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Daily Devotion – June 30, 2013
06.30.13

Psalm 51:6-7

 

6. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;

you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

Sin is not a popular topic in progressive churches. Indeed, many of us have sought open and

affirming communities of faith as a refuge from the shame which traditional churches try to

pass off as a healthy awareness of sin. For individuals who have survived childhood abuse or

who have endured exclusion on account of sexual orientation or gender identity, the word sin

too often brings up feelings of self-hatred. However, Psalm 51 advances a concept of sin as

individual accountability before the Deity, along with individual restoration, concepts that

have not been distorted beneath the sexuality-fearing baggage of traditional Christianity.

 

In my experience, a practical and restorative concept of sin is to be found in the various

twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Awareness of sins in my own life,

particularly my efforts to suppress the Divine Feminine truth inside me, was my first step

towards knowing wholeness and joy. Hence, the first step towards recovery was my

admission that I had a problem. Second, I cultivated trust in a Higher Power who could

restore me to wholeness. Third, perhaps the most difficult step, I turned my will and my life

over to my Higher Power as I understood Her. At present, I practice a readiness for Goddess

to remove my defects of character and shortcomings (steps 6 and 7). Interestingly, verses 6

and 7 of Psalm 51 embody the essence of steps one, two, three, six, and seven of the

Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps.

 

Prayer:

 

Eternal Mother, may I ceaselessly

Devote most heartfelt worship unto You!

Against my sorrows, fears, and bigotries,

My own strength’s blinded powerlessness proves.

In your aid, Dearest Spirit, I can hope

As I relinquish my self-sense and will

To lay my broken being open so

Your gentle hands may work their healing skill.

If I today have dealt the least indignity

On any of your creatures, please renew

My intimacy with your loveliness

That living, sharing, all may know your bliss!



Daily Devotion – June 29, 2013
06.29.13

Psalm 51:1-3

 

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness;

According to the multitude of your tender mercies,

Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me .
   

 

Reflection by Jean Ward 

 

This Psalm has touched my heart, mind and soul at a time I needed direction.

How do I ask for compassion?  How do I ask for another chance after I have crossed the line, breaking the rules and sinning?  I have sinned and want to be “washed Clean ” but all I seem to do is dwell on my sins.

I will let David’s’ Psalm 51 guide me as I think about my transgressions and ask my kind loving God to forgive me.

 

Prayer:  

My loving God, thank you for giving me guidance through Psalm 51 so that I can better confess and understand  forgiveness. Thank you for all the “do overs” you let me have. Have mercy on me.    For yours is the power and glory. Amen



Daily Devotion – June 28, 2013
06.28.13

2 Samuel 12:13a

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

Reflection by Diane Ingram

 

 

We are our own worst enemies.  At least once a week somebody, by his or her actions, reminds me of that.  Sometimes it’s me; I remind myself. And here is King David—after years of battling Philistines, he has, by his own actions, done himself more damage than his enemies ever have. He has disordered his life to the extent that he needs a prophet to tell him that he still has worth before the Lord, that he will survive:  you shall not die.

 

With sins far less egregious than David’s, do we all feel like this sometimes?  That we have messed up so thoroughly and completely that we are worthless? Perhaps then we have to be our own voice of Nathan the Prophet and remember that if God can put away our sin, real or imagined, surely we must try to do the same for ourselves.

 

 

Prayer:

 

Loving God, when we despair of ourselves and our own actions, help us to remember your constant mercy, and to move on.



Daily Devotion – June 27, 2013
06.27.13

2 Samuel 12:7

 

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.

 

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.   

 

Nathan, faithful friend, was sent to David with a message from God.  His message was illustrated by a parable of a grievous injury that a rich man had done to an honest neighbor who was not able to contend with him.  David was shown the evil he had done.  He saw himself.  He repented of his sin; God forgave David. 

God works the same way today. He sends messengers filled with the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel, and souls are convicted of their sins.  When they confess and repent, Christ forgives them.  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  

(Romans 8:1)

 

Prayer: 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Amen

 Psalm 51:10



Daily Devotion – June 26, 2013
06.26.13

2 Samuel 12:1-6

 

…and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

 

As this story goes on, God sends Nathan to David so that he can tell a story about a selfish rich man who takes the poor man’s lamb.  The plan is for David to see the error of his ways and be penitent for what he did to Uriah.  It seems to have worked.  In fact, David proclaimed, “the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold…”

Fourfold?  Only four times the original amount of one?  Why not tenfold?  Or hundredfold.  Come on!  The rich man took away a part of the poor man’s family.  One really can’t put a price on such a terrible act. 

