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Daily Devotion – April 30, 2013
04.30.13

April 30, 2013

 

Psalm 67:7

 

“God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.”

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

It is notable that the Deity portrayed in this Psalm inspires fear (i.e. reverential awe) not from a

dread of retribution, but rather gratitude for good things given. Taking a brief, silent moment a

few times each day to cultivate a sense of awe in your Higher Power and the good things

s/he has placed in your life can be restoring on many levels. In a moment of gratitude to Divine

power, external stresses fall into perspective. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to treat another

person in a hateful or rude manner when cultivating an attitude of thankfulness for Heaven’s

uncountably many blessings.

 

Prayer:

 

Oh radiance beyond imagining which shines from you Dear Goddess!

As gold and orange sun rays light the morning sky,

Your Open Door to heaven guides my fumbling feet!

My body’s warmth redoubles as your energy delights my heart.

I give myself to you Dear Goddess, reaching out

My arms for guidance by your Right Hand and your Spirit.

 



Daily Devotion – April 29, 2013
04.29.13

Psalm 67:3


Let the people praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Reflection by Jean Ward

 

This verse seems so simple.  Being one of the “people” I feel good about praising my God.  I send up a song of praise many times a day. What is there to say about this verse—I read it over and over.  Each time “all” got bigger and louder in my mind.

When bad things happen (shootings, natural disasters, bombings, etc.), we praise God for getting us through the bad times.  But we also do a lot of finger pointing to those who are not praising Our God.  People of different faith traditions, races, even other nations.

When I think about “all”, a favorite kids song comes to mind: “Red and yellow, black and white…..Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Prayer:  God, let me and all the people praise you.  Thank you for reminding me that we all are your children and precious in your sight.
Amen



Daily Devotion – April 28, 2013
04.28.13

 

John 14:28-29

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

If you search for online commentaries about these verses, you’ll find discussion about the divinity of Christ.  He has said the Father is greater than I, and many have worried about what that means. Is Christ co-equal with God, or is he not? 

I, personally, don’t care at all about those arguments. 

What interests me about John’s recounting of Jesus’s words is the humanity of them.  Have you ever had in your life someone who seems to depend on you absolutely?  Or, have you depended in that heavy way on someone? 

I have a loved one who seems to think she can’t live without me.  It’s a sweet thing, having someone love you that much.  But, as I get older, I occasionally try to prepare her for that time when I’m not here. With any mention that I might die one day, she changes the conversation immediately. 

So, what I see here is Jesus trying to prepare his followers, those people close to him who are putting all their trust in his life, in his living.  They need to know what he already knows—that he will leave them. They perceive his leaving as the unimaginable end of his influence, but he knows better. 

Of course, I cannot, as Jesus did, tell my daughter that I will return. But, if the conversation should ever move on between us, I will tell her that in some ways I will linger with her. I know that from the ways my own loved ones have stayed with me, long after their departure from our shared world.  There’s no need pressing need to tell her, really. She will discover that one day for herself. 

Prayer: 

Help us, God, to live in such a way that those who follow us can keep walking in strength and in beauty.



Daily Devotion – April 27, 2013
04.27.13

John 14:27

 

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.

 

“Jesus said to His disciples.”  What Jesus says to us is very important.  He tells us that when He left the world to be with the Father, He left us His peace.  Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to live with us and in us.  We have possession of Jesus’ peace when we have His Holy Spirit.  Jesus calls it His peace, for He is Himself our peace.  (Eph. 2:14). 

The peace that Jesus gives is infinitely more valuable than that which the world gives.  This gift enriches the soul for eternity.  Peace the world has to offer is ignorance of God’s presence and lasts for a short time, and ends in sorrow and grief.  God offers grace, and ends in everlasting peace.

 

Prayer: 

 Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?  The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.  

Amen  

 

(The words of the prayer are from Edward Bickersteth.)



Daily Devotion – April 26, 2013
04.26.13

John 14:25-26

‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

 

While Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper that physically, he will not be with them and that he has finished his teachings, I can imagine they are a bewildered group.  “Who will we follow?”  “Who will continue educating us?”  So Jesus assures the disciples that they must trust and rely on the Holy Spirit, who will guide them according to the Word of God.  Did the disciples believe that this will actually happen?

 

I used to be an impulsive and impetuous individual.  During the 25+ years that I shut out faith and religion, I made a lot of mistakes and oversights for which I am sorry for today.  I have changed considerably, though.  In just a couple of years, my patience has led me to serenity.  Serenity has made me happy, fulfilled, and at peace with myself (for the most part, anyway).  Because I can talk to God, I know when I’ve been touched by the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it’s quick, other times it takes longer.  But I know when I’ve received the appropriate answer.  This is the magnificent realization of having faith.  Trust in our Lord and Jesus Christ. 

 

Prayer:

 

Dear God, I will continue to have trust in your Word.  Please know that I will continue to keep an open heart so that I may learn through the Holy Spirit.  Amen.   



Daily Devotion – April 25, 2013
04.25.13

John 14:23

Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’

 

Reflection by Janet Derby

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet sometimes the simplest statements raise the most questions.  As Peter says to Jesus, “you know I love you”. So, of course we will keep his word. But what does that really mean? We Christians don’t always agree about that. And if I fail, does that mean God will not love me and come to my home?  

