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Daily Devotion – April 29, 2019
04.29.15

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  1 John 4:16

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

I remember reading somewhere that the opposite of love is not hate but fear. I grew up in church fearing God, believing that God was out to get us all. I clung to an Old Testament image of God that I felt demanded obedience from me, and any little slip up could have major repercussions. For those who sought evil, hell would be the payment. This became a convenient God for me to believe in as I got older, especially when I thought I had been wronged. Since I was chosen to be one of God’s spies, I would watch during the day for those who were misbehaving and report back to God at the end of the day in my prayers. I felt as long as I let God know who needed to be judged I would remain in good standing with God. I feared God and worked hard to obey all that was commanded of me. It seemed like the perfect plan.
Eventually, however, I added paranoia to my fear of God. All my praying led me to start finding all my faults. Quickly, they started adding up and before I knew it I had convinced myself that I was no longer in God’s favor. Instead, I had become one of the cursed. I spiraled into a depression that left me feeling hopeless about myself, about the world, and about God. I wallowed around in an intense fear that drove away any possibility of love. I remember feeling so isolated.
Not until I attended a Christian retreat when I was 16 and heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love did things begin to turn around for me. He spoke of a love that required nothing of me but was already within me waiting to be embraced. It was a love without judgement. He said it’s not a love we earn but a love we have to believe in, have to have faith in, and have to trust. I heard his message that day and still carry it with me until this day.
For some reason, it is still so much easier for me to believe that God is out to get me, waiting for me to slip up and curse my life. I still wonder about my sins and if I will have to pay for them one day. On those days, I remember that preacher, I remember those who care for me, and I remember to work on letting the love already inside of me out. Over time, I have learned that trusting God loves me and that love abides in me takes practice, patience, and a whole lot of prayer. Little by little and step by step I am learning, and I am discovering God’s love prevailing in my life.

Prayer:

Teach us to abide in your presence, loving God. May we trust and have faith in that we are your beloved, so that we may come to believe in the love you have for us all. Amen



Daily Devotion – April 28, 2015
04.28.15

1 John 4:12New International Version (NIV) 

12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 

Devotion by Holly CothranDrake

 

Initially, I thought this was going to be one of those “easy” verses for a daily devotion.  God is love…we should love one another…but, then I reflected on the book of Genesis where it reads that we are made in the image of God.

Hmmm…okay.  So, no one has ever seen God.  Check.  God made us in his image.  Check.  If God IS love, then we are made FROM love, so we ARE loveable and capable of loving others.

Instead of imagining a giant figure with a loud booming voice, I choose to imagine God as a pristine beam of pure light radiating love.  If I can do that, I should be able to imagine my own self that way.  After all, we were made in God’s image.

Prayer:  

Almighty God and Great Creator, thank you for creating us in your image.  Thank you for making us loving beings.  Please open our hearts to share that love with everyone.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 27, 2015
04.27.15

 

1 John 4:11

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

 

Devotion by Julia Shiver

I am usually a pretty easy-going person.  There have been very few people in my life that I haven’t been able to feel some love for.  A couple of former pastors come to mind.  But the one person I really got caught up in negative feelings for was my dad’s first partner, Bill.  It didn’t have anything to do with his relationship with my dad.  But Bill was one of those people who thought you were the best thing since sliced bread, until you made some minor mistake – forgot a birthday or said the wrong thing – then you might as well not exist for him.  And he would make having a relationship with my dad difficult as well.

It was truly a revelation the day someone said “Pray for your enemies.”  Me?!!  I don’t have “enemies”!  Until the next time I was on Bill’s bad list.  And I prayed for him.  And everything changed.  Well, Bill certainly didn’t change.  But there was a big change in my heart when I stopped and simply prayed for Bill.  I was able to let old hurt go, and love Bill the way God loves me.

