Daily Devotion Monday, October 16

Monday, October 16, 2017 – Psalm 12; Jeremiah 36:11-26; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and Matthew 10:5-15

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NRSV) – 4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8a Love never ends. …. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

We hear this passage read at weddings. We associate them with marriage, yet they are meant for so much more. They are meant to help guide us in our daily life with our families and with those outside our homes.

As I read these famous words of Paul, I see how I fall short of God’s word with family and with others. In many ways I think I have done better with others, than I have in the home.

I give thanks for the forgivenss given me by Phyllis, Nathan and Scott and most importantly God. Having been forgiven, I’m called to strive for this life giving way of God, letting love (God’s everlasting love for me) guide me in my daily, moment by moment, relationships in the home and outside the home.

This day, focus upon God’s love shown to you by God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sense God pouring HIS love upon you and into you. Sense how God has forgiven you and called you to this high calling of truly loving others. Hear these words again.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NRSV) – 4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8a Love never ends. …. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Psalm 112 (NRSV) – 1 Praise the Lord!
Happy are those who fear the Lord,
who greatly delight in his commandments. ….

O God, YOU have shown us a more excellent way. Through YOUR Son, Jesus the Christ, YOU have shown us what real love looks and acts like. YOUR love has been poured over us and into us. Now may YOUR love flow through us. May YOUR love guide our actions and words in our homes and outside our homes. May YOUR love guide us in our relationship with those closest to us and even those we have only a casual encounter with this day. May YOUR love help us today and always. Thanks be to YOU, O God, who loves us perfectly and whose love is eternal. In Christ, YOUR love lived in the flesh, we pray. Amen.

Daily Devoition Saturday, October 14

Saturday, October 14, 2017 – Psalm 111; Jeremiah 35:1-19; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3 and Matthew 9:35-10:4

Matthew 9:35-10:4 (NRSV) – 9:35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.

36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

As I read this text and thought about Jesus going about all the cities and villages, I imagined HIM doing that today and what he would find. HE would find people caught in the grips of drug and alcohol addiction/abuse. HE would find people more tied to their jobs, than serving God. HE would find the homeless, the poor. HE would find people who attend church, yet walk away still searching for meaning and purpose. As HE found in HIS day, so HE would find today; people harassed and helpless.

As Jesus spoke the following words to HIS disciples, hear HIM speaking them to you and me this day.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, is sending us out to share his grace, peace and love. This is done in many ways, how can you participate in HIS harvest this day?

In Corinthians today, we hear.

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3 (NRSV) – 12:27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. …31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

We don’t do this work alone, we do it as the body of Christ.

Participate with others in ministering to the hopeless, the harassed, the helpless in our community.

O Christ, today we hear YOU clearly saying to us, participate in my harvest. And we say, how can we do that? May YOUR Spirit guide us, empower us, bring us together in being those who are sent to share YOU with others, that they might discover real life. Thanks be to YOU, O Christ, who sent people unto us and now send us to others. This we pray in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

Psalm 111 (NRSV) – 1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.

4b the Lord is gracious and merciful.

7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.

1 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,

Daily Devotion Friday, October 13

Friday, October 13, 2017 – Psalm 110; 2 Kings 23:36-24:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 and Matthew 9:27-34

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NRSV) – 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. …

14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

I hear many of you saying; “Because I am not _____, I’m not important to the body.” NOT! You are important to the body. “If the whole body were _____, it wouldn’t be a full body. As it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as HE chose.

You are important to Christ’s body, just as _______ is. Each one is important. Just as your body needs each part and all the parts of the body work together to help the body, so you are important to Christ’s body fully functioning as Christ’s body alive even this day.

Our bodies are given to us so that we can live. Christ’s body is brought together so that real life can be offered unto all.

Know you are important to Christ’s body. Let us work together in loving and serving God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let us work together, so that Christ’s body can fully function as God created it to function.

O Christ, help me sense my importance to YOUR body doing all it was created to do. Help me support all the other parts of YOUR body. For it is only together that we can really do all that YOU created us to do. Together, we are YOUR body, each part is important to YOU and that includes me. Thanks be to YOU, O Christ, who has poured out upon each one of us the gifts needed for this day and this time. This is we pray, in YOUR holy name. Amen.

Daily Devotion Thursday, October 11

Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Psalm 109; 2 Kings 23:4-25; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Matthew 9:18-26

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (NRSV) – 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

There are varieties of gifts and services.

When thinking about gifts and services of the Spirit, we find it much easier to tell what gifts others have, instead of mentioning our own. In fact, many believe they got passed over, that God skipped them. NOT! Hear verse 7 and let it sink in.

7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

To each! That means to you too!

Here is a real quick analogy using football. The Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated. The only undefeated team in the NFL this year. How have they done this? Has it been all the quarterback? NO. He did his part, but he didn’t win each game single handily. Has it been all because of their offensive players? NO, the defensive players made significant contributions in each of the 5 wins, yet each win isn’t only because of them. Each has done their part. One game was won because of the rookie kicker they brought in because of the injury to their kicker. He missed his first field goal try but then made the next 3 when called upon. In fact he made the game winning field goal. What a memory for him, yet he only played a part in the win. It took the team.

