Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion n for October 17, 2017

While walking on the island of Iona I came across sheep peacefully gracing in a field. They seemed oblivious to everything around them, including me! As I stopped to study them I was a bit envious. Their peacefulness seem to lie in knowing who they were and in whom they belonged. 

The 23rd Psalm or “The Shepherd’s Psalm”, is arguably the most familiar of all of the 150 Psalms; The Lord is my Shepherd ….” The Psalmist knew that he belonged to Another and not to himself. He belonged to the Creater of the heavens and the earth, to the One Who created us—each one of us—in the Divine image.  Too often we forget who we are and more importantly Whose we are. We forget that we do not belong to ourselves but that we have been “redeemed” by Another. 

Our lives take on a deeper sense of purpose and meaning when we understand  as the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “If we live , we live into the Lord, and if we die we die unto the Lord; so then whether we live or whether die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7). Remembering Who we belong to is a glimpse of grace. 

Lord, help me remember that in both life and death I belong to You. May all that I do, say or think be to Your  glory. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 16, 2017

I was supposed to be on the island of Iona, Scotland tonight, but I’m not. You see, a funny thing happened on the way to Iona–a little hurricane named Ophelia. No ferries went to Iona today so I am spending the night in the nice little port city of Oban, hoping for better weather tomorrow. 

Plans don’t always work out as we intend. Unexpected and uncontrollable events occur. So what do we do? One passenger ranted, and swore at a very patient attendant. Did she think the attendant could control the weather? Her tirade didn’t change a thing. It may have made them a little worse. My family will be the first to tell you tha I’m no saint, but when my turn came simply asked the attendant for suggestions. Then I made the best of it.

I think that anyone who takes Jesus seriously needs to see the reflection of God in the face of another. Berating someone reveals a hole in our own character. We need to constantly remind ourselves to roll with punches, or as Jesus’ follower, Paul, wrote, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances (for to face life’s challenges with such an attitude) is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5: 16-18, amplified)

Lord, teach me how to develop a thankful heart, one that reflects Your love for me as well as for others. Remind me to rejoice always, pray constantly and rejoice even in the midst of disappointment. Amen. 


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for Ocober 15,2017

The clock tower of The Balmoral is a compass point in the Edinburgh skyline. The illuminated clock face tells revellers the hour of the night, whether it is early or late. 

In his letter to the Romans Paul wrote, “Know that this is a critical time. It is time to wake up from our spiritual complacency for our salvation is nearer than we first believed.” (13:11)

John Ortburg* once wrote that we need to be wise in filling the squares of the calendars that make up our lives. Too often they get filled with commitments that won’t mean much a year from now, let alone ten or a hundred years from now. The most important thing to put in the squares is God. “Seek first the Kingdom of God”, Jesus said, and see how well everything else in your life falls into plac: your personal and family life, work and social life. The older I become the more I see His wisdom.

The second thing that we need to fill our calendars with is People. Many years ago I added the spiritual discipline of not only planning the next day but saying a little prayer. “Lord, I know what I have planned but I don’t know what You have planned. Let me be open.” Then, I would not see others not as an interruption but as a possible glimpses of God’s grace. Time invested in others is time well-spent. 

The third item is Joy. Jesus told His disciples He came to plant God’s joy in their hearts. (John 15:11) Too many followers of Jesus are joy-challenged. I may be in that number more often than I wish to admit, but I am working on changing that.  Relax. Meditate. Go see a funny movie. Push a child on a swing or, better yet, swing with them. We only get one chance at life.

My glimpse of grace for today is this, Seek first the Kingdom of God, Invest in others, and add Joy to your life as well as to others. After all, we’re running out of time. 
*When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In the Box

Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Martin Luther, Presbyterian Church (USA), Psalm, Psalms, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 14, 2017

As you walk west up the streets of Edinburgh’s “Royal Mile” an imposing figure looms before you; The Edinburgh Castle. Standing on a craggy volcanic rock, it has been a place of refuge and symbol of power for at least 3000 years. Above the drawbridge gate there  is a crest with inscription written in Latin; Anemone me impugned laces sit, which means, “No one attacks me with impunity.”

As I read those words in this, the 500th year of Luther’s birth, I recalled his great hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God,  A bulwark never failing.” 

God is our refuge and our strength,” the Psalmist wrote, “very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46: 1&2a)

We live in a very fearful time. The late Edwin Friedman described this as “a time of free-floating anxiety” manifested by a “failure of nerve”. We seek quick answers and easy fixes. Your team isn’t winning? Replace the coach. Business is lagging? Replace the CEO. Not  happy at home? Find a new spouse. But the problem isn’t “them”, it’s “us”–we just don’t have the “nerve”, the “courage” to own up to it. 

I suspect that the Psalmist faced such a time as this when he penned the words to Psalm 46. “Though the waters roar and the mountains shake …God is in the midst. (vss. 3&5) Those are truly words of grace … Glimpses of grace. 

