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Daily Devotion – July 31, 2013
07.31.13

Matthew 18:1-5

True Greatness

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker

 

What is the one special trait that a child has; Innocence and lack of skepticism.  The problem with some adults is that they become too jaded and make it harder than necessary to believe without seeing.  If we can believe in God with the innocence of a child, think how much easier it would be.  Faith should be one of the things that live in our hearts and minds without barriers.  I know, as we grow older we experience hardships and see things and ask, “How can God allow that to happen?”  That is when we especially need to let go and allow God to be fully in our hearts and trust completely in God.  Sometimes God carries us and sometimes God simply walks with us.  That is truly comforting to me. 

 

Prayer: 

True greatness is within us all may we see that and embrace it. Amen.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – July 30, 2013
07.30.13

John 3:16-17

 

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but to save the world through him.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

As may be the case with many of us raised in evangelical households, John 3:16 was the first scripture passage I learned as a young child. Indeed, verse 16 does serve to summarize Christ’s entire story and message of the four Gospels. Yet, in my life, verse 17 has been the more meaningful, as it echoes the words of Divine Spirit, “Don’t be afraid”. Given the opening proclamation of Divine Love and the promise of life to those who believe in verse 16, verse 17 follows up by a reassurance of Divine Love. Hence, in my devotional practices the two verses have always felt incomplete unless read or spoken together. The word “believes” has often given me trouble, since the institutional church concept of belief seems sterile in comparison to my own sense of daily, heartfelt trust in an Ever-Compassionate Mother. My need to connect to the Divine as Goddess, instead of a paternal or even a genderless Deity, does not contradict my original commitment to Christ, but rather guides me to maturity in Christ’s Love. My increasing sense of inner aliveness and my passion for a warm and All-Surrounding Mother, is reaffirmed upon re-reading John 3:16-17.

 

Prayer:

 

Eternal Mother may I ceaselessly

devote most heartfelt worship unto you!

Your sorrows on behalf of every life

hint at your deep desire make anew,

To reunite and rescue, not condemn.

Your Right Hand clears a path for all who find

their place you’ve set to dine, thus to reclaim

that child-and-mother closeness reconciled.



Daily Devotion – July 29, 2013
07.29.13

John 3:1-9

Nicodemus Visits Jesus

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’

Commentary by Lynne Buell

Perhaps Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was afraid of public association with Jesus.  Another reason could be that Nicodemus wanted to speak with Jesus without interruptions.  Regardless, Nicodemus, a Jewish leader who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, misunderstood Jesus’ message that night.  Nicodemus started his conversation by saying that he knew Jesus was a teacher who was sent by God because of the miracles he and the people of Jerusalem witnessed.  Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus that even though the people have witnessed miracles and say they believe that Jesus was sent by God, it was not enough to be able to enter God’s Kin-dom until they were born again from above.  Nicodemus took Jesus’ comments literally, and he was confused because he was thinking Jesus was telling him that we have to be born of the flesh again.   

I used to dislike the phrase “born again”.  I heard it primarily from folks who are Baptist, but I’m sure other religions like to use it too.  In fact, when I started to attend Pilgrimage, a friend introduced me at a luncheon with her friends as a born again Christian.  This offended me, but I graciously replied that I have always been a Christian; it is just recently that I started to attend church regularly.

I get it now.  Meaning “born again.”  I am in the process of being born again; because I am learning about the meanings of the scriptures, the stories and how they can be incorporated into how I live my life, how God wants us to live our lives peacefully and lovingly together, how Jesus was sent to save us from our sins.  And this is what Jesus was trying to emphasize to Nicodemus. 

My brief research clarified what I thought I understood about these verses.  That Nicodemus had misunderstood Jesus’ words.  He thought Jesus was talking about repeated ‘physical birth,’ when Jesus, in fact, was referring to new ‘spiritual birth.’

Prayer:

Gracious God, I pray that I may “know” Him and the power of His resurrection.