My friends, God has given you manifestations of the Spirit. Don’t put them under a bushel basket, let them shine, let them shine, let them shine.

This week I have talked with many who are remembering with thanks the life of John Keith. Each one who has talked with me, knew of John’s gifts which were many. We’ll be celebrating them on Saturday morning at 10:30 am at Community Presbyterian Church.

What John would want, what God wants, is for each of us to let the gifts God has given to us, be put to use, in the building of God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.

O God, thanks be unto YOU for how YOU give each of us manifestations of YOUR Spirit. YOU give them to us for the common good, for YOUR good and the good of all. If we are blind to the gifts YOU have given to us, send YOUR Spirit upon us that we might realize the gifts given to us. Forgive us for often burying our gifts, for looking at others with envy because of their gifts, when the gifts YOU give us are just as important for the building up of YOUR body and for the bringing about of YOUR kingdom. Wake us up this day, to the reality of what YOU have given to us. Then guide us in using them that YOU might be glorified. Thank YOU for the life and witness of John Keith. He is missed, yet the gifts YOU gave to him, continues on in the lives of all who knew and loved him. This we pray in the name of the Christ. Amen.

Daily Devotion Wednesday, October 11

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – Psalm 108; 2 Kings 22:14-23:3; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 and Matthew 9:9-17

Matthew 9:9-17 (NRSV) – 9As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

10And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

And Jesus said to Matthew, follow me. I believe Jesus said this in such an inviting way that Matthew did just get up and follow HIM. Matthew didn’t take time to tie up loose ends, he simply got up and followed Jesus. Then he and the others went with Jesus to have a meal with many tax collectors and sinners.

Hear Jesus saying unto you, “follow me.” Hear HIM saying that to you in such a way that you can’t resist. Get up and follow HIM.

The second phrase I’ll be focusing upon today comes from the reading from 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (NRSV) – 23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Paul is speaking of the sacrament of breaking bread and sharing the cup. I believe we can do this as often as we want, as we focus upon what Jesus has done for us.

The phrase from this reading that I’ll be focusing upon is, “Do this in remembrance me of me.” Yet, I’m going to be using this phrase to guide me through this day, not just in the breaking of bread and sharing the cup.

Live today, in remembrance of me.

All that you; think, say and do, do in remembrance of me.

My how that will impact what I do this day, as I live in remembrance of Christ.

Jesus, YOU are calling us to follow YOU. YOU are wanting us to live in remembrance of YOU. Truly YOU can impact us and others, as we seek to follow YOU and live in remembrance of YOU. May this be so this day. Amen.

Daily Devotion Tuesday, October 10

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – Psalm 107; 2 Kings 22:1-13; 1 Corinthians 11:2-22 and Matthew 9:1-8

Psalm 107 (NRSV) – 1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble …

15 & 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.

43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

This day, consider, meditate, upon the steadfast love of God. God’s love had no beginning and it will have no end. God’s love is as high as the highest mountain (Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet) and deep as the deepest places in the seas (Mariana Trench at (36,070 feet). Wow! But no, God’s love is even greater than this for God’s love can’t even be contained in the universe that goes and goes and goes. Wow!

Contemplate today how God loves all people and that includes you.

Give thanks to the Lord for HIS steadfast love.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Sunday morning a member of my church died. He just wasn’t a member of the church, he was the chair of the search committee that offered me the call from God, from them as a committee, to come and be pastor at Community Presbyterian Church. That was over 15 years ago. John Keith was a blessing to many and definitely unto me as pastor of the church. He was loved by many. He touched the lives of many as a friend, as a Christian, as a teacher and then school administrator. He is and will be missed. God’s blessings upon Gretchen and all of John’s family.

I read the following in Friday’s Daily Spiritual seed (10/6/17). I could hear John Keith echoing the sentiments of Mother Theresa.

Smile at each other; smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other- it doesn’t matter who it is- and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other. –Mother Teresa

(Another simple practice that can make a big difference. Give it a try today and see what happens.)

This day genuinely smile at others. It will brighten their day.

O God, I thank YOU for YOUR steadfast love that IS and will be. YOUR love has caused YOU to do mighty acts in the past and we know YOU are now and will do mighty acts in the future. May we put our trust in YOU, knowing YOU love us and want the best for us. The best? To be in an abiding relationship with YOU and through YOU learn how to truly love others. Thanks be to YOU, O God, for pouring out YOUR love upon us. This we pray in the name of YOUR Son, who was YOUR love in the flesh. Amen.

Daily Devotion Monday, October 9

Monday, October 9, 2017 – Psalm 106; 2 Kings 21:1-18; 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 and Matthew 8:28-34

Psalm 106 – A Confession of Israel’s Sins

6 Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.

One of the aspects of the Bible that I really appreciate is how God’s word speaks openly about the sins of God’s people.

One such example is King David and his sin with Bathsheba and having her husband killed. See 2 Samuel 11. Here is a link to this reading.

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

Then in the reading from 2 Kings today, we hear.

