Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion n for October 17, 2017

While walking on the island of Iona I came across sheep peacefully gracing in a field. They seemed oblivious to everything around them, including me! As I stopped to study them I was a bit envious. Their peacefulness seem to lie in knowing who they were and in whom they belonged. 

The 23rd Psalm or “The Shepherd’s Psalm”, is arguably the most familiar of all of the 150 Psalms; The Lord is my Shepherd ….” The Psalmist knew that he belonged to Another and not to himself. He belonged to the Creater of the heavens and the earth, to the One Who created us—each one of us—in the Divine image.  Too often we forget who we are and more importantly Whose we are. We forget that we do not belong to ourselves but that we have been “redeemed” by Another. 

Our lives take on a deeper sense of purpose and meaning when we understand  as the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “If we live , we live into the Lord, and if we die we die unto the Lord; so then whether we live or whether die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7). Remembering Who we belong to is a glimpse of grace. 

Lord, help me remember that in both life and death I belong to You. May all that I do, say or think be to Your  glory. Amen.


Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for Ocober 15,2017

The clock tower of The Balmoral is a compass point in the Edinburgh skyline. The illuminated clock face tells revellers the hour of the night, whether it is early or late. 

In his letter to the Romans Paul wrote, “Know that this is a critical time. It is time to wake up from our spiritual complacency for our salvation is nearer than we first believed.” (13:11)

John Ortburg* once wrote that we need to be wise in filling the squares of the calendars that make up our lives. Too often they get filled with commitments that won’t mean much a year from now, let alone ten or a hundred years from now. The most important thing to put in the squares is God. “Seek first the Kingdom of God”, Jesus said, and see how well everything else in your life falls into plac: your personal and family life, work and social life. The older I become the more I see His wisdom.

The second thing that we need to fill our calendars with is People. Many years ago I added the spiritual discipline of not only planning the next day but saying a little prayer. “Lord, I know what I have planned but I don’t know what You have planned. Let me be open.” Then, I would not see others not as an interruption but as a possible glimpses of God’s grace. Time invested in others is time well-spent. 

The third item is Joy. Jesus told His disciples He came to plant God’s joy in their hearts. (John 15:11) Too many followers of Jesus are joy-challenged. I may be in that number more often than I wish to admit, but I am working on changing that.  Relax. Meditate. Go see a funny movie. Push a child on a swing or, better yet, swing with them. We only get one chance at life.

My glimpse of grace for today is this, Seek first the Kingdom of God, Invest in others, and add Joy to your life as well as to others. After all, we’re running out of time. 
*When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In the Box

Standard
Cemeteries, Christian, Death, faith, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 12,2017

I like walking through old cemeteries. To me they are a kind of library. As I walk among the markers I read biographies; a name, a date of birth and of death. Sometimes an inscription tells of a profession, or whether they were the a son or daughter, husband or wife.  Some died in war. Some in youth, some in old age. Each has a story to tell. At times you sense the tragedy of a whole family, church and village. I saw this once in a small church cemetery. A mother and three of her children died of cholera within days of each other in the 1850s. I grieved for the husband and father left behind.
In the picture above it looks as if the dead look down upon the living in the city below. Maybe they do. “Good people dear as you pass by, On my cold grave do cast and eye  As you are now so once was I,   As I am now so shall you,  Prepare for death and follow me.”

Jesus once told a story about a man who never had enough. No matter how much he had, he wanted more. One night the Angel of Death took his hand.  “Tell me,” Jusus asked, who does his stuff belong to now?” (Luke 12:16-21)

“Th each is to number our days,” the Psalmist wrote, “that we might gain a heart of wisdom.  “ (90:12) A glimpse of grace. 

May that glimpse of grace be our prayer, too.

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 11, 2017

The Lost has been found!

I doubt that there was rejoicing in heaven, but there was rejoicing in my heart! All that being said, those who know me best may think that I seem to only think 5 minutes ahead but in reality I always have a Plan B, C, D and, at times, even an E in the back of my head. I don’t know why my brain works this way. Maybe this hardwiring was set when I was a toddler. A “family systems” approach would seem to say this. Maybe it occurred when I tried to learn how to master chess–I never did, by the way. Maybe it was reading a lot of biographies of military generals and Presidents in my youth–I read few of them nowadays. Maybe it was because I admired football quarterbacks who didn’t stay in “the pocket” and who could “scramble” toward a successful play or basketball point guards who made things happen. I could do neither. Maybe it’s “just because.”

