Daily Lenten Devotion Saturday, February 24

Saturday, February 24, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 31; Genesis 41:1-13; 1 Corinthians 4:1-7 and Mark 2:23-3:6

Psalm 31 (NRSV) – 3   You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4   take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5   Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

15a  My times are in your hand;

I’m really struck by this phrase – my times are in YOUR hands. The times we live in? Yes. And our very lives as well. We are in God’s hands and it is God who watches over us, keeps us, guides us from all evil and promises us new life. Our times truly are in God’s hands.

Two phrases from Father Paul Jones’ “A Daily Office” come to mind.

Lauds [morning prayer] – For YOU are indelibly with us, as YOU make our history YOUR own.

Vespers [Sundown] – At the close of this day, gift us with the refreshment of knowing that this day we have been co-creators with you.

This all seems to mean that we need to watch what we are doing for what we do becomes history and is a part of God’s history. Just look at David and Bathsheba and what David had done to Uriah the Hittite. Ouch.

What will you seek to do with this day that God is blessing you with? How will you seek to honor God and be pleased with how you blessed God and others throughout it?

Today, I’ll be in Fort Scott, Kansas attending the meeting of John Calvin Presbytery. It will be good to see colleagues, remember elders past, welcome new colleagues in ministry and celebrate the ministry of different churches. Prayers for our safe travels to Fort Scott and back.

O God, thank YOU for this day that YOU did not promise us, yet are giving to us. May we seek to honor YOU and serve YOU throughout it. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lenten Devotion Friday, February 23

Friday, February 23, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 105; Genesis 40:1-23; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 and Mark 2:13-22

Psalm 105(NRSV)  – 4   Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
5   Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,

Remember what God has done. Take a few minutes to remember what God has done for you. Yes, remember HIS sending HIS Son for you, yet what I’d like us to do today is remember what God has done for you. What first comes to mind as you think about what God has done for you?

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

What comes to mind for me is God’s call for me to be pastor of Community Presbyterian Church and pastor to the community. Sixteen years ago, I heard that call. Each year since my sense of call has grown as God helps me care for the people of the church and the community. Little did I know all this call would entail and what a blessing it would be.

Thanks be to YOU, O God. As YOU gave me this gift several years back, so help others sense YOUR presence in their life and what YOU have done for them.

1 Corinthians 3:16-23 (NRSV) – 16Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

What does it mean to you that you, your body, mind and soul is the temple for God’s Spirit?

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

The following is a note to myself. I need to tend to God’s temple and exercise 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days of the week. I also need to cleanse the temple of anything that is unclean, so I can be open to God’s Spirit within me.

O God, thanks be to YOU for how YOU participate in my life. I give thanks for all the God moments along the way. Help me cleanse my body, mind and soul of anything unclean, that I might be more open to YOUR Spirit abiding within me. May this be so, O God. This I pray in YOUR Son’s holy name. Amen.

Daily Lenten Devotional Thursday, February 22

Thursday, February 22, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 126; Genesis 39:1-23; 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15 and Mark 2:1-12

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15 (NRSV) – 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Today I invite you to think about your foundation of faith, Jesus Christ, and then all those who has helped build upon it. The pastors and friends that has help build you up in the faith. Give thanks for each one and how they helped you.

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

You may want to begin this, this morning or when you read this and continue it throughout the day. Add to your list as people come to mind.

One person I give thanks for is my grandmother Ackerman who introduced me to different theologians whom she had read and how each helped her in building her faith. I remember many a good conversation with her. Can’t remember what was said, but do recall how important the faith was to her.

Think about how others will list you on their list as one who helped them grow in the faith. Give thanks for how God touched their life through you.

Psalm 126 (NRSV) –3   The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

THE Lord has done great things for us! Let us rejoice, be glad and give God all the glory!

O God, thank YOU for all YOUR servants who have helped plant YOUR seeds in our life. Others came along and watered these seeds and YOU gave the growth. Thanks be to YOU for how we have grown in the faith and are growing in the faith even this day. We give thanks for our sure foundation, YOUR Son, Jesus Christ. It is on this foundation that YOU are building even this day. Thanks be to YOU, for how we are a part of the greater body of Christ and carry out HIS work together. Amen.

Daily Lenten Devotion Wednesday, February 21

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 5; Genesis 37:25-36; 1 Corinthians 2:1-13 and Mark 1:29-45

Psalm 5 (NRSV) – 3   O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;

Mark 1:29-45 – 35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.

This day, I invite you to use Psalm 5 as a guide to your morning prayer.

1   Give ear to my words, O LORD;
give heed to my sighing.
2   Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3   O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

Pause and be silent before God.

4   For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
5   The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6   You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

Pause and be silent before God.

7   But I, through the abundance of YOUR steadfast love,
will enter your house,
(only because of God’s grace given us through HIS son.)
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in awe of you.

