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Daily Devotion – October 29, 2015
10.29.15

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  John 11:38-40

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

We don’t know much about Lazarus, but we do know that his death has caused a great deal of grief for all those involved, including Jesus.  We read words like, “Jesus wept,” “Mary weeps,” and “deeply moved (on more than one occasion),” and “greatly disturbed.”  Jesus weeping, the women weeping, the bystanders getting angry, and the disappointment with Jesus are all signs of the importance of Lazarus in the life of this particular community.  His death has caused them all to be moved with grief.

More times than not, we tend to only think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead when we think of this passage.  We focus on the divinity of Jesus being presented here, but forget to include the human side of Christ that is on display.  By only focusing on one side of the story, we miss the bigger picture of the story.  We miss how Jesus, the divine son of God, weeps just as we do over the loss over someone close to him. We miss the presence and power of the community gathered that allows grief to be shared.  Most importantly, we miss how the community was healed and the glory of God revealed.

Grief work is difficult, but by following the example of Christ, Mary, Martha, and the rest of the gathered community a path to healing can be discovered.  The passage offers its readers a way to manage grief in a manner that allows for another possibility from the despair grief often brings to our lives.  Instead of more suffering, we find a path that brings healing.

I don’t know what to make of the literal raising from the dead of Lazarus.  I’m with Martha on this one.  His body must have been foul smelling after four days.  What I do believe in, because I have experienced it first hand and have seen in it in others, is the power of someone rising from the pain of grief.   In the presence of community, grief can transform our lives, making us more compassionate and loving beings.  Jesus reminds us here that death is not the end, and, therefore, should not be the end of us.

We are in the season when we remember the saints in our lives.  We have personal losses and we have lost members of our community.  Now is a good time to reflect on our grief.   Is your loss and your grief keeping you in a state of despair? Or is your loss and your grief helping you to heal and become a more compassionate being? Is your grief helping you to rise from the dead, so that the glory of God can be seen? Is the grief of our community plunging us into despair or is it allowing us to be raised up so God’s glory can be revealed?

Prayer

Be with us as we grieve.  Give us the courage to grieve and be transformed by it.  Let us not live in despair but in constant hope that we can rise from the dead.  May we do it all so that your glory will be revealed.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – October 28, 2015
10.28.15

John 11:34-37

He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

 

Devotion by Holly CothranDrake

 

This is the ole’ “if, then, but …” scenario. I find myself drawn to its temptation. If I had been successful in a previous job, then why wasn’t I more successful at a new job? But what if I hadn’t really been successful at all? The doubting and negative self-talk binge begins. If Jesus was truly the healer and Savior, why had he allowed Lazarus to die? Was his previous healings just luck? No. Jesus had faith in his abilities. He did not allow the doubts and questions of others to become his own.

Prayer:

Almighty God and Great Creator, thank you for your son, Jesus Christ whose love and example lift us out of our negative thoughts that can be paralyzing and keep us from sharing your love with others.



Daily Devotion – October 27, 2015
10.27.15

John 11:33

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.

 

Devotion By Julia Shiver

 

Can there be any doubt that our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, was also fully human? Jesus saw the anguish and sorrow that Mary and Martha felt at the death of their brother, Lazarus.  He surely felt his own sorrow at the loss of a beloved friend.  But he also needed to follow God’s plan, to show God’s glory in the resurrection of a dead man.  Mary and Martha, who believed without reservation in the power of this teacher, were angry that Jesus hadn’t shown up earlier to save their brother.  Maybe they thought about all that Jesus was doing for others, but then he couldn’t show up in time to help Lazarus?  Jesus was fully aware of their anger, and pained by their sorrow.

Jesus does feel and understand the pain and suffering you are feeling. Christ weeps with you during the long, dark nights we all experience.  You are never alone.

 

Loving God, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, who was fully human but also of you so that you might understand the sorrows of this life. Thank you that Jesus walks wherever life’s journeys take us.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – October 26, 2015

John 11:32

32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

I can only imagine the hurt Jesus experienced when these words were spoken to him. As a pleaser, I try to be perfect and not disappoint my friends and family.  Even the tiniest mistake makes me cringe.  I turn to God for strength and understanding; just as Jesus did when he was confronted by Mary.

Prayer:

Gracious God, I know that you hear me when I pray and that you give me strength to face difficult times. Amen.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – October 25, 2015
10.25.15

 

Luke 15:7-8

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

 

 

Devotion by Don Tawney Sr.