The characters in this story have a lot of bad stuff to deal with.  As humans, we find it difficult to forgive someone who does us harm.  But if we have God in our lives, we can forgive those who have wronged us.  God wants us to show compassion to our fellow human beings, and we have to practice it every day.  (Even when we are cut off by an inconsiderate driver!)  You never know when you might need someone to forgive YOU.

 

Prayer:

I am thankful every day, Dearest Lord, that you are in my life.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 25, 2013
06.25.13

II Samuel 11:26-27

When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

 

Reflection by Ugena Whitlock

 

Beyond the Slingshot 

 

Last month, while trying to avoid any substantial work, I had a Netflix marathon in which I caught up on the last season of the Tudors, a series about King Henry VIII. There was greed, drama, lust, murder, pride, and total abuse of power by the king. I could have skipped the marathon and just read II Samuel 11. David had been chosen by God to shepherd his people. God loved David. He was a man after God’s own heart. (I Samuel 13:14). I like him too. I can still remember the Sunday school flannel board scene of him slaying Goliath. Also, David shows us an example, from his relationship with his best buddy, Saul’s son Jonathan, of the kind of deep, caring friendship we can have with one another. David was a poet and a musician, as well as a warrior king–not unlike Henry 8. 

 

In this story, King David manages to break 4 commandments at once: the sixth (Thou shalt not murder.), seventh (Thou shalt not commit adultery.), ninth (Thou shalt not give false testimony against thy neighbor.), and tenth (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s….anything, but in this case, wife.) I used the KJV language here because nothing sounds as severe as God saying “thou.” Last week, I wrote a reflection about Nehemiah, and I used the phrase, “I love it when a plan comes together” to refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. This week, a plan seems to come together for David, but it was another kind of plan. 

 

By the time we get to the verses for today’s reflection, you just know David was breathing a huge sigh of relief. To recap, David had lusted after a married woman, gotten her pregnant (which would have gotten them both stoned to death), tried to deceive her husband, and when that didn’t work, orchestrated his murder on the battlefield. But now, just imagine how David was feeling–like he had gotten away with murder and more. 

 

Yes, this plan had come together, but not King David’s master plan to possess Bathsheba and cover up an illicit pregnancy. It was God’s plan–is always God’s plan–that continued to unfold. The last sentence of the passage tells us, But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. You just know this is not going to be good for David. It’s kind of a Biblical equivalent to wait till your father gets home. David and God had a heart-relationship, as we do with Him. But no matter how good we are at planning and making things happen for ourselves, if we let go of that connection on our end, we, like David, risk doing things that are way out of character for us. Maybe not as scandalous as David, but out of character just the same. 

 

I want to end with a thought about Bathsheba. I think sometimes she gets lost in this story. For example, the tagline of the 1951 movie, David and Bathsheba starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward, was, Mighty as Goliath! Fiery as their Love! We are told she mourned for her husband. It takes two to tango, certainly, but to this point, David hadn’t done any mourning. She made lamentation for Uriah. In this soap opera that is a long way from over, I am glad that the last thing we know here of Bathsheba is that she showed deep sadness for her husband. 

 



Daily Devotion – June 24, 2013
06.24.13

2 Samuel 11:26-27

 

When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.

Nathan Condemns David

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

 

At first, one can wonder, why would the Lord be displeased with David?  He’s consoling Bathsheba, Uriah’s grieving widow. But in fuller context, it is revealed earlier in 2 Samuel that David had Uriah killed. How devious to kill someone so that he can have that person’s wife? How is it that King David, who apparently had everything, do such a thing? Perhaps having it all makes one think one is invincible or can get away with anything.

 

How many times have we seen sports stars, politicians and others seem to have it all, only to expose their Achilles’ heel or have a fall from grace? Or how many times when we feel invincible or infallible only fall or be proven wrong?

 

Prayer:

 

Dear Lord, Let us remain humble. Help us recognize that we are no more powerful than anyone else in the eyes of God. Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – June 23, 2013
06.23.13

2 Samuel 11:1

 

David Commits Adultery with Bathsheba

 

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

 

 

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand

 

Today’s verse tells us that the return of spring was upon David and that this was the usual time of commencing military operations. This expedition took place the year following the war against the Syrians; and it was entered upon because the disaster of the former campaign having fallen chiefly upon the Syrian mercenaries, the Ammonites, had not been punished for their insult to the ambassadors. 

