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Daily Devotion – April 29, 2014
04.29.14

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. Luke 24:13-14

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

The news of Christ’s resurrection is spreading fast. Only a day after he was resurrected the events of what had happened had already spread to Emmaus, seven miles away from Jerusalem. In this age of internet, multimedia, and instant news access this might not seem like a big deal, but in the early 1st century this was truly a miracle. Access to the luxuries that we have today like the internet and cars that would make it easier to get the word out 7 miles was not something the early witnesses of the resurrection were afforded. The movement of the good news of Christ into Emmaus could have only happened through word of mouth. And some of those witnesses we read about (the disciples mainly) spent most of the third day arguing among themselves, in deep grief, and feeling hopeless, which should have slowed down the message spreading. The good news of Christ can’t be stopped though and is spreading, and reaching out beyond Jerusalem. Doubt and fear can’t even stop what has been started. This is good news!

Prayer:

Resurrected God, may we continue to remember and spread the good news that Christ is Risen, so that it can reach even the most far off and remote places on the earth. Turn our doubt and fear into faith and courage. Grant us peace even when we do doubt to know that Christ’s good news will continue to spread no matter what.



Daily Devotion – April 28, 2014
04.28.14

Mark 11:8-10

8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Reflection by Holly CothranDrake

Reflecting on Holy Week, I try to imagine the people shouting and recognizing Jesus as Lord. I imagine if I would have been one of them, or if I would have been a doubter. I wonder if I would have believed his miracles, especially if I wanted him to save himself from crucifixion, but he did not. I wonder if I would have followed the high priests and mocked him. As I wonder, I realize that I have been both in my lifetime. I have been a believer and a doubter. I have praised him, and I have doubted him. I can confess that being a believer has enriched my life in ways that to me, feel like miracles. Believing that Jesus is Lord and the Son of God breathes life into me. I feel loved. So, today I shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Today and forever more, I believe.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Almighty God, and Great Creator thank you for loving me. Thank you for the ultimate gift and display of your love. Thank you for your Son, Jesus. May we all become believers. In his holy name, Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 27, 2014
04.27.14

 

 

John 20:30-31

 

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.

 

Jesus appeared to His disciples following His resurrection, and performed many miracles, more than are recorded.  It seems He did these miracles only in the disciple’s presence for specific reasons:  He walked through a closed door that the disciples were hiding behind in fear.  He did no miracle in the general public, to gain attention.

Jesus must have known the disciples needed to see such a miracle, or He would not have done this.  He did such marvelous things as this to help the disciples be sure of the glorious power and purpose the Lord Jesus had, and have their faith confirmed, because they were to be the preachers of Christ’s resurrection to others, and it was important they have proofs that He came to save the lost and to give those who believe, eternal life.

 

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for Jesus, your Son.  Thank you, Jesus, for eternal life and the peace you give while we travel on our journey in this world.

 

                              Amen        



Daily Devotion – April 26, 2014
04.26.14

John 20:26-29

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Reflection by Lynne Buell

 

Thomas’s doubt and outright rejection of the other disciples’ telling of seeing Jesus a week following the crucifixion was borderline insubordination, don’t you think?  Thomas was adamant about seeing AND touching Jesus before he would believe that Christ had risen.  So here they are in a house behind closed doors, Thomas included, when Jesus appears before them and greets them with his traditional words, “Peace be with you.”  He approaches Thomas and tells him to look at and touch his hands and his sides.  After the see and touch test, Thomas is overwhelmed with belief and responds “My Lord and my God!” categorizing Jesus in the same majestic class with God. 

 

So here is the puzzling part for me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’  It will require more research, of course. But when did Jesus stop appearing  and when did it begin for us Christians who believe without the see and touch test?

