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Daily Devotion – May 31, 2013
05.31.13

Romans 9:10-16

 

10Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 11Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, 12not by works but by his call) she was told, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ 13As it is written,
‘I have loved Jacob,
   but I have hated Esau.’

14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
   and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’
16So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

 

I don’t like the first part of this scripture.  It implies that Rebecca hates Esau.  That bothers me.

 

‘Hate’ is a very strong word.  I try very hard not to use it.  I may dislike something, or I may disapprove of someone; but I don’t ‘hate’ anything or anyone.  Even spiders.

 

The way I see it, we cannot love everything or everyone.  Human beings have different personality traits and various opinions which can be a challenge for getting along sometimes.  But that isn’t what this scripture is about. 

 

I think this scripture is saying that God controls our thoughts and feelings.  Hmmm.  I don’t necessarily agree with that.  The writer is indicating that it is okay when God chooses one over the other—that we should go with the flow.  Well, that’s how I am reading it, anyway.  It goes against my belief that God wants us to look for the good in everyone and to be accepting. 

 

So, is that the lesson?  Guess I will find out sooner or later. 

 

Prayer:

 

I pray for answers to my faith questions so that I will be able to live the life free of stress and intolerance.  Amen.       



Daily Devotion – May 30, 2013
05.30.13

Genesis 25:29-34

 

29. Once when Jacob was cooking
some stew,

Esau came in from the open
country, famished.

30. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let
me have some of that red stew!

I’m famished!” (That is why he
was also called Edom.)

31. Jacob replied, “First sell me
your birthright.”

32. “Look, I am about to die,”
Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33. But Jacob said, “Swear to me
first.” So he swore an oath to him,

selling his birthright to Jacob.

34. Then Jacob gave Esau some
bread and some lentil stew.

He ate and drank, and then got up
and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

Esau is described as a skillful
hunter, hairy-skinned and esteemed as the model of masculinity.

The not-so-hairy Jacob, by
contrast, preferred to help his mother with chores around camp,

including cooking. By modern
standards, Jacob would be considered somewhat effeminate.

Yet, here “Jacob the Mommy’s Boy”
outwits “Esau the Manly-Man”. Granted, this story may

represent only one of many
youthful, brotherly pranks between Esau and Jacob, hence Esau

thinks nothing about taking Jacob
up on the dare to give up his birthright. Whatever the case,

scriptures abound with stories of
unremarkable or disadvantaged individuals overcoming

rivals of greater strength or
status. 

The powerful and privileged of
the modern world, much like Esau, center their lives around

worldly status and acquisition of
material wealth or political power. Such persons may live

secular lives, where personal faith
in a higher power is absent, or they may embrace a prefabricated, doctrinal
faith. In either case, they ignore those things in life which are most

meaningful, (i.e., their
birthright). Meanwhile, people characterized by faith in a personal

higher power, unconditional love
for others, and/or commitment to community and family, are

closer to claiming their
birthright. Hence, the wisdom of heaven is likely found in unassuming packages.

 

Prayer:

 

Eternal Mother, how your
generosity

surpasses every worldly
prejudice!

Your boundless love will bolster
up

the humble with your dignity,
console

the sorrow-struck with
tenderness, and feed

the hungry with your richest
sustenance.

From this hour until my life’s
last breath,

Empower me, dear Mother, with
your love

towards people cast out from the
world,

the marginalized, those in
poverty,

disabled, or imprisoned. Let such
know

your light through my commitment to their needs.



Daily Devotion – May 29, 2013
05.29.13

Genesis 25:24-28

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterwards his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

 

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

 

Reflection From:

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=25

“Jacob and Esau were prayed for; their parents, after being long childless, obtained them by prayer. The fulfillment of God’s promise is always sure, yet it is often slow. The faith of believers is tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for are more welcome when they come. Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all nations being blessed in their posterity therefore were not only desirous of children, but anxious concerning everything which seemed to mark their future character. In all our doubts we should inquire of the Lord by prayer.

 

Esau hunted the beasts of the field with dexterity and success, till he became a conqueror, ruling over his neighbors. Jacob was a plain man, one that liked the true delights of retirement, better than all pretended pleasures. He was a stranger and a pilgrim in his spirit and a shepherd all his days. Isaac and Rebekah had but these two children; one was the father’s darling, and the other the mother’s. And though godly parents must feel their affections most drawn over towards a godly child, yet they will not show partiality. Let their affections lead them to do what is just and equal to every child, or evils will arise.”