Perhaps I need to rethink the word keep. I don’t think God ever expects us to be perfect. 

Dictionary.com defines keep in these ways:

  1. to hold or retain in one’s possession; hold as one’s own
  2. to hold or have the use of for a period of time 
  3. to hold in a given place; store
  4. to maintain (some action), especially in accordance with specific requirements, a promise, etc.
  5. to cause to continue in a given position, state, course, or action

Perhaps keep in this instance is closer to the first definition than the fourth. How do we keep words from Jesus? I think this is why Bible study and Sunday school classes are so vital. By hearing and discussing Scriptures regularly, we are able to keep them close to our hearts and minds as we go through our day. In this way, we ensure that God has a constant presence in our home.

Prayer: 

Loving God, thank you for the words of Jesus, which allow us to know you and have your presence with us. Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – April 24, 2013
04.24.13

Acts 16:11-15

The Conversion of Lydia

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi 

Here is a story of a working woman, Lydia, dealer in purple cloth. She listened to the disciples and was moved to become baptized. And she proclaimed her faith and moved the disciples to be guests in her home.  What an experience that must have been for Lydia to have the disciples stay at her home.  Sometimes a simple statement can cause an action. 

A couple of months ago, I was on a business trip and there were four of us sharing lunch together.  I noticed two of my colleagues had their heads lowered as they began to whisper grace. I interrupted and asked, “We’re all Christians here, right?”  They all agreed.  Then I asked, “Shall we say grace together?”  They unanimously agreed. 

After grace I asked, how often have you done that with other colleagues?  They all said this was the first time. Considering we are all retired and now working semi-retirement jobs, it has taken a long time to get to this place. Since then, we have often shared grace before a meal. 

 

Prayer: 

Dear Lord, 

I thank you that I have friends that I can pray with.  Help us look for opportunities to live our faith.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – April 23, 2013
04.23.13

Acts 16:9-10

 

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

 

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand

 

These scriptures in Acts tell us about Saul’s conversion experience.  Have you ever felt called to do something that you knew was God in your life working?  How have you been able to discern what is of God and what is of your desires?  In today’s scripture reading, Paul has a vision to go to Macedonia and help the people there.  Paul felt called to do something that he thought was God showing him the way.  Through this whole process, he was praying, his heart was open to whatever God had intended for him, and he had faith.  He knew that whatever happened, God was with him!

 

Prayer:

 

God, I pray that I have enough faith to be able to open my heart to your will, not mine.  I pray that wherever you lead me that I will have the strength to teach the Good News with those around me so that others may come to believe that your love is for them.  AMEN.

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 22, 2013
04.22.13

 

(Psalm 65:9-13)

 

“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.”

 

Reflection by Polly Yaguchi

 

In honor of Earth Day, I have selected scripture that speaks to the importance of taking care of our planet. The first Earth Day took place as a grassroots movement. With very little funding and no technology like the internet, email or social media, a small group of college age students working in Washington DC sent letters to every college and high school encouraging people to do something for planet Earth. Duke remembers his 8th grade science class went outside and picked up garbage around the school yard that day.

If everyone participates and cares about our planet, it can get healthier one small step at a time because many hands make light work. What is something we can do to take care of our planet?  Well, there’s a rising consciousness to reuse, recycle and reduce the things we exhaust each day. I think this is a small step all of us can take to help preserve our Earth.  

Jesus was a minimalist. He only had the clothes on his back. As far as I know, he only owned a single pair of sandals at a time. His carbon footprint was extremely small. We should follow Jesus’ example and take care of planet Earth. As the Psalm says above, if we take care of Earth, Earth will take care of us.

 

 

Prayer:

Dear Father of Creation,

We thank You that You have made us stewards of Your Earth and pray that we will care for it in a way that is pleasing to You.  In Your holy name we pray, Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – April 21, 2013
04.21.13

Revelation 7:9-17

The Multitude from Every Nation

9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ 
11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ 14I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
   and worship him day and night within his temple,
   and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
   the sun will not strike them,
   nor any scorching heat; 
17 for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
   and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

You can’t blame John for getting it a little wrong.  I think it must be because he lived so long ago.  I mean, they didn’t have mylar back when he was writing, so you can’t blame him for mistaking what he saw.

How could he have known he was looking at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?  He lived so long ago, and he got just a glimpse.  So you can’t blame him for not knowing that the great throng was all wrapped up in the mylar blankets they give out when you’ve finished the race, the light bounding blinding white off of them.  You can’t blame him for thinking they were holding palm branches instead of what they were really holding: victors’ wreaths—every single one of them.

But he got one thing right: They had striven peacefully for so long, worked so hard at something that ennobles bodies and minds, and they had passed through a great ordeal.  And their clothes had indeed been washed in the blood of the innocent.  So God granted John a vision he did not understand and told him to pass it on to us.  

And then I looked, and I saw them with their sneakers and their racing chairs, the Nigerians and the Americans, the fast and the slow, the runners and the spectators, all wrapped in the symbols of their victory.  And Krystle, and Martin, and Lu Lingzi were there, whole and sound.  And they were standing on the New Boylston Street, paved in gold as pure as glass and running straight through the heart of the New Boston, where mourning and crying and pain and bombs in backpacks were no more.  And God had wiped every tear from every eye.

Prayer

God, I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but you promised you would.  You promised.  Amen.

About the Author:

Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ.