Daily Devotion – June 29, 2012

Ephesians 4:16

16From whom the whole
body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped,
as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself
up in love.

Reflection by Angela Gula

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a middle grades science teacher.  On many occasions, students will ask me
questions that I suppose most science teachers might avoid—questions about how
you can believe in God and be a scientist at the same time. How is it
possible???? To me, it’s more like how isn’t it possible.  The more I learned about the human
body—cellular functions, molecular biology, chemistry, physics—the more I realized
that all of it couldn’t  function without
the hand of God involved.

So, just take a minute and think about our bodies—how each system works flawlessly
with the others as we develop, grow, and age. 
With love and care, our bodies survive a life time of wear and tear.
Each human body is a magnificent creation of our God.

The body of our church isn’t unlike the human body. 
Each member of a church is joined and knitted together with each other; there
is no better representation of this than the church community of Pilgrimage.
Just think about the way we strengthen each other through prayer, love, and
support.  Our church body is a
magnificent creation too, thriving because we have built it upon love and take
the time to nurture it on a weekly basis.


Dear God, thank you for all that
you have created. Remind us just how special our bodies our whether they are functioning
at their peak or beginning to fail us. 
Also, help us work to continually strengthen our spiritual body at
Pilgrimage so that we may live to share your love with everyone. Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 28, 2012

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

I’ve been to a funeral today.  Elaine was 91 years old, and I wish I could say, unequivocally, that she had a long, happy life.  For people who had known her only in recent years, that might have seemed an accurate description. Certainly her life was long and certainly she walked out into the community with a smile and a helping hand extended. 

But back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Elaine lived with tragedy.  First, a young son died of leukemia.  Then, a second son was stillborn.  A few years later, a third son was killed as he stepped off the school bus into his yard. I’ve always known her history and always wondered – how in the world did she keep going?  How did she do all of the many kind, productive things she did over the long years after those heart-breaking events? 

For Elaine, her faith in the God of all consolation was a source of sustenance if the time she gave to her church is an indication. She went to the same church – even the same physical building – for over 80 of her 91 years.  Methodists change ministers frequently, and she took successive ministers under her wing, encouraging and helping them.  She was a constant and committed source of strength to the small group of people that met and continues to meet every Sunday in the trim white building that overlooks the mountains. And her good influence extended beyond the church into the community at large. 

Was belief in God and God’s consolation so imbedded in her that she could rely on it absolutely?  She is the only one who knew the answer to that.  She certainly had something. 

Her life could not have been easy, but she made it through in as good and kind a way as anybody could . . . one step at a time, reaching out to others. 


God of all consolation, thank you for Elaine’s life and the lives of others who are able to console.  Help us to keep their example in our minds and hearts.



Daily Devotion – June 26, 2012

Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43 

21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a
great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders
of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and
begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and
lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 

35While he was still speaking, some people came
from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher
any further?’ But overhearing
what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do
not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James,
and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of
the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he
had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child
is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all
outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him,
and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her,
‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got
up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were
overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this,
and told them to give her something to eat.

Reflection by Lynne Buell


Prayer IS powerful.  I want to share a concern that I have had since December. 

This past December, my oldest and dearest friend of 36 years
told me she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. 
She held off telling me because I was going through the death of my
nephew who passed September 19th
The news hit me hard.  I had to
hang up the phone because of the fact that I couldn’t control my emotions.  She understood.  I cried on and off for several days after
that.  I also felt guilty because for the
first time in 21 years, I did not meet her in Hilton Head last June because of financial
reasons.  I was devastated that I might
never see her again.   

Judy and I were like peas and carrots when we both lived and
worked for the same company in Buffalo. 
We shared our deepest secrets, we laughed until we cried many times, and
we supported each other through thick and thin. 
Our friendship outlived two husbands for me…one for her.  It survived long distances as she moved
around for the job and as I relocated for the job as well.  Even as we retired, she (living in
Harrisburg, PA, with her wonderful husband) and me (living here in Marietta, GA,
for 22 years), we had lengthy conversations on the phone and managed to get together
once a year in various places under various circumstances…for the past 5 years
we began meeting in Hilton Head each June where they had a time share.  I could go on and on about our experiences,
but I’m sure while the memories delight me, you would soon become bored.  (Maybe not, but I have neither the time nor
space to continue!)