 

 

Prayer From Lynne Buell:

 

Loving God, thank you for watching over our children.  Thank you for the parents who pass their love and tenderness on as they watch their children grow into adults.  Prayers for strength and guidance for both parents and children.  Amen.   



Daily Devotion – May 28, 2013
05.28.13

Genesis 25:19-23

 

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram

 

I’m writing this on a Sunday evening, on a day when the sky has been blue, the earth shouting green, and the breeze pleasant.  This has been no day to think about a God who rains down fire and brimstone on a city and its inhabitants.

 

But, we know very well that terror does roll out of the skies. Last week’s tornado is a recent reminder. This house where I sit has a little noticeable depression in the roofline where a huge pine tree was brought down during a tornado in the 1990’s.

 

So, what may have happened to Sodom and Gomorrah?  What happened that the writer of Genesis is recounting?  I’m not the only one who has wondered; when I begin to type into Google “Sodom and Gomorrah what really happened” the type starts appearing before I hit the letters.  At least one person has tried that before.

 

What appears in response to the query is information about the geology of the area, about how it would have been prone to earthquakes and volcanoes . . . and Jupiter’s influence?  I’m not sure about that last one.

 

Does it even matter what physically happened when the point of the verses is that God acted in such a way, that the environment turned upon humanity, because of sin, because human beings don’t please God? We still use this reasoning, some of us do.

 

Certainty must be a powerful thing to feel.  A person can slam down her fist (if she is allowed) and say You People Are Sinning and God is Going to Get You for It.

 

Do you believe that?

 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for imagination, and thank you for reason. 

 



Daily Devotion – May 27, 2013
05.27.13

I Chronicles 4:9-10

 

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, [c] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

Reflection by Don Tawney, Sr. 

 

     The prayer Jabez prayed is one of the most comprehensive prayers in the Bible.  He was a more honorable man than his brethren; Jabez was a remarkably humble man, I believe.  We have reason to think it was not so much because of his learning, but more because of his piety.  He acknowledged God in all his ways, and I like to think Jabez prayed much.  He may have spoken few words, but the scope and meaning of his words give us much to study on.

 

     God says, “For those who honor Me, I will honor.”  (I Samuel 2:30).  God so honored Jabez that He granted him that which he requested.  By prayer, Jabez obtained blessings from God abundantly, which added much to his honor.  To be called honorable in the eyes of God is to be greatly blessed by God.

 

Prayer

 

 Dear God, may our spiritual boundaries be enlarged and our Love for Thee be acceptable in Thy sight.  Amen



Daily Devotion – May 26, 2013
05.26.13

Hebrews 5:5-6

 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
‘You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you’; 
as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest for ever,
   according to the order of Melchizedek.’

Reflection by Lynne Buell

I think I understand what the scripture means for the most part.  First of all, the writer of Hebrews wants us to understand that Jesus was not self-appointed as the perfect High Priest but rather He was appointed by God; Jesus was not chosen by anyone other than our Creator. 

So why would the writer mention that Jesus will be a priest forever according to Melchizedek?  Well, I cheated and found a website www.soundofgrace.com/hebrews/h5v05-10.htm.  This is what I came across by Murray McLellan: 

Jesus Christ is not a priest according to the order of Aaron, but according to the order of Melchizedek; that king-priest who lived at a time of Abraham (Gen. 14:18-20).  Nothing is known of this man’s lineage or ancestry.  He was the king of Salem (now Jerusalem).  His priesthood preceded that of Aaron and did not end when Aaron’s priesthood ended.  (In addition) this priesthood of Jesus Christ’s is a kingly priesthood.  O, what a better Mediator.  We are represented by the King of the universe Himself!”

“What shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is He who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8:31-34)

So who was Melchizedek?  If he was so noble, why don’t we know more about him?  Guess that’s a question for another time….or Kim to address in today’s sermon.