 

Prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for showing me how to love others as you have loved me.  Thank you for the gift of prayer.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 26, 2015
04.26.15

1 John 4:8 

8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 

 

Devotion by Lynne Buell

 

True love does not come in the form of a Hallmark greeting card.  But whenever my ex-husband gave me an endearing card on the usual, designated Hallmark celebrations—Valentine’s Day, my Birthday, Christmas, and our Anniversary—I ravenously drank in the meaning behind the words written by some card writer who was paid big bucks to accomplish exactly what my ex was hoping the stupid card would do.

 

I finally woke up one day and realized it was a smokescreen—everything was a disguise for him to show to the outside world that he was the devoted and distinguished manager and husband, when he was actually a rogue and cruel man.

 

Yeah, I allowed the abuse to continue for several years because I thought I would be the one to change him.  No one has that ability; it is up to the individual to find true love through faith.  Since he was a disbeliever, I doubt he will ever find true love.

 

We divorced in 2003, and six years later, I found Pilgrimage and my true loves, which are God and Jesus.  Their love is present every day.  And, finally, I have a clean and happy heart. Thanks be to God.

 

Prayer: 

Gracious God, I pray for all who are not aware of what they actually need; I pray they put aside their material possessions and realize that only you will provide them with comfort and peace.  Amen.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 25, 2015
04.25.15

Matthew 6:31-33

 

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

 

Devotion by Don Tawney Sr.

 

There is hardly one sin against which our Lord more earnestly warns His disciples, and that is the distracting and distrustful care we give to the things of this world.  It is the command of Jesus that we take no thought about the things which we give so much attention to, and He even mentions some things that can take up so much of our time and energy, such as fine clothes and even what we will eat and what we will drink. If we aren’t careful, the “stuff” of this earth will take our eyes off of the things of Heaven, and we will have our attention drawn to the stuff of this world.  I saw a commercial ad about a couple who were cleaning out their attic and this amazing product would compact this stuff in such a small area that they had empty spaces.  They asked themselves, “What will we do with all this space?”  Together they exclaimed, “Get more stuff!”  Jesus said, “First, seek the Kingdom of God.”  He sternly warns us we have better things to think about and devote ourselves to than do unbelievers; your eternal happiness is one thing that we have to give serious consideration to.  Jesus said to Martha, “Only a few things are necessary–really, only one, for Mary has chosen the good part.”  Luke 10:42

 

Here is a fictional story with a religious meaning:  The young, aspiring student came to his professor for advice and to tell him of his intended plans for his life.  The student said, “I will get a good education to prepare myself for a good work.”  The professor, being spiritually wise, asked, “What will you do then?”  “I will marry, have a wonderful family, and devote myself to a life of service.”  The professor said, “What will you do then?”  The young man said, “I will retire and enjoy the fruits of my life’s work.”  The professor said, “What then?”  The student said, “Afterward I will then die.”  The professor asked, “What will you do then?”

 

We may fail and come short in many ways in sincerely seeking a good life, but we are urged by Jesus to seek the things that are above.  We must do the first thing first and we are told to seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”

 

Prayer: 

Dear Heavenly Father, Help us to put the first thing, the Kingdom of God, first in our life.  Amen 



Daily Devotion – April 24, 2015
04.24.15

I John 3:23-24

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

For me, this scripture isn’t about obedience. It is about love. When I view this passage thinking Jesus = love, then it all makes sense. When we love Jesus, when we love others, then love becomes a part of us. He becomes a part of us because we can feel His presence through the Holy Spirit.

So, how can you form a closer relationship with Jesus and with God? Love them. And love one another. And when you start with love, a conversation, your day, your work, when you start with love, God will be with you and in you. It’s as simple as that!

Prayer:

Dear God our Lord, let me begin every moment with the spirit of love. Let me begin every moment with the spirit of love. Let me begin every moment with the spirit of love. Let me begin every moment with the spirit of love. Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 23, 2015
04.23.15

1 John 3:21 

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God;

 

Devotion by Rochelle Lofstrand

 

There will be many devotions this week centered on parts of this text.  Today, I want to focus on the word BOLDNESS.  According to Dictionary.com, bold has several meanings:

 

1. Not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring

2. Not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent

3. Necessitating courage and daring; challenging

4. Beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative

5. Striking or conspicuous to the eye; flashy; showy

 

Will you go before God without fear or hesitation?