During her illness, Judy and I continued our telephone
conversations; she initiated the calls because she was facing 18 rounds of
chemotherapy which left her exhausted and I didn’t know when would be a good
time to call.  She would tell me how
these rounds affected her mainly with the loss of hair and weight (she lost 47 lbs.).  Going from an active, healthy woman who loved
Yoga, attending outdoor concerts and dancing under the stars with her husband,
and keeping her immaculate house clean among other things, it had to be
difficult for her to face each day.  Judy’s
faith is also deep-seated; attended church each Sunday and recently becoming a
member of the Stephens Ministry.  I was
trying to prepare myself for the worst while at the same time I prayed and
prayed for her strength.  I prayed for
her husband, Marvin.  What a wonderful
and devoted man he is.  Marvin lost his
first wife to heart disease.  You can imagine
how difficult this is for him.

Judy called me this past Saturday morning.  She sounded like her old self.  She was delighted to share the news she
received after the week’s blood work results came back.  She said her blood count was reduced from 875
down to 35.  She said normal is below
21.  I tried looking this information up
on the internet to understand it more but was unable to find anything specific
with these numbers.  But it was clearly
good news for her and so I rejoiced along with her.  When I mentioned that I wanted to come see
her, she cheerfully agreed after telling me no for the past six months. 

The ‘bottom line’ of this scripture?  Have faith.  Yes, it speaks of Jesus’ miraculous healing
ability.  But read it again.  It tells us all we need is to have faith.  People voiced their bewilderment when Jairus
asked Jesus to come heal his daughter who was presumed dead.  And Jesus merely replies ‘Do not fear, only believe.’  While Judy’s battle is by all means not over,
there is no doubt in my mind that the strength of prayer is real.  


I am overwhelmed with joy at the many miracles I have observed in my lifetime.  Thank you, dearest Lord, for listening to our
prayers.  Thank you, dearest Lord, for answering our prayers.  And thank you, dearest Lord, for loving all of us unconditionally.  Amen.   






Daily Devotion – June 25, 2012

Psalm 42:1-2

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

One of my simplest joys is sitting in my backyard in the late afternoon during the early days of autumn. The sun has become gentle and its tender rays of light seem to find their way through the trees and lightly kiss the grass. The breeze is just enough to send a ruffle across the lake and the ripples glisten like gold. In every direction I look I see evidence of God.

The first two verses of this Psalm pinpoint the yearning for God each of us feel. I would dare say that the yearning is there even if we are unaware of it. I would dare say that the yearning is in all of us – even those who claim to not need God.

Thankfully, we serve a God who is gentle like the sun on autumn day. Thankfully, we serve a God who yearns to be with us and is eager to nourish us just as the flowing stream is provided for the deer. Thankfully, we serve a God who will never turn us away and will always provide for us. Thanks be to God!


Heavenly Father, as the deer pants for water so my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you. Thank you for showing me your face in the beauty of your creation – the beauty that exists all around me. Thank you for meeting me everywhere I go – my backyard, at the kitchen sink, at my desk at work. Thank you for sustaining me with your love today and everyday.



Daily Devotion – June 23, 2012

I Samuel 17:41-49


The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When
the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth,
ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a
dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his
gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your
flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.’ But
David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin;
but I come to you in the name of the Lord of
hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very
day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and
I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds
of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know
that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and
spear; for the battle is the Lord’s
and he will give you into our hand.’

When the Philistine
drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet
the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it,
and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead,
and he fell face down on the ground.


Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand 

This Bible story is better known as David and Goliath.  This is one of the stories that I remember
from my own experience with Sunday school and VBS along with Jonah (and the
whale) and Noah (and his ark).  As I
searched around the Internet looking for ideas for this devotion, I found a
website for an independent creative agency called David & Goliath that will
create “unique and engaging brand experiences.” 
Their website states that they are able to do this type of “out of the
box” work because they are BRAVE and thus their company name.  

Was David’s battle against the Philistine (or Goliath) really about David being
BRAVE?  Now, David definitely showed that
he possessed courage when he ran quickly to the battle line to meet the
Philistine; however, is this story really about bravery?  Why was David able to act the way he did when
faced with this dangerous challenge? 
David had FAITH.  He did not have
the shield, the sword, or the armor that the Philistine warrior had but he did
have one thing . . . faith that his Lord was with him. 

