Daily Devotional 08-20-11

Scripture: Acts 13:46-50
Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you [the Jews]. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region.

Thoughts for the Day: It’s amazing how God’s Word spreads, almost like an organic organism looking for a home to settle in. The Word is passed from person to person, often being rejected, but many times changing the life of the person who is open and accepting to the Love of God. God’s Word can mean freedom for the oppressed and relief for the suffering. But the word must be proclaimed and heard for any effect to occur. Paul and Barnabas traveled the globe spreading the good news of Christ, and were often met with rejection, ridicule, persecution, and imprisonment. Yet, God continued to inspire them to spread the news that humanity has an intrinsic relationship with an infinitely divine consciousness that, if we allow it, can guide our thoughts and actions and shape our heart, so that we may transform from creatures of sin into creatures of love.

Where might God’s word take us on our own evangelical journeys? Can we find the courage to proclaim the good news of God’s freely-given grace, even in the face of derision and ridicule? Can we be compassionate and respectful as we spread God’s word, acknowledging that God speaks to different people in different ways, and through different messengers? As we spread the good news, let us be mindful that we do not preach a message of exclusion. For different reasons, our job today is as difficult as Paul’s and Barnabas’ was then. Televangelists and fundamentalists are not helping God’s cause (or ours, when we attempt to proclaim our faith). But the necessity of proclaiming the Word of God has not diminshed.
PrayerHoly God of love, may you ignite in me the passion and courage I so desire to speak your word and proclaim your glory. May your Word flow through me in a way that will be seen as compassionate, caring, and full of your love. Help me show the world that my faith comes from a religion of love, acceptance, peace and forgiveness, not a religion of zealotry and hate, as is too often portrayed. Amen.

Daily Devotional 07-21-11

Scripture: 1 Kings 3:5

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask. What should I give you?” 

The Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2009 (1 Ki 3:5). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Thought for the Day: Solomon doesn’t ask for mansions or servants or whatever the equivalent of a Ferrari would have been back then–a 480-horse chariot? But rather, he asks for the ability to discern between good and evil, to be a wise and righteous leader, a servant for God, as was Solomon’s father, King David. Solomon recognizes his youth and inexperience and asks the Lord not for material things, but rather for a gift of lasting character. No matter our age or experience, may God’s discerning character bless us always! There is always something new to learn, and there is always time to ask God to help us discern the path God has laid out for us.

By the way, have you given God a hug today?

PrayerWe pray you grant us the wisdom of Solomon Lord, so that we may live with discerning hearts, able to see your path and hear your intentions. We love you! Amen.

Daily Devotional 07-19-11

Scripture: Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Mt 13:44). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thought for the Day: Are you keeping the treasure of God locked up somewhere? Trying to hoard it for yourself, or worse, simply attempting to keep God’s Spirit buried, deep inside? I know I’ve done that! There have certainly been times I tried to deny God’s presence and gifts. But hopefully, those days are past, or at least few and far bewtween. The treasure of God’s love–the Holy Spirit within you, the Kingdom on Earth–those things do absolutely no good for anyone if they are kept buried. Owning the field that contains the treasure is not enough. We must dig the treasure up, out of the depths of our souls, and let it be shared by everyone! 

PrayerInspirational God of love and generosity, may your Spirit fill me with the courage to fully acknowledge your presence. I pray you show me how to use your gifts fully. Help me learn to share your Divine Love with the rest of the world; to share your treasure in me as you shared your treasure in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Devotional 07-18-11

Scripture: Wisdom of Solomon 12:16
“For your strength is the source of righteousness, and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.”

Thought for the Day: How many times have you thought, “Well, if I just buy this or that, I’ll be happy.” Or, “If I could only lose 10 pounds, I’d be happy,” or anything like that? Modern society is doing it’s best to substitute stuff for God. We’re being led to believe that products can fill an emptiness we feel, when really only God can fulfill such a deep desire. God is our strength and our Lord, and when we realize that strength and sovereignty within us, we are spared all the misguided intentions of the commercial era. I like my electronics as much as the next person, but they don’t make me happy. This community makes me happy. Seeing God work within each and every one of us, watching our journeys being guided together, feeling God’s love and presence amongst everyone of you, every time I see you, well, that’s happiness. That’s allowing God to be your source and sovereign.

Prayer: Holy lord of strength, God of love, may your presence be with me always as I attempt to live a life guided by your Spirit, a life that allows me to return the love I receive one hundred times over, a love that leads me to an authentic life lived for your glory.

Future of Christianity

Harvey Cox giving a brilliant speech on the “cult of commerce” and its detrimental effect on Christianity. We cannot live in obedience to the Gods of consumerism, tadalafil but must rediscover our roots as an anti-establishment movement. Resist the cult of empire! Brilliant.

General Assembly Report

At the business session this morning, search President Watkins gave a rousing speech reminding us of our diversity, and yet pointing out we have no all-encompassing policy concerning race, gender and sexual orientation. While FCC Naples is an open and affirming church, in general the Disciples have no policy.

It is time for a discipline-wide policy that urges, perhaps insists, that ALL Disciples Congregations demonstrate the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.

On the Road to Assembly!

Tony, Luis, Kelly and I left Naples early this morning with a gaggle of our church youth. We drove to Chattanooga to have dinner with Bill and Carol Hobbs, who are both doing well. Bill goes in for knee surgery next week, so we will all keep him in our prayers. Carol is handling chemotherapy very well and was a bundle of energy and wit. It was great to see them both and share a meal. May God bless them both with health and happiness as they work through their ailments!

We’re spending the night at the Disciples of Christ church in downtown Chattanooga. What a wonderful facility! We’re all hunkered down in different rooms, the kids are watching a movie in one room while we take turns showering and preparing for a night of rest. They have an awesome, classic pipe organ here as well, complete with original wooden keys. It’s a beautiful instrument.

Tomorrow we’ll do a little sight-seeing around Chattanooga before heading to General Assembly in Nashville. I’ve already spoken to some of my LTS friends and we’re all excited to gather again in Nashville!

Thanks to God for keeping us safe through this journey, and thanks to Chuck at FCC Chattanooga for his extraordinary hospitality. See you all in Nashville!

–Submitted by Rev. Junk