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Daily Devotion – February 27, 2018
02.27.18

Exodus 20:12-17

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Devotion by Julia Shiver

Confession time!  Most of these commandments I am pretty good about.  Until you get to that last one.  I don’t have any problems with my neighbor’s spouse, slave (!), ox, or donkey.  But I do have a bad case of house envy!

As we drive around, wherever we go, I am always checking out the houses.  That one is a little too big, but that one looks maybe the right size, IF it were located on the water.  I like the architecture and styling of this house, but it is on a very busy street.  Oops, on the water but hate that driveway!

I think I have this ongoing fantasy of walking away from my house (taking precious items and people with me) and moving into a beautifully decorated, brand new or renovated home with all the trappings (and no clutter.)  As long as I didn’t have to clean any of it!

The reality is, we live in a very nice home in a nice, older subdivision.  It was built in the 70’s so it always needs some work.  But the space is more than adequate for the three of us.  And I love how I have decorated parts of it.  And don’t get me started on my recent kitchen renovation!

I don’t know why I covet different homes, but I know it is a distraction for me.  From time to time, I have to align my emotions with my principles of living simply, within our means.  All I can do is go to God, asking for the wisdom to know my true path, the strength to live out my values, and the grace of forgiveness when I get caught up in my fantasies of the perfect home.  I have one already, here on earth, and waiting for me on the other side.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I thank you for the many, many blessings I have received in life.  I ask forgiveness that sometimes I get carried away and think that what I have is not enough.  Thank you for your forgiving grace as I stumble through this life.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – February 26, 2018
02.26.18
Exodus 20:1-11
 
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
 
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work-you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Devotion by Lynne Buell
While the wording is very powerful and intense, I truly believe the message that lies beneath the hostile tone of the verse is merely a reminder of how much God loves us. This powerful and loving God created us and all that is on this earth, and God takes notice of everything we think and do. The 10 Commandments are God’s laws that can bring happiness and peace throughout our world if we live according to them. When we perform a wrongdoing, we can pray for forgiveness and ask for guidance toward the right path. Isn’t that why Jesus’ life was sacrificed?
In this present day and time, we all live a constant race against time day in and day out with family activities, our jobs, and keeping up with our chores. We find ourselves becoming reckless and losing sight of God…or wandering in the wilderness. Taking time to withdraw from what our normal routines may be–whether it’s a certain set time every day or on Sunday–we can regain our strength if we open ourselves up to God and take in God’s love and guidance through meditation and prayer.
Prayer:
Help us to know how much we are loved by you. We long to be closer to you, therefore, we ask that you continue to remind us that nothing is more important in our lives than following in Jesus’s footsteps. Amen.


Daily Devotion – February 25, 2018

Mark 8:34–38

 

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

 

Devotion by David Burns

As a teacher of an alternative wisdom and way, Jesus regularly uses startling statements and images to wake people up.  He sort of shocks us into really listening to how radically different his way is compared to prevailing wisdom.

Jesus is speaking to people with longings and fears similar to our own.  Everything in us is fighting for survival and for our view of the good life.  We are, indeed, people seeking to save our lives!  Jesus says we need to take a look at where and how we are seeking the good life because there are many alluring ways that can not ultimately satisfy.  He calls us to die to those ways so that we can pursue another way – the way of Christ.  The way of deep engagement with God and our deepest selves.

 

Prayer:

God please be patient with us and faithful for us.  We acknowledge our vulnerability to all the shallow things that seek our love and energy.  Take us ever deeper into your life so that we may know the satisfaction and joy you intend.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – February 24, 2018

Mark 8:31-33

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

It is one thing to reflect back on a crisis and weak friendships. It’s quite another to know them in advance. I can’t imagine being Jesus and knowing what will happen, yet, still go to Jerusalem. Riding on a donkey, being received as a hero, knowing full well the people will soon be turning against him. Standing before Pontius Pilot knowing full well that the decision will turn against him. Knowing that torture and a brutal end is coming his way. I’m pretty sure I would have stopped preaching, run away and hid. But what would have happened if Jesus had done that? He certainly would not be considered the son of God. Historians may not have bothered to document his life’s story in the Bible. The doubters would be justified in their doubting.

But Jesus didn’t run and hide. He stood up to all of those who wanted him to recant and continued to profess God’s love.

