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Daily Devotion – October 31, 2012
10.31.12

Mark 12: 28-31

The First Commandment

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’

 

Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker

 

You must first believe fully; once you do, you can move on. As with anything, you have to give your all and be fully devoted to your life; from your job to your family and those you impact. Many times, listening to these words in my head I feel I should do more and be a better person and give deeper. I also know I am not perfect and make mistakes. The problem I run into when I ask this of myself is ‘how do I?’  I do ask myself what, why, and when of my belief in God; and is it from a soul level or intellectual one. 

When I am out doing errands I think of the second commandment as those I am meeting and dealing with: they are my neighbor at that moment in time. So I smile and act as cordial and relaxed as I can, even if it has been a difficult situation or unloving sense of why this person is my neighbor right now.  

So I look back at verse 28 and it starts with “heard them disputing”. To me that makes us all real and the world is not perfect, we won’t see eye to eye and that is fine, but we need to have the wherewithal to listen; we are all parts that make the one Lord. 

 

Prayer:

 

Dear lord as we reflect and look within all our fellow neighbors may their hearts be touched and souls be filled with the love that you give as we take the time to listen. Amen.



Daily Devotion – October 30, 2012
10.30.12

John 11: 38-44 

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life 

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone
was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of
the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been
dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you
believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And
Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew
that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd
standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said
this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out,
his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.
Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
 

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne 

How many times have you doubted, wondered, asked…does He
hear me? Will he answer my prayers? How many times have you questioned His
existence or felt your beliefs begin to waver? I am sure we have all had our doubts
at one time or another. Even Martha was about to give up hope on her brother.
But Jesus reassured her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would
see the glory of God?” 

Whenever you face a personal crisis or setback and you feel
alone in your struggles and you see no way out, how many times have you turned
to a friend or family member before turning to God? You know that person will
hear you. You know that he or she will respond. Whether or not this results in
any kind of permanent resolution matters not, because you’ve been heard. You
have shared your burden with someone else. And they have shared a possible
answer. 

Having a conversation with God is a different matter. It may
feel like a one-way street. It may feel like no one is there because there’s no
physical presence, but there is a
spiritual presence. And if you open your heart, if you give in to that presence
there is a wonderful sense of peace and calm. And, although you may not hear
the answer you will feel He is with you for you have placed your burden in His
hands. 

 

Prayer: 

Dear God, 

When we doubt, reassure us. Speak to us as only you can speak. Calm our troubled souls
and help us find resolve in your wisdom and your mercy. In your name we
pray.  Amen



Daily Devotion – October 28, 2012
10.28.12

Revelation 21:1-6a

Then I saw a new heaven and
a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the
sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a
loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He
will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself
will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no
more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have
passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making
all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and
true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the
spring of the water of life.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

This is a dream we all have—that conflict and pain and death
will disappear and that we can exist in peace and beauty and eternal health. In
the midst of our suffering or even something as routine as our personal
dissatisfaction, sometimes we get a glimpse of how the new earth would feel. 

We have that moment when a ray of sun strikes at a certain
angle, or notes of particular beauty sound. We hear a child’s laughter or are
caught by a work of art.  A particular
combination of words stills us and brings us out of our confusion.  For a few minutes, all things are new

So, we know what the apostle John is describing here,
although we are only catching glimpses of it. 
We know how wonderful such an earth could be, and we can’t help but hope
for it. 

Why, then, do we hold so tightly to attitudes and behaviors
that perpetually push such a world away? We push God away. We want God in our
midst, but only on our own terms. 

 

Prayer: 

Compassionate and
Loving God, we are thirsty and yearn for the water of life, but we don’t know
how to put our own thoughts, judgments, and attitudes to rest.  Help us, we pray, to imagine, and to walk
upon that new earth.

 



Daily Devotion – October 27, 2012
10.27.12

Isaiah 25:6-9

6 On this mountain the
Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of
aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will
destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations.

8 He will swallow up death
forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe
away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from
all the earth.

The Lord has spoken.

9 In that day they will
say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.  This is the Lord; we trusted in him.  Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

 

Reflection by Don Tawney’s Dad

 

As a young boy, I remember the
wonderful Sunday dinners my Mother prepared for the family.  Nothing being
spared, she laid a table abundant with delicious food.  If we went away
hungry, it was our own fault!  The phrase, “The Lord of hosts will
prepare a lavish banquet,” put me in mind of those Sunday dinners we
enjoyed when we were young.

 

Our scripture lesson speaks of the
coming salvation God planned long ago, through the abundant Grace of our Savior
Jesus Christ.  The Grace of God bringing salvation is rich and free to all
who will come to Jesus Christ.  The richly laden table of the best and
nourishing food is a wonderful way to picture God’s forgiveness and
acceptance.  The returning prodigal found love and forgiveness depicted by
the fattened calf and plenty of bread on the table.  Jesus further
illustrates God’s salvation by the story of the king who gave a wedding feast
for his son; and the invitation was for all who will may come.

 

The Light of the Gospel dispels the
dark of ignorance and guilt.  Death is swallowed up for all time. 
When Jesus came to save us, He saved us from sin and eternal
condemnation.  Isaiah said, “This is our God for whom we have waited,
that He might save us.”