 

Our union with Christ is maintained by the Word, for it is in the Word that Christ lives in us, and shows us how to obey His commands; therefore, our Life bears fruit.  What are some of His commands?  Repentance is one; Jesus preached repentance in order to see the Kingdom of God.  We learn this by studying God’s Word.  I believe it is His command to bear fruit; pray and ask God what He wants you to do with your life, build your life on Him, follow Him the best you know how, so you have a strong, enduring Life fit for heaven some day.  Our union with Christ is maintained by prayer.  “You shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you.”  What more could we desire than to receive the thing we ask for, when we are in such union with Jesus Christ; His will being done in and through us.  This is what you and I pray for, strive for, all of our lives, trying to live out day to day, the teachings of Christ.  So we do the will of God when His Word abides in us, and we find that more and more, step by step, our asking resembles the proper and best thing we need from God.

 

Prayer

 

More like Christ, my heart is praying,

More like Christ, from day to day;

All His graces rich displaying,

While I tread my pilgrim way.

Amen

 

(Charles W. Naylor)



Daily Devotion – October 24, 2015
10.24.15

Mark 10:49-50

Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

The Bible says so much with so few words. The blind man knows he is wanting help from Jesus. He is patiently waiting for Jesus’ healing hand. When given an opportunity, he throws off his cloak and he springs up!

Yet, too often, I’m not waiting for Jesus’ healing hand. I go about my day in self-reliance and self-righteousness believing in myself instead of in my Lord. I may not even be aware of the Jesus’ presence, so when He calls, I don’t throw off my cloak and spring up. Instead I am oblivious to His call. I’m unaware that I need His healing.

I think this may be true of many people. When we are blind, we know we are in need of sight. But for some of us our blindness is not with our physical eyesight, but our ability to see the hurt in ourselves and in others. Some of it is not just ignorance. Our society exalts the self-sufficient, the industrious, the go-getter. So most of us put on a façade of doing well. We hide our hurts, our heartaches, our limitations and our loneliness. We hide them so well, that they are unseen by others. They become blind to us and we become blind to them. We walk around less than who we are, surrounded by people who are less than who they are. We are taught not to intrude or violate someone’s personal space, whether it be physical or emotional space. We become strangers to ourselves and to each other.

As I write this, I have been troubled by the violence, the murders, the shootings in our society. Perhaps, part of it is because we may be blind to seeing each other as human beings with lives full of wonder, troubles and complexities. Perhaps, part of the reason is because we see each other as we see ourselves. Blind to what can be a colorful, lively, energetic bundle of inertia that we were when we were babies, we begin seeing ourselves as gray, dying, stagnant globs of whatever.

I’ve been wondering, what can one person do to help change the world? If I’m right in my thinking, then what I can do is become more alive and encourage my sisters and brothers to do the same. And hopefully, the more alive we become, the more visible we become to each other, and our blindness will fade, and Jesus’ healing hand will help us see the value in each of us. Like the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the scene changed from black and white to color, perhaps our gray landscape full of crowds will become a colorful field of individuals. Then, perhaps, peace shall pass over all human kind.

Prayer:

Dear God. When I am blind, with your healing hand, help me to see. Help me to see the value in me and the value in others. Help others to see as well. Amen.

 



Sermon (Matthew Alexander): “Giving Meaning to Our Giving” (10/18/15)
10.23.15

Sermon preached by Matthew Alexander for Consecration Sunday.

Giving Meaning to Our Giving

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums.  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.  Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’ Mark 12:41-44

Consecration Sunday.  What a day to come up here and speak to you all!  I’ve got to admit it certainly makes sense to get me to speak about tithing.  I am a Baptist after all and most Baptist do love money.  We love our building projects, mission trips, and showing our success as both a minister and as a servant of God by seeing how much money we can raise.  A few of us Baptist out there love to show just how successful they have done their job by showing off their wealth as a sign of God’s blessing on them.  And I’m pretty sure, although there is no evidence for certain, that it was a Baptist that came up with the idea of a money tree.

I certainly fit the mold on paper. I‘ve heard the messages about faith and money and know the language. Therefore, I should be telling you how much God needs your money and that giving anything less than 10 % is a sin against God.  I should encourage you to commend those who give as a result of their loving obedience to God.  I should also make believe that money comes from an endless source and is easy to come by.  The only problem is that while I am Baptist, I don’t fit, as some of you may know by now, into that familiar Baptist mold.   In addition, it is not the message I get from the scriptures when I read them.

