Devotional 01-30-11 to 02-02-11

January 30, 2011
Scripture: 2nd Samuel 22:33
The God who has girded me with strength has opened wide my path.
Thought for the Day: There are days when I hope God doesn’t gird me with too much strength because I don’t really want to do too much work.  More often, people do not believe they have the strength to do what they feel called to do.  Questions arise and uncertainty begins to take hold.  Yet for those who have been willing to try, I have often heard people say, “I found strength I did not know I had.”  That’s probably a good way of saying it since it wasn’t strength people had within themselves, but strength given as needed.
Prayer: For the opportunities of service that are ahead of me, O Lord, I request the needed strength to do what I’m called to do.  Amen.
January 31, 2011
Scripture: Leviticus 19:1-2
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Thought for the Day: I have always been intimidated by these verses of scripture.  Holiness is one of those weighty theological ideas that seems out of reach for most of us.  That’s why I appreciate the words of Mother Teresa who said, “True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile”  I probably won’t do God’s bidding perfectly, but I can probably come up with a smile even when my best is only mediocre.
Prayer: There is something joyful and holy even in a clumsy attempt to follow your lead, O Loving God.  Amen.
February 1, 2011
Scripture: Luke 3:11
In reply he said to them “Whoever has two coats mush share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”
Thought for the Day: I recently heard the statistic that people in the United States spend more money on trash bags than almost 20% of the world spends on food.  There are a lot of statistics out there that, when I hear them, go in one ear and out the other.  But for some reason, this one rattle me a little.  The devices we use to carry out the food we didn’t eat or the other stuff we longer needed cost the same amount of money that 1/5th of the world’s population spends for their basic nourishment.  Should we just cut down on the number of trash bags we use?  Yes…but only because we have shared more of what we have, and thus have less to spend on stuff we would have thrown away had we bought it.
Prayer: Guide me, O Gracious God, into the great realm where the resources are viewed as even more valuable when they can be given away.  Amen.
February 2, 2011
Scripture: Exodus 4:1
Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”
Thought for the Day: How many times has someone felt the urging of God, but decided to ignore it because they feared the reaction of others?  I’m guessing it is a pretty high percentage.  The words of doubt that might be expressed by others seem to outweigh the words of calling that are shared by God.  I’d like to think that these opinions don’t matter, but the opinions of others do influence us…a lot.  Though I would suggest that people might surprise us.  They may still think we are a bit crazy, but I do believe that many people appreciate those of us who have a passion for good things.
Prayer: I’m probably going to need an extra infusion of your encouraging spirit, O Lord, and so I hope you are prepared to give it.  Remain persistent, and I will do my best.  Amen.

Devotional 01-29-11

Scripture: Romans 8:19
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
Thought for the Day: Our choices impact not only people and their life situations, treatment they also impact the very creation.  As Paul will later write, the creation itself is subject to our sinfulness.  It is hurting!  It is also longing, stretching on its tiptoes (using anthropomorphic language), as it reaches out for its day of redemption and freedom.  Contrary to popular opinion, Paul (and other Biblical writers) do not view the earth as inherently evil.  In fact, it is good!  And through the divinely inspired choices, we help to move the creation toward the day it will be healed.
Prayer: O God, there is a lot to do and so little time.  Help me to make sure that what I do will really make a difference.  Amen.

Devotional 01-28-11

Scripture: Psalm 126:1-3
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, salve we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Thought for the Day: Vincent van Gogh once said, “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”  Oh how I can relate to those words, especially in those moments when my confidence is bruised.  When the ground I’m standing upon feels a bit unstable, I cast my spiritual gaze toward the heavens in prayer.  There I often gain a glimpse of a dream that must have its origin in something  other than myself.
Prayer: Even if it is for just a moment this day, O Heavenly One, let me dream with you.  Amen.

