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, 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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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 July 29, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 6:1-13

Text: And (Jesus) was amazed at their unbelief. (v. 6)

Years ago I picked up a copy of Twenty-four Hours a Day, a devotional book for recovering alcoholics. I picked it up because I was volunteering as a spiritual director at an adolescent residential treatment center based on the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I found the book to be one of the most powerful insights into developing a childlike faith that I had ever read before or since. I have given away countless copies to individuals who want to develop a deeper faith.

The very first step is to acknowledge our powerless and give ourselves to a Higher Power, however we may understand that Higher Power. We have to be dependent upon Someone besides ourselves. This is very counter-cultural, especially in America where I do too many funerals that have the ballad of individualism “I Did It My Way” included in one way or another.

In today’s reading Jesus sent His disciples out traveling light, we nothing more than the bare essentials and trust in the grace of God–as they understood Him (or, perhaps, Her!). And when the disciples returned they couldn’t contain their joy and their surprise for they were able to “cast our demons”, make a real healing difference in the world. Their experience contrasted the experience of the people in Jesus’ home town, a place where He could do no wonders because of their lack of faith–trust in anything other than themselves.

I believe that we have to constantly remind ourselves that we don’t know the answers, can’t figure much of anything out and have to ask God to show us the way. My experience has been that when we can humble ourselves to do that, that life gets a whole lot easier and better.

Lord, my way isn’t working working so well. Show me Your Way, the Way of Truth and Life. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 28, 2017

Devotional Reading the Common Daily Lectionary: Mark 5: 21-43

Text: (Jesus) said to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace… (v. 34a)

I’m going to tell you the story of Nancy. Many years ago Nancy was a member of a congregation I served. She was a wife, homemaker and mother of three boys. Over a period of time she began to bruise easily and tire for no apparent reason. Blood tests revealed that she had leukemia.

This was in the early days of bone marrow transplants when you had to find a “matching” donor, preferably a close relative. She was lucky enough to find a “suitable” donor but not a “perfect” match.

The transplant itself went well as it was no more complicated than a blood transfusion. Preparing for the transplant, though, was a life threatening experience as Nancy received toxic levels of chemo and radiation therapies. With a weaken immune system inflection was a constant threat, but the biggest threat was something called “host vs. graft”; the body’s attempt to reject the foreign health-promising material. Understandably Nancy was quite scared. I talked to her many times in the weeks preceding  the transplant.

One morning I looked up and saw her standing in the doorway of my church office. She had the most serene look that I had ever seen, almost a glowing countenance. I asked if she was okay. She responded by telling me of something that happened the night before.

“Jesus came to me last night. He told me that I was going to be alright. He didn’t say if I was going to live or die, but that I’d be okay; my family would be okay.” Nancy died about six months after the transplant but until the end, she held on to that “mystical moment.”

I thought of her as I read today’s story. Faith is a funny thing. It is a confidence, a conviction in something that defies human reasoning and even human experience. It is trust in the Other that is deeply personal and inexplicable. It is truly a gift from God.

My prayer for you is that you will experience the mystery of faith that believes in the unseen and gives you the peace that passes all human understanding.

Lord God, pour Your peace upon each one of us and give us the faith for the living of all of our days. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 26, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 4: 35-41

Text:  “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!” (v. 38b)

Have you ever had a time in your life when you wondered if God existed, let alone cared about you? I have. There have been many dark days too complicated to explain and too painful to relive for a mere blog post or podcast. So I think that I have a sense of how the disciples felt on that storm-tossed sea in today’s reading. Their words, you see, are my words spoken too often. That is why I added an exclamation point to their question.

Here’s the thing to remember. Jesus cared for the disciples. God still cares today–for you and for me. But caring does not mean that we have some kind of exemption from life’s trials and tribulations. Often these trials and tribulations are of our own making. Sometimes they aren’t. In in either case, we are neither exempt nor given a protective shield.

But that does not mean that God does not care. God cares enough to walk with us in the very shadow of death. God cares for us enough to die for us on the Cross and forever remove the “sting of death”.

In the letter to the Hebrews the author wrote that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Anything less is Proof and Proof is not Faith. I have come to believe that Faith is a matter of mind over matter. Faith leads us to the edge of life and tells us that we will be okay. Faith is both a gift and a a muscle to be exercised.

Lord, give me the faith that I need for this moment and the living of these days. Amen.

 

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 4, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Psalm 46

Text: Put not your trust in princes, in whom there is no help. When they die and return to earth, their dreams die with them. (vvs. 3&4)

An international company in the city where I grew up started to build a new factory but a year or two into the project the global economy changed. Construction halted and only a steel skeleton stood against the sky, a silent witness to a plan that never came to life.

This text has been one of my guiding principles in life. It applies to me and to others. It keeps me humble and helps me avoid putting too much hope in any one individual or having too much confidence in myself. It has reminded me that I do not truly own anything in this life. No one or thing is truly “mine”. It reminds me that there is only one Savior, and it isn’t you or me. These are good things for us to keep in mind.

On this national holiday as we commemorate the “birth” of a nation, we can celebrate and, at times mourn, our collective history, but we must also remember that it is “in God we trust.”

Lord, thank you for all that You have given to us. Make us responsible trustees of this portion of Your estate during our short time in this world. Show us how to pass on to those who follow us a better world than the one we inherited. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reminds me who God is and who I am.

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