I come at the scriptures in a different light.  I have a long history of reading and studying the Bible.  Most of that history of reading the text comes in connection with the pain and struggles I have had throughout my life.  As a result, I have discovered real and meaningful ways the text gives me courage, hope, and strength in this life.  I hold many texts close to my heart and pull them out when I need them.  One of my favorites includes Jesus sleeping on a boat during a storm only to be awakened by his frightened disciples to calm it.  You all know the story.  Somebody that can still find rest in the middle of a storm, and speak with enough confidence to calm it when others are frightened, is my kind of person.  It’s somebody I’d follow anywhere.

Not all texts are created equal for me though.  The scripture of the poor widow found in Mark is one of those texts for me.  I have mostly disliked it to be honest with you.  The image of the poor widow walking up to the treasury and dropping everything she had into the treasury seems impossible for anyone to actually do, this is especially true for me as I have grown older and have accumulated things and have a family to care for.  How could I possibly give everything I have away? It would be foolish and even negligent on my part to do this.  So over the years I have just ignored it and focused on those scriptures that I can make work more easily with my lifestyle like the story of Jesus calming the storm.

My strategy had worked for so long and so well until I got an email from Gabriela asking me to speak on this Sunday, Consecration Sunday.  Granted the subject of giving is not my favorite one but I had confidence I could come up with something to say.  My confidence was shaken though when I started reflecting on what I wanted to say and the only scripture I could come up with was the story of the poor widow giving everything she had.

My perspective of tithing, in case you didn’t pick up on my cynicism in the beginning, is not the most positive view.  Even to this day, I find myself getting restless and anxious when the tithes and offerings portion of the service happens.  I go from a quiet still presence to a squirming paranoid existence; and at times indifferent to the whole event.  It is the one part of the service I have a hard time staying connected with what is going.  It’s the part of the service I get disconnected from God.  Most people I seek counsel from on this subject say its God stirring the pot within me and I would agree.  God has definitely being the stirring the pot recently with me on this subject.  Mostly, I have been reflecting on why I am indifferent and disconnected from tithing.

I grew up in the Methodist church and can remember just like it was yesterday one particular preacher we had who loved to talk about money and tithing.  Every sermon he preached seemed to somehow tie into the need to give to the church. He seemed to master the art of doing this.  Even as a young teenager, I was listening to him and was aware of how he connected God and money together.  I remember being fascinated and waiting for the end of the sermon to come to see how he would make the connection.  I may have been young, about 14, but I was paying attention to his words.

“If you are having problems in your life, it’s because you need more faith,” I remember him preaching on more than one occasion.

Another of his favorites was, “Have more faith that God will take care of you, and give your tithes to the church.”

As an adolescent who had his share of pain, suffering, confusion over the constant torment going on inside my head, I welcomed the possibility of an escape, of a deliverer.  So, I trusted what the preacher was telling me, I trusted that God would become my deliverer and I started to give.  At first, it was just a little, a portion of my weekly allowance, which was $20 a week (I know I was making some money but trust me I worked hard for that money).  I would put in a couple of dollars here and there then I would wait.  I would wait to see if my faith in God would pay off.  To my disappointment, it didn’t pay off.  I still had hurt, I still had pain, and my thoughts tormented me.  So, I gave more of my allowance.  And I waited.  Nothing.  I continued to give more until I was giving my entire allowance every week, all $20 of it.  I went without the latest Nintendo game, without the latest brand name clothes and without any new baseball cards (which was a really big deal because I loved collecting baseball cards).  I sacrificed it all; all those things that made the life of a teenager a little more bearable.  I sacrificed it all to give to the church, to God, to show my faith so that the pain I was feeling inside could find relief.  But it never came.

I have always been stubborn, so I didn’t give up.  With the pastor’s words playing in my head on repeat, “have faith, give of your money and God will take care of you,” I decided I must be doing it wrong.  In a final attempt to show just how strong my faith was, I saved up my weekly allowance, $20 a week for 5 weeks.  On the fifth week, I put $100 in the offering plate.  Then, I waited.  I waited for God to show up and tell me well done, be free now of your pain.  But nothing happened.  I waited a little longer.  I waited for God to wake up and pay attention to my great act of faith and deliver me, but nothing happened.  I still did not find relief.  So I prayed again, desperate for God to show up and take notice.  I begged to God because I had no more money to give.  Everything I had was put into the offering plate my money, my trust in the church, my faith, and my trust in God.  With patience, I waited for God to show up, to recognize what I had done, show his pleasure for me, and grant me peace.  But nothing happened.

