU. We let our fears overcome us. We turn inward, instead of upward and outward. Forgive us. Open our mind, our heart and our soul unto how YOU have provided, how YOU do provide and YOUR promise to always provide what we need and even more. Thanks be unto YOU, O God. Amen.

Trivia question – What was Paul’s profession? A. carpenter, B. boat maker, C tentmaker, D. physician?

Answer in today’s reading from Acts, Acts 18:1-11.