Prayer:

On this Memorial Day weekend, I will keep the men and women who fought and are currently fighting for freedom (and their families) in my thoughts and prayers.  Bring us peace, O Lord.  Let the fighting between men end.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – May 25, 2013
05.25.13

Hebrews 7″11-19

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood—for the people received the law under this priesthood—what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, 16 one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

18 There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.

Reflection by Ugena Whitlock

 

In today’s reading writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians uses references from the Hebrew Scriptures to explain more of God’s plan to them, and to us. Now, think just for a minute about that term, Hebrew Christians. That sounds like an oxymoron, like healthy fried Twinkies, for example. Weren’t the Hebrews Jews? Well, I had to remember that the first Christians were Jews, and Judiasm was not a set of practices conducted for a couple of hours on the Sabbath. It was a way of everyday life; therefore, early Hebrew converts to Christ incorporated Jesus’s teachings into their everyday ways of living. Problem was, they still lived in communities where their neighbors were non-Christian Jews, neighbors who discriminated against them–looked down on them–as outsiders who had turned from centuries old traditions of their people–God’s chosen people. 

 

So, these Christians began to do what some of us do in similar situations; they try to “pass,” or conform. They figured, as we sometimes do, that they could have a foot on both shores at once, thus maintaining their social, cultural, political, and religious heritage. That stuff is hard to give up. So maybe they could have followed “Jesus and,” as Eugene Peterson calls it,* practicing the precepts of Jesus and Moses or Jesus and the Levite Priesthood. They were showing signs of reverting to their old ways–that is, practicing the “Old Law” in ways that would, as the NIV commentary explains, “Judaize the Gospel.” When I really think about it, I don’t much blame them. It is really, really hard to feel like an outsider among your own people, especially if they were God’s own chosen!

 

The writer to the Hebrew Christians–some of whom were themselves descended from the priestly tribe of Levi–has just explained (vs. 1-10) why following Jesus’s teachings was not just “enough,” it was “better than” the old practices. Now, we don’t know for sure who wrote this letter. Some scholars say Paul, but others make good arguments for Baranabas or Apollos. Either way, we can see that the writer was a pretty smart guy. Hebrews is like the book of Romans: both of them are kind of intellectual writings that delve into the Old Law to show how perfect the New Law is. After explaining how Jesus’s priesthood “trumped” the priests descended from Levi, he drives his point home with the bottom line. The Law of Moses was not perfect, which means here, complete; it just couldn’t get the job done! While it was holy and good, it was not able to obliterate sin, that is, to save people. Jesus, through resurrection, completed God’s plan because through Him they–we–come right into God’s presence–draw nigh unto God, says the poetic KJV translation. 

 

The message is as important to us in the 21st century as it was to those struggling Christians in the 1st century. There is a way–authorized with God’s own Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval–by which we can actually approach God! Jesus is The Way, our better hope for the faith and love that come from resting in God. How amazing is that?

 

Prayer: Father, we come to you through your Son to thank you for hope. We are so thankful that you have given us The Way to draw near to you, for we know that when we are near to you, you are near to us. And when you are near to us, we feel the awesome love you have for us. 

 

*(Peterson, E. 2003, The Message remix: The Bible in contemporary language. Colorado Springs: Nav Press.)



Daily Devotion – May 24, 2013
05.24.13

Luke 5:12-16

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. ‘Go’, he said, ‘and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.’ But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

 

When I read this passage I notice many things. First, the leper didn’t force himself onto Jesus. He bowed and with confidence declared that Jesus had a choice and that Jesus had the power to heal him. What faith!

 

Second, Jesus acknowledges His choice and does choose to heal the man. Leprosy was thought to be highly contagious.  And for Jesus to physically touch the man showed great compassion.  I imagine it is one of the few times the man was touched. During my days as a diversity workshop facilitator, I learned from wheelchair bound people that often people are afraid of the chair. People speak to wheelchair bound people less, and touch them less. At our church in Illinois, there was a young man in a wheelchair. I made it a point during the time of sharing the peace to reach out to him and touch his arm or shoulder or his wheelchair. His hands were always firmly placed on his chair, so I couldn’t shake his hand.

 

Third, after word had spread about Jesus’ power to heal, He had the need to withdraw to deserted places or to quiet places to pray. For me, when life seems to be in overdrive and things are just getting too frantic, I find myself needing a quiet place and time. Even if it simply means closing my eyes, breathing deeply and shutting out the world for thirty seconds. We aren’t machines. We can’t just run and run and run. Sometimes we need to recharge with food or sleep or exercise. Sometimes we just need to recharge with some quiet. Even Jesus needed to do all of these things. So, next time you feel overwhelmed, find a quiet place, and pray. After all, if Jesus took time out once in a while, shouldn’t we?