Well, I take that back, something did eventually happen.  I received a giving statement from the church that showed the over $500 I had given to the church that year along with envelopes with my name on them so that I could continue to give in the coming year.

I was so mad.  I raged against God and the church.  All the time and energy I had put into a promise from a preacher that I would be delivered from my problems if I had faith and honored God with my tithes was really more than I could take.  I didn’t want a piece of paper that told me how much I gave or silly envelopes, I wanted relief.  I wanted peace.  I wanted the hurt to stop.  My money and my faith didn’t get me any of that.  It caused me to break, sending my life spiraling into a crisis of faith that I am still recovering from.

When I received those envelopes and my giving statement, I hoped I would receive that peace I was looking for based on what I thought the preacher was telling me to do.  I hoped someone would notice what I had done and make note of it.  I became jealous of the poor widow woman.  I became disconnected from God, from the church, and, ultimately, an important part of myself.  I must confess I have held onto this story and belief for much too long.

So when I hear my fellow Baptist preach on the subject of money and say that how much we give directly correlates with our faith, I don’t get excited.  I am indifferent to their words and any of their attempts to get me to give money to them.  My sense is that not trusting every preacher I hear talk about money is a good attribute to have, but I know that because of my story I have become suspicious of any one or any church that ask for my money.

I know the problem I face with trust with whatever type of giving we want to offer, whether it is with our time or money, is a problem that many face.  I know for a fact there are many people sitting at home this morning because they feel like they have nothing to offer.  And the sad part about it all is that many churches feel the same way.  I had a woman tell me once, “I was a member of the church my whole life, gave my tithes every week, and now that I am sick and can’t give they don’t come see me or talk to me anymore.”  It’s sad that for most of us our self-worth is based on what we give or don’t give.  It’s sad that most churches teach that your faith is measured on how much you are able to give.  It’s tragedy when our giving determines how much love we get from one another.

Consecration Sunday should be a day of celebration and excitement for us, but the reality for most is the hope that it will come and go quickly.  We just don’t want to be bothered by it.  Not because we don’t want to give but because we just don’t want to be reminded of what we don’t have to give.  My story is full of disappointment, anger, and distrust.  I have leaned on it as crutch, giving me an excuse to not give when it is not convenient for me.   I understand why I have disliked this story of the poor widow for so long.  I have focused on how she put everything she had into the plate and how Jesus took notice of her.  It caused me to carry feelings of jealousy around for a long time.

What then are we, what am I, to do with a story that plays such a major role in how I feel and approach church each and every week? How are we to get beyond our beliefs that who we are is not enough? For too long, my experience of coming and giving to the church has been jaded by what I thought a preacher was telling me to do and my jealousy over a woman I never met.  It has led to so much distrust.  How do I reconcile and restore my relationship with God and with the church so that I can trust again?

A good place to start is by learning what meaning we give to stories and events in our life.  Giving meaning to something gives it a special purpose.  Whether that be with our stories or with how we approach church each week or whether that it is with our tithes.  Most of us already do this whether we know it or not.  Of course, if we are to remain life giving creatures, then there comes a time in our life when we need to reevaluate our stories and the meaning we give to them.  If I am ever going to come to church and sit through the tithes portion of the service without squirming and getting disconnected from God, then I am going to have to reshape the meaning I give to that portion of the service.

I believe we all can learn to do this by learning to retell our stories in a way that sheds new light on things we have never seen before.  Instead of telling the story the same way over and over again, we have the capacity to look at them again and maybe find something new.  During seminary, I first became familiar with this idea.  I had a New Testament professor that constantly encouraged us to revisit the text and try to notice things we had never seen before.  Because of what I learned, I started to imagine all the texts in the Bible like a piece of artwork.  You can look at the same piece for a long time and see the same thing but one day you walk by it, see it from a different angle, and it changes.  You notice something you never seen before.

I decided to try and “walk a mile” in the poor widow’s shoes to see if I could find something different.  I closed my eyes and wondered what her day must have been like.  Since she probably didn’t have a home, she probably carried everything she had with her.  In her pocket, her last two coins clinked around.  Maybe they were for food for later or maybe she was saving them for a desperate moment.  She was drawn to the treasury to give because everything she had tried to be delivered from her current condition had not worked.