8   Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

Enemies take many forms, they can reside even within our very selves. I also recall Jesus’ words saying; “Pray for your enemies.”

9   For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
10  Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

Pause and be silent before God.

11  But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.
12  For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.

O God, reveal to us our sin, those things that abide in us that are enemies of YOUR holy ways. Guide us to true repentance and let us to YOUR path of righteousness and new life. Protect us from our enemies; those who would take innocent children’s life. Those who threaten your peace with war. Terrorists who are even planning this day, their next attack. In the face of all our enemies, help us live the life YOU call us to live in Jesus Christ and guided by YOUR Spirit. For in doing so we become YOUR seeds of new life to others. Thanks be to YOU, O God, for hearing our prayers and speaking unto us through YOUR Spirit. In Christ’s name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:1-13 (NRSV) – 9But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” – 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Daily Lenten Devotion Tuesday, February 20

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 34; Genesis 37:12-24; 1 Corinthians 1:20-31 and Mark 1:14-28

Mark 1:14-28 (NRSV) – 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

And Jesus today says unto us; “Follow me.”

1 Corinthians 1:20-31 (NRSV) – 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. …. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters. Why do you think God called you? Your wisdom/knowledge? Strength? Your power in the world? Your genealogy? No … Because of HIS love of you. Because God knew what HE could accomplish through you, as you come unto HIM and follow HIM.

Psalm 34 (NRSV) – 3   O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together. …

8   O taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.

In catching up on some devotions I hadn’t gotten to, I read the following.

A life devoted unto God, looking wholly unto Him in all our actions, and doing all things suitably to His glory, is so far from being dull, and uncomfortable, that it creates new comforts in everything that we do.

… William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728]

Daily Spiritual Seed February 15, 2018 Message of the Day

This caused me to ask myself; “what gives me comfort?” My work and the pay I get from doing it. My family. My relationship to Phyllis. My home, that both Phyllis and I consider our sanctuary. Living in and being a citizen of the United States of America. I could go on. All this will one day pass away. One day, we’ll have to find our true comfort in God. So, why not now? Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John away from the comforts they knew – fishing and their families. Jesus eventually gave them new comfort, HIS rising from the dead, showing that it is HE who holds the keys to real life.

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

Thanks be unto God that God can be and is, the water of life and bread for the world. It is He who can give us real comfort, peace and life. Jesus said; “repent, and believe in the good news.” May we seek to do just that this day.

O God, let us hear YOU saying unto us this day; “come, follow me”. Then may we get off our seat and journey with YOU into this day. A day YOU did not promise unto us, yet are giving to us. May we watch for opportunities to share YOUR love, YOUR good news, YOUR peace with others. Open up our heart, mind and soul to YOU, O Lord. This we pray in YOUR holy name. Amen.

Daily Lenten Devotion Monday, February 19

Monday, February 19, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 119:73-80; Genesis 37:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-19 and Mark 1:1-13

1 Corinthians 1:1-19 (NRSV) – 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  ….

Psalm 119:73-80 (NRSV) – 73  YOUR hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn YOUR commandments.

God loves you. God loves all of you. God created and creates every cell of your body and loves each one.

1 Corinthians 1:1-19 (NRSV) – 9God is faithful; by HIM you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Meditate upon these things.

God IS faithful.

God called and calls you into fellowship with HIS Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

Wow! That’s what comes to mind for me.

Wow, God loves all of me. God doesn’t like all the things I think, say and do; yet, God loves me and calls me into relationship with HIS Son.

God truly is faithful. Wow! Thanks be to YOU, O God. Give me understanding of YOUR commandments, that I might follow YOUR ways.

Take a 2 – 3 minutes to be silent with God, listening for God’s word to you.

O God, thank YOU for being true love. Thank YOU for creating me and calling me to be in relationship with YOU: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through my growing relationship with YOUR Son, may I see how I stray from YOUR ways, following my own ways. Then may I see YOUR holy ways, the ways that lead to real life for me and for others. Throughout my Lenten journey may this be so for me, for others, for all. That would be nice. This I pray in the name of YOUR beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lenten Devotion Saturday, February 17

Saturday, February 17, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 43; Ezekiel 39:21-29; Philippians 4:10-20 and John 17:20-26

Philippians 4:10-20 (NRSV) – 11Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Chapter 4 of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is entitled “Journey Through the Wall.” The wall can be most anything that causes us to really pause and think about our faith. In fact the wall (dark night of the soul) brings about such feels as;

  • I am bewildered.
  • I don’t know what god is doing right now.
  • I am hurt.
  • I am angry.
  • Yes, this is a mystery.
  • I am very sad right now.
  • God, why have YOU forsaken me.

