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Daily Devotion – June 29, 2014
06.29.14

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  Whoever welcomes a prophet will receive a prophets reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.

Matthew 10:40-42

 

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

 

I love southern hospitality; the old school southern hospitality when you would go visit a person house and they would roll out the red carpet for you.  Sweet tea, pie, fried chicken, potato salad all laid out and a hearty “how y’all doing” with a hand waving you in as you walk through the front door.  For the most part this is a lost art, but I remember growing up and going to visit friends of my parents after church on Sunday and receiving this type of welcome.  I remember feeling at home no matter where I went.

 

In ancient Jewish culture, messengers were often sent on behalf of others, especially the king.  Welcoming the messenger was like welcoming the person who sent them.  From what I understand, you would not want that person to feel unwelcomed in your town.  The consequences for either town or the individual not welcoming a messenger in to their midst could be quite catastrophic.  It’s not much unlike what happens today.

 

When the President receives an ambassador from another country, the red carpet is rolled out.  CIA, military officials, food, and flashing bulbs from the press are all part of the welcoming committee.  Treating the messenger with hospitality is of outmost importance.  I am sure there are plenty of kickbacks or rewards offered to those who welcome the messengers.  These rewards are fleeting though.  One wrong look and the rewards received could be taken away.  We experience that all the time in our current political landscape.

 

Jesus, being a part of the Jewish culture, brought this welcoming spirit beyond the political and cultural realm with his words.  I believe he was propping up those who do acts of prophecy, righteousness, and offering drink to the thirsty on an even greater level than the kings and other political leaders.  Jesus put himself and his followers on a higher level by promising rewards that can never be lost.  Welcoming a righteous person in the name of righteousness is a reward that will remain deep within forever.  Likewise, seeing the smile on the face of a child who is thirsty after being given water gives the giver a gift that can’t be taken away by anyone.

 

I think that is the secret to southern hospitality.  Watching the faces and joy of all those receiving the welcome whether with food, drink or a simple hello is eternal.  The reward given to the host is something that can never be taken away.  Likewise, when God is welcomed into our lives we receive eternal rewards that can never be taken away.

 

Prayer:

 

Holy One, help me to find ways to welcome you and your spirit of righteousness, peace, love, and kindness into my life.  I know the reward of welcoming your spirit into my life will give me rewards that will be sustained forever.  Be with me, Lord.  Amen. 

 

 



Daily Devotion – June 28, 2014

Colossians 3:15 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

Devotion by Holly CothranDrake 

This one verse contains very powerful words:  peace, one, and thankful.  This week I thought about all of the recent random shootings happening in our country.  I think about how much anger and hate must have been needed to fuel the act of killing another.  But if those who were killing others had been introduced to the peace offered by our Lord, perhaps they would have received it.  If those who were killing were taught that we are all brothers and sisters of Christ and children of God, perhaps they would have understood it.  If those who were killing had been shown how to give thanks for all things, perhaps they would have valued life more.  Let us remember every day that our words and actions are testimony of our faith.  Let us spread the peace of Christ with everyone, because there are many who do not know it.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, God Almighty, and Great Creator, let us be your vessel.  Let your light shine so brightly through us that others will ask, “Why are you so happy?”  And we will reply, because of the peace and love of my Lord.  In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 26, 2014
06.26.14

Psalm 13 

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies 

To the leader.  A Psalm of David.

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?    How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I bear pain* in my soul,    and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord,    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell 

If I am in my car after 2:00 p.m. on a week day, I turn my radio to the Stars station, Channel 106 and listen to Dr. Laura.  Why?  For entertainment, mostly.  (Those of you who have listened to her program know what I’m talking about.)  But yesterday, a male caller peaked my interest.  His first words to her were referring to the fact that for ‘quite some time now everything he touches turns brown’.  In her usual style, Dr. Laura needed him to be more specific.  She said ‘Do you have cancer?’ ‘Were both your legs amputated?’ The man responded ‘no’, to which she said, ‘Well you’re able to help yourself, then.’   He started by telling her he was now homeless.  Before he could go on, Dr. Laura asked him what he was calling her on.  He said, ‘I have one of those Lifeline Free Cell Phones,’ to which she responded, ‘Well, there you go, you have a cell phone.’ Then she asked firmly what his plan was.  It didn’t take him long to respond by saying he needed to get his motor home repaired.  Again, she prodded by asking him what his plan was.  Amazingly he started to tell her his plan; and unfortunately, I had reached my destination and did not hear the remainder of the call.

