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Daily Devotion – August 31, 2012
08.31.12

James 1:5

 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who
gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

 

Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker 

Wisdom – According to the dictionary it is: “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” 

I reflect on the word wisdom and
how I feel I am lacking, that if I simply ask God I will receive it. But I have
to ask but did I already get the answer and I just didn’t hear it. I reflect
back in my childhood when my grandfather would share those moments with me that
felt so boring (ah youth) and cast aside. One passage that I recall him saying
to me was “Wisdom comes in many forms and only when you work for something do
you get it”.  

Jesus passed his wisdom
through what was said and his actions which ended with the ultimate physical
price; did he give us wisdom in his actions? He felt at the time it was
necessary to go to that length to pass his wisdom on to us all.

 

Prayer: 

I ask for wisdom and more each day in my prayers and
hope for the ability to pass along to those around me the opportunity to share
and expand. I wish you all a blessed day and the world is available to you to
fulfill your life. Amen!



Daily Devotion – August 30, 2012
08.30.12

Ephesians 6: 19-20 

The Armor of God 

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with
boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.
Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
 

Reflection by Monty Wyne 

Paul asks for prayers to reinforce and
bolster him for the battle ahead—prayers that will strengthen his voice and
sense of purpose, as he reveals the mysteries of the gospel. When he says, “I
am an ambassador in chains,” he speaks of his strong commitment to God’s word.
He is bound to the gospel and wants to share the importance and significance of
the word with others. 

We too are ambassadors of God’s word and
every day we have an opportunity to let that knowledge make a difference in the
lives of those we encounter. We can provide words of encouragement and comfort
to those in pain or in trouble. We can listen to those who want to find peace
in their hearts. We can offer a shoulder to those who need someone to lean on.
These little things can make a big difference in the way we conduct our lives
and the way we help and support others. 

How have you applied the words of the
gospel today? How will you apply them tomorrow? Questions that make us think
about what we can do to make this a better world. 

 

Prayer: 

Dear God,

I pray that I will become a more worthy and compassionate ambassador of the
mystery of the gospel.         Amen

 



Daily Devotion – August 29, 2012
08.29.12

Ephesians 6:18

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end
keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Reflection by Angela Gula

Prayer. Simple, heartfelt, a conversation with God. Prayer sounds so easy, but
if you’re anything like me, it’s anything but easy. I struggle to find the
right words, the right time, the right state of mind. This verse is a great
reminder of what prayer is all about. First, pray “in the Spirit”
reminds us that prayer is a time to let the Spirit work in us and through us.
We don’t always need to find the right words and we shouldn’t always say the
same prayer–let the spirit guide our conversation with God. The next portion
of the verse, “at all times in every prayer” reminds us to not only
pray when we are in need of healing or forgiveness, but to pray as a way of
giving thanks and praise for all that we have in life. The verse concludes by
reminding us that our prayers aren’t just for us, but rather for all the
saints. Our prayers should stretch beyond our own walls, our own lives, our own
needs and consider the needs of our greater world.

It seems simple–it’s easy to read about prayer and even write about prayer.
The challenge for me–putting these words into action.

Prayer:

Dear God,
praying seems like it should be so simple, but often times it’s not. When we
think we don’t have time to pray, remind us that we do. When we think we won’t
find the right words, remind us that the words aren’t as important as the
process. When we don’t feel the spirit in our prayers, help us focus. Amen.



Daily Devotion – August 28, 2012
08.28.12

Ephesians 6:17 

Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

Reflectionby Diane Ingram 

Military terms.  Helmet.  Sword.  They remind me of those who take the Bible
and use it as a weapon, telling us exactly what it says, exactly what it means
– and they know.  

We all bring our own background story to what we read, to
what we hear.  We see what we’re looking
for.  And, right now what repeats in my
background is the constant ringing of righteous certainty.  It’s everywhere:  what friends and acquaintances say, what
people post in social media, the news, signs on the courthouse wall.  But, for this writer of Ephesians, the
surrounding event was Roman occupation. Daily he saw the protective helmets of
soldiers.  He likely saw the swords put
to use.  For that writer, these were
strong, familiar symbols.  He could not
know that his writing would be picked up 2,000 years later and seen in an
entirely different way by other individuals. 
Some would see it as declaring that they must be militant about their
faith.  Others would see that militancy
as a destructive thing. 

