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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 11, 2017

 

 

 

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 9: 14-2

Text: (Jesus) said to (the disciples), “This kind can come out only through prayer.” (v. 29)

“If all else fails, pray.” Or, “I’ve tried everything else, all I can do now is pray.” Prayer as a last resort.

Several years ago I read a little known book by Jonathan Bathke entitled Jesus>Religion. A line in that book was revelatory to me.  We rarely bother to consider whether or not our plans are God’s plans. Too often we ask God to bless our plans rather than asking God what He wants us to do.

Maybe the place to start is not with plans but with prayer. The story in Mark 9 is a difficult one. It seems that the disciples pulled every trick out of their sleeves, did everything they ever saw Jesus do, except one thing. Pray.

Some things are only possible through prayer. Every member of the 12-step recovery group knows this. Everyone who lives in extreme poverty knows this. Everyone who suffers great loss knows this. It’s just that most of us just don’t believe it.

A few weeks ago, after over three decades of being a minister, I realized that I don’t really know how to pray. So, I am asking God to teach me. And I am learning, one step at a time.

Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 9, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 34-9:1

Text: For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and the gospel, will save it. (v. 35)

My biggest regrets in life is when I played it safe; I was afraid to take a chance. Too often I was afraid, to be painfully honest. Opportunities were lost because of my fear. I cannot help but to wonder if God was disappointed in me, not in a bad sort of way, but in the way a parent feels for their child when they don’t apply themselves. It’s a disappointment born of sadness.

I think that while God understood my fears and even forgave me, I also think that God wished that I would have trusted Him more. My lack of trust diminished His glory.

I don’t know where I would have been if I had trusted more. I still struggle trusting God but I am getting better at it.

If you have trouble trusting God with your future, I will pray for you…for all who are fellow strugglers in the journey.

Lord God, give me a discerning heart and the courage needed to take Jesus seriously, for it is only in taking Him seriously that we will find Your purpose in our lives. Amen.

 

 

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 8, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 22-33

Test: Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him from the village. Then he put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands upon him and asked, “Can you see anything?” The man looked up ad said, “I can see people, but they look like trees.” (v. 23)

It takes more than one touch for us to “see”. Someone struggling with an addiction must fall time and time again before they “see” that they need help. A person goes from one bad relationship to another before they “see” that others cannot make them happy; happiness is an “inside job.” Another goes from job to job before they find a career. It takes more than one touch for us to “see”.

It is true for followers of Jesus. More than one person touched us in our lives before we “see” that we must take Jesus seriously if our life is to have meaning and purpose. The touches may have come from a mother or father, grandparent, teacher, coach, colleague, or complete stranger. But sooner or later Jesus comes into full view. Sooner or later this world comes into full view, and we begin to see it from God’s perspective.

When this happens, we want to do something, not so much for ourselves but for others for Jesus followers have been saved to serve.

Lord, let me see more clearly. Give me a servant’s sight and a servant’s heart. Use me as one of the “eye-opening” touches that restores sight to the “blind” of this world. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace for August 7, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 8: 11-21

Text: The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test Him. (v. 11)

Proof is not faith and faith is not proof.

In today’s reading even the disciples of Jesus, His followers, wondered who He was. Had those closest to Him, who walked with Him every day, forgotten the miraculous feeding of the 5000? He asked. Had they so soon forgotten the healings, the restorations, and the everyday wonders of walking with Him? Did they, too, need “proof?” It seemed as if they did.

While we cannot always understand the events of life, but can we at least believe that God is in the mix somewhere, working out the Divine Purpose in ways beyond our understanding? Maybe God’s “back story” is yet to be revealed.

It may be that we simply need to tell ourselves, “I don’t know what God is doing or what this all means, but I know that God is faithful. God is here with me. God will show me the way when I see no way.”

I remember picking my way across a creek near my house. I looked for rocks that were above the water line. Some were slippery and best not used, but I managed to “pick” my way across the creek one step at a time. Maybe we need to “build a bridge” as we walk over troubled waters.

That little mental reminder can be a source of strength and courage and hope.

