Daily Devotion – June 1, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

“On the Other Side”


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.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Devotion by Rev. Krista


In today’s devotion we examine Paul’s writing to the Corinthian church during a time of turmoil and martyrdom.  Paul reminds them that THIS great ministry, the message of Jesus’ resurrection, is indeed a treasure and no matter what: through judgment, through criticism, threats against his life and persecution the message had to go forth.  He told the Corinthians the importance of this ministry and what he went through in order for them to even hear it.  Paul shares that with his ordinary body he suffered.  Comparing himself to a clay jar, he stated he had been broken doing ministry.  As I read this scripture, I became curious and had to raise the question: what are we willing to go through for what we believe?


The resurrection message is so divine that our faith can cause us to forget just how human we are and the challenges we go through are sometimes unavoidable.  The hard times, the difficulties and the trials – are inescapable. Paul eloquently describes the conditions in our lives as ones that will leave us feeling afflicted, perplexed and persecuted.  With all that is going on in the world today we cannot help but feel all of those emotions at the same time! While such things are part of life, as believers we are reminded that we are more than our circumstances.  We are afflicted but not crushed, because God’s protection will deliver and save us.  We are perplexed and often confused, but we do not have to be in despair as long as we hold on to hope in peace, grace and impending joy.  And yes, we often feel as though we are persecuted and struck down, but we are not destroyed because the love that Jesus has for us can withstand anything!


As we go through this day and into the next, let us not look at the situations of our lives as the ‘end’.  The One who has all power, grace and love will see us through and we will be made better for it… on the other side.


Daily Devotion – May 30, 2018

1 Samuel 3:1-6


Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’


Reflection by Ellen Green


Today’s reading reminds us that there is particular faith and wisdom to be found in both the young and the old. In this part of the biblical narrative Samuel is a young man. He has lived since infancy in the Temple, under the watchful eye and mentorship of his elder, the priest Eli. When Hannah put Samuel into Eli’s care, her intention was that Samuel’s life be devoted to serving God. However, no one expected that life of service to take the form of prophecy. Samuel hears God’s call, but he struggles to interpret it in his own.

Samuel is ready and willing to respond, but in his inexperience he doesn’t understand that the thing keeping him up at night is indeed the voice of God. Fortunately, Eli knows the stories of how God shows up in the world. Maybe Eli himself has spent a long time listening for the word of God. In his wisdom, Eli recognizes the work of God in Samuel. And though it threatens his own position of authority, Eli encourages Samuel to act faithfully according to the urging of God.

We too are called into communities of faith to reveal God to one another. May we be as willing as Samuel and as wise as Eli, that your word may be heard and shared.



God, your Spirit moves in us and between us, weaving individuals into beloved community. We thank you for those who guide us toward you. Help us to hear your word when it is conveyed through others, challenging though it may be. Amen.

Daily Devotion – May 29, 2018

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.  In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.  How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you. 

Psalm 139:13-18

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

Just last week I was talking to a woman about birth, about the life we live in between, and about death.  She is a retired Presbyterian minister who served God as a missionary in the Congo.  She shared some tragic stories and she shared some stories of victory with me as she talked.  Out of my own curiosity, I had asked her at one point about what made her stay through the struggle for 23 years.  She said, “The God who created me called me to be there and I had to follow.”  She shared her journey of hearing God’s call that stemmed far back into her childhood.   She asked me about my journey into ministry, and like her story, I had to keep going back in time all the way to the time I was child to realize the origins of my calling to serve God.  We had both agreed that if we could remember being formed we would come to the conclusion that God had called us from the womb to become images of God’s love in the world.

I believe that all of us were formed and made by a loving God.  For that, we have so much to be grateful for.  It’s not darkness but light that created us.  Nor was it hate but love that birthed us into being.   David came to believe this and his heart sang songs of praise for his admiration of the One who created him.  God is a loving mother that has been nurturing our life from the very beginning.

My new friend is at the end of her journey here on earth but she knows, because she believes that God has been with her since the beginning, that God will be with her in the end.  Faithfully, she dedicated her life to making sure that those she met knew that they were loved by God; something she learned to trust in more every day.  Our life here on earth is full of twist and turns, expectations not met, successes, failures, and losses.  Times like these in our lives offer us the opportunity to turn away from the belief that we are loved but we must remain the course and continue to embrace the words of this Psalm that we were “wonderfully made.”


May we find ourselves resting in your arms of love at all times.  May we come to believe more each day how wonderfully we were made.  Amen.




