Daily Devotional 6-30-2012

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (TNIV)
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, try not by sight.

Thought for the Day: You know that old phrase, viagra sale “seeing is believing”?  Well, although it can be good advice in certain cases (buying a used car), I think it’s a pretty bad general rule. In fact, I suggest that seeing distracts us from believing, because we have come to believe that if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Humans have become almost completely sensory-dependent. If we can’t see, touch, taste, smell, or hear something, then it simply isn’t real.

Yet the very material structure of the universe teaches us time and time again that this simply isn’t so. We don’t have to physically experience something to know it is real. We can’t touch an atom, but we know they are the basic building blocks of everything. And not only is it impossible for us to touch an atom, but atoms never touch each other, either. Atoms are in a constant state of repulsion because of the electrical charge surrounding them (the electron cloud). Yet these objects that never physically touch create our entire physical world. How weird is that? The coffee table in front of you isn’t as solid as it appears, because ultimately all the atoms that make it are just bouncing around trying to avoid touching, like two pre-teens at their first school dance.

The more I learn about science, the firmer my faith in God becomes. Because while I know this physical existence I am experiencing now is real, I also know that what I’m really made of—all those billions of atoms that are bouncing around to make me, is more ethereal than I can being to imagine. Perhaps the spaces in between the atoms of physicality are where our faith truly resides.

Prayer: Ethereal God of everything and nothing, grace my life with a thirst for knowledge and curiosity. For in questioning and learning, we ultimately learn more about you; and are drawn ever closer to your perfect love. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-29-2012

Scripture: Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, sovaldi but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Thought for the Day: History was made yesterday when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. As soon as the decision was announced, ed pundits from both sides of the aisle began pontificating about how wrong the other side was for thinking whatever they thought about the decision. There was endless arguing over details and legal issues, and nearly zero mention about how many millions of people this law helps. Wow. Talk about spirit crushing.

Jesus was confronted with a similar problem in his time. He noticed that the spiritual leaders of his day were also trapped in endless, soul-crushing debates about the minutest details of the Law that God gave Moses for all Israel. They were missing the spirit of the Law. Jesus argued that God gave us the Law not to crush the people’s spirit, but rather to enlighten us; to help us become the loving, compassionate beings we were created as. Made in God’s image. The Law sets us free and makes us righteous—right with God. When we’re right with God, we are more concerned with the welfare of others than of ourselves.

Yesterday, my spirit was lifted a little. Perhaps there is hope that the United States is ready to join the rest of the civilized world in creating systems that provide for the basic needs of its people. Perhaps the crust of partisanship that has enveloped and slowly crushed our spirit since 9/11 is starting to melt away. Perhaps the United States is becoming, once again, a country that opens its arms to the helpless, the homeless, the hungry, the tired, the poor, the weak. You know, like it says on that statue in New York:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Prayer: God of compassion and grace, may your presence and love continue to be felt in our midst, and may our leaders continue to awaken to new life in you—renewed in spirit, cheerful of heart, and compassionate to the needs of others. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-28-2012

Today’s devotional was written by Trudy Kellum. Thanks, cure Trudy!

Scripture:  Psalm 145:9, (NIV)
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Thought for the Day: In the pond behind our house there are two ducklings that I’ve been enjoying watching for the last several weeks. At first, they were part of a large family of 15 ducklings following and being corralled by their mother. Now, for reasons unknown (although my best guess is neighborhood hawks), the duck family has been reduced to just two baby ducks—one yellow, one brown. They paddle around the pond aimlessly all day long, never leaving one another’s side. In recent storms, gusts of wind and rain blew across the pond, making their navigation around the pond even more difficult.

I’m not a nature girl by any means, but I must say that observing God’s wonderful creation such as these two ducklings is a very spiritual experience for me. I’m moved by how the ducks, even though they have no idea where to go or what to do with themselves in the absence of their mother, stick together and keep paddling no matter what weather or events befall them.  So much like our own human experience, they also change course again and again, sometimes for legitimate reasons (like the dog coming too close), but sometimes, I suspect, because they don’t know what else to do with themselves. This wasn’t the way life was “supposed” to be for these two, and they haven’t quite figured everything out yet, but they persevere… and inspire.

Prayer:  Creator God, thank you for the beauty of our surroundings and the ways in which we are inspired by the wonder of your creation.  One with you, may we persevere no matter our situation. Glory to God!  Amen.

Daily Devotional 06-27-12

Scripture: Galatians 3:8-9
And the scripture, help foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, treatment declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, search saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

Thought for the Day: For millennia, the Jewish people had been the only monotheists on the planet. One could always convert to Judaism, but it meant years of study and adherence to the Mosaic law—including circumcision and dietary laws. There weren’t a lot of Gentile converts to Judaism.