 

Prayer: 

Dear Father in Heaven, 

You loved us so much, so unsparingly, that you gave your
only Son to save us.     Amen    



Daily Devotion – October 26, 2012
10.26.12

Psalm 24:1 

Of David. A Psalm. 

The world and all that
is in it

belong to the Lord;

the earth and all who live on it

are his.

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell 

Picture two little
kids who find one toy in particular worth more than any of the hundreds of toys
that are all over the floor in the playroom. 
One is playing with that toy, and then the other child suddenly grabs it
out of the toddler’s hands and says rather boldly, “MINE!”  Then a screaming match ensues with lots of
tears until an adult steps in and takes the toy away from both children. 

God created earth and
all that is in it.  Do we have the right
to say the land we live on is ours? 
Shouldn’t God’s name be on the deed? 
Or the car that we drive which was made up of raw materials from the
earth…shouldn’t God’s name be on the title?  

Sounds a little
far-fetched, doesn’t it.  But think about
this for a second.  God doesn’t want to
lay claim on all of our possessions.  But
is God happy with how we manage our possessions; are we picking up and
recycling our trash…doing everything we can to keep the environment clean…taking
care to prevent plants and animals from becoming extinct?  Are we generous with our belongings…helping
those in need…coming to the aid of our neighbor who is suffering with illness
or loss of income? 

Ask yourself this question:  Do you acknowledge God by
giving thanks for yet another day…proving your love for God and Jesus by
following the Ten Commandments…praising God’s glory for the food and shelter
that has been provided, and by entrusting in God to help make the right
decisions that you have to face every day? 

For all God has given, it really isn’t difficult to show how indebted we are for all we have.  

 

Prayer: 

Precious God, when I give thanks for my wealth, it is not
monetary wealth, but the intangible wealth of the love of friends, family, my
church, and you.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – October 25, 2012
10.25.12

Mark 10:46-52

They came to Jericho.  As he and his disciples and a large crowd
were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by
the roadside.  When he heard that it was
Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have
mercy on me!”  Many sternly ordered him
to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on
me!”  Jesus stood still and said, “Call
him here.”  And they called the blind
man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”  So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and
came to Jesus.  Then Jesus said to him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”  The
blind man said to him, “Teacher, let me see again.”  Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made
you well.”  Immediately he regained his
sight and followed him on the way.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

Bartimaeus was a man of strong character, though many people probably didn’t recognize
this in him at the time.  To be a blind
person in the 1st century would have been a tremendous burden – for
the afflicted person and for the community in which that person lived.  Without the precious gift of sight, a person
could not earn a living and would be entirely reliant on others for their
livelihood.  But, Bartimaeus’s character
shines through his disability.

The story opens with Bartimaeus doing the only thing he can do, sit by the roadside
and ask others for support.  In verse 47
Jesus and the crowd are leaving the city and Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus’
voice.  He knows that he must seize this
opportunity and cries out to Jesus.  He
shouts louder when others are telling him to be quiet and Jesus responds as
Bartimaeus had hoped.  Bartimaeus, in
verse 50, ‘throwing off his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.’  Bartimaeus rids himself of anything that
could impede his path to Christ.  As a
blind person who had not been able to earn a living, Bartimaeus doesn’t have
many possessions and yet, first, he got rid of anything that could weigh him
down or prevent him from responding to the call of Jesus.  Jesus tells Bartimaeus that his faith has
made him well.  Once his eyesight is restored,
Bartimaeus wastes no time and immediately follows Jesus.  How many of the original disciples responded
this way?  Bartimaeus doesn’t have to see
his family first, he doesn’t run to his friends to show them his newly restored
eyesight, he continues to follow the path of Christ – immediately.

Prayer –

Heavenly Father, open my eyes to
those things in my life that might impede my path toward you.  Help me stay steadfast and follow your ways
in all areas of my life.

Amen



Daily Devotion – October 24, 2012
10.24.12

 Psalm 34: 19-20

 

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
   but the Lord rescues them from them all. 
He keeps all their bones;
   not one of them will be broken.

 

Devotion by Duke Yaguchi

 

God doesn’t promise anyone an easy life. No matter who you are, there will be afflictions. But the great promise of God, though, is that He will rescue us from all of our afflictions.

The word rescue recalls an often told story of a man and a flood.  

The rains came as forecasted, and people were told to evacuate. When the waters approached a man’s front door, a fire truck stopped in front of his house and the fireman asked him to jump on the fire engine and they would take him to safety. The man replied, “No, I’m okay. God will save me.”

The rains continued and the floodwaters now forced the man to the second floor of his home. A woman in a boat came up to the window and told him to jump in and she would take him to safety. The man replied, “No, I’m okay. God will save me.” 

The rains grew worse, and the man cut a hole through his roof so he could climb higher. The floodwaters were lapping at his feet. Finally, a helicopter hovered overhead, and the pilot yelled for him to get into the basket and they would take him to safety. The man replied, “No, I’m okay. God will save me.”

Eventually, the floodwaters overtook the man’s roof, and the man was swept away and died.