 

But I thought about that man after I read the Psalm I was assigned to reflect on this morning.  This man felt like he had reached rock bottom.  Perhaps he had been asking God, ‘Why me?’  ‘What am I to do?’  ‘Why are you ignoring my prayers?’  And perhaps this man selected the path which led him to apply and get a free cell phone so that he could make that call to Dr. Laura.  Even though I didn’t hear the outcome of the call, I believe she gave him hope and confidence; exactly what he needed to begin taking steps toward getting back on his feet again.

 

Sometimes we overlook little signs when we think we have reached rock bottom.  We feel ignored by God who isn’t answering our prayers the way we want our prayers answered.  But then when the storm has passed, do we sing God’s praises?  Has life turned around—and is it far better than we could ever imagine?  At the end of the day, contemplate your life in a positive way regardless of what occurred.  And always thank God for all the good that has been provided to you.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – June 24, 2014
06.24.14

Genesis 22: 4-8

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

Wow! Really? Abraham is taking his son as a sacrificial offering for God? This is the old testament. As loving and forgiving as Jesus was/is, I can’t imagine Jesus encouraging someone to kill his son as a way to honor God. I’m glad that Jesus shows us that God is a loving God. I don’t know what I would have done if I were born before Jesus. Would I have sacrificed one of my children in the name of God? I can’t imagine doing so.

I notice that Abraham lies to Isaac about why they aren’t taking a lamb for the burnt-offering. He must be either so conflicted about the impending murder of his son, or so devout that there isn’t any conflict in his mind whatsoever.

I guess I’m not that devout. I’m half-conflicted some of the time and not thinking of God at all many a time. Sometimes I choose God’s way naturally. And other times I am very conscious of the Holy Spirit gnawing at me or tugging at me or whispering to me. But all too often I put God into the back seat thinking that I am the better driver for my life. Yet at times I wonder how I arrived at where I arrived. I guess the only question I need to ask myself is: “Why don’t I let go and let God drive more often than I do”?

 

Prayer:

Dear Lord, If your path is such an easy one, why do I stray and wander and wind up in the thickets and brambles of life? Continue to light the way for me and I will try and follow. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – June 23, 2014
06.23.14

Genesis 22:1-3

 

The Command to Sacrifice Isaac

 

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.

 

Devotion by Rochelle Lofstrand

 

As someone who is trying very hard to be a parent, today’s devotion is mind-boggling.  Could you imagine being asked by anyone to sacrifice your own child?  Abraham had faith that God’s plan for him and for his son was bigger than anything he could have imagined.  He had so much trust in that faith that he took Isaac to the mountains and prepared the wood for his death.  I’m not sure that I would have that much faith.  You?

 

Prayer:

God, I pray today that I may have as much faith as Abraham for your plan for me and my life.  AMEN.



Daily Devotion – June 21, 2014
06.22.14

Psalm 130

Waiting for Divine Redemption

A Song of Ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

 

Reflection by Anne Mooney

This psalm is comforting to me.  It helps me to not feel so alone in my own grief over personal feelings of guilt and shame when I know I haven’t done my best.  It lets me know that others have also had similar emotions.  This Psalm is encouraging because it reminds me of God’s forgiveness.  Like everyone, I continually make mistakes.  It is human nature to do so. But God’s love is unconditional.  Just like David, I can feel hope and redemption in the knowledge that God continues to care about me despite my imperfections.  I, too, can wait on the Lord with hope and I can trust in the power of God’s forgiveness.

Prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for your wonderful love and forgiving heart.  AMEN



Daily Devotion – June 20, 2014
06.20.14

Leviticus 4:  19-21 

Sacrifice, An Act of Forgiveness 

He shall remove all its fat and turn it into smoke on the altar. He shall do with the bull just as is done with the bull of sin-offering; he shall do the same with this. The priest shall make atonement for them and they shall be forgiven. He shall carry the bull inside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull; it is the sin-offering for the assembly.

Reflection by Monty Wyne

Some 3,500 years ago, the priests burned sacrifices at the altar. Sacrifices were also called “offerings’ and they burned them for three reasons: 1.) God told them to do it and if they obeyed Him, He would be kind to them. 2.) God was pleased when his people gave sacrifices. They realized they should die like the animal because of their sins but God accepted sacrifices instead of the person who gave it. And…3.) After offering the sacrifice to God, they could have fellowship with Him. And God wanted his people to have friendly relations with Him.

Well, fortunately times have changed. Today, we might sacrifice some stuffed animals or favorite pieces of clothing for those who are homeless and in need. And the only animals that may be found on our altar appear at Christmas when we gently place the pieces of the Nativity there to celebrate the birth of Christ.

