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Daily Devotion – April 21, 2018
04.21.18

Devotion April 21, 2018

Psalm 23: 1-3

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3   he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake. 

 

Devotion by Anne Mooney

Recently I was reminded of a spiritual principal that many people call “the Golden Key.”  According to this principal, (as outlined by Emmet Fox) if you find yourself obsessively worrying over something, you can use the golden key to transform your worry.  You do this by consciously dismissing whatever is bothering you from your mind and replace it with a conscious reminder of God’s amazing power.  One of the ways I do this is by repeating a song or a hymn in my mind.  My favorite hymn for “golden keying” a situation is My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, by Isaac Watt.  Its words are based on Psalm 23.  These comforting words remind me that God has my back and that the creative power used to manifest our universe is also at work to sort out my mundane affairs.  When I actively practice the golden key, I am like David. I have no want, my needs are met, and my path is made right.

Hymn

My shepherd will supply my need

Jehovah is His name.

In pastures green he makes me feed,

Beside the living stream.

He brings my wandering spirit back

When I forsake His ways,

And leads me for His mercy’s sake,

In paths of truth and grace.  Amen

 

 



Daily Devotion – April 20, 2018
04.20.18

John 10: 16-18 (NRSV)

16 I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock, with one shepherd.

17 “This is why the Father loves me: I give up my life so that I can take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father.”

Devotion by Victoria Owens

Just yesterday afternoon I received a phone call around 5 pm, a time my daughter usually calls me when she’s on her way home from work. Wearing my Bluetooth headset, I answered without looking at caller ID. Pressing a button on the side of my headset I said, “Hi, sweetie!” A female voice said, “Hi! I’m going to skip Bible study tonight; my allergies are killing me.” In rapid succession my thoughts were: she does sound a little stuffy; wait—is she even in a Bible study right now?; oops, this isn’t Rachel at all; I just called someone else “sweetie.”

John’s gospel is full of symbol and metaphor. A literal reading just won’t do. I’ve thought recently that this gospel, the one scholars believe was written after Mark, Matthew, and Luke, is almost a theological reflection on those three accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry. We moderns, of course, know that we aren’t wooly and grass-eating, and Jesus isn’t saying that he herds actual sheep for a living.

I, of course, should know what my own daughter’s voice sounds like. Do I know Jesus’ voice? And if I’m not sure, am I one of the sheep for whom he is willing to lay down his life? Somewhere I encountered the idea of meditating on Psalm 23’s first verse with varying emphases on each word in turn. The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd. I wonder what you will discover in doing this.

The PUCC choir will sing, “Shepherd me, O God” this coming Sunday. What do I think this means for me right now? What do you think it means for you? And what could it mean for our faith community in this time and place?

Prayer:

I am a reluctant sheep, God, more often than I want to admit. I call you my shepherd, say that I have everything I need, and still try to go my own way. Help me—help all the other sheep in this flock, and all your flocks—allow ourselves to be gathered and cared for by One who is willing to die for our acceptance and embrace of the abundant life to which we are entitled as your beloved children. In your name we pray, amen.

 



Daily Devotion – April 19, 2018
04.19.18

John 10:11-15

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.”

 

Reflection from Rev. Krista

How can we ignore the emphatic words of Jesus making the proclamation of being the good shepherd, and what makes Jesus so good is that he will lay down his own life for the sheep.   It is so amazing!  So much love and faithfulness that Jesus has for his sheep.  In our everyday, ordinary lives we encounter a number of false shepherds.  The false leader who has not been given any authority to lead us and their voice has no weight.  This ill-equipped, self-proclaimed leader is no leader at all, and at the first sign of danger they flee, run and abandon the sheep.