But as Jesus’ message began to spread from its original Jewish community to the Gentiles, Paul understood that God was expanding the original covenant made with Israel to the non-Jewish world as well. More importantly, Paul realized that it was faith that brought one into the fold, not merely adherence to Mosaic Law. Paul was a devout Jew and followed the law closely, but saw in God’s promise to Abraham that Gentiles too could become believers in the one and only God of all existence, yet still remain Gentiles. It was an incredibly progressive, inclusive point of view that helped establish Christianity as a loving and compassionate faith from the beginning.

Prayer: Help me remember, Dear God, that your love is never exclusive, nor arrogant, nor spiteful, nor narrow. Rather, remind me constantly that all who believe, however they believe, are blessed. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-26-2012

Scripture: From the Bhagavad Gita
He who experiences the unity of life, doctor sees his own Self in all beings, check and all beings in his own Self, pills and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

Thought for the Day: I’ve always found it extremely powerful to read a variety of different faith materials, from the Holy Bible, to the Qur’an, to the Dhammapada and the Mahabharata, from which the Bhagavad Gita and today’s scripture is drawn. It’s interesting to read these different works because it helps us understand each other and the God who speaks to us. When we read each other’s holy texts, we start to realize very quickly that we’re not that different spiritually. God has revealed God’s self throughout history, and comparing similar stories is an incredible confirmation of faith, whether you’re Jew, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, etc.

I think that if we took some time to read each other’s holy books–deeply, not superficially, we’d see that the underlying message in all of them is love of God and love of each other. Whether we say, “love your neighbor as your Self,” or “see your Self in all beings,” we are being told to love each other, unconditionally, the way God loves us all.

It’s good advice in any language.

Prayer: Glorious and universal God, help me see you in myself, in my life, and in my brothers and sisters who follow you in as infinite a variety of ways as you manifest yourself in the world around us. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-25-2012

Scripture: Acts 17:29
Since we are God’s offspring, buy cialis we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.

Thought for the Day: Humans do have incredible imaginations. We’re a wonderfully artistic and creative species. From pyramids to polyurethane, from Michelangelo to Michael Bublé, we love to describe our feelings about the world around us through art, architecture, music, film and literature.

Scripture reminds us though, that no matter how wonderful our imaginations are, we will never be able to fully describe God, and we will certainly never be able to represent God as an image. Try as we might, inevitably the image ends up looking more like the artist than God. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since we are all created in God’s image. The problem is that often these artistic representations of our imaginations end up becoming set in stone. God becomes the “bearded white man in the sky” for generations of people. This limits both God and our ability to truly understand the powerful nature of God in our universe and our lives.

Prayer: Glorious and ineffable God, help me imagine you in new and unexpected ways. Help me see your fingerprints in everyone and everything around me. Help me grow, precious Lord, in my understanding of you, that I might live life filled with your endless creative energy. Amen.

 

Devotional 6-24-2012

Scripture: Acts 2:46b-47
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, order praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

Thought for the Day: I think sharing a meal together is one of the most powerful worship experiences available to us. We eat several times throughout the day, advice and often we eat with friends and family. These are each terrific opportunities to go to God with thanks and praise.

Also, doctor sharing food and stories around the table with each other is a powerful way to get to know new people and cultures. When we break bread together we begin to break down the walls that separate us. We have the opportunity for communion several times each day. The next time you’re headed out to lunch, invite someone you don’t know very well along. It’s always been my experience that we have much more in common than we thought, especially if the basis of our meal and conversation is belief that God is an active and powerful force in every one of our lives.

Prayer: May I be blessed with opportunities to explore other cultures and languages, and in so doing discover that in you, Holy Lord, we are all truly one people. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-23-12

Scripture: Acts 2:44-46
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

Thought for the Day: As the church started to form it was not unusual to find groups of spiritual journeyers living together in communal environments. Today, malady we pay respect to that heritage with our modern church communities. When we covenant with each other as a church, capsule it is connected to a thousands-of-years-old tradition that reaches into some of our most ancient traditions.

As a church, ask we have promised to support each other with the spiritual gifts at our disposal. The reason we offer this support is so that each of us will have whatever we need as we make our personal journey to connect to the Christ within. Being faithful is difficult. Practicing the faith can be back breaking.

Church communities offer us a little respite from the world of high finance and competitive economics. Church communities like ours invite us back to a time when faith and the support of friends was a powerful way for all of us to enhance our relationship with God.

Prayer: Thank you for community, in all its sizes and types, Dear Lord. In you, everlasting God, we find the greatest community, made of love and equality, peace, and a thirst-less quest to know you more deeply. Amen.