Daily Devotion – February 28, 2013

Luke 13:1-9


At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”


Reflection by Diane Ingram


Do you ever think about the things you knew as teenager, those things you were sure were true?  And, if you think about those ideas, those personal philosophies now, are there some that you might keep?


One of mine is the belief —then and now—that the greatest truths can be found in stories, such as this parable of the fig tree.  Part of the reason that truth resides more easily in stories is that it is not stated as an absolute.  Instead, our imaginations are called into play and we form answers from within ourselves.  That is, we’re not told: Here it is, believe it.  Instead, we’re presented with a situation and come to our own conclusion.


In the first verses here, Jesus is straightforward:  no, you can’t say that bad things happen because people have sinned; it doesn’t work that way.  Here it is, believe it.


But then comes the parable.  As the verses are presented in Luke, Jesus takes us away from judging others — THEY suffered because of THEIR sins—to judging ourselves.  What do WE need to do to live worthwhile lives? He gives us plenty of room to think about that.




Father/Mother God, help us to spend our energy in being as generous as we can be.  Help us to stop judging others.  We cannot know their stories.

Daily Devotion – February 27, 2013

Psalm 63

Comfort and Assurance in God’s Presence

A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
   my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
   as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.


He is hiding from Saul in the wilderness of Judah.  By an active, lively, and hungry faith, David declares, “O God, Thou art my God!”  He is saying he believes God is present with him; that God created him, and that God is the rightful owner and ruler.  To say God is my God is a serious thing; for we are saying God is my greatest pleasure and hope for salvation from despair and being lost in the wilderness of this world’s darkness.


Anyone can know the goodness and forgiving love of God. The question is:  do you see yourself in this wilderness-state of hopelessness?  Are you thirsty for God?  Psalm 107:9 says “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”




Dear God, I seek Thee early (earnestly) this day for Thy favor and divine protection.  In Jesus’ name. Amen  

Daily Devotion – February 26, 2013

Isaiah 55:6

6 Seek the Lord while he may
be found,

call upon him while he is near;


Reflection by Lynne Buell

Lent has taken on a new meaning for me this year. 
I find myself looking forward to delving into the before parts of
certain scriptures so that I have a better understanding. 

For example, there are tons of different ways throughout the Bible that basically say
the same thing as Isaiah 55:6.  So my
inquiring mind says, “Why does this scripture appear in Isaiah?  In a nutshell, I learned that the Prophet
Isaiah had a deep understanding of God’s law. 
But the people of Israel (God’s chosen people) disobeyed the Law and
were subsequently punished when they were taken into exile in Babylon.  Isaiah, however, continually proclaimed that
God promised that the people would be freed and would return to Jerusalem where
they would begin a proficiently new life.  Here God sends a strong message that they must
change their ways of following other gods and treating the poor unfairly.  God promises to forgive them of their sins; God
assures the citizens of a fruitful existence.

The message for me becomes clearer.  “Seek the Lord while he may be found…” do
not block God out of your life.  While I
don’t worship idols, I have to open myself completely to God and place total
trust into how God wands my life to proceed. 
“call upon him while he is near;” reinforces
my belief that I can talk to God ANY time for God is near me ALL the time.


Thank you, Lord, for your recurrent
messages throughout the Bible which

strengthen my faith in you.  Amen.   

Daily Devotion – February 25, 2013

Psalm 150

“Praise the Lord.  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.  Praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his surpassing greatness.  Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.”  NIV

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

As King David implores us, praise the Lord today.  Let everything you do be an act of praise today.  Play with the kids, and praise the Lord for them.  Buy your groceries, and praise the Lord that you are able to do so.  Wash the dishes in the sink, and praise God that you are eating.  Do the laundry, and praise the Holy One that you have clean water in which to wash.  Walk your dog, and praise the Lord.  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” 

Praise the Lord!

Daily Devotion – February 24, 2013

Psalm 27:13


Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord!

