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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 16, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: 19: 41-48

Text: As (Jesus) came near and saw the city, He wept over it. (vs. 41)

Sometimes the only thing that you can do is cry. There’s nothing else to do. You’ve done your best. You’ve invested all of yourself that you can or are willing to give and things just don’t turn around. People don’t change. Situations don’t change. It seems as if you’ve made no difference.

Whenever I feel like this I take comfort in knowing that Jesus cried. He cried at the death of His friend Lazarus. He cried when looked over the city of Jerusalem. He wept because they would not see the reality before their eyes. They never could. After all, they stoned the prophets and sank deeper and deeper into corruption. I imagine that He doubted they would ever change. And it saddened Him. I suspect that God still cries over Jerusalem.

“Tears may tarry for the night”, we read in Psalms, “but Joy comes in the morning.” (30:5) The joy of Easter is the joy of a new beginning, the joy that our story is not yet finished, that the “fat lady” hasn’t sung!

I believe that God weeps when He sees what we do to each other and to the world over which we have been made stewards or trustees. Yet, God is faithful, even when we are not. God’s Purposes cannot be thwarted. God’s will, will be done on earth as well as in heaven.

Lord God, give me a heart like Yours. And when my heart aches lead me into action. Let my tears give me strength, a rededication and personal healing. 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, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 13, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 19: 1-10

Text: Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give away to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” (v. 8)

Every year, in preparation for Advent and Christmas, I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I love the way Gospel message is seen in the transformation of ‘Ol Scrooge from a small spirited miser who gave up his “true love”, Belle, for another love, Gold, and the illusion of its security. When Scrooge is touched by the ghost of his deceased business partner and is visited by three “spectres”, his spirit is brought back to life, to a new life. He is transformed from a feared mean-spirited miser to the most generous Old London ever knew, “and it could be said that he kept Christmas better than anyone the city ever knew.”

A similar transformation occurred with Zacchaeus when Jesus came into his life. It was Grace that called Zacchaeus and changed him forever. He may or may not have still been a tax collector but now he what it was to be generous. He cared for the poor and kept honest books. He no longer profited off of the misery of others. Rather, he looked out for others, especially the least, the last, and the lost.  Seeing his change of heart, Jesus pronounced a benediction, a blessing; “Today salvation has come to this house, for he too is a child of Abraham.”

And so it is with Jesus. When He touches your life, you become changed, “a new creature”, in the words of the apostle Paul. The old is gone and the new is born.

Lord God, touch my heart and soften it to be responsive to the least of Your children. Help me to rely upon Your grace for my security. While I cannot have a new start, give me a new beginning and continue to mold me into the child You know me to be. 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 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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