Let we forget Whose in charge, the Psalm ends on a note of faith and conviction. Be still and know that I am God … The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (vss. 10a & 11) That’s more than words; that’s a promise. 

Lord when my heart is troubled or worried or anxious, give me the grace to rest in Your Presence. Remind me that You are in the midst of life’s storms and turmoil. Remove me fear and give me courage as well as a peace that passes all human understanding. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, I John, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace for October 13,2017

Standing in the quiet silence of the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral,  I saw the North Sea in the distance. The  wind and mist blew in my face and I fell into a trance of wonderment of what was. The Present broke in, though, by the distant sounds of children at play, the distinctive tweet of a teacher’s whistle, and the snap of a kicked soccer ball.

Jesus once told His disciples, as they stood in awe of the grandeur of the Temple, that there would come a day when not one stone would lie upon another. It was hard for the twelve to hear and others simply didn’t want to hear it, but Jesus knew that nothing in this world last forever. Nothing. New cities are built on long forgotten ruins. In these new cities couples fall in love, babies are born, children laugh and play with each new beginning calling us, no, inviting us, into an unknown Future.  Remember this: in the midst of ruins there are always new beginnings.

Jesus’ death was not the End. It was the precursor of  a New Beginning. And even now The Story–God’s Story–has not ended. The Resurrected One continues to call, guide and lead us into a Future that is known only to God. This Future did not frighten the writer of John’s first letter. It didn’t frighten him because he knew something that we often forget. He preached it to his dying day. “God is love…and perfect love casts out fear.” L(1 John 4:9&14) Let this be today’s glimpse of grace: be not afraid. We may not know what the future holds, but we do know in Whose Hands it is held.

Lord, give me the courage to commit my whole self, my very life and the lives of all whom I love, into Your loving hands. 

Cemeteries, Christian, Death, faith, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 12,2017

I like walking through old cemeteries. To me they are a kind of library. As I walk among the markers I read biographies; a name, a date of birth and of death. Sometimes an inscription tells of a profession, or whether they were the a son or daughter, husband or wife.  Some died in war. Some in youth, some in old age. Each has a story to tell. At times you sense the tragedy of a whole family, church and village. I saw this once in a small church cemetery. A mother and three of her children died of cholera within days of each other in the 1850s. I grieved for the husband and father left behind.
In the picture above it looks as if the dead look down upon the living in the city below. Maybe they do. “Good people dear as you pass by, On my cold grave do cast and eye  As you are now so once was I,   As I am now so shall you,  Prepare for death and follow me.”

Jesus once told a story about a man who never had enough. No matter how much he had, he wanted more. One night the Angel of Death took his hand.  “Tell me,” Jusus asked, who does his stuff belong to now?” (Luke 12:16-21)

“Th each is to number our days,” the Psalmist wrote, “that we might gain a heart of wisdom.  “ (90:12) A glimpse of grace. 

May that glimpse of grace be our prayer, too.


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 11, 2017

The Lost has been found!

I doubt that there was rejoicing in heaven, but there was rejoicing in my heart! All that being said, those who know me best may think that I seem to only think 5 minutes ahead but in reality I always have a Plan B, C, D and, at times, even an E in the back of my head. I don’t know why my brain works this way. Maybe this hardwiring was set when I was a toddler. A “family systems” approach would seem to say this. Maybe it occurred when I tried to learn how to master chess–I never did, by the way. Maybe it was reading a lot of biographies of military generals and Presidents in my youth–I read few of them nowadays. Maybe it was because I admired football quarterbacks who didn’t stay in “the pocket” and who could “scramble” toward a successful play or basketball point guards who made things happen. I could do neither. Maybe it’s “just because.”

President Eisenhower once said that plans are worthless but planning is essential. Some are puzzled by his seemingly contradictory statement, but I understood it immediately. Charles Darwin would have, too. He didn’t say that it is the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. 

Life is unpredictable. There will always be detours, missteps and “unforeseen” things along the way. Consider the Old Testament figure Joseph; Joseph as in “Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat” fame (see Genesis, chapters 37-50).  His life path was full of twists and turns but ultimately he ended up right where he needed to be. I suspect that the same will be true of you and me. It may not be where we wanted to be but it will be where we need to be for whatever Eternal reason.

The Apostle Paul once wrote that he has learned the secret of being content. The secret is relying on the strength, power, wisdom and love witnessed in Jesus.  Not my will, but Thy will be done. (Luke 22:42) Jesus was at one with God. Those who wish to take Him seriously are invited to seek that same fellowship. 

So here are three little glimpses of grace: 1. Take Proverbs 19:21 to heart–Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2. Be adaptable. (Things never go as planned, so deal with it!) 3. Remember, Tomorrow, Today will be a memory. Make it a good one.