Friday January 17 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-fri

Scripture

John 2:1-12

Key verses 7-11: Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection

The shepherds were the first to kneel at the feet of the Jesus and now the identity of Jesus is being made clear to an ever expanding community. The circle gets bigger and more people witness the manifestations of God’s love through Christ.

This is yet another Epiphany story. It is at this marriage feast where Jesus performs his first miracle. Joy radiates through this feast as people celebrate together with some of the best wine. These epiphanies get larger, stretching to include more and more in the community. The light of Christ permeates the dark corners of people’s lives, so much so that people travel just to reach out and touch this man. These epiphany stories reveal to us who Jesus is, where he is to be found and invite us to follow. These epiphanies get more vivid until we are included in them. We begin to find ourselves among believers in all times and all places, drawn in relationship to the light and joy that emanate from the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

God of endless light, make me wise enough to live in the light of your love so that I might be part of your epiphany story. In your Son’s holy name. Amen.

Author

Michelle Thomas-Bush

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Thursday January 16 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-thurs

Scripture

Genesis 4:17-26

Key verses: 17, 25-26: Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch… Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.

Reflection

Do you know the history of your ancestors – where they came from, what they did? The book of Genesis tells the story of our ancestors going back to the beginning of civilization. These early chapters describe the development of humans (the descendants of Adam and Eve) from nomads to farmers (Cain, first-born son) to sheep herders (Abel, second-born son) to city-dwellers (Enoch, their grandson). Other descendants made music (Jubal) or worked with metal (Zillah). God blessed the world with a diversity of skills and talents for living and thriving in many settings – which is quite amazing if you remember that murder spoiled the world when Cain, in a jealous rage, killed his younger brother, Abel. Yet God continued to bless humans even after murder entered the world. If God hoped rich blessings might change the hearts of humans, that’s not what happened. Cain’s great, great, great grandson, Lamech, out of vengeance, also killed a man. But God did not give up on humans. God gave Eve another son, and another, and another grandson, and more.

When human civilization was being formed, twisted and turned by all the forces that shape our common lives and all the human sinfulness that corrupted human’s best efforts, God stuck with them, even when they weren’t aware of it. Even when they didn’t deserve it. Even when they ignored it. But, at some point in this long and often torturous process of civilization building, someone noticed. “At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.”

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for sticking with us as we grow and mature. Thank you for sticking with us when we really mess it up. Thank you for sticking with us when we ignore you. In your continuing presence may we call on your name and find your blessing and our hope. In the name of the God who creates and sustains we pray. Amen.

Author

Von Clemans

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Wednesday January 15 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

Scripture

John (1:29-34) 35-42

Key Verses 35-37: The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

Reflection

John the Baptist was a charismatic preacher. He had followers and disciples before Jesus did. His was a message of transformation and change: Repent! Change your life! It was a message that resonated with enough people for him to be a threat to the established religious authorities. Yet in spite of his own popularity and following, when he saw Jesus in Galilee, he immediately pointed to him as the one for whom he, and all of Israel, had been waiting. Jesus is the one who will effect the transformation and change in the lives of John’s disciples. Suddenly his preaching about the future became preaching about the present, because Jesus had arrived.

From that point on, John was able to introduce people to Jesus in person. To two of his disciples, John said: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” One of those two was Andrew. He went to his brother, Simon Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” Simon Peter went on to become the best known of the 12 disciples, and one who spread the message of Jesus far and wide.

It reminds me of the old Faberge commercial where the girl discovers the life-changing properties of organic shampoo and tells two friends. Then she says that they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…… It’s how the gospel spread early on. It’s also how it spreads best today. Who will you tell about Jesus?

Prayer

Loving God, I give thanks for the tenacity of those early disciples, who shared the transformative message of Jesus with others. I thank you for all those since who have passed along the gospel, and especially for those who have told me the story of Jesus. Help me point to him in my words and in my life, so that others might know and follow him too. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Author

Julie Hester

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Tuesday January 14 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture

Hebrews 2:1-10

Key Verse Hebrews 2:1: Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Reflection

It’s easy to drift. At first, you are not aware that it’s happening. It’s slow. It’s not like you crank up the motor, untie the boat and hit the gas. Drifting is gradual. The writer to the Hebrews is concerned that we “drift away” from what we have heard.