As we deal with hitting the way, one part of the journey is to learn to detach from the things of the world, so we can truly attach ourselves unto God.

On page 114 the author says;

The critical issue of the journey (journey through the wall – not around it) with God is not “Am I happy?” but “Am I free?” Am I growing in the freedom God gave me?

The secret to the true freedom offered us in Christ is to be free of attachment to the things of this world and truly attached to the Christ. Many seek this. Few find it because we love the things of this world more than we love God. Simple fact.

This day notice what you are attached to, what makes you feel good, feel safe, feel secure.

One of the prayers in Father Paul’s A Daily Office has us pray the following.

Take Lord, receive – All my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.
Give me only YOUR love and YOUR grace; That is enough for me.

Take, Lord receive – All I have and possess, YOU have given to me. Now I return it to you.
Give me only YOUR love and YOUR grace; That is enough for me.

Take, Lord receive – All is YOURS now. Dispose of it wholly according to YOUR yearnings.
Give me only YOUR love and YOUR grace; That is enough for me.

(Compline [Bedtime])

If it only was as simple as praying a prayer. Yet, often it takes our struggling to let go and grab hold of Christ who promises that HE is; the bread of life and the spring of eternal water.

John 17:20-26 (NRSV) – 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

O Christ, as we continue our Lenten journey, our journey striving to truly connect with YOU, help us let go, so we have empty hands with which to take hold of YOUR hand, so we can walk with YOU and talk with YOU about life. Real abundant life. Thanks be to YOU, O God, for it is YOU who journey with us in the darkest valleys of life and guides us to YOUR holy light and love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 43 (NRSV) – 3   O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
4   Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;

Daily Lenten Devotion Friday, February 16

Friday, February 16, 2018 – Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God. Center yourself in the Christ. Open yourself up to listening for HIS word unto you.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 105; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Philippians 4:1-9 and John 17:9-19

Psalm 105 (NRSV) – 4   Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
5   Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, …

Remember what God has done. Remember that God IS love. Remember how HE created YOU and gave and gives you breath. Remember …

Take a couple of minutes to remember. ….

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 (NRSV) – 30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.

Part of our Lenten journey is knowing our sin and repenting of it, receiving forgiveness and turning unto God’s holy ways.

Part of us dies as we sin, for it takes us away from Christ’s light and love and leads us to darkness. Our desires, our wants, our …. Often is what leads us away from God’s light and love and towards darkness. Jesus our Lord said; Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 4:7).

When we repent of our sin and turn to Christ’s holy ways, new life is given to us.

As our text says; 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!

Philippians 4:1-9 (NRSV) – 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Friends the good things we have learned, the good we have been given by God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; let us keeping on doing these things. Let us make them our good habits, for in doing them we find ourselves dwelling with the Christ and Christ dwelling with us.

What are these good things. Many things yet they all spring from Christ’s command for us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. And love others as our self.

Repent of your sin and turn unto the Christ who gives real life.

Hear now Christ’s prayer for HIS disciples and for us.

John 17:9-19 (NRSV) – 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

And all God’s people say, Amen.

Hear now these words from Philippians.

Philippians 4:1-9 (NRSV) – 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Daily Devotion Thursday, February 15

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Invitation to Lent 2018

Well, Lent began with Ash Wednesday. So today, I invite us all to come into this season open to the possibility of meeting the Christ. The Christ whom at the conclusion of Lent we’ll remember gave HIS life for us. Christians have different traditions for Lent; giving up something, taking on something new. What’s important is our reflecting on our need for a savior, making space in our heart for HIM and listening to HIS voice that is always saying; “follow me.”

For me during this Lenten season, I’m going to be seeking to tap into Christ’s promise that HE IS the stream of living water. I’m going to seek this, so that Christ can quench my thirst and fill me full.

As we have recently, so we will continue to do. Let us begin with 2 – 3 minutes of silence and open ourselves up to God.

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.

Scripture Readings – Psalm 27; Habakuk 3:1-18; Philippians 3:12-21 and John 17:1-8

Psalm 27a (NESV) – 1   The LORD is my light and my salvation; …

4a   One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after: …

(For me, to drink, no not just drink but take huge gulps from the living waters promised to us by Christ. In other words, to drink fully with and of the waters Jesus offers us.)

What do you seek after?

Take 2 – 3 minutes, thinking about what you seek after.

11 a&b  Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path …

13  I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14   Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Philippians 3:12-21 (NRSV) – 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. ….

Lent/life is a journey seeking the Christ, seeking to become closer to HIM. Join me and many, many others in that quest.

John 17:1-8 (NRSV) – 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Eternal life begins NOW as we trust and believe in the Christ.

Today’s reading from Philippians raises an important question for me, for us.

Philippians 3:12-21 (NRSV) –20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

What difference would it make, if all Christ’s people lived as citizens of heaven, God’s kingdom, instead of as citizens of any particular country?