If I try hard, I can – for a moment or two – see helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit as good things, protections
against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms
. (Ephesians
6:12).  A helmet protects the head, seat
of our thinking, and every religion tries to guide us in that.  What we think is what is true for us and Jesus
Christ gave us beneficial ways to think. 
Swords represent action, and Jesus also showed us that – actions that
sprang from his caring and compassion. 

But, that’s a stretch for me, personally.  Helmet. 
Sword.  All the rhetoric centered
around the word of God says, that
certainty that denies any compromise
that’s what these words bring to my mind these days.  Perhaps in less contentious times, they would
seem more protective than aggressive. 

Prayer: 

Holy One who surrounds
us, help us to remove some of the protections that close our minds and
constrict our hearts.  Help us to spread
our arms wide in the way that Jesus taught.



Daily Devotion – August 27, 2012
08.27.12

Ephesians 6:16

In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you
will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 
(NASB) 

Written by Don Tawney’s Dad 

The Church Jesus Christ loved and gave Himself up for; of this Church the Lord God declared, “I
will be the glory in her midst.” (Zech. 2:5) In every generation the
Church has had her enemies and experienced spiritual warfare. God equips and
protects His own possession, His people. God has His fighting gear, His armor.
We cannot equip ourselves; we cannot use our weapons. Human weapons or battle
gear cannot defeat the spiritual forces of wickedness in the Heavenly places.
Without God’s strength, the evil one, the devil, will destroy you. 

We are supposed to put
on the whole armor of God. It is God’s armor; He prepares it for us to do what?
To stand firm against the schemes of the devil! We need all of it; the Truth of
God’s Word, which is the sword of the Spirit. Christ is our Righteousness; We
need that. We need our shins and feet protected from the devil’s “bear
traps” and sharpened staves which would stab our feet. If there is a naked
or exposed part of our body, the devil will shoot a flaming dart there to wound
us. Our feet are important because they are for walking in a steady pace in the
Gospel of peace. God’s peace gives us confidence before Him and perseverance to
remain true to His will. We must wear the helmet of Salvation, our hope of
eternal Life, secured by Jesus Christ. 

Of offensive armor, the
warrior carried a door-like, oblong shield, four feet long by two feet.
“Above all,” or over all, covering all the body, the shield could be
turned side to side to protect the soldier from flying arrows. 

Most important, we must
carry the shield of faith. Without the shield of faith, we would be under the
most severe attack, and sure to retreat in time of warfare. You know, Scripture
says “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” (Heb. 11:6) The
scripture also says “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and
this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (I John 5:4) 

 

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for giving Jesus to bear our sins and protect us with
the full armor of God.

 



Daily Devotion – August 26, 2012
08.26.12

Ephesians 6:15

…and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

As a female, the right shoes are all about looking
cute.  Am I right, ladies?  I mean, would you wear a pair of tennis shoes
when you’re all decked out for a night of dancing?

I have a pair of stunning silver sandals with a medium heal and rhinestones around the toe strap. 
Gorgeous!   I’ve worn them about three times since I
bought them a couple of years ago.  Each
time I wear them, they top the outfit off to a tee.  But halfway through the evening, I end up
taking them off because my feet are KILLING me! 
I guess I should give them to Goodwill or something, but instead I put
them back in the box hoping that the next time I wear them they will be as comfortable
as wearing a tennis shoe.

If you are a soldier, on the other hand, your shoes, or boots,
have to be sturdy.  Otherwise you couldn’t
stand firm against the enemy.   Does this
scripture refer to us as the feet that will spread the Good Word?  And if so, are we prepared to do this?

Prayer:

I pray that I as a believer, I will always be ready to share the gospel.



Daily Devotion – August 25, 2012
08.25.12

Excerpt from Mark 6:35-44

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.  And all ate and were filled.”

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

When I was a student in divinity school, I attended a gathering of the faculty where a professor of New Testament read a paper about this passage, the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.   The scholars present entered into the kind of debate that is common in the academy.  They argued about the veracity of the account, its various literary and historical influences, and presented different theories about how the story had taken its final canonical form.  Then someone turned to Paul Holmer, a curmudgeonly professor of theology, for his opinion because he had been uncharacteristically quiet during the exchange, seemingly lost in thought.  He paused for a moment and then he said, “Well, I don’t know about all of that stuff.  I was just thinking that if Jesus could feed all of those people, perhaps he can feed me.”

