Month: December 2012
Scripture: Luke 5:27-28
After this, ambulance Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me, and ” Jesus said to him, cialis sale and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Thought for the Day: Following Jesus means completely turning our thoughts (and our lives) around 180 degrees. Following Jesus means we drop everything we were, to become who God inspires us to be, and we do it without question. When Jesus tells the tax collector to follow him, the tax collector doesn’t tell Jesus to wait a few minutes, or give excuses about the material things he has to bring with him. He simply follows.
As the ages have passed, it has become more difficult, rather than easier, to follow Jesus. His name and teachings have been abused and misrepresented by incredibly large institutions with the best intentions, yet they continue to miss the point, hanging on to the trappings of Empire, both physically and metaphysically, with clenched fists.
When God asked FCC Naples to change, to truly follow Jesus, we answered with a resounding “Yes!” We sold our material goods and found new ways to worship and serve the community and God. And our journey is just beginning. As long as we continue to focus on God and follow Jesus, our future is not only bright, but will also blaze a trail for others to follow on their own spiritual journeys.
Prayer: May I continue to follow you unquestioningly, loving God, so that my life is a light to others, an example that a 180 degree change is just what the world needs today. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Thirty years after Jesus died, and Paul was concerned, like Jesus and the disciples before him, that the world was headed toward self-destruction. For Paul, the only way to save the world was to develop a deep relationship with God by following the teachings of Jesus.
Those first followers of Jesus, including those who would write what would become the New Testament—people like Paul who had never met Jesus—understood it was by living the teachings of Jesus in their daily lives that transformed them, and eventually the entire world. For the early church, salvation wasn’t about “us” and “them,” salvation only occurred when we all turned away from the material world and embraced God. Either we’re all saved, or none of us is saved.
We can change the world. We are called to change the world. Jesus teaches us to live a life that radically transforms the world because we first conform ourselves to the image of the Christ, by simply letting go and letting God guide our thoughts and actions.
Prayer: May my spiritual journey continue to be led by you, God of ancient and infinite wisdom. May you transform my soul, conforming me to the image of Christ, making me your instrument of transformation as the world becomes more and more your peaceable kingdom. Amen.
Scripture: Genesis 28:15
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.
Thought for the Day: Humans tend to think literally. Even though we’ve done a magnificent job of creating art, music and literature that uses sometimes extremely abstract metaphor and imagery (Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” comes to mind, or the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” or any Bergman film), we are still pretty literal beings. So when many of us read the Bible, we take it literally. But the Bible is neither history nor biography, so reading past the metaphor does a great disservice to the artists who wrote stories so beautiful and powerful, that they have endured for thousands and thousands of years.
For example, this passage from Genesis is often read as a promise that God will lead God’s people back to the Holy Land at some point—a literal land somewhere in the Middle East. But this passage is not at all about physical land. The land to which God promises to bring us back is a metaphor for God’s very being. No matter where we literally are, God is with us, working through us all, every human on the planet, to lead us to our rightful place with God, as beings of God, serving through God. Wherever we go, God is with us.
This worshipful land is our rightful and deserved dwelling place. It’s not a literal country, but a spiritual revelation within us that bursts forth like sunlight after a rainstorm. Humanity’s long rainstorm is ending. God is breaking through, and the Promised Land—a spiritual world of peace and harmony, is closer than ever.
Prayer: Glorious God, who continually renews reality, may a new Exodus begin today, an exodus of the heart, mind and soul that leads us out of the dark winter of this illusory, human-created land, and straight to your welcoming, loving spirit. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 4:18–20.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, buy he saw two brothers, pharm Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Thought for the Day: It must have been nice walking alongside Jesus, hearing him teach and seeing his example firsthand. And in Scripture, we read about many people God or Jesus calls who follow without question, from Joseph and Mary, to Simon and Andrew. Yet there are also entire groups—the Romans, the disciple’s own families, who reject Jesus’ teachings about a God who is so with us that God is essentially our entire being. Simon and Andrew drop their nets and follow without question. They make it look easy. But spiritual discipline is rarely that easy, as they later discover on their own journeys with Jesus.
Even as our own spiritual development goes through the inevitable peaks and valleys that accompany all growth, we look to those ancient ones whose struggles inform our own, and give us hope that as they once followed without question, so too might we.
Prayer: May I trust in you, Holy Lord, to guide my journey, and remember that you are with me, wherever I go, for all eternity. Amen.
Today’s devotional is by Trudy Kellum. Thanks, see Trudy!
Scripture: Matthew 2:11-12 (The Message)
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
Thought for the Day: It’s the day after Christmas. The running around trying to complete a million and one last minute items on the to-do list, the anticipation and excitement of seeing the children’s faces light up on Christmas morning, the gathering of friends and family for a Christmas day feast… all of that has passed. I sometimes feel myself feeling a little bit melancholy the day after Christmas. As wonderful as Christmas is, it can also be draining—emotionally, physically, financially, etc. Add to that less-than-idyllic situations such as being separated from loved ones during the holidays, hurtful memories, coping with illness or loss, and you’ve really got a recipe for emotional disaster at this time of year!
Events of my life over the last decade have caused me to adjust the way I view the holidays. The coping mechanism that I’ve discovered is this: instead of putting all of the emphasis on a single day of celebration (i.e. Christmas day), I view Christmas as a range of experiences. It’s all of the events pre- and post-Christmas that are Christmas to me now.
