Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 10:11-24
Psalms: Psalms 42, 43
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21
Gospel: John 8:21-32
Evening Psalms: Psalms 85, 86

DEVOTIONAL

wake from my slumber in my tent, wrapped in the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag, to the sound of the birds welcoming the day. I slip out into the cool, crisp morning, not a soul is awake, but the world is alive; the light of a new day crests the peaks of the mountains, lighting the tops of the trees like candles on the altar. I marvel at the works of God.

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, And in the night his song shall be with me- A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42: 7-8)

The hustle and bustle of my daily life, days filled with scurrying from school to work, appointment to appointment, activity to activity, frequently from sun up to sun down, limits my ability to fill my heart with God. I am driven by a culture of success and the need for more, drowning out the call of the Lord.

But sometimes less is more. At least once a month, I take time off, stop the hectic pattern of my life in this day and age, to take a group of Boy Scouts camping. I turn my scurrying into providing a service to others, teaching them skills they can use to be successful in life as well as how to be reverent. I teach them it is important to be quiet, literally and figuratively, to hear and see the wonders that God has provided. More importantly, I share with them something I believe: when we take the time to stop, reflect, listen and look around, our eyes are opened. We see more, hear more, feel more; and that is when I realize the Lord has been with me all along.

Lord, help me to remember that my success is not reflected in what I accomplish in the least amount of time possible. That I need to stop and listen to Your word and direction, take time to reflect, and have my eyes opened to the wonders that You have provided.

“…For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you.” ( Psalm 86:4-5) Amen.
SPC (3/12/15)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 8:18-9:6
Morning Psalms: Psalms 119:97-120
New Testament: Romans 5:1-11
Gospel: John 8:12-20
Evening Psalms: Psalms 81, 82

DEVOTIONAL


“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character;
and character, hope.”
(Romans 5:3-4)

As one of Christ’s earliest followers, Paul defined a lot of Christianity. Paul’s affirmation that suffering brings hope through the love of God is something that the church taught me early on, but that I didn’t understand until years later.

Shortly after I began to be homeschooled, my mom had a stroke. As you might expect, this made my education a bit more complicated, and life at home drastically changed. But through all of it, she never stopped trying to be the best mother she could be. With all the pressure on her, with the medical bills and the homeschooling and the house and my dad’s busy schedule, she never once gave up.

And she might have had moments when she felt defeated and almost lost hope, but I never saw them. She stayed strong for us. Because of that, we grew stronger as a family, and I grew as a person. I think Paul is right. It might be in the hardest times that we grow the most.
JF (3/6/13)


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

READING


Old Testament: Jeremiah 7:21-34
Morning Psalms: Psalms 78:1-39
New Testament: Romans 4:13-25
Gospel: John 7:37-52
Evening Psalms: Psalms 78:40-72

DEVOTIONAL


It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received
the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through
the righteousness that comes by faith.”
(Romans 4:13)


This faith Paul speaks of is also for me, for I believe in the One who raised Jesus from the dead. This scripture reading reminds me to trust in God, an all-loving father who always has my best interests at heart.

Last February my dad was diagnosed with leukemia that is incurable. After my parents told me about this, I was unable to sleep well or to concentrate. I was filled with worry and dreaded the worse every time I talked to them over the phone. I called them almost every day. Finally, I realized I was driving myself (and them) a little crazy.

In a quiet moment of prayer, I came to understand that only God has the power to solve a problem as large as this one was for me. So I asked Him to take care of my dad, and I put all my faith in His power (that His Will be done). The relief I have felt since that moment has been liberating. My heart and soul have been refreshed, and my peace of mind has been restored. I have made a personal vow to have more faith in God and to trust Him more.

Remember, even when all seems lost, God is there. Trust Him.

DE (3/5/13)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Genesis 44:18-34
Psalms 77, 79, 80
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Mark 5:21-43

As I read Mark 5:24-34 I am reminded of a similar time of my life. It was a moment that I’ll forever remember, and cherish.

I had completed two months of cancer radiation treatment, and the cumulative effects were at their worst. All of the medicine I took was not helping ease the pain and discomfort. I had tried everything from soaking in a hot bath to walking in circles. There was nothing my doctors or I could do to make it better. After days of agonizing, I prayed to our Lord and told Him I could take it no longer. Just as the woman in the gospel story did, I put my life totally in His care. And then it came. I could feel God’s Peace come over my body. It had been a long time since I had relaxed like this. I gently slipped into the peaceful slumber that had eluded me for days.

Just as the woman in our gospel reading reached out, touched Jesus, and felt his power, I reached out through prayer and felt the power of God entering my body. What an awesome feeling! God wants us to know and feel His presence in our lives. He wants to help us and will help us if we ask and have faith.

I pray that all of you might experience the miraculous sensation of God’s Peace and Love entering your being. There is nothing else as heartwarming and comforting. Amen.

