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Daily Devotion – January 31, 2012
01.31.12

January 31, 2012

Mark1:22

They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

 

Reflection by Juliann Heilhecker

Jesus didn’t just preach through words, he preached through his actions; he lived what he taught.  A person who teaches with authority truly believes in what he/she is communicating and is not hypocritical but stays true to what you believe, treats others with honesty and respect, stays true to God’s word. 

Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me live and teach with authority as Jesus did.  Help me be true to your wisdom through the choices I make, in being just, and in treating others with compassion and love. 

 



Daily Devotion – January 30, 2012
01.30.12

I Corinthians 8: 7-13 

TheDanger of Idols 

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. ‘Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a
stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne 

We, as Christians, have been given great freedom, yet with that freedom comes responsibilities. In this case, the focus of this passage emphasizes that the principle of love must take precedence over the principle of liberty or freedom. Put another way, we as Christians are not only responsible for ourselves but for one another. Paul rebukes the Corinthians’ pride and insists that love trumps knowledge. He grants that believers can celebrate this knowledge, but such knowledge can very easily lead to pride and arrogance. Paul stated the dangers of knowledge when he said, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” 

His point is that those Corinthians who are boasting of their freedom to eat meat that is sacrificed to idols are acting out of arrogance, without any demonstration of love and respect for their Christian brothers and sisters. How many times have you been made to feel inferior when someone who possesses knowledge that is superior to yours and doesn’t hesitate to let you know
it?  That is not acting out of the Christian principles of love and acceptance, but acting out of selfish conceit and individual pride. Socrates, the great philosopher once said, “Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more.” 

 

Prayer: 

Dear God,

Let us remember that it is in loving you we will come to know you. That in the end, it is love that triumphs over knowledge and that we are and always will be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.  It is in your name and your knowledge that we pray.  Amen



Daily Devotion – January 28, 2012
01.28.12

Psalm 111: 10

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

Reflection by Diane Ingram

Fear of the Lord is a phrase repeated over and over in the Bible. The majority of those repetitions are in Proverbs, as “To fear the
Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (
8:13)

There are others in Psalms, as “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.” (34:9)

What does it mean to fear the Lord?  It’s a discomforting question, taking us away from our thoughts of a compassionate and loving God. It was words like these that turned me away from the God of my childhood and teen years. The word fear when used in relation to God made me think of a wrathful parent, someone whipping me into line.  If I didn’t obey such a figure, bad things
would happen, up to and including an eternity spent in eternal punishment.

I did not know then that some commentaries equate the word fear as used in the Bible with reverence and respect, moving away from the concept of punishment. Others say that the word is fear and it means FEAR.  Obviously, words carry shades of meaning.  It’s possible that intense study might bring me closer to what the writers of so many years ago meant by what we now translate as fear. It’s possible, too, that I might miss the point; shades of meaning are subtle.

It would be good to get to the beginning of wisdom, though. Sometimes I feel miles away, uphill, from that starting point. But, fear of the Lord?  Maybe, it means to try to dig deeper, as we are advised to do with any fear. Try to understand. Put attention there.

Prayer:

God of grace, help us as we struggle to reach even that beginning of wisdom.  May the words written by those worshippers of
the one God so long ago bring out the best in us, instead of the worst. 



Daily Devotion – January 27, 2012
01.27.12

Psalms 111: 5, 9

5He provides food for
those who fear him;
   he is ever mindful of his covenant.
9 He sent redemption
to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant forever.
   Holy and awesome is his name.

 

Reflection byJoshua Durst

I am petrified of snakes. I mean… I am petrified of snakes to the point of hyperventilating. Let a spider or bug crawl on me all day—no worries. The dark of night, flying on a plane, public speaking…all have nothing on me.  But… anything bigger than a common earthworm is sure to evoke deep panic.

We all have our fears – some rational while others irrational. Fear can cause us intense anxiety and pain, but also cause us to take actions way out of our comfort zones. Getting past a fear, although difficult and challenging, can certainly cause us to grow and learn.

This scripture lesson includes the word fear. I must admit that “fearing” God is a concept that I have always struggled with in my life, especially in my youth. I would often wonder why I was required by the Bible to fear the sustaining Grace in my life, to fear the embodiment of perfect love and devotion. To be honest, the whole concept of fearing God turned me completely off.