 

Prayer:

 

Gracious God, you have given us teachers to interpret your will so that we may all learn your truth.  Amen

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 25, 2014
04.25.14

 
 

John 20: 24-25

 

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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 Ugena Whitlock

Doubting Thomas

You know, I would have probably been just like Thomas. He steps out for just a few minutes, and when he gets back, the others tell him they saw Jesus. Maybe when he makes that statement about not believing until he sees and feels, he did not doubt Jesus at all—maybe he doubted what the other guys were telling him. There’s a difference. Thomas has gotten a bad rap for the last two thousand years because of this one incident. In fact, in John 11:16 Jesus told the disciples that it was time to head back down to Judea from Bethany, and they said, “Hold on, they just tried to stone you down there.” Jesus was busy at the time raising Lazarus from the dead and only had time for one of his mysterious sayings (“Are there not twelve hours of daylight?…”), so it was Thomas who spoke up and said to them, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  Now some scholars interpret this as Thomas being facetious, but I don’t. Otherwise, all we would know of Thomas is that he is the sarcastic, skeptical Apostle. Then again, maybe he was. Maybe Jesus knew that when these folks would be sewing the seeds of the Kingdom, they would run into a whole lot of doubters. As I think about it, there HAD to be a “Doubting Thomas.” I think he is a good example of a person who has faith yet also doubts. I think he is a good example of human nature.

Thomas has always been portrayed as a doubter—of how not to be. But are we really like the other disciples, with an immediate, unshakeable faith? Come to think about it, do you think they all believed, without any doubt? It could be that Thomas is the one who spoke up, just like he did in Bethany. Thomas wanted to know, and seeking knowledge has been what people are about ever since there were, well, people. Wanting to know about the divine and our participation in it is why we have theology. See, doubting (questioning, examining) leads to knowledge by way of inquiry. Peter Abelard believed that he had to doubt in order to know. And, God is big enough to stand up to our questions. God does so patiently and consistently.

As some of you know, I grew up fundamentalist, in the non-instrumental Church of Christ. My faith comes from the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God. In other words, the Bible is God’s playbook; you can have faith in it because the plays work. Theology—the study of the nature of God—is not operative in fundamentalism, at least not on the surface. One does not need to express theological principles when one can simply read God’s own words about God’s own nature. So when I started to Candler to study theology, my folks were visibly worried. They were worried that theology—the searching—would shake my faith. I respect their concern; it comes from a place of caring and devotion, of love. Yet, the contexts and paradoxes about God—my “not knowing”—do not, for me, lessen my faith. The more I don’t know, the more I can believe. I tried explaining that to my daddy, who is a church elder. He said, “Well for me it would be the opposite. If every word in this Scripture is not the Truth, what’s the point in trying to live as a good Christian?” “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.”  Or the words in the book. Doubt in the pursuit of knowledge is scary when it concerns the Divine. There is every chance we might come to know, and then we cannot turn back.

 

But back to our man Thomas. Look at the next verse (26): A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Thomas stayed; he stayed with the others waiting and he stayed with his own faith. In fact, his faith was the reason he stayed. I think this is important. It wasn’t his faith he doubted.  Flannery O’Connor wrote, Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not. It is what Thomas knew, not knowing what he believed. He may not have been sure of what to believe, but he had faith—which is a bigger ticket item. A belief problem can be countered with faith. That’s what happened to Thomas. It’s what can happen with us today. I think we might do an occasional “gut check” of what we believe. We say we have faith—we show it on Sundays and in how we live our lives—but do we think about what grounds it? I think it is misleading and too simple to think of Thomas as a lesson on the pitfalls of doubting Jesus. Thomas worked on his faith and with his faith, demonstrating that it was living, dynamic. If we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), then faith is a kind of pipeline for God’s grace. We need for that pipeline to be strong—sometimes it needs reinforcing like any plumbing. That is what we might learn from Thomas, the Believer.

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 24, 2014
04.24.14

John 20:19-23

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 

When it was evening on that day, the
first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met
were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace
be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then
the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this,
he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they
are retained.’

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

 What a powerful story! Can you imagine first spending years as one of Jesus’ chosen
disciples! Then, to have your dreams shattered as you witness His demise
through the painful crucifixion! And then fearing the same outcome for
yourself, you hide away not knowing what to do. And then Jesus appears before
you! How powerful and awesome must that visit have been for them!

 There’s no reminiscing. There are no questions about heaven. Jesus gets right to the
point. “Peace be with you.” He wants to calm the disciples’ fears.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He wants the disciples to
quit huddling in fear and to go out into the world to continue His ministry.

