Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 14, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 1: 1013

Text: And the Spirit immediately drove Him (Jesus) out into the wilderness. 

I am fascinated by the Spirit driving Jesus into the wilderness so that He could be tested. In Mark’s gospel there is no other detail. Very simple. Very straight forward.

I remember a teacher who never gave quizzes or tests. He gave “knowledge finders.” I adopted his practice when I taught confirmation classes. Knowledge finders are an attempt to find out if the information shared becomes “knowledge” in the minds of students. More than once I would have to re-teach a lesson because if hadn’t turned into “knowledge”.

The other synoptic gospels say that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Depending upon the context, “temptation” and “testing” can be used interchangeably throughout Scripture. We are never tempted by something we do not desire. Jesus time in the wilderness was the time clarified His ministry. In the wilderness Jesus discovered what he stood for and, just as importantly, what He stood against.

Maybe we need a bit more time in the wilderness.

Lord, lead me not into temptation but if I must be tempted, let me not succumb to the temptation and fall. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 18, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 2: 1-12

Text: Then four people came to Him (Jesus) carrying a paralyzed man. (v. 3)

No one becomes a Jesus follower on their own. Throughout our lives God touches us with touches that are often too gentle and too mundane to even be noticed.

I’ve been touched multiple times. The first touch that I remember was that of my parents. At night they would kneel with me beside my bed as we’d say our prayers.
“Now I lay me down to sleep…”  “Our Father, who art in heaven,  …”

Later I was touched by a Sunday School teacher named Mr. Cation. He was a widower. Each Saturday afternoon he’d bake brownies or cookies to share with us at the end of class. One Sunday he wasn’t in class, and we learned a hard reality of life; Mr. Cation died the night before. Blessed in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15)

After Mr. Cation there was a Mr. Koch. He had thick glasses and blond hair. We met in the minister’s office, five of us sitting in a circle. Somehow he always arranged for me to read the shortest verse in the lesson. I think that it was because he knew that I am a stutter and sometimes it was hard for me to verbalize, especially under pressure.

I had a young Sunday School teacher whose name I do not remember. But I do remember how she didn’t shrink from hard questions. I was in 4th or 5th grade with a very curious mind. I once asked her “If Adam and Eve were the first people and if they had two sons, does that mean that there was incest?” She neither blushed not stumbled but simply said that it was a very good question and that I should ask our minister. I did. Then, later, around Christmas, when we read the Christmas story in Luke’s gospel, I asked, “What’s womb?” We had just read how the baby in Elizabeth’s “womb” leaped at the sound of Mary’s voice. She very gently patted her enlarged tummy and said that it is the place where the baby grows in a mommy’ tummy. Question answered. Faith shared.

I had many other touches in life along the way. No one comes to Jesus on their own. We are carried by others, just like the paralyzed man in today’s text and reading.

So, who are the people who touched your life? Whose life are you touching?

Lord, thank you for those saints who helped mold my faith. May I touch another so that they can know You better. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 16, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Common Daily Lectionary: Matthew 23:29-39

Text: How often I have wished to gather you under my wings as a hen gathers her brood, but you would not. (v. 37b)

I believe that often God looks upon the human family and tears well up in the Divine’s eyes. The Scottish poet Robert Burns had it right when he wrote, “Man’s inhumanity to Man”, a paraphrase of Samuel Pufendorf’s “More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.”

I think of the abandoned and run away children living on the streets of cities throughout the world, refugees trying to get away from war or seek opportunity, mothers and fathers who worry that their son will be killed before the day is done, the parents of missing children … The list is endless.

And then I read Jesus’ lament over the city of Jerusalem before He enters it one more time. Looking down on the majestic city He sees an unwillingness to recognize our common humanity and our willingness to accentuate our differences to the point of death and destruction. It breaks it His heart because it was never supposed to be that way. But it is.

Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said earlier in Matthew’s gospel, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.  This world sorely needs a few more people to take Jesus seriously. We need more people who are willing to dare to give peace a chance.

Lord, let their be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Amen. (From the folk song by the same title written by Jill Jackson & Sy Miller)

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 17, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 1:29-45

Text: But he (the healed leper) went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word (about the Jesus)…(v. 45a)

When was the last time that you were so excited about something or someone that you told others about it? Was it a recent movie? I told a lot of people about Wonder Woman and more recently The Big Sick. Maybe it was when you had an insight that completely changed your understanding of people or the world? I told a lot of people about “family systems”.  But, were you ever so touched by Jesus that you someone else how you are different because of Him? The thing that I’ve noticed is that most of the Jesus followers I know simply don’t tell others how Jesus changed their life. 