Daily Devotion – May 27, 2018

John 3:1-17

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Devotion by Julia Shiver

Without a doubt, this is some of the best-known scripture.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with it.  Growing up, my grandparents had me “saved” or “born again” every summer when I went to visit.  I quickly learned to just “go along and get it over with.”  This idea really didn’t fit with the more progressive/liberal religious tradition my parents had raised me in.  I had grown up having an understanding of God and Christ from a young age.

So imagine my dismay when, 10 years into my marriage, my husband came home from a retreat claiming to be “reborn!”  Up until that point, he had not been a believer.  I was the religious one!  And it took everything I had in me, along with a lot of prayer, and a lot of therapy, to understand what had happened.  To trust that the changes were real.  I had seen how ephemeral these “born again” changes could be.  Was he really a new man, and could I continue to be married and raise children with him?

Most of this story is his to tell.  But I can tell you it took about 4 years to finally have faith that he was the new man he claimed to be.  He became the Christ-centered husband and father that he was meant to be.  And as we approach our 33rd anniversary, I can only give God the glory for the miracles I have seen.  Thanks be to God.


Daily Devotion – May 26, 2018

John 17:6-10

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

At this point in time, God’s work through Jesus had been accomplished—not throughout the world—but through a handful of followers.  Jesus was more than a mortal man.  Jesus was the divine Son of God sent to save us from our sins.  While Jesus’ death was tragic, His death was part of God’s plan.

This scripture appears to be a prayer from Jesus for His supporters and disciples as His time on earth had come to an end.  It is a reminder, thousands of years later, that we must continue to learn about and spread the Word of God; that this is the good news as it is a firm foundation for our existence.

Don’t turn away from God, especially during difficult times.  God’s love for us overpowers evils in our world.  After all these years, God continues to love and protect us.

Daily Devotion – May 24, 2018

Isaiah 6:1-5

A Vision of God in the Temple

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’


Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

Who am I to say what Isaiah saw or didn’t see? Maybe he saw exactly what he has described in this scripture. Perhaps he isn’t sure if it was a daydream or an aspiration or reality, but felt he should share in any case. Perhaps he is telling a story to make a point. Let’s skip the debate of whether the seraphs existed as described and try to figure out the objective of the story.

Most of scripture is written to substantiate and support a set of beliefs, or they are written to influence thinking and behavior. I believe this is written to influence thinking. Fairly common beliefs back then were that you had to be a spiritual scholar and hold a lofty position in the church to testify God’s existence. Those in power benefited by keeping their power exclusive to those they chose to let in. They created obstacles and hurdles for others to help maintain their exclusivity of power.

Isaiah is cracking open the curtain here. He is stating that one doesn’t need to be perfect to gain audience with God. This is a radical notion. People don’t need go-betweens. People don’t have to be Holy. God can reveal Himself to anyone. Has God revealed Himself to you? Have you been looking for God?



Dear God. Continue to reveal yourself to all us. Forgive our unclean lips and show mercy on us. In God’s name I pray. Amen.

Daily Devotion – May 22, 2018

Psalm 29:7-11

The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.

The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.

And all in His temple cry, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses His people with peace.



Reflection by Darlene Wagner


The psalmist here takes comfort in the poetic comparison of the Divine voice to a desert lightning storm or a forest-leveling tornado. As part of a marginalized, often oppressed people, Jewish communities needed the reassurance of a protecting Warrior-King. In my life, however, I’m not sure if the lightning-and-whirlwind, Warrior-King meets my needs at this time. I empathize more with the oak trees and forests which endure the winds and storms. In a society rife with human-made disaster and human-made hatred, I seek to be led by the silent, peaceable steadfastness of the hardy oaks on the mountaintops.




Sit, listen, let the Lone Oak teach you.

Ostracized from others, she found recompense

In full, unshaded sunlight as she grew.

With great limbs spreading grander than the dense

confines her fellow trees allow, she shelters

berry bushes, ferns, and flowers;

Her acorns feed squirrels, bear, and deer

Her branches hum wise words for human ears:

“Sit, breathe, and rest, raise up your arms as I

raise my limbs upward trusting rain and light!”