How many times in our life do we have battles to face with things or with people that
seem as big and as scary as Goliath?  Do
we use excuses for not dealing with these things?  Do you feel discouraged, disqualified, and
despondent?  Maybe you feel that you
should not face a particular challenge because of past failures.  Why did Jonah, Noah, and David face the
challenges put before them?  They had
FAITH that if God put a challenge in their paths that God would be with them
through that challenge.  

I am so thankful for learning these stories growing up. 
They gave me courage and reassurance as a child.  Now as an adult, when I re-read them, they
give me those same feelings.  We must
have FAITH that God will get us through all of the challenges that are put
before us.  It only takes one stone, a
sling shot, and a ton of faith to overcome our “Goliaths”!   


Lord, thank you for the stories
in the Bible, like David and Goliath, that help us relate your teachings to
things that we deal with every day.  I
pray Lord that I have the faith today to face any challenge that is put before
me, knowing that you are with me through it all.  AMEN.

Daily Devotion – June 22, 2012

 Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
 And leaving the crowd behind, they took
him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great
windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already
being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke
him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He
woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace!  Be still!”  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
 He said to them, “Why are you afraid?
Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one
another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Reflection by Rev. Kimberleigh Buchanan 

It was the end of a long day of teaching.  By now all the crowds gathering for Jesus’
teaching sessions were large.  Teaching a
group that size must have been exhausting.  I know on those days when, as my father-in-law
says, I “shuck the corn and shell it, too” in my preaching, I’m ready
for a good, long nap. I think Jesus must have been tired…because, though he
is the one who suggests they go to the other side of the lake, it’s his
disciples who gather him into the boat and set sail, taking him “just as
he was.” Did they have to do all this for Jesus because “just as he
was” was exhausted?

When I heard this story as a child, I was horrified that Jesus
decided to sleep in the middle of this terrible storm. I, like the disciples,
took it as a sign of Jesus not caring for the disciples. Now, as an adult of a
certain age, I think he was just plumb tuckered out. Preaching all day to
goodness knows how many people–I’m sure he was exhausted enough to sleep, even
through a fierce storm. 

Then the disciples come and wake him up. He calms the sea, and
then asks them: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Here’s
my question: Have you still no faith in what?  Faith in Jesus to protect them from nature?  I don’t think so. If they were expecting Jesus to still the storm, then why are they so surprised when he does so? 

I wonder–and this idea probably would have gotten me kicked out
of the early church–but I wonder if the faith Jesus was talking about was
faith in themselves. At the beginning of the scene, Jesus is too tired to do
anything. Without a question, the disciples gather everyone into the boat and
set sail for the other side of the lake. They’re obviously very capable seamen;
Jesus trusts them implicitly, it seems. So, when the storm arises, why don’t
they trust themselves, not as people of faith, but as seamen? 

Sometimes, I think we want to seek spiritual answers for our
problems when the real solutions are practical. Having faith in God, trusting
in Jesus–that’s important. But sometimes, we need to have a little faith in
ourselves, too. 


Dear God, 

Help me never to use prayer as a cop-out. I will try never to ask
you to do something that I can–and should–do for myself.  Amen


Daily Devotion – June 21, 2012

Psalm 9:10 

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O
Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.


Reflection by Wayne Scott 

Psalm 9 is a poem of praise – praise for God’s righteousness and
victory over one’s oppressors. Verse 10 offers a reassuring sentiment that if
we trust in God, then we will not be forgotten or rejected. But what does that
really mean? Does it mean that God will obliterate all of our enemies as
suggested by earlier verses of the Psalm? And does it mean that God will offer
us protection from all harm and all evil? What about those who have not yet
found God? Is the psalmist implying that God will give up on those who have not
yet acknowledged his existence or do not yet seek to have a relationship with him?
And how does that fit in with our belief that God’s love is for everyone? 

For me it means that believing in God has a positive impact on the
way that I view and react to life’s experiences – even during those times that
are most trying and difficult. What does it mean for you? 


Lord, thank you for the gift of your
Love and the reassurance that, with you, somehow I will persevere through the
roughest of times and most difficult of circumstances. Amen.


Daily Devotion – June 20, 2012

Psalm 9:9 

God’s Strength 

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.


