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Daily Devotion – July 15, 2018
07.15.18

Mark 6:14-29


King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When [the daughter of] Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Reflection by Ellen Green


John the Baptist’s death is a story about security and how desperately we can want it. John, whose work was preaching of truth to power, found an interested audience in the powerful King Herod. But John’s preaching threatened Herod’s second wife, Herodias, and her status in their household. Taking advantage of Herod’s drunken promise to their daughter, Herodias silenced the prophet. Herodias is clearly an antagonist in this gruesome story. For me, she’s also the most compelling character in it. As the ruler’s wife she had a certain amount of privilege, yet the structure of a patriarchal society made her life precarious. Her place in life was dependent on Herod’s continued favor. Herodias was vulnerable. And vulnerable people can do a lot of violence as they scramble to protect themselves. Today’s reading warns against trying to hold on to privilege at someone else’s expense. I think it also calls us to condemn the dynamics of privilege and oppression, power and powerlessness, haves and have-nots. God desires our flourishing. It seems to me that neither the gross violence of a beheading nor the subtle violence that breeds vulnerability has a place in God’s kin-dom.

Prayer
Creater, Redeemer, Sustainer God, grant me your deep peace. Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – July 14, 2018
07.14.18

2 Samuel 6:12b-19

It was told King David, ‘The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.’ So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt-offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

Devotion by Rev. Krista

God is waiting…

The power of God was associated with the ark, as Uzzah died for reaching it out to keep it from falling once.  This is the side of God that most of us stay away from, the angry God.  This is the side of God that has been used by many to hold people down and stay oppressed.  The swift action of God toward Uzzah took King David by surprise too!  David was so surprised and angry with God with what happened to Uzzah that David dropped off the ark to Obed Edom’s house.

We have all been there.  We’ve been so angry with God that we turned our back on God too!  When our loved one died or we got rejected or when the diagnosis came – we were quick to ‘drop the box off.’  The beauty in today’s scripture is that God is still right there, ready to receive us and bless us when we are ready to return to pick that glorious box back up!  God is big enough to handle our anger and, unlike us humans, God forgives us and still loves us!

When David returned to Obed’s house to continue transporting the box, I can picture how relieved he was that the presence of God was there waiting for him.  The presence of God continued to be with David and the transportation team and they all praised God the entire way to Jerusalem!  When we are so overwhelmed with what is happening in the world around us, let us take our anger to God and still give praises because we are sure that God’s love will still be there waiting for us.

Let us Pray:

God, who is bigger than all the earth, we come to you when we are weak, tired, worried and even when we are angry.  So many of us have been taught that anger is a negative emotion that must be suppressed, but as we grow in our faith we continue to grow in our trust in you.  Just like in David’s case where you were there waiting for him, we trust that you will be there waiting for us.  Our hearts are with you, and we ask that you take the anger out of our hearts and we will give you praise for being a God who forgives and loves.  We praise You because you are just that awesome!
Amen.



Daily Devotion – July 13, 2018

2 Samuel 6:1–5

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

Reflection by Janet Derby
In my travels in Europe, I have seen many places where carts which were used in religious parades are displayed. I have always found these fascinating and a bit strange, since we don’t take our religious celebrations out into the streets. Yet, we have no reluctance about standing along a street to cheer on our favorite sports team, or view the Dragon-con or Disney parade. Why are we so reticent when it comes to proclaiming our faith publicly?

Prayer

Awesome God,
Let us praise you with song and dance and not be afraid to share our faith with others. Amen.



Daily Devotion – July 11, 2018
07.11.18

Ephesians 1:3-6

Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

It’s important to say thank you and acknowledge the presence of God in our lives. How much enthusiasm we use is a personal choice. We can praise God for our gifts in song, in quiet reflection or with a boisterous Alleluia!

If we have faith in the lessons of the bible, then this passage assures us we are under the protective wing of a divine force; just as a child is protected and loved by an earthly parent.

And for that it’s right to celebrate the divine and not take it for granted.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, you chose me and have cared for me. You haven’t made my life easy all the time but you’ve always had my back.  Tonight I sit in quite reflection feeling the gratitude I have for your love. Tomorrow I will climb a tree and shout to the neighbors that I love you!

 



Daily Devotion – July 9, 2018
07.09.18

Psalm 24:1-6

 

1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
2 for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
6 Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Selah

 

Devotion by Rev. Krista

“God’s Got it!”

No words bring me greater joy than verse 1 of this psalm from David.  It is a reminder that in the stressful and most hectic times of the day, that the earth is the Lord’s!  In other words, for me that gets translated to – God’s Got It!  The traffic, the heat, the floods, the whatever is happening around us or what is in the news, God knows about it, God sees it and God’s Got It!

And equally pleasing to my soul is the declaration found in verse 3.  Whoever is walking around with their chest puffed up like they are the ‘top dog’, they really are not equipped and cannot stand in the holy place of God!  How fitting is it that this scripture comes on a Monday, the beginning of a week, that as you start your week regardless of how you think things will unfold, God’s Got It and I can have peace about it.

 

Prayer:

Oh loving and gracious God, we are so grateful for this scripture on today. Too often we allow what we see overshadow what we know to be true, that you are the creator of everything.  As this day winds down and we reflect on the things that we encountered, let us rest easy knowing that you indeed ‘got it’, it is resolved and we can carry that peace with us for the rest of the week.