A few years ago I produced a short film of faith. Privately people shared moving stories of their faith journeys with me but in front of a camera they didn’t refer to their faith even once. I was disappointed. 

When I graduated from seminary the school’s president told us that God does not want “undercover disciples”. We are to be the light of the world shining forth the glow of God’s love. We are to be lamps of holy love on a light stand. 

We don’t have to pass out tracts or preach on street corners or put on false airs. We simple need to be genuine, honest, open, giving and loving. We need to touch the proverbial lepers, the untouchables of this world, for the glory of God. 

Lord, give me the courage to tell others how my life is different since You came into it. Amen. 

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Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 20, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Caily Common Lectionary:  Mark 2: 23-3:6

Text:  Then He (Jesus) said to them, “The sabbath was made for man (and woman), not man (and woman) for the sabbath. (v. 27)

Whenever I eat at a restrauant or buy something on a Sunday or holiday, I always thank my server for giving me their most precious commodity; their time. I know that often they really don’t have a choice in the matter, but still.

Today’s text is one that I dearly love and often quote. The “blue laws” of my youth are long gone and largely forgotten. But at one time, stores could not open on a Sunday. Later this standard was relaxed by allowing stores that sold necessities to open at noon. Now, its an “free” range.

Jesus’ comment to His critics reminded them that when God created the sabbath the Almighty did so as an act of grace. We humans need to keep and ever-changing balance between work and play, labor and relaxation. Otherwise we get out of sync and bad things happen to our health and relationships.

The sabbath is not a set day or time. Some people become almost pharisaic in keeping a sabbath. They become like Jesus’ critics. That said, though, there does need to be a time to allow our “spirits to catch up with our bodies”.

I am not a good “sabbath” keeper, but I keep trying. By the grace of God I will find that balance so that I can be my best self. I hope that you reach this balance sooner than I do.

Lord, help me to find the balance in my life that glorifies You. Help me distinguish the important from the urgent, and keep the flexibility that allows me to be responsive to Your call while caring for my spirit. Amen. 

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 19, 2017

Devotional reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 2:1-12

Text: Then four people came to Jesus bringing a paralyzed man. (v. 3)

No one becomes a serious follower of Jesus on their own. They have been touched by God multiple times along the way.

My parents were among my earliest touches. Each night they knelt beside my bed to lead me in prayer; the “Our Father” as well as “Now I lay me down to sleep…” Other touches were the volunteers at the first Vacation Bible School I attended at a neighborhood Free Methodist church. Then there were the after-school ladies who led a “Good News Club” program. They were probables Assembly of God or Baptist.

In my “home” church I had three memorable Sunday school teachers. One was a man named Mr. Cation, an elderly widower who brought us homemade brownies or cookies to eat at the end of class. Mr. Koch always gave me the shortest verses to read, I presume because he knew that I am a stutter. There was also a young teacher who was expecting her first child. At Christmas, as we studied the birth of Jesus, I asked the question that was on the other kids’ mind; “What is a womb?” (The child in Elizabeth’s womb jumped at the sound of Mary’s voice, you may remember.)

Not a single one of those people ever encouraged me to become a minister. All led me to taking Jesus seriously. Theirs was a cumulative affect by God.  Yes, No one comes to Jesus on their own. Like the four friends in today’s reading, someone carries us with loving arms.

Who carried you?

Lord, thank  you for the people who led me to You for You help me carry my burdens. Amen. 

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 15, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark: 14-28

Text: And immediately they Neff their nets and followed Him. (v. 18)

I wish I would have …

I should have …

You can fill in the rest of the sentence. Missed opportunity. 

I remember a treasurer whom approached me in the last week in December saying that our not-for-profit was going to have an unexpected $50,000 surplus. All year long the budget was tight so all departments tightened their belts accordingly. Many opportunities had to be declined. So when the treasurer asked, “What didn’t we do that we can do now?” Inthought of the missed opportunities that came up in the previous months. Sadly I replied, “it’s too late. What we should have done in June or July we can’t do now because now it’s too late.”

Their is an immediacy to Opportunity. Throughout the gospels we see that there is also an immediacy to God’s callings. And the proper response is, “immediately”. Immediately they dropped their nets and followed Him.

 Now is the time to hear the Voice. Now is the time follow. Not tomorrow or the day after. Not after you retire or you finish this or that. Now.

Lord, help me remember that You ask for discipleship now; not on our time schedule but Yours. Let me respond to Your invitation to discipleship today and every day of my life. Amen.

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