Alone, lost, and desperate she made her way.  She was an outcast living in a society that rejected woman, that rejected the poor, and that rejected the widow.  Her hands must have been shaking, palms sweaty, her heart racing, and her breathing shallow.  Maybe even a tear as she made her way.  Then, she arrives.  Maybe she hesitates but then in one great act of faith, she held out her hand, let go and dropped everything she had and made it an offering to God.  She must have begged, “Please let this be enough to end my suffering.”

When I recall the poor widow’s story in this way, I find new meaning in the story, which helps to change my story.  Instead of being disconnected from the poor widow, I am more connected.  I imagine that she and I could have related on some level.  I believe that we were both desperate for relief from our current condition.  Out of this desperation, we were willing to give all that we had for a chance at that peace.  Instead of being jealous, which has caused me to be disconnected from her story and from God I can resolve myself to the fact that the poor widow and I are a lot more alike than different.  Learning to trust this story and find new meaning in it goes a long way in my restoration.  In fact, I can even feel the smile growing in the part of my being where the disappointment and jealous have lingered for so long.

Each of us has a story to tell that causes us to give or not give.  I wonder what your story is.  Is there a chance that your story can be reconciled in a way that will allow you to give your gift in a meaningful way? Are there places that need to be reconciled? Now is a great time to start. Is it possible that when you make your offering pledge or discern how you want to share yourself with this community that it can become a symbol of your reconciliation with God, with the church, with others, or with yourself? Is it possible that when you do make your offering that you can do it with the mindset of hope, reconciliation, and healing in my mind? What will it take for you to hold out everything you have been holding on to so tightly and let go?

Today is consecration Sunday.  It is exciting day.  It’s the day when we have the opportunity to review our gifts and how we can offer them freely back to the church.  It’s the one Sunday set aside from all the rest where we can decide to something different with our offerings.  To take a risk, make what we give meaningful, and allow it to change our experience with God.

I know Wikipedia says that consecration means to set aside something for a special purpose, but I don’t always trust Wikipedia (o.k., maybe I need to learn to retell that story as well) but I prefer the definition of consecration to mean to turn something ordinary into something holy.  When we are able to reflect on our stories of disappointment and distrust and find the courage to give them new meaning, we free ourselves to trust again.  We stop worrying whether who we are or what we have is enough.  We turn what was once an ordinary act into something holy.  We bring ourselves to the altar, all our struggles and joys, and trust that it will be enough.  There is something remarkable to be said about the willingness to look at our lives, where we have been hurt and be willing to retell the story in a way that brings us hope and reconciliation.

I would be remised if I did not tell you of one more possibility.  I thought about the story of the poor widow again.  I wanted to see if there was something I was missing, something I still needed to see and sure enough I did miss something.  I thought what if the poor widow had already reconciled her hurt and disappointment before ever coming to the treasury.  Maybe she already had seen Jesus, and knew what Jesus was about.  Maybe she had been in one of the crowds and already knew that Jesus’ message was about God’s love for all.  Perhaps upon hearing the message, her world changed and she found a new hope.  Maybe she was given a different story to tell, one of reconciliation instead of disappointment and distrust.  Then the outcome, when she stood over that treasury to drop her last two coins in, would have been for a different purpose.  Instead of hoping for what may happen she was able to open her hand, drop everything she had in, and say, “we’re good now, here I am,” restoring her faith and trust in God.  Now this version brings a smile to my face.  I know now, there is still hope if I can continue to learn to trust God with everything I have.  I want this story of the poor widow to be my story.  What about you?

If only we could find some way to let go of what holds us back.  I know that when I make my pledge and my offering I will do it with my story and my hope for restoration of complete trust in God in mind.  I pray that I will recover the spirit of that teenage boy that was willing to give everything he had.  I hope I will continue to find myself drawing closer to the spirit of the poor widow whose story was reconciled completely.  Each time I give, I will give with the intention of drawing closer to God.

My prayer is that you will find something that will give meaning to your gift, and allow it to change you each and every time you bring it into this place of worship.  For I believe that when we do this the ordinary will become holy.  Our tithes will change us each and every time we give.  Our pieces of paper will become true offerings to God.  When we offer our time and energy, we will use our time and energy into creating this church.  We will be changed by it, making us vessels of our Creator.  It will make this room not just a room but a sanctuary for God to dwell in.