Devotional 01-27-11

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11
For surely I know the plans I have for you, cure says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Thought for the Day: During a time of difficulty, the prophet Jeremiah announced the words of God as he had perceived them.  A friend of mine in college had a saying taped to his wall that I have since seen numerous time.  It read, “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”  Though some might take those words to mean that God controls all things, I believe it signifies how God is always calling and luring us into the future God wishes for us.  Though it may take many lifetimes for God to bring the world only slightly closer to the divine hope, God is patient…always holding before us that vision of a future made whole by redemptive love.
Prayer: Continue to dangle your future hope before us, O God of Love, so we might reach for it…and by doing so, bring the world just a bit closer to the realization of that future.  Amen.

Devotional 01-26-11

Scripture: Luke 14:33
So therefore, ampoule none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
Thought for the Day: I’m intrigued by Christian obsession with all kinds of rules and moral beliefs that have very little grounding in scripture.  Many faith communities are preoccupied with sexual behavior or abstaining from alcohol, no rx when in fact the scriptures are much more concerned with the things of this world that own us…our beloved stuff.  I’m always fascinated by the theological gymnastics that some literalists attempt as a means of dismissing this or similar verses of scripture.  As painful as it is, we need to allow these words to confront us with their full force…especially those of us (and I include myself) who really have more than we need.
Prayer: O Lord of the Simple Way, help me to learn that with every ‘thing’ I leave behind, I perceive you more clearly. Amen.

Devotional 01-25-11

Scripture: Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety weighs down the human heart, sales but a good word cheers it up.
Thought for the Day:  Anxiety and worry are wasted energy, treat and I should know.  I am an expert in both areas.  I like what Arthur Somers Roche wrote, “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”  Let us seek the voices of those who will bring cheer to our lives and lighten the weight of these unhealthy emotions that would otherwise cut a dangerous channel within us.
Prayer: Lift my spirit, O Lord, through the gracious gifts of my sisters and brothers who want only the best for me.  Amen.

Devotional 01-24-11

Scripture: John 20:21-22
Jesus said to them again, ailment “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, thumb so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Thought for the Day: I like the approach Jesus took as he prepared the church for its very first task.  First, Jesus gave his disciples the very same gift he wanted to have shared with the world.  Second, Jesus told them about their mission.  Third, Jesus empowered them to do the mission through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  If one of these components was missing, it really wasn’t going to work (though the church leaves out at least one of these components all the time and then wonders why it fails in its mission).  In a couple of verses, Jesus summarizes the process for achieving the divine purpose which brings more people into the fold who start the process over again.  I think there is something here we can use.
Prayer: O Gracious One, give me the gifts you wish me to share.  Point me to where those gifts are most needed in the world, and then empower me with the spiritual fortitude needed to get things done. Amen.

Devotional 01-23-11

Scripture: John 14:27
Jesus said, pharm “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, sickness and do not let them be afraid.”
Thought for the Day: In his book, treatment A Christianity Worth Believing, Doug Pagitt shakes up some established beliefs about the purpose of Jesus.  He says, “Jesus was sent to fulfill the promise of the Hebrew love God by ending human hostility.  It was not the anger of God that Jesus came to end but the anger of people.  This world God created is one of peace and harmony and integration.  Through Jesus, all humanity is brought into that world.  And that is the point of the resurrection…The power of God’s love for humanity proved stronger than our capacity to hate one another.  Jesus’ death was about war, about violence, about destruction.  But his resurrection was about peace, compassion, renewal.  The resurrection is the full picture of God’s promise” (p. 194).  In his own way, Doug summarizes the theology of most respected theologians and Biblical scholars, yet for some reason the church continues to perpetuate an image of an angry, fire and brimstone, kind of God that wants nothing more than to spew divine wrath upon the world.  It is time for the church to get serious about scripture, and allow its transformative message to take hold.
Prayer: Creator God, you love us and have gone out of your way to demonstrate the transformative power of this gift for all creation.  With thankful hearts, we embrace this gift in hopes of continuing the demonstration you offered in Jesus. Amen.