2 Kings 21:1-18 (NRSV) – 1Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, following the abominable practices of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. …. 9But they did not listen; Manasseh misled them to do more evil than the nations had done that the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.

10The LORD said by his servants the prophets, 11“Because King Manasseh of Judah has committed these abominations, has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has caused Judah also to sin with his idols; … 13I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line for Samaria, and the plummet for the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.

I wonder when we as a nation will be willing to really talk about our idols and how we worship them? Placing them before even God. How would we carry on that important debate, that very important conversation? I believe there are some trying to do just that, yet we don’t listen. Just as the people of God did not listen to their prophets, but listened intently to false prophets who said what they wanted to hear.

We are no different than our ancestors of old. Is there any hope for us?

Yes, as we open ourselves up attempting to use what God has given to us; HIS Word, HIS Spirit, our mind, our heart, our two eyes and two ears. As we open ourselves up to God and turn from the idols of our day and turn unto God, we will find real life.

The idols of our day? Here are ones I think of; individualism – me, me, me, my, my, mine. Capitalism – in its purest form and how it leads to the worship of money, finances over God. Don’t get me wrong there is good in each of these, but when raised to idol status they lead us away from God and towards the worship of self.

Just my thoughts this day. Pray for our nation, pray for one another, pray that each of us finds our way back to worshipping God as God the giver of real life.

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 (NRSV) – 14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

24Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.

31b whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,

O God, reveal to us all those things that have become our idols and guide us to turn from them and return to worshipping YOU, the God who created us, redeems us and sustains our life. The God who is; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Devotion Saturday, October 7

Saturday, October 7, 2017 – Psalm 105; 2 Kings 19:21-36; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 and Matthew 8:18-27

How do we understand God testing us? I tend to think that it is life that sends us the tests and our trust in God that is being tested.

Psalm 105 (NRSV) – When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.

I’m curious about this phrase; “the word of the Lord kept testing him.” How did God test Joseph? Or who is the “him” that God was testing? The word of the Lord kept testing him. Maybe the word from the Lord was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength.” Maybe this is what is being tested, our doing that during the difficult times of life.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (NRSV) – 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

God has provided us with the way through the testing. We simply, sometimes it is not so simply, trust in God.

Matthew 8:18-27 (NRSV) – 23And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

During times of trial, during times of testing, trust in God who will see you through it, as you trust in HIM.

O God, life sends us trial and temptations. May we not give in to them. May we not give up. During these times may we turn once again to YOU, everlasting God, our rock and our strength. It is YOU who will help us face trials and temptations, coming out stronger in the end. Thanks be to YOU, O Christ, who did just that, showing us the way. Amen.

Daily Devotion Friday, October 6

Friday, October 6, 2017 – Psalm 104; 2 Kings 19:1-20; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 and Matthew 8:1-17

Here are a couple of things that stand out to me in today’s readings.

2 Kings 19:1-20 (NRSV) – ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”

As God did this in ancient times, so may God do this today with the leader of North Korea. May God do this.

Matthew 8:1-17 (NRSV) – 8The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. … 10When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. .. 13And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

Do we have the faith of the centurion? May we trust and believe this day.

Psalm 104 (NRSV) – 19 You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting. ….

21 The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.
23 People go out to their work
and to their labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. …

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being. …

35b Bless the Lord, O my soul. O my soul, bless the Lord.

In the days this Psalm was composed, they believed it was the moon and sun that were moving causing their rising and setting. We know that it is the earth’s rotation that causes this. Yet, God set all this in place so that we could know the day and times of our day and year. Thanks be to God for doing just that. May we put our trust in HIM who created all this and watches over it.

Bless the Lord, O our souls. Our souls, bless the Lord. Amen.

Daily Devotion Thursday, October 5

Thursday, October 5, 2017 – Psalm 103; 2 Kings 18:28-37; 1 Corinthians 9:1-15 and Matthew 7:22-29

Psalm 103 (NRSV) – Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3a who forgives all your iniquity, ….

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments. …

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Phyllis and I have a glass tea pot that we use mostly for making tea. Over time, the bottom has gotten stained. The stain has grown worse over time. For some reason last night, I decided to clean it. I let it soak overnight hoping that would make it easier. These types of stains, buildup, are not easy to remove. Working at it. Getting it off, little by little. Probably layer by layer.

Friends, overtime our sins build up upon our soul if we don’t truly confess them, repent of them and turn from them. Thanks be to God, that God is able and willing to deal with our sins, remove them and the stain that comes from them. “As far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.” Thanks be to YOU, O God.

Friends, confess your sins, repent of them and turn unto God who cleanses you of all sin and gives you new life. Friends, know that God forgives and removes the stains.

Matthew 7:22-29 (NRSV) – 24″Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”

As the song “Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock” says in verse three; build your house on the Lord, Jesus Christ.

O God, thank be to YOU, that YOUR very nature is forgiveness. May we confess our sin, repent of it and seek the new life YOU then give us through YOUR Son, Jesus Christ. In so doing, we will build our life on solid rock. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the rock of all ages. Amen.