Will you go before God with courage?

Will you break the rules for God?

Will you go beyond the conventional norms in order to go before God?

Will you wear sequins and a tiara before God?  (See definition #5.)

 

How will you go before God?  Will you be bold?

 

Prayer: 

God, I pray that I will have the courage to be bold before you and that I won’t let what other say or expect of me get in the way of my love for you.  AMEN.



Daily Devotion – April 22, 2015
04.22.15

I John 3:18

  1. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

Love, regardless of its many outward manifestations, is in critically short supply. The

inclusiveness of unconditional love is frowned upon by many established religions. The warm

affection of filial love is looked upon as “weak” by secular society. Through innumerable

policies, laws, and business transactions, families are made homeless, children are denied

schooling, the sick are left without medicine, and refugees wander the world dispossessed.

The good intentions of written or spoken words seem to make no difference in actions.

 

The innate human capacity for love is like a muscle; it must be exercised. Scriptural

commandments to love are conceptually simple, but often require great strength and

willpower. In other ways, the human longing for love is like the human longing for music. If

one grows weary of hearing no music, then it is time to learn a musical instrument or singing.

Similarly, the skill of “acting others into well-being” requires practice. Given the profound

immensity of love and my current feelings of loneliness, I feel my own prayers and

meditations may be inadequate. Hence, I quote the great Islamic mystic, Rumi.

 

*Meditation, from Jalaluddin Rumi 13th century:

Love is not condescension, never

that, nor books, nor any marking

 

on paper, nor what people say of

each other. Love is a tree with

 

branches reaching into eternity

and roots set deep in eternity,

and no trunk! Have you seen it?

The mind cannot. Your desiring

cannot. The longing you feel for

this love comes from inside you.*



Daily Devotion – April 21, 2015
04.21.15

I John 3: 16-17

 

16We know love by this that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

 

Devotion by Anne Mooney

 

In church this past Sunday, Kim talked about her experiences with the Benedictine Sisters at Our Lady of Grace. I was struck by her comment that one of the missions of their community is to greet and treat each individual person they encounter as if that person is Christ. When I think of that, it really makes me stop and think about how I treat people, and it reminds me of the WWJD acronym that was so popular several years ago. If I am going to meet and greet Jesus Christ, then I would want to follow his example. Jesus met everyone where they were. He offered to each person what he had to give to meet their needs whether it was words of compassion, healing, fellowship, food, and eventually he gave up his life. It is a tall order to be willing to give so much of oneself. I don’t always feel that generous or compassionate. I know I can only do my best. I pray for willingness and God’s help to be like Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for the love you showed us by sending Jesus as an example. Help me follow in Jesus’ footsteps and share your love with everyone I meet throughout my day. Amen



Daily Devotion – April 19, 2015

I John 3:2
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Devotion by Jim Kennedy

Beloved we are as God’s children for what we will be has not been revealed. What has been revealed at first glance is not pretty. We’re a slovenly group of know-it-all misfits who claim to follow Gods word but don’t come close in reality. God should be embarrassed by our actions, by what we have done and what we do.

God has laid out a grand, yet simple, plan for the children of God. I believe it comes from Matthew Chapter 7 Verse 12, the Golden Rule: In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

When God is revealed we will be like God. But what does that mean? Will we be in a flowing white robe with thunderbolts at our beckon? Will we able to create what we want when we want? Will we take care of our sisters and brothers in a manner we want to be taken care of? This last one hits home with me for by the time this is read I will have spent four days in prison listening to and loving the residents.

I’m not worried about us doing the right thing for when we see God we will see God as God is. No white robe and thunderbolts, no creating what we want when we want. We’ll see that serving humankind in a way that is fit and appropriate is what is to be done. Maybe not in prison, but elsewhere and by other means. Maybe at Must Ministry lunches, or at Family Promise events.

For we are God’s children and as all good children we will do what the Mother/Father asks us to do.

Prayer:

Dear Lord I pray that I may always do as you have revealed to me, and I hope that I am doing so in prison.