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Daily Devotion – January 20, 2018
01.20.18

Psalm 62: 7

On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne

In these uncertain and troubling times, it’s nice to know God has your back. These are angry times. Many times hate overshadows love and understanding. Drowns out reason and compromise. Makes the world feel like a dark and overwhelming place. Where is the light, I’ve asked myself?

 

And then, this morning, I discovered an email in my inbox. It was from a trusted friend. We go back to the Vietnam era, also dark times. We were on the other side. Both second lieutenants in the Air Force. We were the enemy, the scapegoat. Reviled versus honored and respected.

 

I was going to delete the email because I was so overwhelmed with work. But for some unforeseen reason I opened it. The first thing I saw were the words Good ol’ Charlie Brown. As I scrolled, and my eyes moved down the page, I stopped. It said, Remembering Charles Schulz. One of my heroes. And then I saw the Header: THE WISDOM OF PEANUTS. There sat Snoopy and Woodstock, “Never Forget To Smile,” read the caption.

 

I continued to scroll. Next came Charlie Brown and Linus, sitting on a bench, forlorn. “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good stuff,” read the caption. And then came Charlie with Snoopy hugging him, “I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me…I’m too busy loving the people who love me.”  God, I felt great. I was smiling ear to ear.

 

I scrolled on! There was Charlie and Snoopy once again. Snoopy hugging him with all his might and the caption drew a tear, “I love the kind of hugs where you can physically feel the sadness leaving your body.” This was light in the darkness. This was love. This was hope. This was something I almost dismissed because I was too busy to take the time.

 

Well, there is no doubt in my mind that God is my mighty rock and my refuge. And I take comfort in that. Or as Snoopy put it, ”When my arms can’t reach people who are close to my heart…I always hug them with my prayers.”  So that’s my devotion and my prayer. And I’d like to leave all who read this with one last thought. Click on the link below.

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=Remembering+Charles+Schulz+the+Wisdom+of+Peanuts&client=firefox-b-1-ab&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj6p4uz6ObYAhUDRa0KHWRJDiUQsAQIOg&biw=1600&bih=788



Daily Devotion – January 18, 2018
01.18.18

Psalm 62:5

My soul, wait in silence for God only,

For my hope is from Him.

 

Devotion by Molly Broderick

In my old, ratty Bible (my kids just laughed when I called it that). OK, my old, well-used Bible, I wrote the word “expectation” in the margin of this verse with an arrow pointing to the word “hope.”

Expectation is a good word for hope. But boy do I get disappointed by expectations a lot! I expect my kids to obey me. I expect my husband to always be sensitive and meet all my needs. I expect the weather to be nice. And on and on. I have a lot of unrealistic expectations.

But when I hope in God, when I expect good from him, I receive! Hope in God is never misplaced. In fact, hope in God is the only sure and realistic place for my hope and my expectations. Even when my expectations are not met in the short term, I have hope that God is making all things new and will bring peace to the world one day.

My Rock and My Salvation, my hope and expectation is in You. May I always trust in the goodness of God.

 



Daily Devotion – January 17, 2018
01.17.18
Psalm 139:16-18
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. 
 
Reflection by Janet Derby
 
Uncertainty is one of the most difficult aspects of changes in our lives. Whether we are changing jobs or moving or dealing with a difficult time, it seems that once a determination about our direction is established, the change becomes a little easier to accept. The psalmist believes that though we do not, God knows our future. Perhaps that can be a comfort to us in times when we are unsure of the future.
Prayer
All-knowing God,
Help me to trust that whatever is coming my way, you will be with me and guide me. Amen.


Daily Devotion – January 15, 2018
01.15.18

Psalm 139:1-6

 

You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

 

Reflection by Ellen Green

The week after my wedding, I did something that I felt terribly guilty about afterward. I came home distraught and my wife held me while I cried. Naturally, she wanted to know what had upset me. At first I didn’t tell her what I’d done. I didn’t want her to think less of me. Eventually, though, I decided that I wanted and needed her to know. I was in a difficult place, and when in came down to it, I didn’t want to go it alone.

Sometimes I act the same way with God. When something in my life feels ugly or broken I want to hide. Of course, God knows about it anyway. And being open to God when I’m at my worst means that I don’t have to be there alone. God knows us in our fullness and walks with us toward wholeness.

 

Prayer

Intimate Knower, steadfast Friend, witness my faithfulness and my struggles today. Hear the confessions of my heart and let me rest in the promise that you will never abandon me. Amen. 

 

 



Daily Devotion – January 13, 2018
01.13.18

Mark 1:6-8

 

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

 

Reflection by Janet Derby

 

John must have commanded a lot of attention with his clothing and diet. It seems a bit odd that those are the characteristics that came to be recorded. Yet, John also must have had a tremendous gift for preaching as well. I doubt that people flocked to the desert merely because of his habits. The other gift that John clearly had was that of humility. It would have been easy for him to bask in the spotlight, but he knew that it was vital for his followers to understand that Christ was coming. As we head into a new year and a time of transition at Pilgrimage, it is a good time to consider our own gifts. It is also a time to acknowledge the gifts of others and the power of God to work in our midst.

 

Prayer:

 

Gracious God,

Thank you for the many gifts you give to each of us. Help us to recognize our role in furthering your realm. Amen.