Daily Devotion – May 19, 2018

Acts 2:5-13

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’


Devotion by Rev. Krista

I love today’s scripture.  In the scripture we witness persons with diverse backgrounds coming together, with one thing in common: they wanted to worship God.  They were all gathered in one place, the Aramaic-speaking natives were with Greek-speaking persons, all cultures and all ethnicities praising God, together!  I love this scripture.  As we review today’s text, look at how many cultures were represented and came together to speak of God’s power.  There were some who witnessed this in unbelief and they continued to be negative, but that did not stop those who gathered together to give God praise!  Oh, I love this scripture!

Since the early existence of the church, there has been a desire, and perhaps a need, for diverse people to come together just to worship and praise God.  To bring our total and completely different selves together in the same space, and worship the One who created each person to be different and to be celebrated.  Sadly, for over 200 years ‘different’ was enslaved, ‘different’ was marginalized, ‘different’ was labeled and ‘different’ was viewed as less than.  Yet, I still love this scripture because it reminds us all that ‘different’ was intentionally introduced as an expression of joy and is worthy to be praised.  We celebrate the existence of difference when we come together to worship God, in spirit and in truth.  Go through this day looking at the differences of others, in our families and among strangers that we may see, and begin to worship God right at that moment!


Daily Devotion – May 17, 2018

Romans 8:26–27

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Reflection by Janet Derby

Ask if anyone would like to lead the prayer in a group of people, and there will be a lot of downcast eyes, mine often included. Many years ago, my friend Margie, told our Bible study group that she was determined to give the blessing at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Her husband, wanting to encourage her, announced proudly that she would lead the prayer. She froze up and could only come up with, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food”. I still laugh when I think of that story, but we all get it. Finding what we believe are the right words to pray is not easy, but this Scripture reminds us that it doesn’t matter what words we say or if we say no words at all. The Spirit knows what we feel and intercedes for us. Yesterday, I learned of the tragic death of a teacher with whom I worked for several years. As I tried to pray for his children, I was grateful that my sighs were sufficient pleas to God.

Understanding God,
Thank you for recognizing my sighs when words cannot express by thoughts. Amen.

Daily Devotion – May 16, 2018

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  For in hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Romans 8:22-25

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

Waiting and being patient has never been my thing.   I remember when I first became aware of this.   It was during a family vacation to Disney World one year.  I was elementary school age, the day was hot, I was told it was July, and I had come to my wits end with the heat and standing in one line after another.  My nerves had been tested as I waited in line for an hour or more for each ride to finally make it to the Promised Land, sit in the seat, get comfortable, ride, and let out a quick scream and then be asked to get off the ride only to walk to another line to stand in and repeat the process.  Despite Disney World being known as the happiest place on earth, I was anything but happy.   I was tired of waiting and I had reached my breaking point as I started to let my parents know about it.

We did not go on many vacations as a kid.  Mostly, it was because my dad had to work a lot and did not choose to spend his money on “fancy and expensive” vacations like Disney World.  So, to be there for vacation was a big deal.  My father was already anxious about being there since in his mind he was spending money instead of making money at work.  Therefore, he did not take kindly to my mumbling, my attitude and my overall displeasure with the lines at Disney World.  To say hell broke loose was an understatement.  Dad, who was known to have a short fuse, threatened to pack us up all in the car immediately and drive us home.  Meanwhile, mom was attempting to negotiate peace between my dad and I and my brother cried because he did not want to leave because we had not gotten to ride Space Mountain yet.  We were all fighting with each other and it felt like the whole park was watching us fight.  Cooler heads did eventually prevail and we stayed, although most of the rest of that day was spent not saying much to each other.

Like I said, patience is not my thing.  Even to this day, I have to take lots of deep breaths when I am waiting.  With bigger issues, like with my wife’s recent cancer treatment, I am not much different.  I have to constantly center myself in God’s presence as we (my family) wait for it to be over.   It drives me crazy the waiting.  I hope that everything will turn out ok and that more treatment won’t be necessary.  I hope that the cancer has not spread.  I hope that nothing like this ever happens again.  I am anxious.  I want to get through standing in this line quickly so that we can reach the Promised Land, be comfortable, enjoy the ride and let out a loud scream.  Until then, we wait.

In my hopeful waiting I am learning, as difficult as it is some days, to rest in the day, give thanks for all that I have and trust in the fruits of kindness, gentleness AND patience.  I hope that just as promised redemption will be the reward for my waiting.


Be with us, O Lord, as we learn to wait.  Give us spirits that are kind, grateful, and gentle as we hope for the adoption and redemption of our bodies.  Life makes it difficult to live with such patience, so be patient with us also.  Amen