It must have hurt him badly knowing that Peter would deny him three times when he would be taken away by the Romans. Jesus shows disappointment and anger in his response to Peter. How awful for Jesus to know what the future holds for him.

Can you imagine if you knew what the future held for you? We worry way too much about the future we don’t know. Can you imagine worrying about a future we do know? Can you imagine, if you knew with certainty that some time in the next two weeks you would trip, fall and break your leg? How much fear would that generate?

It’s a blessing that we don’t know the specifics of the future. We can let go and let God. God has given us the freedom to live with uncertainty. We may think of uncertainty as something to dread. But actually, if we ponder it, uncertainty is something to cherish.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord, instead of fearing the future, help me to relax, breathe and pray for the comfort and hope that comes from a future shared with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – February 22, 2018
02.22.18

Psalm 22:27–31

 

  1. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations will bow before him,

  1. for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
  2. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

All who go down to the dust will kneel before him —

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

  1. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
  2. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn — for he has done it.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

This psalm suggests a future in which all humans worship the One God of Israel. In

later books of the Old Testament, such as Jonah, this Singular Divinity reaches

beyond Israel towards “all the families of the nations.” Does this mean everyone will

convert to Judaism? Or will everyone convert to a Christian creed? What about

Islam? Then there are polytheistic Hindus and western Pagans such as myself. This

psalm seems like bad news for people with the “wrong” faith.

 

Perhaps, this psalm isn’t talking about manmade religious traditions. Instead, this

psalm hints at a gradual awakening to the Divine Presence over many generations.

In such a future, all peoples will have truly embraced the Divine as they understand

Him/Her; institutional religion will have long since passed away. Humanity will live

in a noonday light of perfect love and perfect trust where beliefs, labels, and divisions

are no more.

 

Hymn:

 

What’s that spear a’flaming bright?

Roll along, chariot Roll!

Good Saint Michael banishes the night;

Rolling his chariot along!

 



Daily Devotion – February 21, 2018
02.21.18

Psalm 22:23-26

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him. 


25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!

Devotion by Anne Mooney

This Psalm was written by David in a time of great despair.  The previous verses of this Psalm referred to David’s sense of being forsaken by God.  Whatever had happened left him feeling alone, vulnerable and weak, forgotten by God.  Perhaps it was because of his own foolish sin, followed by intense feelings of guilt, remorse, and aloneness.  Maybe he was surrounded by taunts and judgments.  David surely committed his share of crimes against others (arranging for the death of Uriah, his adultery with Bathsheba, failure to punish his son for the rape of his daughter).  Then again, perhaps it was because he felt God didn’t intervene and guide him so he did not sin.  Either way, his feelings of desperate desolation are evident throughout verses 1-21.

It is interesting that Jesus refers to many of these words of David during the time of his betrayal and crucifixion.  Jesus must have studied these words from the past.  They must have resonated with his own sense of loss, betrayal, and vulnerability.  Like Jesus, I think we all can relate to David’s words of grief and self-loathing.

However, as David reaches verse 22 in this Psalm, his tone changes.  He discovers God has not forsaken him after all. God did not withdraw his love from David. Therefore he has reason to rejoice. In fact, his praise is so great, he looks back across the history of his people to their beginnings and invites them all to remember God’s mercy and to glorify God.  He recalls the ways God has helped the poor and the afflicted. He promises to praise and glorify God again in his life and encourages others, including us, to do so as well.

Then there is Jesus.  Like David and like us, he felt abandoned.  Today we can look back across history and see this sense of betrayal was not the end of the story.  In fact, it was the beginning of a story of resurrection and transformation.

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for the gift of the psalms.  Their reflections of grief, prayer, and praise offer us comfort.  They validate our own fears, frustrations, and triumphs. We can look back over time and find solace in the fact that while life changes, you remain with us, and will answer our prayers if we open ourselves up to offer them.  Amen

 

 



Daily Devotion – February 20, 2018
02.20.18

Proverbs 11: 28

Those who trust in their riches will wither,
but the righteous will thrive like green leaves

 

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne

As the saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.” When I was a child, I often wondered what that meant. “Gosh,” I’d think to myself, “Money is everything. Just think of all the stuff you can buy with it.” There’s also another saying, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

So, what do these two familiar sayings, the second being a Bible verse from Corinthians, have to do with Proverbs 11, Verse 28? As a child, I took the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness,” at face value, nothing more and nothing less. As I grew up and “put away childish things,” I developed my intellect and could look behind the words on a page and wonder if a deeper meaning lay in their significance.

