Christian, devotion, faith, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 27, 2017

Today’s Assigned Devotional Reading from the Common Lectionary: Luke 9: 37-50

Text: An argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. (v.46)

In security; it’s everywhere. It begins at a young age. Can a child have more than one best friend? What happens if your best friend plays with someone else or gets invited to a party and you don’t? The Smothers Brothers made a fortune over the schtick “Mom always liked you BEST!”

Many of our systems encourage a certain amount of insecurity. I inwardly chuckle when there is are multiple valedictorians at a graduation ceremony. Each one of the students worked hard, made sacrifices along the way, but still, I’ve seen one school have as many as 16 valedictorians! The television show Modern Family showed the humor in all of this competition in an episode where two of the characters felt ridiculous parental pressure to be valedictorian of a high school class. They even had a footrace around the school track!

In all three of the synoptic gospels we have some variation of the disciples arguing among themselves and even asking Jesus which one of the 12 was the greatest. Jesus placed a child in their midst and said that whoever comes to Him as a child is the greatest. In the eyes of God, the greatest is the least.  The disciples evidently didn’t understand because no sooner had Jesus answered their question than John said, “Master, we saw someone who is not one of us casting out demons in your name. We tried to stop him but he wouldn’t stop!” Make him stop! On my, our childish ways.

As followers of Jesus we can have ambition. We can even ascend the scale of affluence and influence, but we must always remember that the higher on those scales, the more responsibility we have to God. Our ambition should be in trying to out-serve one another without keeping score and worrying about who’s serving more!

And boy, is that hard! My insecurity keeps getting in the way!

Lord, let me not compare myself to another or be envious of another’s worldly success. Let me till the field in which You placed me. Continually remind me how to be faithful to the end. Amen. 

Christian, devotion, Glory, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 26, 2017

Devotional Reading; Luke 9: 28-36

Text: Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him!”

The reading assigned for today is what is called The Transfiguration of Jesus. It was a mystical experience that three disciples experienced.  The thing that stood out to me was the last three words of our text; “Listen to Him!”

The disciples initial response to the Transfiguration was to build a memorial or a shrine commemorating the event.  We do do the same thing. Some are very elaborate. Others are not.  Along the highways where I live there are make-shift memorials marking the place where someone died in an automobile accident.

There is nothing wrong with this, but they are a “one and done.” Sooner or later they are largely forgotten as the generations pass. For example, no one recalls where the Old Testament patriarch Jacob erected his memorial marking his “God-moment”.

God wants followers of Jesus to be “living memorials.” That is why the voice from the cloud told the disciples to “Listen to Him!” Do what Jesus told you to do! Love with a holy and complete love those whom God loves. Take Jesus and His teachings seriously. Be a light that breaks the darkness of a broken and troubled world. Let what you do and say be a blessing that glorifies God.*

Lord, make me into a living memorial that reflects the love of Jesus to others, especially to the dark places of the world. Amen.

*While researching a sermon recently I did a word study of “glory” and “glorifies”. Using the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament I discovered that “glory” and its derivatives means “to honor.” May your life and mine be God glorifying.

Christian, devotion, faith, Love, Matthew, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 25 2017

For Devotional Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20

Text: Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you until the end of the age.” (vss. 18-20)

When I first arrived at the church I am now serving, their governing Board said, “Now that  you’re here, we need to write a ‘mission statement’.”

I’ve been through this exercise in futility before.  All statements written by a committee are nothing more than gibberish reduced to its lowest common denominator! It gives the illusion of doing something when, in reality, after they are written they are generally put on a shelf and forgotten.

I replied, “Actually, we don’t. Jesus already gave us our ‘mission statement’. It’s very simple. It’s easy to remember. It’s only four words; ‘Go and make disciples.’ And, He even told us how to do it; baptize and teach ‘Love’. This is the ‘mission statement’ of every group of Jesus followers.”

So, those simple four words became our “mission statement”; Go and make disciples.

Everything that we do is educative; our personal decisions as well as our corporate decisions; how we treat others, how we spend our money. Someone is always watching and consciously or unconsciously judging. As Jesus followers we need to be conscientious in not only loving one another but also in loving the least, the last and the lost of God’s children.

We are called to be bold in our love for one another and those considered “different” by world. Each one of us have been created in God’s Divine Image.  We can be courageous in our love, even to the point of risking it all for the sake of God’s Kingdom because in today’s text the Risen Lord promises to be with us until the end of time. There is no greater love than this.

