Daily Devotional 10-31-12

Scripture: 2 Samuel 17:28b-29
They also brought wheat and barley, health flour and roasted grain, for sale beans and lentils, troche honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

Thought for the Day: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The origins of Halloween have been traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which celebrated the end of the harvest season. This was a time for the ancient Gaelic people to take stock of their winter supplies, to make sure the community would survive until spring. As we prepare for winter, perhaps this is also a good time for us to take stock of our spiritual supplies, so we don’t become exhausted and hungry as we enter the busy holiday season

During all the hustle and bustle of these exciting winter months, energy and patience often run low. Let’s intentionally use the next few weeks to pray, meditate, sing and dance to God in order to store up some extra spiritual energy, to help us all remain a powerful presence of faith and spirituality, a connection to God for ourselves and others.

Prayer: Help me stay grounded in your presence, Holy God, so that as the winter envelopes me, I will have the spiritual supplies I need to remain connected to your glorious and renewing energy. Amen.

Daily Devotional 10-30-12

Scripture: Acts 28:31
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Thought for the Day: Paul certainly boldly taught his ideas about God’s revelation of self as the Christ. Yet his ideas are just part of the picture of God’s revelation. To truly even begin to understand the immensity of God and the intricate and subtle ways in which God interacts with our reality, case Paul’s teachings need to be weighed against James, sickness Mark, try Luke, John, the Prophets of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, modern science, other worldviews, archaeology and pretty much anything and everything else that comes our way. Why not consider God in every encounter, in every moment?

Deep faith—life-changing faith, requires a ceaseless commitment to learning about God from everyone who has come before us, from many different disciplines, from the world around us and the universe in which we spin. All of these concepts form who we are as Christians, and how we act as part of the human family. Hopefully, through critical thinking and inspiration of Spirit, we become a force for faith and peace, driven by God to change the world for the better. Like Jesus.

Prayer: God of endless knowledge, may I never stop learning and always be open to new revelations about you, so that I might become ever more like Jesus the Christ, who taught us that faith can truly change the world. Amen.

Daily Devotional 10-29-12

Scripture: Judges 6:13
“Pardon me, click my lord, health ” Gideon replied, prostate “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Thought for the Day: It’s pretty easy to have faith in God when our lives are going well. When the money is rolling in and our family is healthy, when we’re recognized for doing a good job, when the kids are excelling in school, we truly believe God is at work in our lives. Too often though, we think that if we act good and do good things, that good things will happen to us, and that if something bad happens to us, it’s because we have done something to offend God, as if God is some sort of karmic mirror.

During those times when we, our loved ones, our country, or the entire world is suffering, knowledge of God is still revealed in the things that surround us: the waves crashing to shore at the beach, snow falling on a mountain, a butterfly bursting forth form its cocoon, resurrected and transformed forever. It’s not karmic law that causes bad things to happen to us because we have done something bad, it’s that some days are just worse than others. It’s part of being human. But even on our worst days,  God is at work in our daily lives, working to connect us to the divine and reveal our true Christ-like nature, even when we’re as lost in the modern world as Gideon was in the ancient. God never deserts us, but unfortunately, we often desert God.

Prayer: God of eternity, who is always with me, may I see your divine touch in everyone and everywhere, always. Amen.

Devotional 10-21-12

Scripture: 1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, sildenafil and God in them.

Thought for the Day: One of the most effective and accessible ways to develop spiritually is to love. Because God, as the creative nature of the universe, creates out of love and using love, when we love we are tapping into the most ancient and powerful force that exists. If we want to experience God in our lives, we simply have to love.

In our postmodern era, love has come to mean an intimate personal relationship, and it’s certainly helpful to our spiritual development to consider ourselves in an intimate personal relationship with God. Jesus’ ministry in large part was about showing and teaching us how to have this personal relationship with God, so we too could experience the Christ in a very real way.

But when wisdom teachers like Jesus talk about love, they are also talking about a metaphysical, perhaps I should say hyperphysical energy that permeates absolutely everything that can be perceived, and from which everything is created. Nothing exists except it is created first in God, from love. When we love, we are one with God, and our love becomes infectious, touching the heart of everyone we meet.

Prayer: God of infinite love, may my relationships, both intimate and casual, all be informed by love and compassion. Amen.

