Daily Devotional 09-30-11

Scripture: Philippians 1:9-11

And this is my prayer, treat that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, buy so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Thought for the Day: The French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is one of those fascinating characters in history.  Along with writing, he had a passion for flying.  During WWII, he joined the forces to free his home country of France, which included flying reconnaissance missions for the resistance.  He died during one of those flights in the summer of 1944.  For a man whose life was surrounded by violence and war, his prose were beautiful and full of life.  He wrote, “…true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.”  From the moment of the Apostle Paul’s conversion, he found himself in the the abundant flow of divine love.  No matter where he went, he could not escape it.  No matter how much he gave away, it did not diminish its power.  Paul had seen this love spill over the people of Philippi, and in this passage, he prays for them to allow its unceasing nature to spill out into the world and produce a harvest of right-living.  I believe we should hear those words echo in our current time, believing the more love we give away the more it will be poured into us.

Prayer: Merciful and Kind God, may I never allow a fear of scarcity to limit the outward flow of love.  Instead, let me trust in your copious and generous nature that would never let me go dry.  Amen.

 

Daily Devotional 09-29-11

Scripture: Psalm 77:5-6

I consider the days of old, viagra sale and remember the years of long ago. I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit…

Thought for the Day: Today is an important day for every couch-potato as it is the 60th anniversary of the first live nationwide telecast of a football game.  As a college football fanatic, buy viagra I feel as if this should be a national holiday.  For most of us, sickness we do not remember a time when there wasn’t at least a few college games available on Saturday afternoon.  For a number of years, I  watched games on a 13 inch B&W TV that required a pair of pliers to change the channel, but it didn’t stop me from spending many hours glued to the TV.  It is funny the things we remember from the past.  I can laugh about that B&W TV with the pliers close at hand, but there was a lot during those ‘good old days’ that really was good, foundational, and important to who I am today.  The author of the Psalm, during a time of struggle, was reaching back into the past for something to which he could hold.  My concern is that many people today do not have anything from their past to which they can cling, and so when crisis occurs, their story is empty.  What I like is how the author of this Psalm reaches back into the larger faith story, and connects himself to the testimony of God’s liberating work in Egypt.  The author wouldn’t have yet been born, but faith connected him to a story that was foundational even when it really wasn’t his personal story.  When we feel as if we do not have such a story, God draws us into a divine narrative which has both a history from which we can find identity and a future in which we can find hope.

Prayer: For your goodness in every generation, O Lord, I give you thanks.  I appreciate  the way you have grafted me into a strong family tree whose roots run deep and whose branches stretch high.  Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-28-11

Scripture: 1st Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant…

Thought for the Day: Even in the ancient Greek, sovaldi the word we translate as ‘arrogant’ in this passage means to be puffed up or inflated.  It could probably be translated as being full of oneself or full of hot air.  One of the great preachers of the 20th century was Harry Emerson Fosdick, prescription and he once said, seek   “A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”  Actually, the package initially looks big, but there isn’t much substance and it easily deflates into an empty shell.  Love, on the other hand, is known in substantive ways.  Those who love are a weighty gift to the world, and when fully unwrapped, the gift never disappoints.

Prayer: O God, I ask for you to pop my big ego and help to set aside my pride, so that your loving presence might more greatly reside within me.  Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-27-11

Scripture: Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Thought for the Day: I have been reading a book about Harriet Beecher Stowe, clinic the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Her brother, check Henry Ward Beecher, was an amazing pastor in the Congregationalist tradition (that would be the United Church of Christ, our sister denomination) during the middle part of the 19th century.  He wrote  “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”  The Beecher family knew how to take hold of the faith handle.  In doing so, they not only moved into a more faithful future, but they also took many other people with them.

Prayer: O Lord of Light, may I grow in faith so when choices are made today that will dramatically impact my tomorrow, I am better able to discern the options that will help create the future you desire.  Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-26-11

Scripture: 1st Thessalonians 1:6-7

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, sale for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, generic so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

Thought for the Day: Today is a great day in history.  It was on this day 30 years ago that Nolan Ryan pitched his fifth no-hitter, cure giving him the most number of any MLB pitcher.  At the time, he played for the Houston Astros, and though I was not a real baseball fan, I remember watching replays of his final out.  I then dug out my baseball glove from the closet and went outside with a few tennis balls (I didn’t have a baseball).  I wasn’t going to be a pitcher or even a baseball player, but the achievement was so inspirational that I felt the need to go outside and throw the ball.  Years later I was talking to someone who remembered that same day, and he recounted an almost identical experience.  There is lots of books and lectures and DVD series trying to explain why Christianity is not growing, and though I’m sure they all make some good points, I think our decline is because we no longer have any Nolan Ryans.  I’m not suggesting we need a pitcher, though to have a professional baseball player toss a few around in the sanctuary might draw some folks.  What I’m suggesting is that Christianity no longer inspires most people.  Is it because there is nothing inspiring?  No, I just don’t think we’re very good at telling the stories of those who inspire us.  The early church did such a great job and those who heard the stories wanted to become imitators.