There are a lot of currents that will cause us to drift: chronic busyness, suffering, broken relationships, greed, pride. These are all currents that we can get caught up in unless we are anchored by something more significant.

Where is your anchor? What is it that keeps you grounded? Have you drifted away from your faith and relationship with God? Are you intentionally moving in some direction in life or are you “drifting?” When we drift, we are subject to the direction in which the currents take us.

Prayer

Lord, if I have drifted away from you, I pray for help and guidance. If my life is caught up in some current that is taking me in the wrong direction, I pray for you to rescue me and to bring me back to what is true and to what gives life. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Author

Steve Eason

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Monday January 13 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals

Scripture

John 1:1-18

Key Verse 1:”The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Reflection

This familiar passage is often read at Christmas to remind us of who Jesus is. He is born like every human baby, but he is so much more. John describes him as the Word who was with God in the very beginning of creation. He is the true light that enlightens everyone. He is the only Son of God who knows the father’s heart.

He is the light of life, the Word in the flesh, and the manifestation of God’s will. Yet, he was, and continues to be, rejected by many of the people he came to save.

At the time of his birth, he was unknown – the world did not know him. But, those who did know him and believed saw his glory. They saw it in the way he reached out to the sin- sick and the suffering. They saw it in every act of healing and forgiveness he performed. And they saw it as they received grace upon grace from being in his presence.

Jesus doesn’t solve all of our problems and make every challenge go away. But we know that even in the darkest valley when we feel lost, the light of Jesus can’t be extinguished. Even when everything else fails, God in Jesus Christ remains. We have been shown a way of life that draws us closer to God. We have been assured that Jesus is the light of all people. He is with us, always.

Prayer

Gracious God, we pray for those who are living in despair today and can’t see your light. May we be instruments of your love letting your light shine in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Author

Deborah Conner

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Friday, January 10 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-fri

Scripture

John 10:7-17

Key verse: John 10:10b “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Reflection

In the gospel of John, Jesus uses metaphors to describe himself. In today’s passage he proclaims himself to be the gate for the sheep. He is the one who allows us to enter and to leave. Throughout history, the church has invested a lot of misplaced energy in the ministry of gate-keeping. That’s not our role. Jesus is the gate.

Jesus also proclaims himself to be the good shepherd. He cares for his people like a shepherd caring for the sheep, willing to sacrifice his own life out of love for them. He knows us intimately and he wants us to know him, to recognize him, and to respond to his guidance.

Jesus came to give us abundant life. What does an abundant life look like? Despite what the advertisements suggest, it’s not a life of abundance. An abundant life doesn’t depend on what job you have, what car you drive, or where you go on vacation. An abundant life is a faithful life, lived following Jesus who was full of God’s grace and truth. An abundant life is a life of love, willing to sacrifice ourselves and our own desires because we love others. An abundant life is a life of ministry, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. An abundant life is a life of generosity and compassion, giving our resources freely for God’s work in the world.

I think the abundant life that Jesus offers is almost the opposite of the “good life” the world offers!

Prayer

Thank you, O Lord, for welcoming me at your gate. Thank you for walking beside me as a good shepherd. Lead me on the path of abundant life, teaching me to trust you and to follow as you guide me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Author

Millie Snyder

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Thursday January 9, 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-thurs

Scripture

Colossians 1:24-2:7

Key Verses 1:24-29; 2:6-7: I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

Reflection

There is a glass on my desk with some water still in the glass. Would you say that it is half-empty or half-full? My immediate thought is, “Who left that glass of water on my desk?!” I don’t often need to explain the situation as much as I need to clean it up, fix it or make it go away. I cannot think of one moment when I want to pick up that glass and just look at it, being fully present with it and all it might have to offer.

I believe it is our tendency to face suffering the same way. In the church, I hope you find that we are honest about the pain, suffering, and death that is part of our lives. We try not to dance around the suffering and darkness that we inflict on ourselves and each other. The darkness is real and we all face it at some time in our lives. Julian of Norwich, ( 1342-1416) wrestled with our need to explain it all away and faithfully concluded, “All shall be well, and all, shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Julian understood that God repairs the worlds pain by entering into that pain and healing our sadness with an act of love. In embracing the mystery of our suffering, we claim the hope of God’s promises and immerse ourselves in the love of God.