--PFH (3/8/10)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 6:9-15
Psalms: Psalms 93, 96
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20
Evening Psalms: Psalms 34

DEVOTIONAL

“But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.”
(Psalm 34:16)

I read somewhere recently that 30 percent of adults claim to regularly daydream about being celebrities. What a surprising number, no? Only 30 percent? I would have thought it was well over 50. Perhaps I'm biased, what with a lot of my friends being the notorious self-documenting, 20-somethings who popularize phrases like, “YouTube Famous." I think we really are edging closer to Andy Warhol's "everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" future.

There's a little-known phenomenon among actual hyper-famous celebrities: they don't understand social media. Just for example, Rapper DMX doesn’t know how email works, and Julia Roberts thinks twitter happens on a pager. It makes me think that there's a connection, and that we're all striving for the same thing, regardless of age or number of Instagram followers: we want to be noticed and remembered. I’m not sure fame is inherently bad, but for the blip in time that we all get to be on Earth, I feel like it can't be that important. My Facebook wall is probably not evil, but it will almost certainly not be remembered. What is worth remembering and searching for is almost always found in friendship and prayer.

LORD, Help me to pray like a foodie tweets: constantly. I promise not to clog up your feed with complaints about the line at the bank. Rather, I promise to be honest, and to be myself. Help me to avoid things that would have you turn your face away in sadness. Help me to honor the memory of your Son through my actions remembered. Amen.

TB (3/8/15)





Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

READING

Old Testament: Jeremiah 5:20-31
Psalms: Psalms 75, 76
New Testament: Romans 3:19-31
Gospel: John 7:1-13
Evening Psalms: Psalms 23, 27

DEVOTIONAL

“I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.”
(Psalm 27:6)
 
A friend recently posted on Facebook that she had become “stale” in her prayer life. She believed that God was calling her to pray boldly and unceasingly for miracles and healing. My first thought was, Yes! She is absolutely right. Why are we so often timid when we approach God? We pray for others’ needs. We pray for friends, but gosh darn it, why do we so often forget to pray “boldly” for our own needs? As I pondered this, I scrolled down to the comments. There were several likes. There was only one comment, one short comment from our mutual friend, Leslie*, who had recently been diagnosed with Stage Four cancer.

Our neighborhood rallied together for Leslie. During prayer vigils, we prayed for peace, wisdom and discernment for Leslie’s doctors, strength for her family, and comfort for Leslie. Interestingly, and my friend’s Facebook comment helped me realize this, not one person prayed for healing. Surely, these prayers were not bold enough to bring healing to Leslie, but then I read Leslie’s comment: Yes, but don’t forget to give thanks. My heart stopped when I read her comment. What could Leslie possibly be thankful for? Her four children are faced with the prospect of losing their mother. Her family may have to endure the pain of her loss. The scenarios in my head were of unending loss and grief.

On reflection though, I believe that by offering thanks to God, Leslie is finding another way to cope with her illness. She is focusing on the abundance and beauty of God’s eternal love: the neighbors who stepped in to help care for her family, the friend who drove her to chemo, the changing seasons she witnessed from her deck, and her beautiful family. If I had to deal with a similar situation, would my prayers be words of thanks? Would I be filled with the love, light, and peace of our Lord? I pray that I would be like Leslie - trusting God, and taking to heart the above words from today’s Psalm.

Lord, I thank You for the gift of this earthly life. More importantly Lord, I thank You for the gift of eternal life – a gift made holy by the sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
MN (3/7/15)
* Name changed for privacy


Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Genesis 43:1-15
Psalms 69, 73
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Mark 4:35-41

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to the disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:35-41)

Our world, as children, revolved around a small harbor on the South Shore of Massachusetts. To say that we went sailing before we were born is not an exaggeration. Children of sailors, we had a small boat, almost as wide as it was long, to sail around the harbor and begin to learn the skill of racing. Each Sunday afternoon in winter one sibling would crew for Dad in Frostbite Races inside the harbor, conveniently scheduled to begin after the local church services had concluded. The family spent many summer days out sailing on the ocean in our larger sailboat, quite comfortable at sea.

My brother and I finally convinced Dad that we were skilled enough to race our 15” Mercury sailboat outside the mouth of the harbor, on the ocean! The breakwater had always been our limit; we were never to leave the mouth of the harbor without Mom or Dad. As perhaps young teenagers with two lifetimes of experience sailing, we were quite confident in our skills. We were sure our only challenge was to live up to the family name and win the race. It didn’t take long before we knew a couple of kids were no match for the Atlantic Ocean. The sea became choppy and the wind changed direction. We had to at least finish the race, but we were both more concerned about how we were going to get back inside the mouth of the harbor. Neither of us wanted to admit that we had somehow failed to inherit Dad’s seemingly innate skill at handling a sailboat and reading the wind, weather, and surface of the water. We did not share our fears; we lacked faith and each did not want the other to know of our self-doubt. It was perhaps forty years before my brother and I reminisced about that day and found that we both had been gripped by exactly the same fears. I can feel the disciples panic as the waves broke over their boat. Fortunately, God was with us also as we made our way past the Coast Guard (another symbol that God was, indeed, watching over us) and rocky breakwater, safely into the harbor.

--MDB (3/5/10)