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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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 11, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Common Daily Lectionary: (an evening reading) Psalm 139

Text: Where can I go from Your Spirit or where can a flee from Your Presence? (v. 7)

The 139th Psalm is my favorite Psalm, bar none. I like it so much because it marvels at God’s Providential Care of us. There is nowhere that we can hide from the Presence of God. God’s knowledge of us begins even before we are born; For it was You who formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. … My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In Your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.  

The Psalmist does not claim that God causes or lets things happen. Bad things do happen because we live in a broken world, a world filled with selfishness and greed. Disappointment is a frequent visitor in our lives. Yet, while God neither causes nor lets bad things happen, God is right there with us when they do happen.

A grieving parent once asked me “Where is God when I’m hurting?” I thought about that question for a long time before I was ready to answer. My response may have been woefully inadequate but I said that God is “right there, on the Cross of Jesus.” We cannot keep our children from pain, but we can suffer with them, and comfort them and love them even in the midst of great pain. That’s what God does, too.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels well with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen. (from The Book of Common Prayer, compline service)

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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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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 9, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 18: 9-14

Text: …for all who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (v. 14b)

When I was little my mother used to tell me, “If has to brag on themselves they must not be very good.”  That insight has served me well over the years acting as a “governor” in not thinking of myself as better than someone else. Now, there are degrees of humility from “false humility” on one end of the scale to the “Eeyore Syndrome” on the other.* I like to think that over the years I developed a healthy sense of humility.

Today’s reading is introduced by the writer as a parable directed toward those who thought of themselves as being righteous and regarded others with contempt. They were really “self-righteous”. This isn’t the only time Jesus broached this subject. On a different occasion he said that when we are invited to a banquet that we should not presume that our seat is at the head table. We should take the lowest seat until we are moved to another.  In one of his letters the apostle Paul wrote that when he gave up his “childish” ways he could better understand Faith, Hope and Love. And of the three, Love was the greatest.**

I often say that there is no one more humble than a dedicated follower of Jesus because we know how much we have been forgiven and how generous God truly is.

Lord God, throughout this day give me a humble heart; a heart that neither judges others nor looks down upon them as anything less than another one of Your precious children. Amen.

 

*The Eeyore Syndrome” is something I made up as I read Winnie the Pooh books to my daughters. Eeyore was a “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey” creature who had such low self-esteem that all he would eat was thistles–the plants that no one else wanted to eat.

**I Corinthians 13: 11-13

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