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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 27, 2017

Devotional Text: Psalm 30 (an evening Psalm)

Text: I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. (v. 1)

Sometimes the day simply gets away from you. The night before you set your plans but then … then the proverbial train goes off of the track. So as I write today’s entry my day is drawing to a close. On my To Do list for today, THIS is the only thing that I will be able to complete. That is not to say that my day was not a good day. I did not get to do what planned but I did what God planned. Of that I am certain because in my morning prayer I gave today to God.

So often we view the unscheduled occurrences of the day as “interruptions”. But they are not interruptions, at all. They are “God Moments”. I think that it was Thomas Aquinas who once observed that “Man proposes; God disposes”.

So, after I say my prayers tonight, I will praise God for bringing me safely through another day. There will be a tomorrow, and I cannot help but wonder what surprises God has in store for me.

May that be true of you, too.

Lord, I praise you for you led me through another day. Complete what I left undone, repair whatever I did in error and bless me sleep. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June, 26, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 21: 29-36

Text: Guard your hearts lest you be weighed down with busy work and worry. (v. 34)

Often someone I am asked if I’ve had a “busy” day. My standard reply is “Yes, but I’m just not sure if it was productive!” Frankly, that statement is truer than I wish to admit. We can become so busy with the “urgent” matters of life that we neglect the truly “important” things.

Jesus cautioned His disciples to learn a lesson from nature. When they saw leaves sprout they knew that summer was near. We recognize the changing of seasons by what is going on around us in nature. How is it that we miscalculate the changing seasons of life?

The Master went on to tell His disciples to “be alert” and to pray for strength so that they could avoid getting sucked into dancing to other people’s tunes or fall into the trap of being unproductive.

I find it helpful to begin the day with a time of prayer, asking for God’s guidance in all of the day’s planning and decisions.  Then I ask myself throughout the day if what I am about to do is the best use of the limited time that God has given to me.  This is not an effective tool, but it does help me recognize life’s traps.

Lord God, throughout today, help me to avoid the water-weight of “busyness” so that I may focus on the truly important things of this life. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 25, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: James 1: 1-18

Text: If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. (v. 5)

On a wall in my office there is a print given to me by my brother-in-law nearly ten years ago. It is entitled “Wise Angel” and on the back of the print he wrote, “To our family’s wise angel”. Of course it touched my heart and found a place on my wall.blog picture

Through years of leading bible studies and preparing sermons I have come to the realization that prayer, conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional, is at the center of life. And I have learned that there are five prayers which will always be answered. They are prayers for the Holy Spirit, for Courage, for God’s will, for Strength and for Wisdom.

The Epistle of James, which I call “Practical Christianity 101”, begins by encouraging us to pray for Wisdom. Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge or I.Q. Wisdom looks below the surface of a situation. Wisdom is humble enough to know what we do not know. Wisdom is that sudden seemingly serendipitous insight that Solomon had in the story of the two mothers. (See I Kings 3: 16-28 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+3%3A16-28&version=CEV)

I do not know who will read this Glimpse but I do know this; I pray that whoever reads it will be given the gift of Wisdom.

Lord God, of all the things that we could ask for You to bestow upon us, we ask for wise and discerning hearts. To Your glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 24, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Acts 4: 32-5:11

Text: There was not a needy person among them, … (v. 34a)

Years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a little poem and then a book of essays entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The first two lessons are, “Share everything” and “Play fair.” Very basic. Very simple. Very hard.

Taking Jesus seriously is paradoxically very simple and very hard. C. K. Chesterton once wrote that “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” 

Today’s devotional reading is the story of how hard it is to live in a Jesus community.  The earliest followers of Jesus  took Him seriously and shared everything that they had so that no one was without. And those who received were not deceptive. They, too, shared  and did their fair share. Greed and selfishness had not yet entered the picture. The community knew the difference between “enough” and “more.” There is a difference between “want” and “need”. The latter is the child of Greed.

But all of that came to an end with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. Like Israel in the wilderness they did not trust God to provide. They did not really believe that God could provide “daily bread.” So they lied. They hid assets and passed themselves off as “holier than thou.” They didn’t have to do this. Nor do we.

Our challenge challenge is to learn the apostle Paul’s secret. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.  I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me. (Philippians 4: 11-13)

Lord, teach me to the secret of contentment in You. Let me be a blessing to others and to You. Amen.

 

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Christian, devotion, faith, Love, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 23, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 21: 5-19

Text: (Jesus said to the disciples as they admired the beauty and permanence of the Temple) “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (v. 6)

I slipped though a cautionary gate and step inside the old church. The windows were broken. The pews and chancel furniture were gone. Weather and neglect allowed to plaster and paint fall from the walls. It was a shell of its former glory, yet I could sense that it was a holy place, sanctified through years of prayer and sacrament.  And still, it would soon be gone.

Jesus words to the disciples reflected a reality that would ultimately contribute to His crucifixion. The things of this world, even the biggest and strongest and most beautiful, do not last forever. Eventually everything that we hold on so tightly in life will be in an estate sale or carried out with the trash. The grandest of monuments eventually weather and are forgotten before passing into dust.

So what is forever? Love. Only God’s love is eternal. Only the love that we give and receive live into eternity. So tell someone that you love them. Cut someone a little slack. Forgive the one who hurt you. Do not let yourself be captive to the Past or drawn to a Future that is not yet. Live in this Moment for this is the only true moment that we have. Maybe that is why the Present is precious.

Lord, this is a day that You have made. Let me be glad and rejoice in it. Teach me to love and to forgive and celebrate the present moment. And when this day draws to a close, grant to me a restful sleep. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace for June 22, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 20: 41-21:4

Text: (Jesus said), “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them” (v.4)

In considering a call to a particular church someone asked me, “If this church didn’t have their building, would they still be a church?” The question behind the question was simple: “Does this congregation worship the edifice more than the Savior?”

The story of the “widow’s mite” in today’s reading is really about misplaced spiritual loyalties. Jesus had just criticized the teachers in the Jerusalem Temple for being in love with their positions of honor and privilege and being keepers of the Temple at the expense of fulfilling their true purpose. They were so in love with the status quo that they willingly and knowingly took advantage of the poorest among them, like the poor widow.

On a different occasion Jesus told His disciples that no one can serve two masters. We can only have one North Star, one guiding principle, one ultimate loyalty. We have to be careful not to confuse our positions or possessions with the One who owns all things and in Whose Hands all positions are ultimately held.

Lord, give me a wise heart and a discerning mind, lest I lose sight of you and the things that are really important in this world. Amen. 

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 21, 2017

Devotional  Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Acts 2: 1-21

Text: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (v. 4)

I took Latin in high school. Wags have said of Latin, “Latin killed the Romans and it nearly killed me!” I can relate. I’ve never been very good at foreign languages. Some of this has to do with the fact that I am a stutter. But, I am also not very good at rote memorization.

I believe that today’s devotional reading challenges us to tell the story of God’s unconditional infinite love in such a way that others can understand and experience it. It means that we have to be creative “as the Spirit” gives us the ability. It means that we have to get to know the other person, learn their language and present in a way that they understand.

Music is a powerful vehicle for sharing the story of God’s love. Traditional hymns speak to some while more contemporary songs speak to others. Some learn visually, others learn aurally, still others learn verbally or physically. No one way or combination of ways is better than another.

Our call, as serious followers of Jesus, is speak in such a way that Jesus is known.

Lord, let your Spirit guide my words and actions today so that everything I do and say will glorify you. Amen,.

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