Month: March 2011

 

Devotional 03-31-11

Scripture: Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction, malady and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Thought for the Day: I’ve always appreciated the writings of Reinhold Niebuhr.  At every moment when my sense of self-worth expanded beyond the capacity of my britches, order Niebuhr’s words put me back in my place.  The human being is capable of marvelous things, but Niebuhr also recognized the human capacity to cause suffering.  He believed the harmful acts committed by humans stemmed from pride which in fact were nothing more than a facade hiding one’s insecurities.  He wrote in The Pride of Power, “The will-to-power is thus an expression of insecurity even when it has achieved ends which, from the perspective of an ordinary mortal, would seem to guarantee complete security.”  He concluded that our grasp for power and security is really the recognition of our “finiteness, weakness and dependence, which become the more apparent the more we seek to obscure them…”  People who recognize their own value, but not at the expense of others, are capable of marvelous God-inspired works.  The problem lies when that sense of value becomes arrogance because the individual feels as if s/he really needs a smokescreen to hide his/her insecurities.

Prayer: Remind me of the value you see within me, O Lord, but also give me the vision to see the same value in every other creature.  Amen.

 

Devotional 03-30-11

Scripture: Psalm 73:26

My flesh and my heart may fail, look but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Thought for the Day: The other day, capsule I was at the pool with my son.  Another father and son were playing in the water.  At one point, the little boy got out where he couldn’t touch and he began to panic.  The father immediately grabbed him and started carrying him to safety.  The entire time the boy was being carried lovingly by his father, he  screamed, “We’re not going to make it!  We’re not going to make it!”  We’re going to sink!  Help!  Help!”  How often have we started to sink and our fears caused us to miss the divine hands underneath us…strong unfailing hands that promise never to let us go?

Prayer: Good God, when parts of my life seem to falter and fail, remind me of your unfailing presence.  Amen.

 

Devotional 03-29-11

Scripture: Exodus 18:14-20

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”  Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.  When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.”  Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.  You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.  Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do.

Thought for the Day: It is a little longer piece of scripture, but it makes such an important point.  The ministry of any faith community cannot be entirely done by the clergy or professional staff.  These individual might have important gifts, but no matter how strong those gifts might be, they are still a limited number in the scope of the congregation’s mission.  First Christian Church of Naples has many wonderful examples of programs and ministries that run with little to no staff energy.  I’ve always said it is the job of the pastor to put him/herself out of a job.  I don’t know if that would really occur, but what a wonderful and hopeful vision for the church.

Prayer: Inspire each of us, Lord God, so that our gifts are empowered to serve you and the mission of your kingdom.  Amen.

Devotional 03-28-11

Scripture: Psalm 83:1

O God, click do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, pills O God!

Thought for the Day: Yesterday at our church picnic I referenced these words and specifically the phrase, “be still.”  There are numerous passages in scripture that invite us to “be still” (Psalm 37:7 & 46:10) so that we can perceive and acknowledge God who is attempting to speak.  It is a simple truth we learned in kindergarten when our teacher said, “When I talk, you must listen.”  People have not traditionally taken that advice as their prayer lives have been nothing but a series of long-winded requests.  We should take the advice of both our kindergarten teacher and the author of the Psalm.  As we refocus ourselves we should allow God to speak…promising that we will not interrupt.

Prayer: Help me, Merciful God, to step back from whatever it is that’s distracting so I can focus my spiritual energy upon you.  Amen.

Devotional 03-27-11

Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 5:17

So if anyone is in Christ, patient there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, purchase everything has become new!

Thought for the Day: John Yoder, the wonderfully controversial ethicist, emphasized the above interpretation of 2nd Corinthians 5:17.  Most older translations said something like, “If someone is in Christ, he is a new creation…”  A pronoun was added, and it turned the transformation inward.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that faith in Christ will radically change a person’s life.  But Paul saw just how far-reaching the faith of even one person could be.  Not only is the individual different, but so is the creation itself as it is touched by the person of faith.  The change is so dramatic within us that the creation around us will begin to change.  The new life we have found will be seen in the renewal of every aspect of God’s creation.  Next time someone says to you, “Faith is a personal matter,” you can respond by saying, “It might start personal, but it will reach to places you cannot even begin to imagine.”

Prayer: Change me, O Gracious God, so you can change the world through me.  Amen.

Devotional 03-26-11

Scripture:Matthew 15:27-28
She said, shop “Yes, doctor Lord, medical yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Thought for the Day:
Initially, when the Canaanite woman (a gentile) comes rushing after Jesus asking him to expel demons from her daughter, she is rejected. Jesus rebukes her rather harshly, but she humbly begs for mercy. Her daughter needs help—there is something seriously wrong with her, and although at this time Jesus is considered a Jewish Messiah, come for the Jewish people, the woman doesn’t care. She has already heard enough about Jesus to believe in him completely, and believe, as many other gentiles were coming to believe, that he was the Messiah for all peoples. She believes this so intensely that she is willing to take the least Jesus has to offer, the scraps of his Godhood, simply to save another. Her request is selfless, and her faith so deep and unconditional, that Jesus agrees to her request. When we humble ourselves before God, all things are possible. When we ask God for healing not for ourselves, but for our loved ones, for the world, for our enemies, God pours out God’s endless love upon us.

Prayer:
Help us to live unselfishly in your love, O gracious God of compassion. Guide us so that our prayers may aid in the healing of others. Help us to understand that when we beg your mercy for the aid of another, we are living in your love, because there is no more beautiful path to You, O Lord, than that of selfless prayer for the healing of a lonely and unhealthy soul.

Devotional 03-25-11

Scripture: 1 John 5:4
“For whatever is born of God conquers the world.  And this is the victory that conquers the world, pilule our faith.”

Thought for the Day: It’s increasingly difficult to be faithful in a world turned cold and impassionate; a world turned hypocritical; a world wielding a kiss on its lips and a knife in its hand. People of faith must be steadfast in their love of God. We must not be afraid to proclaim to the world that God is working in (and on) all of us, pharm and that Jesus is ready to accept us as we are, viagra with sincere and unconditional love. Even in a world torn apart by war, seemingly offering nothing to God any longer, we must have “faith that overcomes the world”, and persevere in our quest to offer God more than we thought possible to give.

Prayer: Holy God of understanding, grant us the fortitude to hold steadfast in our love for you, and to have the courage to proclaim loudly for you, even when a cold, hypocritical, and uncaring world proclaims against you. Amen.

Devotional 03-24-11

shop serif; font-weight: normal;”>Scripture:Ephesians 5:15
“Be careful then how you live, shop not as unwise people but as wise.”

Thought for the Day: Thomas De Witt Talmage, one of 19th-century America’s most influential preachers once stated, “There is no such thing as negative influence. We are all positive in the place we occupy, making the world better or making it worse.” God has given us the free will to act wisely or to act foolishly, to use our time here to make the world better, or to make things worse (even if through inaction). But if we are living in the Spirit of God, we have the unconditional support we need to better understand the will of God in our daily activities; to live, “not as unwise people but as wise.”As Christians we are called to action, to live our lives trying our best to make the world a better place through our works of selfless service, our humble offerings of charity, and by our proclamation that we surrender our selfish human instincts to walk more wisely in, and more closely with, Christ.

Prayer: Great Lord of selfless wisdom, we humbly ask your guidance in our decision-making processes. Help us turn away from the things that would hinder our work for You, O God of gracious and forgiving love. May we stop and pray to know your will before we act or speak, and thereby more fully understand your purpose for us in everything we do, great and small. Amen.