May God bless and keep each one of you on this journey.



Daily Devotion – October 21, 2015
10.21.15

Psalm 38:14

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,    and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

Devotion by Anne Mooney

Ahhh! This is a balm to my very tired soul today. While I am not currently feeling broken-hearted or crushed in spirit, I am feeling emotionally and physically exhausted and these words assure me that I am not alone. There is help available. In my weariness, I can easily recall times when I have felt as if my heart was broken. I know the pain of defeat and despair. But I also have the experience of living through those painful times. I have been blessed with the ability to look back at those times and see that the Psalmist’s words are true. God was with me in those times. God sent people to comfort and assist me when I reached out for help. Knowing God is near gives me hope.

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for your friendship. I pray that I never lose sight of the fact that you are always present, an intimate friend and guide for the good times and the bad. Amen



Daily Devotion – October 19, 2015
10.19.15

Job 42:10-17

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived for one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.

 

Reflection by Jim Kennedy

Job’s troubles began in Satan’s malice, which God restrained, and his restoration began in God’s mercy, which Satan could not oppose. Mercy did not return when Job was disputing with his friends, but when he was praying for them. God is served and pleased with our warm devotions, not with our warm disputes.

Job’s personal discipline was not complete till he passed from the sphere of his own sorrows to the work of intercession for his friends, and it was through the very act of this self-oblivion and self-sacrifice that his own deliverance was brought about. Even though it was the Lord who had brought the evil down upon him, when Job prayed for his friends God restored and re-instated him in prosperity even greater than before.

A good man will not only pray for himself, as Job doubtless did, but for others also, for his natural and spiritual friends, for unkind friends, and even for enemies. Many mercies and blessings come by prayer and even prayer for others is profitable to a man’s self, and sometimes he soon reaps the benefit of it, as Job did. For when Job prayed he found himself in better health, his friends came about him, and his substance began to increase. Satan had no more power over him, and the presence of God was with him.

This is the true moral of all human history, which is to be accomplished in the world of the regeneration. All sorrow is fraught with the promise and the hope of future blessedness, and to know that is to rob sorrow of its pain. Had Job been able to look forward with confidence to his actual deliverance, he would have been able to bear his affliction; it was because he could not that all was dark.

Whether the Lord gives us health and temporal blessings or not, if we patiently suffer according to his will, in the end we shall be happy. When Job prayed for his friends he showed his obedience to God, and his true love and charity to his friends and enemies in being so ready to forgive them, and heartily to pray for them for which God would not let him lose his reward.

The last days of a man sometimes prove his best. And so it was with Job, for after he prayed for his friends and enemies to God he had money, abundant livestock, and a whole bunch of beautiful children to replace the children he had lost. Job was able to give his children an inheritance which Job saw his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow into. And he lived a long life full of days. Such is the power of prayer to the Lord.

Prayer:

Dear Lord I pray that I may always pray to you for my friends and my enemies so that I may regenerate myself and restore myself to the full rewards of life, such as I am worthy.



Daily Devotion – October 18, 2015

Psalm 106:4

 

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them…

 

Devotion by Don Tawney Sr.

 

It is true that we all want favor and happiness in our life, and as the psalmist pleads for God’s favor, so we can plead before God for His blessings, or favor.  And God is all the time bringing to us invitations to His favor, throughout our lives, from our youngest years to our elder years.  When my Grandmother took me to Sunday School at the age of five, I wasn’t aware, but God was visiting me with His favor.  When I was about 15 years old, a layman named Ray took a genuine interest and helped me come to church to play on their youth basketball team.  Ray took me on a business trip with him, to spend time with me, to show the Love of Christ to me.  All this was done by Ray in Christian Love; it was God’s way of visiting me with His favor.

 

There are people in this world who are in a peculiar manner God’s people, called Christians; so there is a peculiar favor which God shows to those people and through those people in order to be a blessing to other people.  Whether the psalmist knows it or not, he has his heart and eyes looking to the salvation which is coming in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  When he said, “Visit me with Thy salvation,” he is pleading for God’s favor; He is praying for God to remember him with eternal good and happiness for his soul, for the salvation God offers to all people.

 

Prayer

 

Dear God in Heaven, Thank You so much for all Thy favors and

blessings coming our way we did not know of, or count as favors or blessings.

 

Amen