 

Prayer:

 

Dear Lord. I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to share and love and heal. Let us not only look to Him as a model of how to take action, but also a model to rest and pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – May 17, 2013
Acts 2:5-13 
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power. ‘All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’ 
 
 
 
 
Reflection From Janet Derby for Christian Education

I am sure that Pastor Kim would say this was the first sermon preached by one of the disciples. But me? I believe it was the first instance of Christian education at work. After all, Sunday school is a place where we come from a great variety of places to hear about God’s deeds. We use different languages – some have grown up with the language of “being saved” or “born again”, some with more high church liturgical language of transubstantiation (the process which Catholics believe changes bread and wine into Christ’s actual body and blood), while still others come with no theological language at all. And yet, we all hear each other and understand that each has a unique and valuable perspective of God’s presence in their lives. And yes, some may sneer, and many will walk away wondering what it all means. But it is miraculous none the less. 

 

Prayer:  

God of Many Names and Languages,  

Thank you for always coming to meet us where we are and enabling us to hear each other, despite our differences. Help us always to recognize your wondrous deeds. Amen

 

 
 


Daily Devotion – May 23, 2013
05.23.13

Genesis 14:17-24 

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

 

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

maker of heaven and earth; 

and blessed be God Most High,

who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the people, but take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the Lord, God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, “I have made Abram rich.” I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their share.’

 

 

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand 

Abram had a stunning victory over the enemy kings. As he returned to his home, a weary warrior, thankful that his pursuit of the enemy had been so successful, he could not have guessed what God had in store for him. Abram had an unexpected encounter with Melchizedek, king of Salem (later called Jerusalem) who was also the priest of the God Most High. This title is very rare in the Old Testament, but it is found four times in this section. The idea underlying it is that of God as the Supreme Being who is above all local deities.  Abram may not have been acquainted with Melchizedek, but Melchizedek knew Abram. 

The true test of character comes when we have success. How we act at the moment of success often reveals our true character and spiritual maturity. This will be true in the case of Abram as we read about his interaction with the two kings. The two of them could not possibly have been more different. 

The first king is the king of Sodom. Abram was a real hero. After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh, that is, the King’s Valley.  

 The second king is Melchizedek king of Salem, who brought out bread and wine for Abram.  He was king of Salem, which is a shortened form of Jerusalem.  He was a priest of God Most High. This is the first Biblical mention of a priest in the Scriptures. He seems to be one of the faithful few; one of those who put his trust in the one true God.  And he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth”. Melchizedek recognizes Abram as a fellow believer and God’s servant. 

Melchizedek had the proper point of view. He knew that the true source of Abram’s success was God. He said: And blessed be God Most High, this was the work of God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand, and Abram was the servant of God Most High. Then words gave way to action and Abram gave him a tenth of everything he possessed. Because Melchizedek is a type of Christ, Abram’s actions serve as a model for us today. That is why many people tithe a tenth of everything they earn. 

Now we go back to the first king who makes a tempting offer. According to the Code of Hammurabi of that day, Abram had a perfect right to the spoils of war, and even to the captives. But the king of Sodom was clever and said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself”. That was tempting to Abram. But if he had accepted the goods, from that time on people would say, “That man Abram is certainly a wealthy man. God has blessed him.” I think that the king of Sodom would have said, “Blessed him? No way! God didn’t bless him; I gave it to him. I’m the one who made him rich.” Abram knew that he would boast, so he refused. 

He said to the king of Sodom: “I have promised”, or raised my hand to the Lord of redemption and mercy, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath, “that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the string of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’.” All Abram was willing to accept was the food his 318 men had already eaten in their pursuit of Kedorlaomer and his army. If Abram was going to be rich, it would be from God and not from man.    This tremendous test of faith, courage, generosity, and love was passed with flying colors by Abram. Accordingly, it set the stage for the greatest revelation from the Lord that he had yet received. (Jay Mack) 

 

Prayer: 

God, I pray that in times of success, my true character and spiritual maturity are revealed.  I pray that I will always remember to thank God for my successes so that I can continue to be rich in the word and works of God.  AMEN.