President Eisenhower once said that plans are worthless but planning is essential. Some are puzzled by his seemingly contradictory statement, but I understood it immediately. Charles Darwin would have, too. He didn’t say that it is the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. 

Life is unpredictable. There will always be detours, missteps and “unforeseen” things along the way. Consider the Old Testament figure Joseph; Joseph as in “Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat” fame (see Genesis, chapters 37-50).  His life path was full of twists and turns but ultimately he ended up right where he needed to be. I suspect that the same will be true of you and me. It may not be where we wanted to be but it will be where we need to be for whatever Eternal reason.

The Apostle Paul once wrote that he has learned the secret of being content. The secret is relying on the strength, power, wisdom and love witnessed in Jesus.  Not my will, but Thy will be done. (Luke 22:42) Jesus was at one with God. Those who wish to take Him seriously are invited to seek that same fellowship. 

So here are three little glimpses of grace: 1. Take Proverbs 19:21 to heart–Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2. Be adaptable. (Things never go as planned, so deal with it!) 3. Remember, Tomorrow, Today will be a memory. Make it a good one. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 9, 2017

With the season of Fall upon us, farmers sound me are getting into their fields for harvest. This is an uncertain time as combines and grain trucks lumber down county roads. The smell of corn and beans rest upon the country air in the early morning haze and the last rays of day. 

In our first couple of parishes farmers would take a load or two to the local grain elevator and say, “This load is the Church’s.” Others would put signs the declared “God’s Acre” on a corner or two of their fields. Fall harvest heralds the end of a season as well as the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, a holiday increasingly by overshadowed by Halloween and Christmas. In one of his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God imprinted a spirit of gratitude upon the human heart. In that spirit we set aside a percentage of our own income and time and ask ourselves if we are doing not only what God wants us to do but to be. We are challenged to strive for significance more than success. When we do this, we become a glimpse of grace.

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpse of Grace Devotion for September 25, 2017

“And when the women went to the tomb they found it empty.” Luke’s gospel.
The picture is that of a “Resurrection” lily in our front yard. They go by a variety of other names, too. They are scattered around the edges of our yard. I suspect that sometimes a squirrel or two may dig one up and “replant” it. The flower is called a Resurrection lily because its first bloom is in the Spring, generally around Easter—the day of Resurrection in the Christian faith. Occasionally it blooms in late summer or early fall. Then it dies back and is generally forgotten, at least by me, before it shoots once again up through the earth and proclaims a new beginning.

Life is full of new beginnings. The idea of new beginnings lies at the heart of the Christian faith. A loved one, a relationship or a way of life dies but by the grace of God something new grows in the empty space. 

At this time of year it is good to reflect upon the spring and summer seasons that have come to an end. Something new is about to begin. Something beautiful. Something unexpected. It is good that when the women went to the tomb that they found it empty. It is good because it was a herald that God was doing something new. And God is still at it, in your life

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for September 3, 2017

On the next to last evening of a week long continuing education in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I received a gift that took my breath away and brought a tear to my eye. A member of my group of four called me over. She was sitting on a church pew with her husband who was recovering from extensive brain surgery. Standing in front of them, her husband reached into his pocket and handed me a horse shoe in the shape of a fish, an early symbol used by followers of Jesus to identify one another. 

Before his surgery he had been a blacksmith, skilled in all aspects of the art of “smithing.” It had been two years since he worked although anvil and hammer, forge and fire. A local smith let him use his shop that afternoon where he made two fish from two horseshoes. And he gave one to me! Why, I wondered. We had shared a meal, some conversation and laughter–every day activities hardly worthy of such a gift. But therein lies the glimpse, the gift in spite of my unworthiness. 

The gift was nothing short of an act of grace. Amazing grace that comes to us not because we are worthy of the gift, but because the giver simply wishes to give it! For God so love the world that He gave…(John 3:16a), not because of who we are or what we have done but because God simply wishes to give, unconditionally. And when we receive the gift, truly receive it, we do so in total humility. 

Lord God, give me a heart that is truly humbled by Your grace, Your love that knows no bounds. Amen. 


Standard