Prayer: Holy God, may the stories of the faithful become as well known as Nolan Ryan’s record-breaking fifth no-hitter.  Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-25-11

Scripture: Leviticus 25:10-12

And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, discount every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines.  For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

Thought for the Day: The Year of Jubilee was this beautiful ideal within Judaism.  It was a point in time every 50 years to make all things right, for justice and mercy to prevail.  All debts were to be forgiven; all slaves were to be freed; all lands were to go unplowed so the land could rest.  Israel never wanted to become an oppressive Egypt.  For that reason, God gave this ‘start over button’ so any injustice would be automatically righted and all wealth would be redistributed.  As you can imagine, this day never happened.  It remained this beautiful image set in some nebulous moment in some distant future.  Fifty years became more of a fanciful metaphor.  I think God was very serious, but the implementation remained hampered by those who had the power and wealth.  For many Christians, they do the same with the Kingdom of God.  Though Jesus declared its presence through him, there are those who continue to set it in some vague heavenly future. I believe we are at a moment in time when Christians need to claim a Jubilee, a radical reversal of the world’s priorities.  I believe we are at a moment to do more than announce the Kingdom of God’s presence inaugurated in Jesus, but to make it manifest in all that we say and do.  I’m not suggesting a new political movement or pushing a new bill through Congress.  I’m suggesting the church live into its calling which is to be the Body of Christ, the flesh and bones of God’s gracious reign.

Prayer: O Lord of the Jubilee, you have called us to be a people of reconciliation and healing, but you did so only after breaking open this new reality in Jesus Christ.  Make our individual and collective lives a means of revealing your Kingdom here on earth.  Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-24-11

Scripture:

Jesus was praying in a certain place, see and after he had finished, capsule one of his disciples said to him, shop “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come…”

Thought for the Day: Tomorrow I will preach on this passage and the verses that follow, but I realize there is enough here for a sermon and a daily devotional and six more sermons.  One of the words that catches my interest is ‘hallowed.’  It is not a word that makes its way into my daily conversations.  I occasionally use it when I’m watching Nebraska football and the camera pulls back to make Memorial Stadium visible.  I remember going there as a child, and I thought it was hallowed ground.  The word here means to be set apart, and so Jesus is suggesting that when we pray we should place the divine name on a pedestal of sorts.  Do we do it because God’s ego needs to be encouraged through our acclamations? I don’t think so.  I believe the name of God should be extolled and set apart as a reminder that God is the Holy Other (borrowing from Rudolf Otto).  We may claim to have within us the image of God or the divine spark, but we should not confuse ourselves with God.  God remains uniquely God and distinctive from humanity.  Though humanity has often tried to make God in its image, at the end of the day God remains the Unequaled Other…and this is good for both of us.

Prayer: Holy God, all of creation deserves respect as we are created in your image.  At the same time, let us never think of ourselves as equal with you, the One who gave us life. Amen.

Daily Devotional 09-23-11

Scripture: Luke 10:38-41

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Thought for the Day: This story of Martha and Mary comes immediately after the parable of the Good Samaritan where we learned what defines a good neighbor…a good neighbor is one who does the hard work of unconditional love and compassion.  So when you read of Martha working her tail off in service to Jesus and Mary resting at the feet of Jesus, you might have thought Jesus would remind Mary of the Samaritan who didn’t take a break from doing the good works of grace.  But to our surprise, Jesus praised Mary who was reclining and challenged Martha.  These two passages side by side remind us that simple answers don’t often work even though many people will try to provide them.  In the end, faith is learning and listening and trying and listening and learning all over again.  We do it all under the grace of God believing that if we are a Mary when we should be a Good Samaritan or a Martha when we should be a Mary, God’s mercy will encourage us to try again.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Kind and Gracious God, continue to work with me as I live in the challenging tension of faith and life.  Amen.