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, 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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Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

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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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 3, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 7: 1-23

Text: ‘This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.’ (Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah v. 6b)

When I was a kid the “big issue” in the church my family attended was whether or not women could wear slacks in the sanctuary! Oh my! Over the years the “big issue” has changed. Are blue jeans acceptable? How about shorts? How short can shorts be before they are too short? What about coffee or tea? I really don’t know the answer to any of those questions but I’ve lived in enough different places to know that such questions are a reflection of local custom, culture and upbringing. As a minister I’m just happy that they’re in worship!

Jesus quoted the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in response to criticism that His disciples were not keeping the traditions of the elders. Jesus was respectful of the elders and kept the traditions Himself, but He also knew that in Him God was doing “a new thing.” Some traditions had to be put to rest for they served their time.

I think that God is still doing a new thing. There have been many books recently written about this. I don’t know exactly what God is doing but I trust God. In the meantime I just have to sow the mustard seeds of God’s love every day.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? Help me answer honestly, O Lord. Amen. (based on the writings of Henri Nouwen)

 

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 1, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: (Mark 6: 30-46)

Text: “You give them something to eat.”  (v. 37)

“You know, somebody really ought to do something about that!”

“I hope that someone steps up and takes care of that!”

“I just hope that someone takes responsibility and fixes that!”

You’ve probably heard those expressions and may have even said all or one of them yourself. I know that I have.

Today’s lesson is the “feeding of the 5000”, the only “miracle” that appears in all four of the New Testament gospels. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of feeding so many people the disciples ask Jesus to them them away–to send them home–or to at least do something about it! And He does, but what He does may surprise you!

In the movie Bruce Almighty the main character thinks that he can do a better job at being God than God can. So God gives Bruce the reins and watches him make a mess of everything. Suddenly Bruce realizes that being God is hard and complicated and simply too much. A humbler Bruce tells God that he gives up.

“You know what your problem is, Bruce? You wanted a miracle. Well, Bruce, you be the miracle.”*

Jesus turned the tables on the disciples. He told them to feed the 5000. I believe that with all of the hurt and brokenness in the world, Jesus still calls those who would take Him seriously to do something about it. But how? It’s really quite simple and oh, so hard.

Inventory your resources, all of them. The truth of the matter is that we have more than we give ourselves credit for having. Second, dedicate our resources to Him. Then, when Jesus gives them back to you, use them to do the work you are called to do.

You be the miracle.

Lord, give me insight and courage; insight to see my assets and courage to follow You. Amen.

*A summary of the dialogue for brevity.

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