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

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 20, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 20: 19-26

Text: So (the scribes) asked (Jesus), “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth” (v. 21)

My father used to tell me that if someone will lie for you, they will also lie against you. For the longest time I never understood what that meant, but he was giving me a lesson on character.

There is a related “truism” that wise clergy tell their younger colleagues. “The people who meet you at the train station are also the ones who will carry your bags to the station when you leave.” Be cautious of people who build you up, especially at the expense of others.

In today’s devotional reading Jesus understood these two nuggets of wisdom very well. He saw through the question put to him. It was like a mousetrap baited with the finest cheese. Their intention was not honorable. Seeing them for who they really were, Jesus side-stepped the trap. “Show me a coin.”

People set all kinds of traps for us to fall into in order to discredit or compromise us. Sometimes they do this knowingly and sometimes they just can’t help themselves. Jesus understood this. He told His disciples to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing because the tendency is as old as human history; as old as the serpent in the Garden, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah.

Our challenge as followers of Jesus is not to reach for the “shiny object” but to keep our focus on the footsteps of the Master.

Lord God, give me a heart of wisdom. Do not let me focus on the temptations around me. Keep me faithful in following You. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 19, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Acts 1: 1-14

Text: (The disciples asked Him) “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom of Israel?” Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (vss. 6-8)

I recently completed a four mile “race”. I put “race” in quotation marks because I am far from competitive. For me, it is not a “race” but an act of self-discipline.

I participate in this event nearly every year and I tell people that last 5,280 feet are a real challenge! The only way that I can get to the end is to constantly tell myself not to quit and simply take one more step.

I believe that that is what a life of discipleship is like: taking one more step, going one more day. The disciples asked the Risen Lord if He was about to restore Israel’s kingdom.  They didn’t yet understand that the restoration of Israel’s kingdom was not on God’s agenda. Rather, God was going to do a new thing; you know, a new wine and new wineskins sort of thing.

Jesus answered their question saying that we don’t need to know what God is doing next. But, and this was a very big “but”, strength will be given as it is needed. In John’s gospel Jesus said that followers of Jesus would be given a “helper”, the Holy Spirit.

What was for the disciples to know, though, and for us to know, is that we are called to tell others of God’s saving love, and how our lives are different because we take Jesus seriously. We are to be constant witnesses in word and deed until we cross the finish line from this Reality into the Next.

Lord, give me the strength that I need to face the challenges of today. Use me as You will to do Your work. Amen. 

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 15, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 19: 28-40

Text: (Jesus) answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (v. 40)

The human body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, if given enough time. I read that cardiologists have seen patients with heart blockages that had been “naturally” bypassed by hundreds of thousands little capillaries detouring around the blockage. Of course, this is extremely rare. Most people don’t have that much time, and they have a “heart attack”. But this concept of a “natural” bypass is intriguing.

I believe that God is the Master “bypass” surgeon. In today’s reading the Pharisees told Jesus to silence the crowd welcoming Him into Jerusalem with loud voices. Jesus replied that even if He silenced the crowd the very stones on the ground would cry out in celebration.

I have often told individuals and congregations that if God calls upon us to do a certain thing, and we do not do it; it’s okay. God will simply “bypass” our obstruction because the work of the Kingdom of God cannot be thwarted.  We, though, by our own choice and inaction, are left out of the work. Like a branch cut off from a vine, we will whither and die.

Lord, make me sensitive to Your voice, Your call and Your claim on my life. Enlist me into the corps of Kingdom Builders glorifying You. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 14, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 19: 11-27

Text:  “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.'”… (vss. 12 & 13)

“It’s my life and I can do with it as please!”  These words are most often spoken by someone who is about to embark onto one of Life’s “thin ice” moments without proper forethought or preparation. And, it has been my experience, that an important Life lesson is about to be learned “the hard way”.

And while some things must and can be only learned the hard way, the basic premise behind “it’s my life” is simply wrong, at least if one is to take Jesus seriously. Life is a gift from God. The opportunities and talents that we have, as well as our resources, are on loan to us from God to be used wisely and faithfully on behalf of God in this world.

In a very real sense it’s not my life; it is God’s; “from Whom we come and unto Whom we return”* “our dwelling place in all generations.”**

Lord, as much as possible, let me see life from an eternal point of view; a sacred trust from Thee to me. Mold me into the Kingdom builder that You intend me to be. This I pray to Your glory. Amen.

 

*from funeral liturgy

**Psalm 90:1

 

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 12, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 18: 31-43

Text: (Jesus asked) “What do you want me to do for you?”

Years ago I was on a mission trip to a Navajo reservation with a group of high schoolers. One of of my greatest lessons from that trip was how we presume that to know what is best for someone else according to our values.

We were painting and repairing cinder block houses constructed by the federal government but it appeared that no one lived in them. Off in the distance the family sat outside their native hogan. After a few days a Navajo project supervisor stopped by and checked on us.  I asked him about the hogan and the family. He told us that the cinder block houses were “the white man’s houses”. They aren’t used much. Unlike the hogan, the houses are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

When Jesus passed the blind man who called, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”, rather than presuming to know what the man wanted–to receive his sight–Jesus asked him what he wanted. He showed the man the respect befitting a Child of God. Jesus didn’t presume that He knew what the man either needed or wanted. It could have been that we only wanted a few coins.

So often we don’t really want to help people as much as change people to fit our image of who they should be. We need to step back and give a little respect. Don’t always think that we know what is best or right. A little humility goes a long way. After All, we may be wrong from time to time.

Lord, give me a humble and teachable spirit. Let me see the other person and not be so arrogant as to think that I know best. Amen. 

 

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 10, 2017

Devotional Reading for the Day from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 18: 15-30

Text: But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (vss. 16 & 17)

Image may contain: 3 peopleMy favorite thing in ministry is baptism, especially the baptism of babies. In my Christian tradition baptism is analogous to circumcision; a sign that we are a part of the household of God. It is also a reminder that we love God because God first loved us, in the words of I John 4.

Being the father of two daughters I know that babies can be challenging; there are the feedings in the middle of the night and trying to figure out what various cries mean before the child learns to talk . And then there are the infamous “terrible twos” that sometime bleed over into the “troublesome threes”. Yet, babies are so cute and tiny and helpless. They are totally dependent upon the adults around them to feed them, shelter them and keep them safe.

When Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to those who come to it as a child He meant that we can only live a Kingdom life if we acknowledge and accept our total dependence upon God. As we mature we like to think that we are in control and sing “I did it my way”. But that is a fleeting mirage.

No sooner did Jesus finish teaching about children and the Kingdom of God than an individual of affluence asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Knowing that he was really seeking a “checklist” in order to justify himself, Jesus told him to simply keep the commandments. In what I image to be a bit of puffery pride the man said proudly that he had done that his whole life. Jesus knew that if the man had kept the commandments he would not have been seeking self-justification. So Jesus gave him a harder challenge; give everything to the poor and follow Him. This, the man couldn’t do for a had a lot of “stuff”.

You see, the man bought the what the world was selling. He thought that he was  in control of his life. He thought that his security rested in his hands instead of God’s hands.

The challenge that Jesus gave the man, giving everything away, may not be our challenge. But we are challenged to not let our “stuff” own us. We are challenged to acknowledge our dependence upon God.

Lord God, help me to remember that in life and death I belong to you. It was You who made me and unto You I will return. Help me to grow day by day toward a greater faith in You. Amen.

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