 

 



Daily Devotion – July 7, 2018
07.07.18

Mark 6:4-6

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.  Then he went about among the villages teaching.

Devotion by Julia Shiver

I was what you would call a “late bloomer.” It took a long time to figure out who I was.  I didn’t really feel like an adult until well into my 30’s!  Some of that had to do with growing up with undiagnosed depression, and some of it was my need to be the one in the family to keep us all together, the keeper of traditions and history.

I am comfortable now in my maturity (although aging is a totally different situation!)  But it doesn’t take much to throw me back to those childhood and adolescent years.  A get together with family, parents and siblings, or a visit with cousins, and I can suddenly lose some of that sense of self.  They don’t know who I am now.  Family only knows some of my history, of what I have overcome during the years, of the adult I have become and the ways that I move in the world.

I can see Jesus having that same problem.  “That’s Mary and Joseph’s kid!”  “Who does he think he is?”  “Who gave him the authority to preach to us?”  The people who knew him as a child didn’t see him being baptized in the river with John, they didn’t see his time of testing in the desert.  They know nothing of his message or his power to heal.  He is still Mary and Joseph’s kid.  So he does what he can and moves on to others who will be more receptive to his message.

Prayer:

Dear God, there will always be people in our lives who can’t respond to our message of your love.  We can only trust that you will put someone else in their path to help them find your truth.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – July 6, 2018
07.06.18

Mark 6:1-3

He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him.

 

Devotion by Lynne Buell

So far in my life I haven’t had to face an unwelcoming homecoming.  Even though I only have one sister who stayed in Buffalo while the rest of us moved away, each time I go back I am embraced by the familiarity and people of my hometown.  But Jesus did not receive this kind of welcome.  The crowds questioned Jesus’ power and teachings because of where He came from.

Perhaps this is the work of the Holy Spirit preparing the disciples with what might happen when they are sent out to spread the Word of God—encountering folks who will disapprove and criticize—facing crowds who admire wealth and power.  Their mission will be difficult; and because of this, they will become stronger.

Looking back on my life, I have become stronger.  I may not have had to endure being unwelcome somewhere, but I’ve had to endure many obstacles.  Thanks be to God.

 

Prayer:

Dearest God, I am grateful today for the strength and peace of mind you have blessed me with.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – July 5, 2018
07.05.18

2 Corinthians 12: 6-10
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

God chose Paul, a man with a gift for getting the word out. He spoke and wrote tirelessly to leave a legacy we can all follow.

God also knew Paul so well that it was important to send a reminder to be humble.

One way for us to reach a humble place is through adversity. Life’s challenges give us the perspective that our ‘thorns’ can bring us to deeper understand God’s place in our lives.   The phrase “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” is an important aspect of our faith that needs consideration. It introduces the importance of approaching life with humble respect for the power of the divine.

 

Prayer

Lord, you know me better than I know myself. You crafted someone with a big mouth and heart.  If you need to knock me down now and then to remind me who’s really running the show, I understand why.  Help me to be humbly receptive to your message. 

 



Daily Devotion – July 3, 2018
07.03.18

 

Psalm 48: 9-14

 

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.

As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth.

    Your strong right hand is filled with victory.

Let the people on Mount Zion rejoice.  Let all the towns of Judah be glad because of your justice.

Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.  Walk around and count the many towers.

Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.

For that is what God is like.  He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.

 

Devotion by Chris Shiver

 

In yesterday’s devotion by Janet Derby, which covered the first portion of this Psalm, she illustrated to us how the awesome image of God’s holy city might reveal to us how powerful God is & how God is able to protect us.  In this closing portion of the Psalm this imagery of his power continues, with the additional message that God will always be there for us as our guide and protection.  We know that Jerusalem was sacked by conquerors more than once with the walls and temple laid waste.  This reminds me to not put much reliance on anything in this world for my security or strength, but to be fully dependent on God alone.

 

My Prayer:

 

Jesus, I pray that I will never put anything in this world ahead of my relationship with you, and that the only power I will rely on comes from God.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – July 2, 2018

Psalm 48

A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.
Within its citadels God
has shown himself a sure defence. 

Then the kings assembled,
they came on together.
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic, they took to flight;
trembling took hold of them there,
pains as of a woman in labour,
as when an east wind shatters
the ships of Tarshish.
As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the Lord of hosts,
in the city of our God,
which God establishes forever.
Selah

Reflection by Janet Derby

I am not always a fan of big cities. Given a choice, I generally prefer nature – mountains, rivers, and flowers to concrete and marble and glass. So, when the psalmist refers to the city of our God, it doesn’t always resonate with me. However, last week I took a boat tour of Chicago which was full of information about the architecture of the city. It gave me a great appreciation for the skyline of the city and the impression of influence and authority it infers. Images speak so much louder than words, so I can well imagine why the assembled kings would tremble at the sight of God’s city. Whether we use an image of a holy mountain or a citadel, we can take comfort in the powerful protection of our God.

Prayer
Sheltering God,
We praise you and thank you for the many images of your loving protection. Help us to remember that we are always safe in your care. Amen.