Daily Devotion – January 11, 2017
01.11.18

Mark 1:4

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

Spoiler alert!  I struggle with the meaning of baptism.  So of course I get this particular phrase in Mark to publicly ponder!

When I was 14, just before my confirmation into the Congregational church, I was baptized. I remember a large Long Island church located down the street from a famous shopping strip called the “Miracle Mile”.  I remember the white dress I wore as I walked slowly down the aisle by myself to meet the minister at the baptismal font. I went through this because as a young girl raised in a Christian Science church, I was not baptized. When my mother decided to take me over to the Congregational church, this baptism was required before I could be confirmed with the rest of the teens in my RE class.

Since many churches baptize babies, not everyone remembers their baptism.  Clearly many Baptists experience their baptism fully conscious of the decision and meaning. And John’s adult followers had a similar experience.

But I can tell you that even at 14 years old, I did not have a clear understanding of what it meant to repent and confess my sins. It took decades for me to glimpse the meaning of my baptism. And still I forget and must remind myself that there is a covenant between me and God.

I wonder how many of the people that showed up to John in the wilderness really understood what was the promise of baptism? I venture to guess that thru the ages, many, including me, have struggled with the meaning of baptism and continue to ponder the balance of faith and skepticism.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, thank you for loving me through a lifetime of ignorance and stubbornness.  Let me remember to follow your example and pass on your steadfast love to others.

 



Daily Devotion – January 8, 2018
01.08.18

Genesis 1: 1-2

Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

I usually read Genesis and what God did during that entire “week” of creation. However, in looking at just the first two verses, it begins very simply. There was nothing before God. So I’m left to wonder, why did God create the devil and evil and pain and misery? Couldn’t God just have stopped with the “good stuff”? Why not simply have heaven on earth? Wouldn’t that have been simpler, less complicated and better for everyone?

If that were so, we would only have prayers of thanks and joy. The world would be full of love and peace. I could live in such a world. Couldn’t you?

Prayer

Dear God. I don’t understand what or why you’ve created what you have created. I don’t know if I need to understand it all. I look at the world in wonder and awe. I’ll do my best to preserve and protect what you have created. In God’s name I pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – January 6, 2018
01.06.18

Matthew 2:11-12

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Devotion by Lynne Buell

As my faith journey continues, I find myself questioning some of the minor (or maybe not so minor) details of scripture.  For example, what did Mary do with the extravagant gifts that the three wise men presented during their visit?  After doing a Google search, I read a few commentaries about possible uses for the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that Mary took advantage of.  Each scenario made perfect sense to me, and each situation alluded to Mary being a penny-wise, thrifty, and logical woman.

Jesus is our gift from God; a gift that should be cherished and praised throughout our lifetime.  God presented Jesus to us to make us happy, to love one another, and to turn the world into a peaceful place where we all can live freely.  Let’s extend the happiness to everyone we encounter beyond the Christmas season, beginning with today.

Prayer:

Gracious God, I thank you for this day and for your never-ending love.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – January 5, 2018
01.05.18

Matthew 2: 9-10

 

The Magi Visit the Messiah

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

This story comes the same week as the super moon which commanded the sky a few days ago.  Both are reminders that we often need a great event to peak our awareness.  I love that the Maji paid attention to the cosmos, and knew the significance of the changes in the sky.  They gave this star such importance that they followed it through many lands to see the baby Jesus.  Their faith was stirred so strongly that the star they observed created a life-changing chapter in their lives.  And in ours as well.

There is a stillness required of us to become aware.   The super moon stopped me in the frozen darkness earlier this week.  It was as close to me as it ever will be this year.  How much closer can God’s love be to us if we stop, become still, and nurture awareness of the divine power that conducts both the sweeping grand skys and our own brief precious lives?

 

Prayer 

Father, Mother God, as each new moon rises and becomes full, help me to be still and aware.



Daily Devotion – January 3, 2018
01.03.18

Matthew 2:1-6

(expanded to include 2 previous verses for context)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.  He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you

who will be the shepherd for my people Israel’.”

 

Devotion by Chris Shiver

The scripture above is from the New Living Translation, but other translations use the words “troubled” and “frightened” to describe the reactions of Herod and “everyone” in Jerusalem.  When we read the next dozen verses we come to understand that Herod’s reaction came from his dark heart & his desire to maintain power at any costs, and this may have applied to some of the other leaders as well.  But most of the Hebrew people had been taught to hope for the Messiah – so why would they react so negatively to what God had promised.  In these 1st two chapters of Matthew, it seems that the only people who reacted positively to this birth were persons who seem to have devoted their life to relationship with God (the wise men) & poor people such as Mary, Joseph & the shepherds.  It almost seems that anyone with anything to lose in terms of their prosperity on earth would rather cling to what they have, than receive the blessings that God had promised.  And this was at a time when the Hebrew people and Jerusalem were under the heel of a ruthless foreign oppressor.

For me the lesson is do I want to constantly be focused on maintaining the status and prosperity of myself, family & friends using my own limited power & schemes?  Or do I want rest on God’s promises by listening to God speak & then responding to God’s will, knowing that it may bring uncertain changes, and trusting that there will be unimaginable blessings?  If I look to my past I see that the result has always been more favorable for all concerned when I trusted in God.

 

My Prayer:

Jesus, I pray that each day before I make my own plans, that I will listen and follow what you have to say, and then trust you with the result.   Amen.