That said, I began to think to myself, why will those “who trust in their riches wither?” Because the danger is that money and things could become their Almighty. If that’s the case, there is no room for God or deep spirituality. They might have put that aside for the sake of status symbols and stuff, possibly isolating and cheating themselves out of life’s deeper meaning and purpose.

On the same hand, why will those who are righteous, “flourish like green leaves?” This is metaphor and as I look beyond the surface of the words, this imagery suggests that they will grow and thrive as people because of their faith and belief in something greater than themselves. Their spiritual life will bring them more happiness and a deeper and more meaningful understanding of life and its intricacies, complexities, connections, beliefs and mysteries and all the things that comprise life.

Who would have thought I could draw all those conclusions from this 16-word Bible verse?  To tell you the truth, I kind of wonder myself. Then again, I think God had a hand in this.

 

Prayer

Dear God…Thank you for this day and the chance for me to share my words and thoughts with you and all who might have the chance to read them.   Amen



Daily Devotion – February 19, 2018
02.19.18

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

This one is a little tough for me to understand with just a couple of readings. Let me give it a try. For those who do not believe, the truth in the Bible and the living Lord just won’t be believed.

I read the second part as saying, we aren’t great because we believe. The greatness belongs to God. We don’t shine light onto darkness, God does. We shouldn’t take credit for our good works or our blessings or anything else. We should give credit to God. And in doing so, maybe the unbelievers will see the light coming from us, and maybe they will begin to question their beliefs.

Prayer

Dear God. Let me reflect Your light so that those who are in the dark may see it for themselves. Amen.

 

 



Daily Devotion – February 17, 2018
02.17.18
Mark 1:9-12

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
Reflection by Janet Derby
Immediately after Jesus is affirmed by God, he goes out to the wilderness. In some ways, that seems a bit odd. I would have thought an experience like that would have made him eager to go out and begin his ministry. I usually think that Jesus went to the wilderness because he understood that he needed the time to commune with God and prepare himself for his ministry. When I read it this time, I wondered if he was instead trying to escape from what God was calling him to do. (Perhaps that says something about where I was coming from when I read it!) Either way, God’s spirit was with Jesus as he was off by himself. As we enter the wilderness of Lent, it is good to spend time listening to God also. Like Jesus, we should remember that we are God’s child with whom God is well pleased and perhaps also considering what message we are trying to avoid hearing.
Prayer:
Spirit of God,
Be with me this Lenten season, helping me to discern what direction God would have me take. Amen.


Daily Devotion – February 15, 2018
02.15.18

 

Joseph’s Tears

March 09, 2016
Written by Mary Luti

“Reuben replied, ‘I told you not to sin against the boy, but you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.’ They did not know he could understand them… Joseph turned from them and began to weep.” – Genesis 42:22-24

Joseph’s brothers stand accused of espionage. They aren’t spies, of course, just starving Canaanites. So they protest their innocence, but no one cares or helps. It’s as if they’ve been seized, stripped, and thrown into a pit. The irony doesn’t escape them. “We killed our brother,” Reuben says. “This is payback.”

They don’t know that the powerful, enigmatic man who accused them is that brother. They don’t realize he understands them. But he does, and this is how Joseph learns something immensely disorienting—his brothers are remorseful, they comprehend the gravity of what they did.

The horrors of that day, the pathos of siblings who regret their crime, grief over so many lost years, confusion about what to do with them now that he can do anything he wants—it’s all too much. Joseph breaks down and weeps.

He will weep again. The remaining chapters are drenched in his tears. They spring from a thousand wells, but surely this is one: even if he can pardon them, taking them in his arms, the sad past remains. Nothing can change or repair the damage. It can only be grieved, it can only be borne. For some things, all you can do is weep.

We know we must forgive. But sometimes, like Jesus on the cross, the best we can do is find a way to say to God, ‘Father, you forgive,’ weeping and grieving as we pray.

Sometimes we have to trust the sufficiency of tears. Sometimes the important thing is not so much to finally fix, but to fully feel.

Prayer

Receive my tears, O Christ, who wept for me.

 

About the Author

Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.