Lord, help me to never forget that You are with me in all of life’s circumstances and events. Give me the faith to trust in Your Presence. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 6, 2017

Devotional Reading: Psalm 23

Text:  The LORD is my shepherd. (v. 1a)

At the end of the day, when I lay in bed and close my eyes, I say a silent prayer to myself. I then mentally review the day now finished. I don’t dwell on any one moment, I just do a quick review, kind of like watching a home movie. Often, before falling to sleep, I will begin to recite the 23rd Psalm, an evening psalm. I may not finish the psalm before “the sandman” carries me off but one of the last words I silently say to myself are, “The LORD is my shepherd.”

The LORD is with me in all of the day’s events. I frequently, silently ask for help; wisdom, courage, strength. At the end of the day I know that the LORD watches over me as I sleep. And the LORD will be there when I close my eyes one last time–whenever that will be.

My baptism was a confirmation that I am a child of God. God claimed me as a child even before I was aware of God’s existence. God claimed me as a child even if I denied God’s existence. God’s claim on my life is not based on me but upon God.

There is comfort in knowing this. I hope that you have this comfort, too.

Whenever we celebrate a baptism at the church I serve, we sing “Borning Cry.” The composer of the hymn recently experienced “one more surprise” as he passed from This Reality into the Eternal Reality. I close this devotion with his lyrics as a prayer.

“I was there to hear your borning cry,
I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off
to find where demons dwell.”
“When you heard the wonder of the Word
I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord,
to whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share your time
and you join your hearts as one,
I’ll be there to make your verses rhyme
from dusk ’till rising sun.”
In the middle ages of your life,
not too old, no longer young,
I’ll be there to guide you through the night,
complete what I’ve begun.
When the evening gently closes in,
and you shut your weary eyes,
I’ll be there as I have always been
with just one more surprise.”
“I was there to hear your borning cry,
I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.”*

*John Ylvistaker, 1937-2017

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Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Feeding of 5000, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 5, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 1-10

Text: They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. (v. 8)

I once hired a personal trainer to help me regain some of the strength of my younger days. He wasn’t, what I call, a “frog man” with muscles not found in nature or pictured in the back of the comic books of my childhood. He looked like a normal everyday kind of guy with no visible body fat. Our workouts were an hour, and he would encourage as well as challenge me. When I thought I could do no more, he’d ask me to do just one more. Lo and behold, I always managed to do one more!

I thought of him after reading today’s gospel story. Individual followers of Jesus, as well as groups of us, do not know how much we can really do if push comes to shove. Often we are satisfied with “good enough” instead of doing just one more.

The disciples did not know how they were going to feed the 5000. Jesus asked them to bring their resources to Him. He blessed it before giving it back to them.  “Okay, let’s see what we can do.” They did far more than they ever imagined; as a matter of fact, they had left-overs.

I am reminded of what the Risen Lord said to Paul; “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) When we say, “There’s not enough”, God says, “Yes, there is.” When we say, “I’m not enough,” God says, “Yes you are!”

Lord, Let me not see scarcity but plenty. Let me not be afraid to try even if I fail. Let me never think that I am not enough, because You know that I am. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 4, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 7: 24-37

Text: (Jesus) said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered  Him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (vss. 27 & 28)

There are a lot of things in life I do not understand. Cancer, for example. It hits the youngest and oldest, good and the bad alike. That seems most unfair. I don’t understand it.

It you read today’s devotional reading you are no doubt troubled by the exchange between Jesus and the woman asking Him to free her daughter from a demon. The majority of commentaries that I read say that Mark is the first gospel written and the most unedited. Other gospels may “clean it up” a bit but that doesn’t change the troubling nature of the story. If there is any good news to be had, it is that Jesus I exorcize the child’s demon. But, it’s still troubling, and I still don’t understand. I doubt I ever will, this side of the grave.

Yet, I don’t need to understand the story or even much of life in order to be faithful. I know that God is good, that God is love, and that perfect love casts out fear. I know that God does not need my understanding to redeem the broken. I know that God can bring “possible” out of the “impossible”. As the old gospel hymn declared, God can make a way out of no way.

Lord, thank You for not depending upon my small mind to understand Your ways. Bless my questioning and my doubting. Redeem my brokenness and the brokenness of this world. Amen.

 

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