 

The powerful army that Joab commanded ravaged the Ammonite country and committed great havoc both on the people and their property, until having reached the capital; they besieged Rabbah, a great city. This metropolis of the Ammonites was situated in the mountainous tract of Gilead, not far from the source of the Arnon. Extensive ruins are still found on its site.

 

But why did David not go with his army?  Why did he remain in Jerusalem while his army was engaged in an important battle?  Stay tuned . . .

 

Prayer:

 

God, today we pray for the strength that we need to either enter into battle or to stay away from turmoil.  We pray that you will guide us through life and stay right beside us as we wade through our decisions.  AMEN.



Daily Devotion – June 22, 2013
06.22.13

Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
   his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint,
   and strengthens the powerless. 
Even youths will faint and be weary,
   and the young will fall exhausted; 
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
   they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
   they shall walk and not faint.

Reflection by Shaun Drefahl

Life can be exhausting. Recently I have gotten into the habit of waking up at 4:00 in the morning just so I can get things done before my calendar begins exerting its control over me. But then, on those days when things seem to be lining up nicely, too often I get an emergency phone call and all my plans go out the window.

I am always fascinated by how I react in those moments. Where do I find the energy to get through those times? Do I pray? Do I meditate? Or do I run to unhealthy food and other distractions,  “just until I’m through this?”  The theologian Paul Tillich said that everyone has faith, whether they see themselves as religious or not. Everyone becomes weary. Everyone experiences stress. Everyone has moments of confusion or anger. That is what it means to live in a world filled with brokenness. It is who (or what) I turn toward in those times of need that reveals where my faith is truly placed.

Some of the coping mechanisms we turn to might work in the short term but for the physical, mental, and spiritual health we require, we must turn to our inexhaustible God. Taking time to pray with words or by silently listening for God’s still speaking voice can provide a peace and clarity no marathon of reality television could ever offer. God is here. God gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless. For that, I am very thankful.

 

Prayer:

Eternal God, let me know Isaiah’s description of you deep in my heart. Help me to have my faith in you above all other things. Amen.

 

 

About the Author

Shaun Drefahl is Pastor of Bainbridge Community United Church of Christ, in Bainbridge, Ohio.

 



Daily Devotion – June 21, 2013

Quinn G. Caldwell

[True story: a young dating couple recently started attending one of our churches.  Bekky had been in the UCC before, and besides bringing him to a UCC congregation, she also got Rick to sign up for the Daily Devotionals.  They got so into reading them together each morning that one day, Rick wrote a special one to surprise Bekky.  They shared it with their pastor Mark Winters, and he got their permission to share it with you:]    

 

Stillspeaking Daily Devotional  Rick Edition  May 18, 2013    

 

 

Proverbs 4:25  

 

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

   

 

When I bought this house almost 2 years ago, one of the main reasons I bought it was the natural wetland behind it. I thought, “How beautiful, I can wake up and enjoy it daily.”  So I committed that every day I would start my day by identifying some life out of my window.    

 

This morning I jumped up to get my day started, thinking of all the things I had to do today, those daily tasks that once done today reappear tomorrow. I looked out the window for my quick glance to catch some life, and I didn’t see anything-not a robin flying or a duck dabbling. I saw nothing and I was anxious to get my day going so I scanned the wetland for life just so I could get this task done and move onto more important things.    

 

Then it hit me. I was missing the very point of my commitment. I promised to take the time and enjoy God’s natural beauty in this wetland everyday and now it was just a task.  I relaxed, closed my eyes, and reopened them and the wetland was alive with birds, ducks, and prairie grasses erupting from the soil. The moment I took the time to really look, it was all there right in front of me.    

In what other areas in my life am I missing everything, in my rush to do everything? My children, my friends, my family, the love of my life?  How would my perspective change if I took the time to really appreciate them and everything right in front of me?    

 

Prayer:  

 

Lord, help me to see that which you have put in front of me.  Amen.    About the Author    Rick is a guy in love with Bekky, the woman of his dreams, and hopes that one day she will do him the honor of marrying him.  He is also the father of two amazing kids: Maya and Mason, 8 and 8, and nearly a member of First Congregational UCC of Napierville, IL.

 

[End devotional.  Everybody, go now and do likewise.  Oh, and Bekky?  That boy’s a keeper.  If you like it, you better put a ring on it.]    

 

 

Prayer


God, fill your people so full of your Spirit that they cannot help but write and tell the world about you.  Make us all like Rick.  Amen.

 

 

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About the Author

Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at 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, published by The Pilgrim Press.