It is true that, in the United Church of Christ, we do not shrink from using the tools of modern scholarship to study scripture, and there can be benefits in doing so.  But I am grateful for the reminder that the point of reading the Bible is not to pick it apart but to be nourished by it.  After all, if Jesus could feed all of those people, we can ask and expect to be fed by him, as well.

Prayer

O God, please spread your word before me, as you would a feast, so that I may be both nourished and delighted by it.  Amen.

About the Author

Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.



Daily Devotion – August 24, 2012
08.24.12

Ephesians 4:15

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

When we talk to people who are going through a very difficult time, we often don’t know what to say. We try to be encouraging and instead we say something that annoys the person. Or we say nothing and later find out that they wondered if we cared. How do you get it right with the people you love? I think listening is key. It’s fine to ask someone, “What would help now?” And then, if you are ready for the answer, try asking, “What did not help?”

But we can’t always have those direct conversations with those we love. So sometimes we have to do our listening not with our ears, but with our eyes, by reading he the wise words of people who have experienced something we have not.

In the book Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith and Accepting Grace, Deanna Thompson describes the year in her life when she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. A professor of theology at Hamline University and a young mother of two, she has written an amazingly personal book about what it is like to live with cancer. One of my favorite chapters is called “Having Cancer, Talking Cancer,” and it is about all the comforting and uncomforting things people have said to her along the way.

I learned so much by reading this book, as a pastor, friend, and mother. In Hoping for More, you get to eavesdrop on the intimate thoughts of someone worth listening to. In the end, her deepest theological insights are not about cancer but about life itself.

Sometimes, when we can’t communicate with the ones we love, we can find a wise word in a book that then gives us the courage to try to speak in person again. I give thanks for all the people who have the courage to tell the truth and write it down, so that we can learn from their experience.

Prayer

Thank you for the writers who teach us how to listen. Amen.

 

About the Author


Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

 



Daily Devotion – August 23, 2012
08.23.12

Ephesians 6:10 – 12 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in
the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may
be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not
against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand 

As a school administrator, I have to attend sporting
events for my school.  In the past week,
I have been to three girls softball games. 
In the August heat, I’m amazed at the protection that the catcher
wears.  The catcher is in a very
dangerous spot right behind the batter and so she needs special equipment to
protect herself.  No catcher would ever
think about playing a softball game without the proper equipment.  

In Ephesians, the Bible teaches us that when we go
into the game of life, we also need protection. 
We do not wear a uniform like the catcher so what do we arm ourselves with
in life?  I think we wear the following
uniform every day: 

-     The belt of truth.

-     The breastplate of righteousness

-     Feet fitted with the gospel of peace.

-     The shield of faith.

-     The helmet of salvation.

-     The sword of the Spirit.

 

Prayer:   

Lord, thank you for the protection that you give to use against the evils of the world.  Help
us to always remember to put on the whole armor of God.   AMEN 

 



Daily Devotion – August 22, 2012
08.22.12

Mark 8:21

“And you still don’t understand?”

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

I’m sure Jesus was good and wonderful, but here I’m feeling for the disciples. He’s sounding testy. They are sounding dull as donkeys.

First, he warned them, “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.” What in the world does that mean? Had the Pharisees gone into baking? They stared at each other desperately and said, “It’s because we forgot the bread.” Pretty much a total miss and they are on the defensive.

He didn’t let up, but quizzed them as if this were one of those terrible Vacation Bible School drills. “After the feeding of the 5,000 how many baskets of leftovers were there?” “Twelve” they mutter. “And after I fed four thousand, how many then?” “Seven.”

“And you still don’t understand?” he demands. Well, no, not really.

This is feeling a lot like Algebra II. The bored teacher would explain a problem a second time and say, “Understand it now?” “I think so,” I would lie, desperate not to sound as stupid as I felt.

Or when nothing is working and patience has become a well run dry between my wife and me. She’s says, “there,” I say “where?” She says “black,” I say “white.” Mars and Venus or just a cosmic black hole we’ve fallen into. There are days like that.

When anxiety or frustration set in they can strike us blind, deaf and mute. What then? Take a break. Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Figure that everyone has a bad day every now and then, even the disciples, even you. Even Jesus maybe. And then take it again tomorrow.

Prayer

God, when I (or someone close to me) is having a bad day, help me to step back and trust that tomorrow will be better. Amen.

 

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.