In college, I remember speaking to a friend at the campus ministry I attended about the idea of fearing God and my apprehension of the topic. She shared with me her common experience with the idea, but then shared a revelation that I remember to this day. She encouraged me to substitute the phrase “be in awe of God” each time that I was admonished to fear God. Being in awe of God – now
that is certainly an idea I could wrap my head and heart around.

I am in awe of God in the decision to create me – to give me life. I am in awe of God for giving me amazing people with whom to share my life’s journey – family, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, mentors, and others who touch my life in small and great ways. I am in awe of God for creating an amazing planet from the smallest single celled creature to the blue whale (okay, I might even be in awe of snakes too…)

God’s Love though causes me the most awe. Through my celebrations and struggles, through each path in my journey, it is God who sustains. It is God who dances with me in times of joy, cries with me in times of sorrow, is quiet with me in times of peace, and holds my hand in times of confusion.

It is God. It is God. It is perfection and there is no fear, only awe.

 

Prayer:

Creator Spirit. We are in awe of your amazing Grace and Love. We are grateful for our lives and for all with whom we share our journeys. Teach us to follow your example and live our lives in perfect Love.  Amen



Daily Devotion – January 26, 2012
01.26.12

“He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.”    Psalm 111:4

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

When you say ‘celebrity’, who comes to mind?  Lindsay Lohan?  George Clooney?  Madonna?  

Or, how about ‘famous’.  Kim Kardashian?  The Real Housewives of (whatever)? 

Without trying to sound cynical, I, for one, get tired of hearing about these so-called superstars.  And all those award shows! Ugh! 
With the exception of George Clooney, take off their makeup, and they are just ordinary folks.  The only difference is, they get to dress up and walk the red carpet, and we don’t.  

“He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds,”….how truthful is that!“…the Lord is gracious and merciful.”…you can be sure that God truly loves us; is forgiving, kindhearted, and generous.  

God will not receive an Oscar or Golden Globe for his achievements.  What we can do for God is simply  live according to the words that were written by the prophets, and we can believe in the truths and promises that were taught by Jesus…that is reward enough for our Lord.  And just look at the gifts we will receive in return. 

 

Prayer: 

Thank you for this beautiful day!  Thank you for showing us the difference between right and wrong, and help us to extend your love onto at least one person today in hopes of creating a chain which will strengthen and grow…kind of like paying it forward. 
Amen

 



Daily Devotion – January 25, 2012
01.25.12

“Great are the works of the Lord, studied by
all who delight in them.”  
Psalm 111:2 

Reflection by Gabriela Mills 

This verse, though short, is packed with passion and visual images.  The words ‘studied’ and ‘delight’ are used by my New Revised Standard translation, and these two words jumped off the page when I read this verse.  

Try to imagine what the world looked like at the time the Psalmist wrote this poem. The earth was still intact and untouched.  Yes, there were cities being built, but there were no freeway systems with thousands of cars emitting smog, no city lights to interfere with the view of the stars, no commercial oil rigs set up in the middle of the ocean.  Try to imagine what the moon looked like on a clear night, or the view of a gentle sunset over a lake or on the ocean.  How truly impressive, truly magnificent would all of these things look? 

David also uses the word ‘study,’ and it isn’t a stretch to understand that something so beautiful would be studied.  The magnificence of creation deserves to be pondered, and the Creator admired for the astonishing perfection of all that is.  We, like David, are given the opportunity to find God in all that is around us.  Mother Teresa said it best, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. . .We need silence to be able to touch souls.” 

 

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Accept my hymn of silence today.  Accept my praise of your wondrous creation.  Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this beautiful world, and let me touch others by seeking you first.  Help me be your faithful servant by studying you and all your operations, and help me remain ever mindful that you will meet me in the silence and in the quiet of each moment.  Amen



Daily Devotion – January 24, 2012
01.24.12

“Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.”
Psalms 111:1

Reflection by Rachel Shively 

 

All my heart – all of it, not just some of it – all of it!  Wow!  Someone telling me that if I listen to the upright, the leaders who lead by the love and direction of God, my life will be good.  I wish it was that easy.  Have you really taken a close look lately at the information sources surrounding you?  The TV, the Internet “news”, chat sites, blogs, radio, billboards, newspapers, the people that you deem reliable sources – are they upright?

I have noticed lately that my thoughts have tended to be a little more negative and criticizing. When I took a moment to think about why that might be I realized what my sources of information were the past few weeks. Plus, I reminded myself that I have the ability to let all of that negative go, and focus on the positive, the productive, the upright. The Psalmist knew this lesson so many years ago when all of this technology was not around. Sometimes it is freeing and refreshing to remember the basics. Get your information from those who are upright, and your life will celebrate God’s love.