In heaven, the man faced God and asked, “Why didn’t you save me from the floodwaters?” And God replied, “I sent you a fire engine, a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?” 

Although a funny story, when we are in the depths of our afflictions, it is difficult to see God’s work. In fact, sometimes it is difficult to see God at all. 

And when He answers our prayers, the form of the answer or the timing of the answer may not be either what we were expecting or for that which we were asking. But the Lord will answer our prayers.

 

Prayer: 

Dear God, Help us not be like the man who was swept away by floodwaters. Instead, let us take comfort that you will rescue us from our afflictions. Though they seem daunting and overwhelming at times, we pray, give us the wisdom and the humility to take the hand that is outstretched to help us, knowing that your work is often done through the good deed of others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – October 23, 2012
10.23.12

Job 42:1-6, 10-17 

Job Is Humbled and Satisfied

 

Then Job answered the Lord: 

‘I know that you can do all things,

   and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 

“Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?”

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,

   things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 

“Hear, and I will speak;

   I will question you, and you declare to me.” 

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,

   but now my eye sees you; 

therefore I despise myself,

   and repent in dust and ashes.’ 

 

Job’s Fortunes Are Restored Twofold 

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he
had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all
who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed
him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each
of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job
more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand
camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven
sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah,
and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so
beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along
with their brothers. After this Job lived for one hundred and forty years,
and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And
Job died, old and full of days.

 

Devotion by Rochelle Lofstrand 

I love the heading for these two passages:  Job is
humbled and satisfied and Job’s fortunes are restored twofold. We have heard
the story of Job before, a man who lost everything and found himself completely
bereft totally lacking in God’s comforting and reassuring presence.  However, in today’s scriptures, Job recalls
some of his faith rituals and he thus remembers the presence of God.  He then begins to practice this faith.  

In verses 7 – 9 (not part of today’s scripture), Job goes beyond just having faith himself,
he prays for others.  Then in verses 10 –
17, the Lord blesses Job.  Not only does
God bless Job, Job’s fortunes are restored twofold!  

Are there times in your life when you feel far away from God, like God has forgotten
you?  You have two choices: 1.  Continue on a path separating yourself from
God and God’s love or 2.  Work hard to
remember what God’s presence in your life feels like and study to be in a
deeper relationship with God than ever. 
It is in choice number 2 when God will continue to bless you and restore
your fortunes twofold!

 

Prayer: 

Lord, there are so many times in my life when I feel alone and lost.  Thank you for reminding me about the story of
Job and how remember you and trusting in you will always lead to a deeper
relationship with you.  AMEN.



Daily Devotion – October 22, 2012
10.22.12

John 14:1

Jesus the Way to the Father

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ 

 

 

Reflection by Polly Yaguchi

 

When my sister was facing major surgery several years ago, our family was extremely worried.  The outcome, recovery, and prognosis were unknown.  It was such a time of concern and stress for all of us but my sister, a woman of very strong faith, showed great courage and an unbelievable sense of calm.  On the day of her surgery, she presented each of us with a different bible verse written on a cut-out heart-shaped piece of pink construction paper.  The verse I received was John 14:1, and to this day it brings me strength.  This verse helps reaffirm my faith, especially when I find myself questioning God.  I still carry this verse with me as a reminder of the calm it brought my sister and the hope that it will continue to help bring me a sense of calm.

 

Prayer:

Dear God,

Please help us to not let our hearts be troubled but to believe in you, especially during difficult days.

Amen.



Daily Devotion – October 21, 2012
10.21.12

Galatians 3:28

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

This is one of those verses we could use to hit a few people over the head.  It has been used that way . . . and the very act of reading it again brings forth that righteous urge to inform a few people – you know the ones I mean (or you have your own set) – that they are terribly wrong about female subjugation ever being OK.  Even those of us who rail against the use of Bible verses to prove points find these words from Galatians to be awfully tempting. 

But, I’m suspicious that Paul’s writing actually states that females are equal to males.  Do they say that?  Even to me, it seems clear that that being one in Christ Jesus is not the same thing as being one in everyday, practical life.  And, oh, the Biblical commentaries see that!  Often, the argument within them is basically: the Church knows best.  They argue that over the years certain teachings – for example., the unsuitability of women as priests – have been ingrained and should not be overturned now without very, very, very serious consideration.  They do not say how long that consideration has to go on, and they don’t mention what set of establishment minds are free enough to do the considering. 

So, now, a verse that was supposed to cheer me up – that I thought did cheer me up – has instead incited concern.  In the same way that Paul was shoulders-deep in his primary argument about how Greeks, the Gentile world, could fit into the teachings of a Jewish rabbi, we’re now in the midst of an argument about how women fit into a world where men hold most of the power. 

We’re lucky within our denomination that we don’t sit and listen to advice about how women and men should be – must be – happy in their assigned roles.  In practice, too, we see that women can lead capably and compassionately, that men do not have to shoulder every burden. It’s our good fortune, and it’s a heavy responsibility.  How do we get involved in this argument?  What can we do? 

 

Prayer:  

Strong mother God, help us as we think through the arguments of our day.  Give us patience and passion, the ability to voice and to listen.