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

Have you ever heard the notion that God answers prayer, but that His answers are some times unexpected because He answers in His time and His way? Waiting. When I know how long to wait, I plan for it and I can moderate my anticipation to go along with how long I have to wait. Like when I see how many people are ahead of me checking out at the grocery store. But when I don’t know how long to wait, I can easily get impatient. Like when I order my lunch at a fast food restaurant and it seems to take forever to fill my order. 

When I’m waiting, I usually get weak. I sometimes start thinking of the worst that can happen and I become fearful. Or I sometimes wonder what am I doing here? Why did I come here just to wait?

When I pray, I often ask God for help. Help bring healing to someone who is hurting. I don’t say it, but I’m usually thinking “now”. Bring healing now. And when the healing isn’t immediate, then I wait, I become weak and timid and afraid. Because I don’t know how long I’m going to have to wait for my prayers to be answered.

But this scripture tells us the exact opposite! We should be strong and our hearts should become courageous as we wait for the Lord! And if we truly believe, shouldn’t we rest assured that our Lord is listening, and He will deliver us from the evils of the world?



Dear Lord. I’ve asked for your help a thousand times. And a thousand times you have answered my prayers. Why then do I grow weak waiting for you? Please give me patience and courage and strength as I wait for you. Thank you in advance for hearing me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen 




Daily Devotion – February 23, 2013

Psalm 27:13


I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living.



Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand


As soon as I read today’s scripture I thought about a new term that I learned in my Pathways class – anthropological.  An anthropological starting point of theology leads theologians to look first at Christian faith in the context of human living and then seek to ascertain the meaning of God’s message to the word.  (Stone & Duke, 2006).  So, in laymen’s terms, we see the goodness of God through those humans that we meet every day. 


During the month of November, one of my Facebook friends and member of PUCC does a Random Act of Kindness every day.  I found such joy this year reading about her generosity and the love that came back to her through her kindness.  It was through her posts that I was able to experience God and in turn my faith grew.  I found new meaning in God’s message because of my human living.


Think about how you might be able to see the goodness of God through interactions with the “land of the living”. 




God, thank you for giving us other humans in order to experience your love with and through.  May our relationships with each other deepen so that our relationship with you might deepen also.  AMEN. 

Daily Devotion – February 22, 2013

Psalm 27:11


Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and lead me on a level path
   because of my enemies.



Reflection by Polly Yaguchi


Have you ever had any enemies?  If so, how did it make you feel?  When I think of the word “enemy”, I imagine very dark and evil people who have committed heinous acts against others.  In my own life, my only real enemy was my abusive first husband, from whom I still suffer nightmares after almost 20 years. For a long time I questioned God as to why I was being so mistreated and now I can see how God was leading me on a level path when I finally gained the courage to leave and start a new life.  Fortunately, now by the grace of God, I have forgiven my ex-husband and I now travel on a much more peaceful and safe path without fear.  I now realize that when I was questioning God, He was with me the whole time leading me to a path of renewal that I might not have otherwise recognized or acted upon.  


Dear Lord,


Thank you for teaching me your way, then and now, as I continue on my path.  In your holy name, I pray, amen. 

Daily Devotion – February 20, 2013

Psalm 27:4


One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after;

to live in the house of the Lord  all the days of my life,  

to behold the beauty of the and to inquire in his temple.


Reflection by Joyanna Wyne


David tells us that he seeks one thing only, to live in the Lord’s house for all his days.  What a comforting thought.  Imagine what it would be like if God’s house were your house.  You could talk to God whenever you liked.  When life was perplexing, God would be there to offer guidance.  When life brought sorrow, God would be there with comforting arms.  When life was uncertain, God would lend you strength.  When life brought joy, God would celebrate with you.  What a wonderful thing that would be.

 As I read this passage from Psalm 27, I couldn’t help but think of my son’s wedding.  The ceremony began with Matthew playing the guitar, singing a duet with his sister.  He had rewritten the song’s lyrics to fit his courtship of Bianca, but he kept the original chorus, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”  By the time the song was over, all the guests knew the chorus, and Matthew asked us to join him in serenading his bride as she walked down the aisle with her parents.  I’ll never forget the swell of emotion as we all joined voices.