From Joyce Meyer Ministries

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – July 28, 2013
07.28.13

 

Acts 1:21-26

So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus
went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when
he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his
resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also
known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know
everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the
place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to
his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and
he was added to the eleven apostles.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram

 

I don’t know how I missed the clarity of some of these biblical scenes in all those
early years when revivals ran all summer and we were at church morning and
evening, but I don’t recall this scene as a sermon topic. As I read it tonight,
it sprang to life:

 

It’s after the resurrection, and a group of 120 believers is in Jerusalem waiting
for the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus. As the group waits, unsure
what will happen next, what they should do, Peter steps forward.

 

He tells them there’s a business matter at hand. 
Judas the betrayer is gone, dead by his own action, and a replacement is
needed to bring the number of apostles back to 12.  There’s a requirement: the person chosen must
have witnessed Jesus’s ministry from the time he was baptized by John until the
day of his resurrection.  Two names are
put forward:  Joseph and Matthias. 

 

The group prays, asking Jesus to choose between the men. 

 

Then lots are cast – with the assumption that prayer will be answered, that Jesus,
in effect, controls the stone that will fall from the container. The camera
pans in, and we can see the stone that identifies Matthias. There can be no
argument.

 

The crowd is back to waiting, talking among themselves, but Matthias’ life has been
changed forever. 

 

Prayer:

 

Loving God, when
we are chosen, help us to do whatever we are called to do.

 

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – July 27, 2013
07.27.13

John 20:26-29

 

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.

 

 

Thomas ran on fear.  A rambling in his mind:  “I won’t go there unless this and this happens because I might be wrong and if I’m wrong I’ll be in big trouble and I’ll be then deserving off all kinds of ridicule and punishment.”

 

Instead of thinking of Thomas as a stubbornly strong person who held firmly to the proven and was smartly the last to move into the new, it would be better to see him as a little child afraid to jump in the water until he had seen 4 other kids jump in and not get hurt.

 

Jesus saw Thomas’ mask.  Jesus also recognized how fortunate Thomas was.

 

Annotated translation:  “You actually get to see me raised from the dead and this big drama will give you a boost toward coming out of your fear.  But there will be many just like you, Thomas, frightened children in adult bodies, who will want the same healing from fear, but they won’t see me in the flesh.  Blessed are they for their road to letting go and finding relief from their old ways will be much harder than yours.”

                                                                                     

Prayer:

 

Father,

We’re the ones “who have not seen”.  Bless us again.

                                                                                       Amen

            



Daily Devotion – July 26, 2013

John 20:24-25

 

Jesus and Thomas

 

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

 

Thomas seemed a little apprehensive, or perhaps belligerent is a better word, when the other disciples told him of Jesus’ appearance to them. 

 

To Thomas, ‘seeing is believing'; so Thomas insists that he must see the marks from the nails on Jesus’ hands before he trusts that Jesus arose from the dead.   As a disciple, however, shouldn’t Thomas have had faith enough to accept the disciples’ observations of Jesus even though Thomas wasn’t there? 

 

The fundamental message here is actually ‘believing is seeing’, and we must be aware of the messages from the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ teachings so that our beliefs will allow us to see and understand how to live as good Christians.

 

 

Prayer:

Where there is doubt, help us to know Christ is the son of God through the messages in the Bible and help us to live as children of God.  Amen.   



Daily Devotion – July 25, 2013
07.25.13

John 13: 25-27

 

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

 

Reflection by Ugena Whitlock

 

There’s Something About John

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a reflection on scripture that also mentioned The disciple whom Jesus loved, almost universally accepted to be John, the brother of James. So I looked John up in some more verses. He is often referred to that way, as the disciple Jesus loved. Now, taken together, today’s verses demonstrate the humanity of Jesus in his making sure his mother was taken care of. Here in the South, we have a soft spot in our collective hearts for a boy who loves his mama. Jesus surely did. The verses directly before and after these show that while he was on the cross, he was conscious of words and actions that fulfilled the words of the prophets. Then, right in the middle of all that fulfilling, Jesus sees his mom and in his last act, entrusted her to John’s care. The disciple whom he loved. 