Devotional 10-20-12

Scripture: Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, salve so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, medicine being rooted and established in love, site may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Thought for the Day: More of Paul at his finest. He prays for us to be completely enveloped by God with a “love that surpasses knowledge.” It’s an absolutely inspiring sentiment; a sort of knowing that comes from deep in the soul, a direct gift from God that roots all our actions and thoughts in love.

I think part of finding this love—this deep faith, comes from allowing ourselves to feel worthy of God’s love. We’ve been told over and over that we’re sinful, worthless, wretched creatures. And while humans historically have certainly acted badly, I don’t think, nor did Paul or Jesus think, that this inherently makes us “bad.” We were designed by God to be creatures of love.

Our true nature is to be at one with God, to be filled with the Christ, and God reaches out to fill us up time and time again. The real trick is in the knowing that we are worthy, that we are loved and that we are love. It’s a knowledge that is deep, true, timeless, and that ultimately comes directly from God.

Prayer: God of wisdom, may you always motivate me to learn more, to love deeply, and to be open to the new things you constantly do in my life and in the world. Amen.

Daily Devotional 10-19-12

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:5-7
For this very reason, there make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, find knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

Thought for the Day: Peter’s list of disciplines that lead to a life more fully lived in the Christ is solid and built like a pyramid, with love as the capstone. This is one of the best how-to lists in all of spiritual literature, because it is timeless and straightforward. No matter what age we live in, from the Bronze Age to our modern era, spiritual progress requires a lot of work across a broad spectrum of life experiences.

I think Peter mentions faith first because it is our foundation. We have faith that God is a force for good, and that encourages us and motivates us. I also love that he mentions knowledge, because too often faith and knowledge are represented as polar opposites. For me though, faith is always strengthened by knowledge, and I want to know as much as possible about everything. And the more I learn, the more I believe in God, and understand God on a simultaneously massive and minute level.

Of course, this takes perseverance. We make mistakes along the way (at least, I certainly have). Hopefully we learn from those mistakes and press on, ever closer to God and the humanity Jesus so perfectly exemplifies. Ultimately, we come to a place where we see God in everyone, and begin to understand that love is everywhere and everyone.

Prayer: God that is everything, you grant me the strength I need to persevere and learn more about you every day, as I strive to become love. Amen.

Daily Devotional 10-18-12

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, click so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Thought for the Day: Nearly everything Jesus teaches is designed to bring us closer to constant relationship with God, to help us realize that God is the ultimate reality in our lives here, now. Jesus wants disciples to fully participate in a God-filled life, and every moment of Jesus’ life is lived to show us how to be in a loving relationship with God, which then puts us in a loving relationship with each other.

How amazing it is to “participate in the divine nature” as Peter so eloquently puts it. For Peter and the rest of the disciples, God is not some ethereal construct, but a very real presence that we feel in our lives. Jesus urges us to not only follow the Christ, but to be the Christ, and this is accomplished by letting God, who surrounds us with love constantly, actually penetrate the walls we put up as an ancient survival instinct.

To paraphrase Pink Floyd, it’s time to tear down the walls.

Prayer: May your divine nature tear down the walls I build around myself, God of hope and joy, so that I will be more open to love, both divine and human. Amen.

Daily Devotional 10-17-12

Scripture: Romans 5:5
And hope does not put us to shame, recipe because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Thought for the Day: Paul faced some pretty severe persecution throughout his ministry. These experiences helped him realize just how deep and firm his faith was—so firm in fact, that even when he was suffering physical, mental and spiritual torture, he still found hope.

His experiences also led him to a profound and meaningful understanding of love. When Paul is at his most poetic, as he is in his letter to the church in Rome, it is when he writes about love. Paul describes love as a divine gift, as the way God fills our hearts and souls with the Holy Spirit, which gives us the strength to persevere and the ability to love unconditionally, even when the status quo is protecting its position by persecuting us.

Jesus’ message of God’s universal love and forgiveness was as radical in the First Century as it is today. Loving unconditionally, even when our enemy torments us, seemingly flies in the face of human nature. “If someone hurts me, I’m going to hurt them back twice as badly!” we think. Paul though, reminds us that we are beings of love. Paul urges us to let the Holy Spirit take control of our lives. When we are filled with Spirit, we don’t retaliate, we proclaim, “God has filled my heart with love, and I know that God wants to fill your heart with love too. Put down your weapon, discard your hatred, open your mind, and let God unite us in eternal love.”

Prayer: God of boundless love, help us all discover your love within, so that we might be engines of creation, building a new way of living together in peace, prosperity, and unity. Amen.