 We should be thankful that we live in a country where we do not have to live in
fear because we are believers in Christ. Yet, sometimes I do hide my
Christianity. I sometimes forgo saying grace before a meal if I am with non-Christians.
But why should I do that? Why should I make others comfortable by making myself
uncomfortable? Thinking back upon my childhood, my parents ALWAYS said their
usual Buddhist grace before and after EVERY dinner, no matter who else was at
the table. In fact, after I would say a Christian grace, they would recite
their Buddhist grace. Isn’t it better that we are all witness to our beliefs
than to hide our beliefs, no matter if they are similar or different?

 

Prayer:

Dear Lord, give me the courage to be a
witness to your love whenever the opportunity arises. In Jesus’ name I pray.

 



Daily Devotion – April 23, 2014
04.23.14

Colossians 3:1-4 

The New Life in Christ 

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are
above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on
things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life
is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
 

 

Devotion by Rochelle Lofstrand 

I was reading through some devotions online and came across this devotion for today’s scripture.  Over Easter weekend I went to the movies and watched “Heaven is for
Real”.  I couldn’t help but think about Pastor Cecil’s devotion below as I watched the movie.  Now that we know where we are headed . . .our hearts and our minds needs to stay focused on the ‘prize’; a new life with Jesus.

 

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly
things.” 

Imagine that we are preparing for a major move from Seattle to Miami. We have sold our house, packed our belongings and are just waiting for the movers to come and start the 3,300 mile trip to a new home that was purchased for us. 

Should someone call and offer to take us on a tour of homes in Seattle I am sure we would show very little interest. On the other hand we have collected as much information as possible about the Miami area. 

What makes the difference? We have a new home just waiting for our arrival. We have never seen this home, but the person who purchased it in our behalf, has given us a clear description of the home and community. Why should we preoccupy our thoughts with Seattle when Miami is going to be our new home? 

Are you getting the spiritual application here? Paul is urging us to stop paying so much attention to the things of this world and start spending more time with our hearts tuned in to heaven. Those of us who have truly been born again are on the way to our new home that the Lord has prepared for us—heaven! What a wonderful place that will
be!

There is no pain, turmoil or trial in our life that does not fade into nothingness when compared to the glories of heaven. That is why we need to follow the admonitions Paul gives us in today’s Scripture: “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” 

Where is your heart and mind?

- by Pastor Cecil Thompson 

 

Prayer: 

God, thank you for the promise of resurrection and new life.  I pray that today’s scripture stands as a reminder that we each have this opportunity for the stone to be rolled away in our hearts and our minds so that we may focus on new life with Jesus.  AMEN.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 22, 2014
04.22.14

Acts 10: 34-35

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that
God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does
what is right is acceptable to him.

Devotion by Anne Mooney

This is the good news of the New Testament story in a nutshell.  God loves us all, no matter who we are or where we come from.  In this story we find Peter, the head of the disciples after Jesus’ death setting the stage to share the good news beyond the bounds of the Hebrew people. 

At the time he said these words, Peter was talking to Gentiles.  Up to now, Jewish law has not allowed the Jews to socialize with Gentiles.  But Peter has been invited to talk with a Centurion named Cornelius and Cornelius was a Gentile.  Peter was willing to go because of a vision he had while praying.  In his dream he was offered food that the Jews considered unclean and did not eat.  He refused the food three times, but was told each time that what God has made clean is no longer unclean.  So when Cornelius sent for Peter, he knew that God wanted him to go. 

Peter took some companions with him to visit Cornelius.  Cornelius had invited a number of his friends and family to his home for Peter’s visit.  Cornelius had had a vision, too.  An angel appeared to him and told him to send for Peter because his prayers and treatment of the poor have impressed God.  This meeting was witnessed by many Jews and Gentiles.  Peter told Cornelius and those who were there about Jesus.  He shared about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  While Peter was talking, an amazing thing happened.  The Holy Spirit entered into the hearts of the Gentiles and they were filled with God’s glory.  They praised God and spoke in tongues.  The witnessing Jews were astonished, but Peter knew what to do.  He baptized Cornelius along with his friends and family.  The uncircumcised Gentiles were welcomed into the Kingdom of God. 