But modern-day sacrifice comes in different, more humane forms and it may or may not be for forgiveness but it most certainly is an offering. We sacrifice a week of work without pay to work with our youth on a retreat to help a family rebuild their home. We sacrifice a long planned and needed weekend away to give the money to our church to pay off mortgage debt. Or we sacrifice evenings with our family to nurture and care for an abandoned child ‘til he or she finds a home. And in each instance we probably feel renewed, appreciated, and recognized in the eyes of God. And yes, there is a sense of forgiveness in these selfless acts. God sees us as people who give back, people who put the greater good before themselves.

So next time you see a need or a chance to make life better for others, what will you sacrifice? How will you feel after you’ve made that sacrifice? And what impact will this have on your relationship with God? All good questions and somehow I think you already know the answers.

 

Prayer: 

Loving and accepting God,

Forgive us for our mistakes and our sins, but teach us of the good in sacrifice and the feelings of forgiveness and fulfillment in these selfless acts.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – June 19, 2014
06.19.14

Romans 2932

As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Reflection by Jim Kennedy

When I checked my devotional for 19 June it said “Romans 29–32 – Forgiveness”, with a subject and without a chapter. So I found the above from Romans 11, versus 28 through 32, which seemed to be about forgiveness. I hope I’m close to what was intended.

In his letter Paul wrote about the Gentiles who were pagans. He wrote how they stumbled so as to fall and through their stumbling salvation made Israel jealous. If their stumbling means riches for the world, how much more will their full inclusion mean.

Paul wrote that as regards the gospel they are enemies of God, as you would expect pagans to be. They believed in multiple gods and had not yet embraced monotheism. They hadn’t yet even embraced monolatry, I have a god and you have a god but my god’s better than your god.

The Gentiles remained pagans for the sake of their ancestors who were also pagans, but the gifts of God were irrevocable, not capable of being changed. The Gentiles couldn’t believe in the single God, but yet the calling of God couldn’t be changed for them.

In a sense the pagans were disobedient to God. They weren’t really disobedient; it’s just that they were not able to believe in a single god. But God gave the pagans a chance to receive mercy because of this disobedience. In fact God even showed them more mercy because they were disobedient pagans.

The pagans believed in multiple gods, but when they looked for mercy they looked to the one God who forgave them for not believing and showed them mercy. It’s not that God made them wrong for being pagans, but forgave them for being pagans. If we could only be so merciful to those who believe differently than us we might be open to God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Prayer:

Dear Lord I pray that I may always believe in you but always have mercy for those who dont.

 



Daily Devotion – June 18, 2014
06.18.14

 

John 14: 9-14

Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?” Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’

Devotion by Joyanna Wyne

This passage from the book of John is all about believing. Jesus asked, “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and you still do not know me?” I wonder, can you relate to Philip? Do you sometimes feel like you still don’t know Jesus?

Jesus said, not once, but twice for emphasis, “…I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Yet Jesus acknowledged that Phillip may yet disbelieve, so he advised, “…believe me because of the works themselves.”
Now Jesus performed “works” or miracles throughout his ministry, and because of them, many people believed. Sometimes it seems like there are miracles in my life. One winter evening, I hit an unexpected patch of black ice which sent my car into a terrifying spin. It rapidly hit the right curb, ricocheted to the left, back to the right, and finally jumped the left curb, poised to plunge headfirst down a deep ravine. Overcome with dread, I felt utterly powerless. The only thing between my car and the bottom of the ravine was a cherry tree. Now cherry trees have branches low to the ground, and one of those branches hit my driver’s side mirror, stopping the car’s momentum for an instant, just long enough for me to steer it back onto the street. Shaking, I carefully made my way home, thanking God all the while.

So was it God, or was it coincidence that delivered me safely home? I think about that a lot, but I do know that, regardless of the outcome, God would have been there. Had I crashed into that ravine, Jesus would have heeded my plea for help.

Recently, I was out running when something caught my eye. Bending down, I picked up a stick shaped like a “Y.” It reminded me of the proverbial fork in the road, and I smiled, because I know that whichever paths I take along life’s journey, God will go with me.

 

Prayer:

God in Christ, I am mindful of your presence in my life. There are many times when I don’t know which way to turn. I am grateful that, no matter which path I may choose, I can call on you, and you will not turn me away. Amen.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – June 17, 2014
06.17.14

Matthew 18:23-25

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

 

Devotion by Janet Derby

Often there is an impression that the God of the New Testament is all loving and non-judgemental. Then I read a parable like this one where Jesus talks about a king or a master who is far from my vision of that loving God. I don’t know why those portrayals were like that – perhaps Jesus was simply meeting people where they were – with what they knew. Perhaps it was to show how truly loving and forgiving God can be. All I do know is that it makes me want to be more merciful. Maybe Jesus knew that.

 

Prayer:

Merciful and loving God, let me not be unforgiving of all those around me whom I think have wronged me. Help me instead to be understanding and compassionate. Amen.