The birth of Jesus was an event, certainly, but it’s the full range of Jesus’ life that we are called to embrace. In our lives, single events such as births, deaths, marriages, and baptisms, mark important milestones along our journey, but it’s the full range of our life experience that makes us who we are.
Prayer: Glorious God, thank you for the beautiful celebration of Christ’s birth, and also for the fact that the gift didn’t stop there. Thank you for the full range of Jesus’ life, and our own. May the peace, joy, hope, and love exemplified in Christmas pervade our being always. Amen.
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Thought for the Day: Merry Christmas everyone! Today we celebrate the realization that God is with us, ampoule now and forever. The story of Jesus’ birth symbolizes the birth and rebirth we all go through many, many times in our lives, as we struggle to let go of human ego and let God control us.
A great light dawned on the world 2000 years ago, yet many religions have attempted to steal that light and box it into some sort of human idea of faith and what a relationship with God means. There is no human conception of something as great as God, though. No matter how hard we try, all we will ever understand is the minutest piece of God’s reality. No matter which religion we practice (or even if we aren’t religious), God cannot be contained in the finite spaces of human thought. We have no concept of reality; we only understand the reality around us, which is largely a figment of our imaginations anyway, and by no means the totality of reality.
The truth is that God inhabits absolutely every one of us, and everything there is, from the stars in the cosmos to the infant in the manager, from the dust in the desert to the teenage mother, from the most destitute to the wealthiest. God is with us all, in all our wonderful diversity, like the Christmas lights hanging all over town.
Last night in my Christmas Eve message I suggested we all start to think of those millions of lights everywhere as different aspects of God—the different colors, sizes, and shapes of those lights, all glorious in their own way, all part of the fulfillment of the ultimate light born into the world.
This Christmas, I hope your family celebrations are filled with love and joy, but I also hope that for the world this is yet another step in our journey towards a peaceful, loving, understanding and compassionate planet; a globe one day united in God’s beautiful diversity of color, gender, and religion.
Prayer: May your light continue to work through me, Holy God, molding me into a being of peace, love, compassion, and understanding. Amen.
Thought for the Day: If only we could take this joyous time, viagra sale when the world is a little gentler, when people are a little more compassionate, and hold on to this feeling throughout the year. God is with us, always! Not just at Christmas, when we actually take time to stop and notice God’s presence in our lives, but always. Every day of our lives, God is with us, igniting us with passion and love. Every day of our lives, the Christ is within us, guiding us to lives of service and peace.
As one year again turns to another, may every person on the planet begin to awaken to their true selves, a self of light and love, a little more each day. May we begin to realize our potential as beings of light, created from love to love fearlessly. May God’s kingdom, continually breaking into the world and turning our perception of reality on its head, become ever more present with each passing day.
Prayer: Make me an instrument of love, so that I might spread joy and compassion to everyone I meet, every day of my life. Amen.
Thought for the Day: We must remember to let God lead, sildenafil and not get hung up on the details of change. A transformed world means a world of greater understanding, which takes an incredible amount of trust. Historically, humans don’t have a good track record with trust. But for us to start trusting each other, I think we need to first start listening to what God has been telling us for thousands of years: we are all loved; every single one of us on the planet, from the shepherd to the King. We need to trust God to trust each other.
There’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. God is with us. We can let go of our weapons and unbalanced economic systems. We can change the social order. We are the instruments of upheaval. The Christmas story itself is one of complete upheaval, of turning the empire on end, of replacing human kingdoms with the kingdom of God. The foundation of that change is trust, and we won’t trust each other until we each individually start trusting God and letting God work through us all, softening our hearts, breaking down our barriers, and filling us with joy, hope, peace, and love
Prayer: I trust you, God most Holy, as you work in my life in unexpected ways, molding me into your instrument of love, compassion, truth, and justice. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 1:53
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Thought for the Day: God continues to turn our view of the world on its head. Mary understands the blessing of carrying the Holy Child. Although she has little material wealth, pilule she is filled with God’s love for the world. In contrast, the rich, to whom nothing in the material world is refused, find themselves spiritually unfulfilled. As always, God presents us with something new.
The material world is the inverse of God’s world. Our lives shouldn’t be about the accumulation of stuff, but about the accumulation of spiritual knowledge. God fills us with the good things we need for our spiritual journey. And while for now, we need to sustain ourselves in this material world, our true objective as seekers of spiritual truth is to turn this world on its head in honor of the One whose birth did the same.
Prayer: May I always hunger for your presence, God of Spiritual Riches, and share the gifts with which you bless me. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 1:52
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
Thought for the Day: We are about to celebrate the birth of light into a dark world. It should be a time of joy and elation! Yet, pharm I know for a lot of us, view the holidays are a difficult and emotional time. Recent global violence against children makes this holiday particularly difficult. In the shadow of great tragedy, there it can be difficult to see any light in humanity, leaving us feeling helpless.
But one of the things that have touched me as we’ve journeyed through Advent has been God’s incredible work through ordinary people. Light comes into the world through the ordinary, in the unexpected encounters with God through the everyday. The story of Christ’s birth is empowering. As we’ve looked at the affect God’s interaction had on the human lives of Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds, we’ve discovered a God that cherishes revelation to the most humble among us. With God, these ordinary people are transformed into instruments that initiate a new, peaceful, loving, spiritually advanced reality to the world. We all have the capacity to be similar instruments of peaceful change. We are not helpless; God is with us, Emmanuel.
Prayer: Eternally Loving God, may my faith be so deep and my mind so open, that you transform me into an instrument of light for a world afraid of the dark. Amen.