 

I started to wonder what it was about John that caused Jesus to have a special warmth for him. He was among the first disciples Jesus called. He was one of the twelve who was with Jesus at key times in his ministry, most often alongside Peter and James. He was the youngest among them. Jesus called John and his brother James the “sons of thunder” because they were zealous to the point of getting carried away. Jesus admonished–corrected their misguided notions–more than once (Luke 9:49-50, 9:52-56, Matt. 21:20-23, Mark 9:38). We’re told in Mark and Luke that James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn up Samaritan towns that did not accept Jesus. Jesus said, wait guys; no, a little humility, ok? Maybe that had something to do with his love for John; John was all in. Still, there was something about John that must have been, in my own speculation, love-able.

 

Keeping in mind he wrote this book, so he’s describing himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. But you know, I don’t mind. If it had been me, I’d have written it too. In fact, in that descriptor, what John really does is not only proclaim Jesus’s love for him; he also proclaims to us his deep and abiding love for Jesus. Later, in another book that bears his name, I John, he has one primary theme: love each other. I like to think that maybe John could write so strongly about love because he had felt the deep love of Christ. The thing is, so can we. That is what John knew, and that is how he admonished the early Christians–and us–to love one another. I heard a preacher once repeat the legend that at the end of his life John–infirm and frail–was carried into meetings of the church, and as he was moved among them, they could hear him whisper, “Love each other, love each other.”   It is very fitting that the disciple whom Jesus loved would leave this world spreading that love with his last breath. There are worse ways to go.

 



Daily Devotion – July 24, 2013
07.24.13

Luke 6:12-16

Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles

 Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

 

I’ve never thought about it before. One of the most important decisions facing Jesus had to have been choosing His disciples. He spent the entire night in prayer, deliberating His choices. I wonder if the Holy Spirit helped Him with the selections to choose the perfect disciples or if the Holy Spirit moved His disciples to fulfill their appointed roles and it didn’t matter as much who Jesus chose.

I guess we’ll never really know.  But we know that Jesus prayed to God regarding His choices. So what better testimony for the power of prayer than this story.

 

Prayer:

 

Dear Lord, Help guide me to make good choices. Help me receive the Holy Spirit. Help lead me to a better life. Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – July 23, 2013
07.23.13

Luke 5:27-31

Jesus Calls Levi

 

After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him.

 

Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

 

Devotion by Rochelle Lofstrand

 

I once had a friend who refused to the go to the gym to help with weight loss until she was thin enough to go to the gym.  She also said that she couldn’t attend church regularly again until she was without sin.  I never understood either of these statements.  One goes to the gym TO lose weight and one goes to church TO learn and live out a life that is more holy.  Today’s scripture teaches us that everyone is welcome at Jesus’ table; even the tax collectors!  If they are invited to join Jesus than so are we!!  We don’t have to be perfect for God but we need to be open to the experience of learning and changing.  We are all called to the table!

 

Prayer:

 

God, thank you for inviting me to your table even when I have lived a life from the one you want for me.  I pray that I continue to grow in my Christianity and that I continue to strive to be better.  AMEN



Daily Devotion – July 22, 2013
07.22.13

Luke 5:1-11

 

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

 

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

 

Commentary by Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Boomershine

 

“This story is about the recruitment of Jesus’ followers. It is the most elaborate of the call

stories in the gospel tradition and in my opinion it’s the best one. This is a wonderful

story of Jesus getting into Simon’s boat and a miraculous catch of fish. Simon and his

partners, James and John, are blown away and decide to follow Jesus. Jesus tells Simon

that from now on he will be a “catcher of people.” This story relates the first time in

Simon Peter’s life when he met Jesus, when his life forever was changed. It has the

dynamic of the recognition of the one who would be Lord of his life, determining his

future.” 

Thomas E. Boomershine, PhD—For more on Rev. Dr. Bommershine’s reflection, go to:

http://www.gotell.org/pdf/commentary/Luke/Lk05_01-11_commentary.pdf