Lord, make me bold as I fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission today, tomorrow and all of my days. Remove fear and intimidation from my heart. Shape me day by day, more and more into the holy image of Christ. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 24, 2017

Devotional Reading: James 5: 16-27

Text: The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.(v.15)

Prayer is essential. We cannot prevent ourselves from praying. Even when we are angry with God, prayer sneaks into our lives.And prayer changes things. A black free-church minister once told me that prayer changes God, God changes people, and people change situations. While I don’t agree with that theology, I do agree that prayer changes me and I can be a “change agent”.

I often pray with people for healing, especially when they are in the hospital or facing a terrible illness. But I learned long ago that not all healing is physical. The most important healing is spiritual. All of us will die from some cause. It is my prayer and hope that it does not happen for a long long time but even the New Testament figure, Lazarus, whom Jesus brought from the grave in the gospel of John, is not longer with us in the flesh.

When spiritual healing occurs we are at peace with ourselves, others and God. This is the peace that the apostle Paul meant when he wrote about “the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.” It gives us the ability to sing the words of the old hymn “It is well with my soul.”

It is my prayer for you today, that you have this peace. And that in having this peace, you will know both the love of God that will never let you go and the fellowship that knits us together into the Body of Christ on earth.

Lord, grant me peace. Give me the courage for reconciliation. Let me learn from my past but remember that it is past. This is a new day, one that You created and blessed. Amen.

Christian, devotion, James, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 23, 2017

Devotional Reading; James 1: 16-27

Text: Be doers of the word not just hearers of the word who deceive themselves (v. 22)

The Letter of James is Christianity 101. It is how to put “following Jesus” into practical everyday use.

Many of us read the bible, take time for daily devotions and go to church. We often select “our” church based on the message, sermon or homily. Sometimes there are other reasons such as family, tradition and the like.

Many of us have what I call “a sponge” Christianity. We soak up all that we can about Jesus and faithfully attend classes and worship but we never do anything with what we learned. We never put it to practical use. We are like “sponges” that soak up water but never get squeezed out. We never clean anything up. We just set ourselves aside and let the water in us evaporate before going back for another “soaking.”

James says that that is not following Jesus. We have to do what Jesus told us to do. We have to do our part in cleaning up the messes around us in the word. Our faith has to come alive through the things that we do. Only then is God glorified.

Lord God, make me a doer of the word, an active follower of Jesus going where I sense He wants me to go, doing what I sense He wants me to do. Let me “test” the spirits that move in my life through the reading of scripture, the tradition of the saints and the fellowship of fellow followers of Jesus. Aemn.

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Matthew, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 21, 2017

For Devotional Reading: Matthew 13: 24-34a

Text: (Jesus) put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. (vss. 24 & 25)

Th older I become the more hesitant I am to judge others. That does not mean that I always agree or accept what some says or does, doesn’t say or do. Rather it means that  I find myself wondering more than judging; wondering why they did or said what they did. And I wonder what God is up to in the circumstances of our lives.

I’ve come to the realization that God isn’t finished with either you or me, yet. Or anyone else for that matter. An old hymn says that God is working out His purposes, “as year succeeds year”.  I think that that about says it.

In Jesus’ parable a farmer’s field has been vandalized. The farmer’s workers want to “walk the rows” and pull out “the weeds”. But the farmer said “No”. He was afraid that some of the good crop would also be destroyed. There would be time enough at the harvest, he told his workers, to seperate the good from the bad.

God is patient…and forgiving. God is also ridiculously gracious. And we should be glad about that because you see, someone thinks that we are a weed. Yes, God works in lifetimes and even in generations. The story of our life is not over until the Author says it is. And the Author is fond of happy endings.

Lord, make me slow to judge and quick to forgive. Thank you for cutting me some slack. I don’t deserve it. I will do my best to glorify you with my whole being. Amen. 

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 22, 2017

Devotional Reading: James 1: 1-15

Text: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all people generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (vss. 5,6)

There was a time when I was terribly lost and didn’t know which way to turn. It was the lowest point I ever experienced in life. My plans and dreams were simply not going to be. Almost by accident, or maybe Providence, who knows, I turned to The Letter of James and began to read. I read like a hungry man attacking a meal.

Early in my reading of James I saw today’s text. It was like a life-preserver thrown to a drowning man. I asked for wisdom for the moment, for the day and proceeded as if God was whispering in my ear and directing my decisions. I got through that day and each subsequent day, one at a time. And now, years and decades later I find myself still drawn to James’ instructions. Ask God for wisdom and believe that it will be given to you. Don’t second guess yourself. Believe that God is directing your decisions and move forward with confidence. Things will not always go as you plan but that’s okay. They happened the way that they were supposed to happen simply because that’s the way they happened.

To the best of your ability make every decision and live each day in the most God-glorifying way that you can. And remember, your life and mine are lived in the mystery of God’s Providential Care.

Lord, give me wisdom for this moment, this hour, this day. That is all that I ask. Amen.