 

Yes, in our everyday lives we see evidence of the false shepherd’s abandonment.  There are dilapidated buildings and overgrown grassy yards.  We see deserted children and a forsaken spouse, all victims of the false shepherd.  Following false leaders can cause so much ruin and chaos in our ordinary lives.  We can be devastated by the attack and scattered further away from the loving relationship we are to have with God, and that which was promised to us.  As we seek guidance, protection and love in our everyday lives, let us first set our hearts and our sights on the one, truly good shepherd who is Christ.  May we tune our ears to hear God’s voice in our times of despair, anxiety and uncertainty.  Let the faithfulness that God has for us be our strength, for there will be no one like Jesus who will lay down their life for us.

 

Let us pray:

Faithful God,

We are so thankful that you know us as your sheep and you call us your own.  We pray for the wisdom to hear your voice and to not be distracted by the false leaders around us.  We ask that you provide the strength we need to get us through this day, as we grow closer to you.

Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 18, 2018

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.  Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest family.  They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  Jesus is

“the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the cornerstone.”

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:5-12

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

The power of the resurrection continues on in this passage.  Through the name of Christ, Peter and John continue the healing of the lame and sick that Christ began.  Those who thought, such as the chief priests, that Christ’s crucifixion would be the end of his message were wrong.   The chief priests were wrong when they assumed that Christ would die and go away.  They were wrong when they thought they would get ruling power of the people again.  They were wrong when they thought things would go back to the way things were again.   They were wrong in their disbelief of the resurrection.

A new foundation has been laid.  The work that Christ started was only the cornerstone of the things to come.  No longer will the chief priest determine who is righteous but through the name of Christ people will be saved.  For those who do not believe that death is the end, but believe that resurrection is real salvation will be theirs.  They will be filled with the Holy Spirit just as Christ promised and be given the same authority that was given to Peter and John to heal others.

May we continue to embrace our belief in the resurrection.  May we take the opportunity of the season of spring to note the world around us and its resurrection into new life.  With this hope, may we spread the message that Christ is not dead but very much alive!

Prayer:

Almighty God, help us to understand that resurrection is the reversal of what was thought to be true in our lives.  Fill our hearts with the fire of your Holy Spirit so that we can bring the good news of healing and new life to all.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 17, 2018
04.17.18

1 John 3:16–22

 

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How 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?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

 

Reflection by Janet Derby

They’ll know we are Christians by our love. I sang these words often as a teenager and they still ring true when I sing them now.  We can be confused by some Scriptures, disagree about how we accomplish our goals, and struggle with relationships with others. Yet we all understand the important truth that God loves us to our core and that we must share that love with a world in desperate need. That was the message Jesus gave to the disciples and to us.

 

Prayer

Loving God,

Thank you for the gift of love as shown in Christ. Help me always to show that love to others. Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 16, 2018
04.16.18

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.  Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest family.  They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  Jesus is

“the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the cornerstone.”

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:5-12

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

The power of the resurrection continues on in this passage.  Through the name of Christ, Peter and John continue the healing of the lame and sick that Christ began.  Those who thought, such as the chief priests, that Christ’s crucifixion would be the end of his message were wrong.   The chief priests were wrong when they assumed that Christ would die and go away.  They were wrong when they thought they would get ruling power of the people again.  They were wrong when they thought things would go back to the way things were again.   They were wrong in their disbelief of the resurrection.

A new foundation has been laid.  The work that Christ started was only the cornerstone of the things to come.  No longer will the chief priest determine who is righteous but through the name of Christ people will be saved.  For those who do not believe that death is the end, but believe that resurrection is real salvation will be theirs.  They will be filled with the Holy Spirit just as Christ promised and be given the same authority that was given to Peter and John to heal others.

May we continue to embrace our belief in the resurrection.  May we take the opportunity of the season of spring to note the world around us and its resurrection into new life.  With this hope, may we spread the message that Christ is not dead but very much alive!