Paul is in the midst of darkness when he writes to the church in Colossae. Paul embraces the suffering and his approach to suffering flows out of the mercy and grace of God. It is through the daily mercies and comfort of God that Paul and others throughout history have found the endurance and strength to suffer well. Paul knows that Jesus suffers with him. It is not done for reward, for the assurance of his salvation, but instead it is proclamation of salvation. May we find comfort in Paul’s words to face whatever today might bring: As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Prayer

A prayer of Julian of Norwich:

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.

Author

Michelle Thomas-Bush

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Wednesday January 8, 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

Scripture

Exodus 17:1-7

Key verses: 1, 5-6: From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Reflection

It was not long after escaping the Egyptian army at the Red/Reed Sea that the Hebrews ran into a major problem. Where do you get water for thousands of people in the middle of the desert?

That’s not just an ancient problem. In recent weeks a Nevada newspaper has predicted that Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir which supplies the drinking water from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, will run dry in 2021 unless climate or usage changes. Imagine living in a hot desert climate (a good exercise on these cold winter days!) except, with the heat, there is no water. Moderns may turn to engineers but ancients turned to God.

The Lord told Moses to strike a rock and that’s what Moses did. Water came out of the rock and the people drank. God provided water for people in a literal desert. Then, many centuries later, God sent the one who would become the living water for everyone with parched lips or parched souls.

Are you thirsty? Is your reservoir running dry? Trust in the one who provided fresh water in the desert. Trust in the one who sent the bread and cup to sustain us on the journey. Trust in the living water that only God can provide. Trust and drink until there is no more thirst.

Prayer

We are thirsty, O God. We yearn for fresh, clean water to sustain our bodies and our souls. Lead us to the source of life-giving water so we can quench our thirst. In the name of your living water, Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.

Author

Von Clemans

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Tuesday January 7, 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture

Psalm 46

Key verses 1-3: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

Reflection

The turn of a new year is an opportunity to reflect again on how we know God and what that knowledge calls us to do. The epiphanies that God provides us-the ways in which God chooses to be revealed-are all around us, but we often fail to connect them with what we know of God and who God calls us to be. We wake today to a cold winter day. Can we see the hand of God in the way the natural world works, even on a day like this? Many of us think about the hand of God in the ebb and flow of the ocean waves or the brilliant view from a mountaintop. Can we also see God in ordinary seasons and extraordinary weather days? Our Psalm this morning tells us that through the earth changes, God does not change. Whatever the weather, God is our refuge and strength, steadfast and immovable.

This knowledge of God in charge could lead to inaction on our part. We might say, “If God is in charge, then we shouldn’t worry about much. If God made the weather, then it must be for the best.” Instead, trusting in God’s steady hand on the world should spur us to action. It’s an especially frigid day. As people of God we are called to ask: What’s happening with the homeless in our town? Is there a neighbor we need to check on? God is our refuge and strength, yes, but also the refuge and strength of our neighbors. So what is the Psalm calling us to do in response to our understanding of God?

Read the whole of Psalm 46 today, and hold verse 10 in your heart: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Hold it there and give thanks. Then ask yourself, “Knowing this, what is God calling me to do today so that others might know God as well?”

Prayer

Lord, you are my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. I praise you for your steadfast care. Teach me to trust that you are in charge. Help me be still and know you. Then, O God, show me what it is you would have me do for my neighbors. In the name of Christ the Lord, I pray. Amen.

Author

Julie Hester

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].

Monday January 6 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals

Scripture

Matthew 2:1-12

Key verses Matthew 2:1-2: In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

Reflection

Today is Epiphany! It’s the last of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” We’ve lost this tradition. By the time we get to December 25 most folks are tired of Christmas and want to take down the tree and move on to what’s next. A long time ago, the Church did a real Advent–a season of spiritual preparation–followed by the celebration of the twelve days of Christmas. Epiphany is the day we celebrate the wise men paying homage to the Christ child.

That doesn’t really end anything as much as it gets something started. To have an epiphany is to see something, to have something revealed to you that you didn’t know. When we come to know Christ it’s the beginning of a journey that lasts throughout eternity. The story doesn’t end there, it’s just getting started!

Prayer

On this day of Epiphany we bow before you, gracious Lord, and acknowledge you as Lord and Savior of our lives. We are thankful for your grace that breaks in upon us, in spite of us, and rescues us from sin and death. Your ways are too wonderful for us. We bow before you and pay you homage this day of Epiphany. Amen.

Author

Steve Eason

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.
All rights reserved].