Journal writing:  Reflect on your own thoughts. Are they positive? Are they negative? Are they productive, or are they stifling? Where do you get your information from these days? Is it biased, or negative? Are the blogs you read productive for your life?  Visualize letting go of all the negative. What will you read or listen to today that is nourishing and productive?

Prayer:

Dear God, information comes at us so fast these days. Help me to filter out the negative, and let you handle it. I want to celebrate your love, God, please help me to encircle myself with the upright council. I pray that my day will focus on the good, the productive, and others will see you in me.  In your blessed and holy name, Amen.



Daily Devotion – January 23, 2012
01.23.12

Deuteronomy 18:15

A New Prophet Like Moses 

15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.

 

Reflection byRochelle Lofstrand

 

Moses was prophesying that one day a prophet, who would be like Moses, would come.  This prophet would speak divine words and that the people ofIsrael should heed his words.  Moses was predicting the coming of Jesus. 

Many of us want to know the future so that we can be prepared for it.  We want to be in control of our destinies and not at the mercy of random events. In this verse, God was speaking through Moses in order to reveal to the people of Israel the coming of Jesus Christ.  He was preparing them for their future.  Are their times in our lives when God is trying to prepare us for our future but we
are not listening to or looking for his signs? If we do hear or see them, are we faithful enough to trust them?

 

Prayer: 

Lord, thank you for always taking care of your people.  I pray that I may trust in you enough to have an open mind and an open heart to your word, however, and through whomever it may come.  AMEN



Daily Devotion – January 22, 2012
01.22.12

As he went a little  farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Mark 1:19-20

 

Reflection by Rev. Kimberleigh Buchanan

 

These “they followed immediately” call stories always puzzle me. What was it that made James and John (and just before them,
Andrew and Simon) suddenly drop everything and follow Jesus?  Had they heard about Jesus and knew who he was?  Had they signed up for the disciple lottery and won?  Was Jesus some kind of super-charismatic guy people couldn’t resist?  Were the sons of Zebedee just fed up with fishing?  What made James and John respond so quickly, so surely, with such certainty to Jesus’ call?

And why is responding immediately so difficult for me?  Why does it take me so long to understand God’s call, forget responding to it?  Why do I hem and haw and fret and worry and try to get all my ducks in a row before I respond to God’s calling in my life?  Why
does responding to God’s call frighten me sometimes? 

Despite the immediacy of Jesus’ call—and the disciples’ response–maybe the more important issue isn’t so much how I respond,
but that I respond.  Maybe that’s the more important issue for all of us. 

Prayer: 

Patient (I hope!) God, thank you for entrusting me with your work in the world. Help me be open to your call when it comes.  And help me respond…as I can.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – January 20, 2012
01.20.12

Psalm 62: 5 – 12

My Soul Waits For God Alone

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is
from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my deliverance and my honour; my mighty
rock, my refuge is in God. 

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out
your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. 

 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all accordingto their work.

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne

David professes his own confidence and faith in God, as well as his dependence upon him and he encourages himself to continue waiting on him. With a great deal of earnestness he excites and encourages others to trust in God and not in any creature.

He also cautions that common people are nothing but a puff of wind and the rich and powerful  are not what they appear to be. “Put no confidence in extortion; and set no vain hopes on robbery.”  In other words, place your trust in and faith in man and it will evaporate and prove false. But put it in God and you will be rewarded with his “steadfast love.”

I am sure we have all placed our trust in a close friend or a relative only to be let down, disappointed, worse yet abandon or mocked. It is a very difficult lesson and the emotional pain can be unbearable. But in God rests your deliverance and your refuge.

Bob Gotti, a poet and Christian, sums it up well in this stanza from his poem titled, “Trusting God:”

I don’t know what will be, or
what God has planned for me,

When I face certain needs, where
ahead God’s Spirit leads,

Or what means, He will raise, for
my needs in coming days,

But as God fills in the blanks,
His Spirit fills me with thanks.
 

Prayer: 

Dear God, 

When I thought I was alone, forsaken by those in whom I had placed my trust only to find it misplaced, you were there. You spoke to me through the veil of deceit and disappointment. I felt your hand on my shoulder, your breath on my face and your words, though few, steadied me. I place my unmitigated trust in you for you and you alone are true of heart. In your name I pray…Amen