So today, everyone is welcomed into God’s arms and church.  We all are loved.  All we have to do is recognize and receive this unconditional gift.  It will change us when we do. 

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for loving us and welcoming us into your family.  Thank you for sending your son to show us how you want us to live.  Thank you for sending Jesus to show us how to love each other.  Amen



Daily Devotion – April 21, 2014
04.21.14

 

Psalm 67:1-2

 

1. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, 

2. that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

Psalm 67 is a simple exclamation of blessing and praise. The purpose of praise in worship is 

not always clear. Humankind is not called upon to speak or sing in praise to build up the

Divine Spirit. The Divine Spirit is by no means insecure and in need of adulation from mere

mortals. Rather, we offer praise and thanks to attune our inner-being and our very life’sbreath 

to the goodness and grandeur of the Divine.

 

During a difficult time in my own life, as I worked in the damp cold of the Bering Sea, I

composed the following meditation of praise to the Spirit as she is revealed to me:

 

Hymn: 

In deepest adoration unto you, 

Eternal Mother, may each atom of 

my being praise that one essential fount 

to all existence one-and-same with you! 

In warmth you offer a companionship 

most intimate while you exist as sole 

unknowable, All-Changing not to fit 

descriptions by the physical mind’s probe!



Daily Devotion – April 20, 2014
04.19.14

John 20:  1 – 18

 

The Resurrection of Jesus

 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb
and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to
Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them,
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have
laid him.”

 

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running
together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He
bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there but he did not go
in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the
linen wrappings lying there and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not
lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

 

Then the other disciple who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for
as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.
Then the disciples returned to their homes. 

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne

 

Easter is a festive proclamation of good news. In Christ, God has overcome the powers of
sin and death, freeing the human race to live with hope and promising us life.
Not just life after death, but full life, divinely inspired, life in the here
and now. However, even in these moments of celebration many people express
insecurity in their own believing. They worry that they don’t understand
enough. They fear that they may lack full conviction. 

The story of John 20: 1- 18 rejects the notion that faith only comes in one shape and size.
Jesus is risen. John’s Gospel is very clear on that point. Jesus’ tomb is
empty, as Mary, Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple can see. The risen Jesus appears
to Mary, then later in the same day to his disciples. But what sort of risen
Jesus is this? Does he resemble a ghost or an embodied human? Why is it that
those who love Him most see Him without recognizing him?  

On that first Easter Sunday, Mary sees that the stone to the tomb has been taken away. She
sees the empty tomb, but she does not yet believe. When Jesus appears to her
she assumes He’s a gardener. Only when He calls her name does Mary come to
believe. Things go no more smoothly for Peter. He enters the tomb where he sees
Jesus’ burial garments. As far as we know, Peter does not yet believe. 

The Beloved Disciple, however, provides the model of faith. He outruns Peter to the tomb.
He too looks in and sees the linen cloths. He also allows Peter to enter ahead
of him. But when the Beloved Disciple enters he sees and he believes. 

As the saying goes, “Seeing is believing.” But is it? Mary sees yet needs help in believing.
Peter sees, but he does not yet believe. The Gospel story, however, does not
judge any of these people. All three come to faith, but the discovery is
different for each person. 

In times of great loss, we often need to see something; some essence of proof, for it
brings closure and hopefully acceptance and understanding. The Beloved Disciple
can believe without seeing. Mary needs a personal touch, the calling of her
name. And Peter has encountered the risen Jesus twice and does not yet fully
believe. 

How many times have you wondered? How many times have you questioned your faith? How many more
times will you question your faith and your belief in the years to come?
Questions we may all resolve in time or may continue to question. But as many
times as I have questioned, I have answered, “I do believe.” 

 

Prayer: 

Loving and forgiving God, 

As we lift up our hearts, our hopes and our fears to You on this Easter morning, let us be
reminded of your Son and His sacrifice so that we could have eternal life. Let us
rekindle our belief, our faith and our love for Him and for You, for in that we
will find eternal hope and happiness. 

Amen