How would that change your perspective, change how you go about life?

O Christ, as the winds blow through the valleys this morning, may YOUR Spirit blow upon YOUR people, YOUR holy body, that we might live seeking everlasting waters. Live seeking to help others have full life. I give thanks this day for the mission team that is in the Dominican Republic installing a clean water system. May you bless their efforts and bless the people with clear, clean water. Thanks be to YOU, O Christ, for the gift of this day. Another opportunity to drink deeply of YOU and go forth to serve and glorify YOU. This we pray in YOUR holy name. Amen.

Daily Devotion Wednesday, February 14 (Valentine's Day & Ash Wednesday)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday

To begin; I invite you to take 2 – 3 minutes to be silent before God; Silence, stillness and centering in God. As I begin, what I have found helpful is praying; “Come, Lord Jesus.” It’s my way of inviting the Christ into my present moment, as I seek to be with him.

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.

Scripture Readings – I divert today from the Daily Lectionary, as it is Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. An interesting mix of special days.

First Reading; John 21:15-19 (NRSV) – Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?”

Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? Peter responds; “Yes, Lord; YOU know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

A second time Jesus said to Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter responds; “Yes, Lord; YOU know that I love YOU.” “Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus said to Peter a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because HE said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And Peter said to HIM, “Lord, YOU know everything; YOU know that I love YOU.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

After all this, Jesus says to Peter, “Follow me.”

First off what catches my attention is how the first time Jesus asks Peter the question, “Do you love me” he attaches “more than these?” More than the other disciples. I do not think that is what Jesus is referring to. More than Peter’s livelihood of fishing. They had just been out fishing and again caught – nothing, zero, zilch. They had once again gotten skunked. Yet, when they do as Jesus said, fish on the other side of the boat, they caught a plenty. So, I think Jesus’ question is referring to Peter’s livelihood, where he got his paycheck, fishing, where Peter found life.

As I asked that question of myself, the day before Valentine’s Day, what I heard was; Dennis, do you love me more than … Phyllis? Nathan, Scott, Mackenzie? Do you love me more than your possessions; your house, your cash, your investments, your pension? Do you love me more than your being pastor to the people?

I strive to love the Lord, our God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Yet I know I come up short. I also strive to love others as my self.

As I contemplated my love for God, what I realized is that my love for God springs forth from what God has done for me, for us, in sending us HIS Son.

For God so loved the world that HE gave HIS only SON, so that everyone who believes in HIM may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through HIM. (NRSV) John 3:16 & 17

Thanks be to God. In return for God’s love poured out upon me, I seek to show my love of God and others by feeding God’s lambs, tending God’s sheep and feeding God’s sheep. As God asked Peter three times, do you love me. So this day, God asks us three times; “Do you love me?” May we answer as Peter answered, “Love YOU know I love YOU.”

Second readings; 1 John 4:16b God IS love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.  (NRSV)

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us love, not in word and speech, but in truth and action. (NRSV)

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love IS from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NRSV)

Thanks be unto God for sending the real gift of Valentine’s, HIS beloved Son, who showed what true love is all about, when HE gave HIS life as the eternal sacrifice for our sins. This Valentine’s day, rejoice in God’s love given unto YOU and show YOUR love of God by loving others as your self.

Thought from a morning prayer I read this day. “I hunch that to be loved unconditionally by YOUR Love is better than life itself.” (A Daily Office by W. Paul Jones in his Vigils [Upon Arising] prayer.

Because this is Ash Wednesday, as well as Valentine’s Day; here these familiar words of Ash Wednesday.

From dust we came. Hear Genesis 2:7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed life into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. (NRSV)

Hear also from Genesis 1:26 The God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; …. 27 So God created humankind in HIS image, in the image of God HE created them; male and female HE created them.

“Rember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to remember and say about you? How will that help you in your daily living?

Take 2 – 3 minutes to be silent before God; listening for your thoughts and God’s word to you.

Just a reminder, the Ash Wednesday service at Community Presbyterian Church, in Forsyth, MO will start between 6 and 6:15. It will be preceded by Robin Hurst teaching those present about Centering Prayer and how it can help us during on Lenten journey. If you can’t make ours and want to attend one, Phyllis is having Hollister Presbyterian’s at 12:30 at their church.

O God, thank YOU for pouring out YOUR love upon us and upon the world. May we show our thankfulness and our love of you through all we think, say and do this day. May we be surprised as to how YOU use us to give YOUR valentine to another this day. Thanks be to YOU, O God, for this day to remember that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. May that help us as we seek to live with YOU and for YOU this day and every day of our life. Your love is truly greater than any we’ll experience upon this earth and greater than life itself. Thanks for saying, I love you, to me, to us, to all. This we pray in Christ’s holy name. Amen.