Prayer:

Almighty God, help us to understand that resurrection is the reversal of what was thought to be true in our lives.  Fill our hearts with the fire of your Holy Spirit so that we can bring the good news of healing and new life to all.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 14, 2018
04.14.18

John 20:26-31

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

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

It is easy to understand from where Thomas is coming. No one had died and came back days later to be among the living before. So even though the other disciples had shared the good news with Thomas, Thomas had to see Jesus for himself.

As much as we would like for our faith to be evidence for the non-believers around us, many people are like Thomas and they are full of doubt. I’ve shared before how I believe Jesus wrapped His arms around me during a religious retreat. I had an occasional question of God’s love and existence, but I never told God to reveal Himself so that I could believe. But God did come to me in a great time of need. I must admit, that strengthened my faith.

We can share our faith to be witness for others, but for many, like Thomas, Jesus has to reveal Himself directly for them to believe. Hopefully, our faith can open their hearts so that when the time comes, they can accept God’s love.

Prayer

Dear God. Please reveal yourself to the doubters just as you did for Thomas. Help them come to You because of Your beaconing love. Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 13, 2018
04.13.18

Luke 24:36b-39

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’

Reflection by Janet Derby

Shalom. Peace be with you. That is often what Jesus begins conversations with in the time following his resurrection. It makes sense. When we lose someone we love, we see everything through a different lens, and it’s uncomfortable if not scary. Jesus speaks words of reassurance and in addition, reminds the disciples that not everything in their world has changed. He is still with them. In times of uncertainty and doubt, it is good for us to understand that as well. The sun rises, spring arrives, flowers bloom, and God is with us.

Prayer
God of Shalom,
Thank you for the peace which passes all understanding. Amen.



Daily Devotion – April 6, 2018
04.06.18

John 20:19-23

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

Devotion by Lynne Buell

The disciples were huddled in a room in fear of being the next ones to be put to death since their leader was no longer alive.  I imagine they were stressing out every time they heard footsteps and voices from the street below.  But then, Jesus quietly makes an appearance standing before them and showing his wounds, and the disciples are filled with relief.  Their Lord has been resurrected.  It is time for rejoicing.  I can almost feel the emotional rollercoaster effect they were experiencing; and then Jesus tells them what they must do on His behalf.

 

Thousands of years later, we are still living in an evil world.  While we might feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, we cannot stop from living by God’s Word.  This beginning seems like it has no end, but Jesus was sent to save us from our sins.  It is not easy to forgive others of their transgressions, but what Jesus is telling the disciples is that if they place their faith and trust in Him, goodwill will surpass the evil in the world and we will have everlasting peace.  It wasn’t their job to forgive anyone’s sins, but it was their job to preach the gospel, spread the Word, and encourage folks to repent and place their trust in God and Jesus Christ.

 

Prayer:

Loving God, help us to continue to seek the Truth and that we place our full trust in you and your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.        

 



Daily Devotion – April 5, 2018
04.05.18

1 John 1:5-10 New International Version (NIV)

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

 

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

 

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

The text says “God is light, in him there is no darkness.”  This is the lesson of my childhood in the Christian Science church.   I heard a lot of phrases like, “God is Love” and, “You are a perfect reflection of God’s love” and, “You are God’s perfect child, nothing can harm you.”  And so, when my brothers and I became ill, that illness really was no part of us, because how could we, a reflection of God, be anything less than perfect love?

That might seem harsh, and it wasn’t an easy philosophy to understand.  We all weathered illnesses, from typical childhood sniffles, to the brain tumor my brother survived when he was four.  Somehow through God’s great love, we are all still here today, loving one another, and loving God overall.

So as I read the text, I enjoy meditating on walking in God’s light. The passages about sin I interpret not as my wrong DOING, but rather my wrong THINKING.  My thoughts that stray from the knowledge that God is my savior, my healer, the PERFECT light that leads each step of my journey; it is these negative thoughts, doubts and fears that I reject.  I stand in the light of God’s awesome healing power.  And so do you.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, loving me, my thoughts are intertwined with your perfect love.  We walk as one.  Glory to you, oh God!  Amen.