 “Home is wherever I’m with you.”  Wherever we go, God goes with us.  God’s house is our house.  Like David, we have the privilege of dwelling in the house of the Lord.



 Ever-present Lord, we give thanks that you shelter us in your house.  We give thanks that no matter where we are on our life’s journey, we dwell safely with you.  Amen.

Daily Devotion – February 19, 2013

Luke 13:31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you. He said to them, Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Reflection by Jim Kennedy

Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem was set in the context of the Pharisees warning Jesus about Herod wanting to kill him and of Jesus’ words about Herod and his own mission. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees who came to warn him. The Pharisees here were Jesus’ buddies, not his enemies. They had come to warn him that Herod was out to kill him just as Herod Antipas had killed John the Baptist.

Jesus’ response to the Pharisees was a reiteration of his mission and a prophecy that he would be killed in Jerusalem, not in Galilee. His instruction to those who warned him was, “Go and tell that fox…” In the ancient world, “fox” was a term used for those who were crafty. Clearly, Herod Antipas was a crafty man, a manipulator of the first order and utterly unethical. Jesus advised the Pharisees to tell Herod to bug off. He was going to Jerusalem; that’s where a prophet is killed, not in Galilee.

Jesus’ prayerful address grew out of the implicit prophecy that he would be killed in Jerusalem. The prayer of Jesus in its original context was a prayer for Jerusalem’s health. It was an expression of grief that Jerusalem rejected his offer of comfort and consolation and protection, and his recommendation about the policies that Jerusalem should follow.

The pronouncement of woe over Jerusalem was reminiscent of Jeremiah’s lamentations. Jesus spoke in the same spirit as Jeremiah, weeping and lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judea at the time of the Babylonian invasion some 600 years earlier. Jesus described Jerusalem in relation to the people’s response to their great prophets like Jeremiah, “You, Jerusalem, who killed the prophets and stoned those who were sent to you.”

In Luke’s context, some of the consequences of Jerusalem’s decision not to follow Jesus had already happened. The greatest disaster in the entire history of Jerusalem took place within 40 years after Jesus’ death. The result of the Jewish War in 66-70 CE was that the temple was destroyed and the city was laid waste. The entire temple area was burned. Luke’s story was written some 10 to 20 years after that great disaster, so Luke’s listeners were hearing Jesus’ prophecy in the context of something that they already knew had happened.


Dear Lord I pray that I can be where I need to be when I need to be there, that I do not have to deal with foxes other than as benign wildlife or pets, and that I do not ignore your prophets and understand you prophecies before rather than after things go wrong.

Daily Devotion – February 18, 2013

Psalm 27:1


The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;  of whom shall I be afraid?

Devotion by Joyanna Wyne

As I read these verses, I was reminded of the saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  These words, spoken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in March, 1933, were meant to inspire confidence in an anxious people during the depths of the Great Depression.  Of course, this famous quote about fear did not originate with Franklin Roosevelt.  Perhaps he was inspired by Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in his journal in 1851, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”  Yet it makes me wonder if Roosevelt had Psalm 27:1, which was written as David was preparing to go to war, in mind.  In his speech, Roosevelt declared, “…I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of people dedicated to a disciplined attack on our common problems.”  Like David, Roosevelt was called upon to lead a great nation.  Like David, he survived an assassination attempt.  And like David, he invoked God:   “In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God.  May he protect each and every one of us.  May he guide me in the days to come.”       

David tells us that with God as our protector, we have nothing to fear, but fear is part of the human condition.  We may not be going off to war, yet we will have battles to fight.  How reassuring it is to know that we can gird ourselves with the armor of God’s salvation. 


Dear God, when we are afraid, help us to remember David’s words.  May they quell the anxiety that resides in us.  We rejoice that you are the light that can banish the darkness of our fears.  Amen.