Reflection by Monty Wyne 

Psalm 9 is predominantly praise for God’s deliverance from hostile
nations. It concludes with a short prayer for God’s continuing righteous judgments.
The ninth verse is one of affirmation and strength, a clarion call to those who
stand in the face of adversity, hardship or danger. It is to let us know He is
there to stand by you to provide courage and support, to help you weather the

The word stronghold offers comfort and protection. It is defined as a
well-fortified place, a fortress. I’m sure there have been times when we’ve all
sought a fortress, but how many times have you looked for that fortress in God?
We may turn to a friend or a family member because of his or her physical
presence. Or because we can talk to them and they in turn will answer. But we
can’t see God. We can’t hear his answer. Yet, He is always present.

It is hard to turn to God sometimes, especially when facing extreme
situations. We want immediate relief—a way out. We want to see the light at the
end of the tunnel right now or the calming sight of peace and hope in the
rising sun. I have found myself in this situation, at times desperate, at
others hopeless. But those times I have looked up and asked God for his help,
his strength and his wisdom I feel him quietly shelter me, calm my beating
heart, still my racing mind and yes, offer me a stronghold.


Dear God, 

May we all seek and find a stronghold in You in times of trouble.  Amen











Daily Devotion – June 19, 2012

John 15:9-17

As the Father has
loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments,
you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and
abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in
you, and that your joy may be complete.

This is my
commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater
love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if
you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the
servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends,
because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear
fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask
him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one


Reflection by Jim Kennedy

The theme of this parable is abiding in, remaining in, staying in Jesus’ abiding
love. The source of this love is Jesus abiding in the love of the Father and
which flows from the Father to the Son.

The commandment then is to abide, stay, and remain in Jesus’ love. It is to focus
on Jesus’ love and to stay in that. When Jesus first says, “If you keep my
commandments, you will abide in my love,” one can ask “What have his commandments
been?” They’ve been to trust him and to follow him.

Jesus’ love for his disciples was as great and wonderful as the Father’s love for his
Son within the Trinity. He then tells the disciples to continue in his love for
them implying that it is possible to break that union.

Abiding in Jesus’ love is not some mystical thing. Jesus makes it clear what it means
to abide in his love: it is to keep his commands. Jesus again appeals to his
relationship with his Father; in the same way he obeyed the Father they are to
obey him. Obedience does not define the love – otherwise it would be a painful
duty – but is the result of love. The love Jesus and the Father enjoyed
resulted in Jesus always doing the things that pleased the Father.

The second paragraph begins and ends with the commandment that the disciples are to
love one another. They are to love as Jesus loved them. They are to love as
Jesus loved them. And Jesus wanted the disciples to abide in his love and love
each other with transparency, not as servants who do not know what the master
is doing, but as friends, equals, who know everything that the master has heard
from on high. If modern humanity were only as transparent and equal about love
for others as Jesus taught there might not be as much turmoil, deception, and
misunderstanding in today’s world.


Dear Lord, I pray that I may abide
in your love and love all as equals and let all know what I have learned from
you and your son Jesus.

Daily Devotion – June 18, 2012

Psalm 42:1-2

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for
you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When shall I come and behold the face of God?

Reflection by Joyanna Wyne

Here the psalmist describes his relationship with God, using
the imagery of water to make the distinction between mere desire and urgent
need.  This timeless metaphor remains
relevant even today. 

a deer longs for
flowing streams….”
  We witness the
deer’s need for water firsthand as, their habitats receding, they boldly
encroach on our neighborhoods.  Despite
knowing this, it still took me by surprise the first time I saw a deer running
from the creek behind my house.

“My soul thirsts for
  When I go for a long run, I
like to listen to music, but it’s not essential.  On the other hand, as much as I dislike the
encumbrance of carrying a water bottle, I can’t survive the run without

When shall I come and
behold the face of God?”
  How can we
slake our thirst for God?  We must
continually go to the well of his word, reading and reflecting on
scripture.  We must remain in prayer,
giving thanks and seeking guidance.  We
must join together with our faith community in worship.  It is good to be thirsty!


God of our longing,
just as we seek water to quench our thirst, may we seek to know you through
scripture, prayer and worship.  We give
thanks, not only for life-giving water, but for the spiritual water that
sustains our souls.  Amen.