Tuesday July 22 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture: Romans 14:1-12
Key Verses: Romans 14:7-8  We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Reflection: This is a powerful affirmation of faith. “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (14:8) That pretty much settles it! What can happen to you that falls outside of those parameters? Nothing. So we don’t live to ourselves, our life is lived out on a stage before the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. It’s crazy that we’re here on this ball, spinning in space. Let’s not forget that. We’re not in charge of anything, we’re entrusted with everything! So if we live with anxiety and fear, as if we don’t belong to God, we have forfeited the prime reason for our existence. We don’t live to ourselves, this isn’t about us. We’re not here to build up some big deal and hand it on to somebody else. We’re here to live unto the Lord. Even when we die, we die unto the Lord. So either way, we are the Lord’s. Have a good day!

Prayer: Why do I forget this, O Lord? What is it about us that we fail to live our lives in full response to your grace and majesty? Why do we narrow it all down and put it in such small boxes when it is so big and so grand and so wonderful. Why do we miss the whole point while we’re fumbling around with crumbs? I don’t know, but I acknowledge your name above all names and I pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven! In gratitude and in praise, through Christ our Lord. 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 July 21 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals

Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
Key verses: Matthew 26:40-41“So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Reflection: Today’s passage is set in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Jesus and the disciples have finished the Passover meal (which instituted the Lord’s Supper) and then they retreated to a nearby garden. Jesus tells them to sit and he goes to another place in the garden to pray. We aren’t certain if the disciples prayed but we do know they fell asleep. If they are like the rest of us, they began to pray and fell asleep. (How many times has that happened to you in the evening after a big meal!) Three times Jesus came back to check on them and they weren’t praying but sleeping. What’s wrong with them? I think they didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. Jesus acknowledges their willingness and also their weakness.

We, too, struggle to “stay awake”. We fall asleep, literally and metaphorically, because we are distracted by many other things.   Jesus wanted them to pray with him. He wants us to pray with him. He warns them and us to stay awake.

If we want to cultivate a relationship with Jesus we may have to make some changes. Maybe we need to eat less and rest more. Maybe we need to pay attention to how God is working in us and in the world. Maybe we need to acknowledge that our flesh is weak so we should take better care of ourselves. When we acknowledge our weaknesses we have the opportunity to “watch and pray”. The story of the Garden of Gethsemane is a friendly reminder for all of us from Jesus.

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for giving us the impulse to draw closer to you in prayer. We confess our physical weakness. Help us to give the best part of our day to you so that we might stay awake. Remind us to pay attention to what is going on around us and how you are working in our lives and the lives of others. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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 July 18 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-fri

Scripture: Romans 12:9-21
Key verse: Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Reflection: We all encounter evil. Sometimes the evil is public and tragic, like a shooting at a shopping mall or a kidnapping at a school. Sometimes the evil is close to home, in angry words between coworkers or yelling in the house next door. And sometimes the evil is within us, in our own temptations and grudges and petty resentments.

How do we respond to evil? The apostle Paul exhorted the Christians in Rome to not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good. We see Paul’s admonition embodied in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even when he was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and killed, Jesus did not respond with evil. Instead he responded with goodness. He was nonviolent and forgiving. Even after his resurrection when he could have returned to gloat over his enemies or to punish those who hurt him, he came to his friends with words of peace. Jesus did not allow himself to be overcome by evil even when it looked like evil was winning all around him. Following his example is very hard to do but it is central for a disciple. If you are going to be a disciple today, how will you respond to evil? What good can you bring into the world today?

Prayer: Almighty God, help me overcome evil with good today. When I am tempted to believe that the end justifies the means, and that evil actions can further a good purpose, stop me and correct me. Teach me to follow Jesus. Amen.

Author: Millie Snyder

Thursday July 17 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-thurs

Scripture: Matthew 26: 1-16
Key Verse: Matthew 13  “Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Reflection: The unnamed woman recognizes Jesus as the messiah and as a faithful act of discipleship, anoints his feet with a costly ointment. This story is told in all four gospels. In each version, the story reflects the same basic story: a woman anoints Jesus. The incident causes objections which Jesus rejects. Her actions were a powerful testimony to the significance of Jesus impending death. The disciples were not ready to accept that he would not be with them and so they could not understand.

Jesus stands up for this woman by honoring the risk she takes. There are not many places in scripture where Jesus honors an individual and the fact that it is a woman is significant. He states that…”wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her. “ Her testimony was extravagant and it proclaims good news again and again. It causes me to wonder if we have a testimony to share or the courage to risk sharing that testimony?

Prayer: You are the God from whom I receive unconditional love, consuming it as if it were a commodity. I trust your love but speaking about it is a risk and offering it to others is hard. Being transformed by your love is the next step that I take at this moment, knowing that transformation takes time. May your son transform me on this journey. 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 July 16 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

Scripture: Psalm 89:1-18

Key Verses: Psalm 1-2
1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
2 I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens

Reflection: We are busy here at the church preparing for over 270 children to join us at Vacation Bible School next week. At least a hundred volunteers will be here each day, many of them youth who spend a week of their summer vacation with our children. My favorite part each day is the Opening Assembly when every person—child, youth and adult— is singing (with motions!) The songs aren’t complicated, since they are designed for children. They tend to stick in your head, though! This year the songs are all about how God works extraordinary things through ordinary people. We will marvel at “the God who works wonders.” (Psalm 77:14a)

We send a copy of the VBS CD to each family ahead of time so the children can begin learning the songs. Many of our parents tell us that those CDs are some of their family favorites. They keep them in their cars to sing on road-trips. They dance to them in the living room. Some parents and kids can even still sing songs from several summers ago. This year we are looking forward to teaching a couple of songs we sing in Celebrate worship. Be on the lookout for motions to show up for those on Sundays from the children!

I’ve had this year’s CD in my car for several days, so I can begin to learn the songs myself. I’ve noticed a real change in my drive to work as I listen and sing songs of faith instead of fixate on national news. Our Psalm today calls us to sing of God’s steadfast love. Not just think about it. Not just listen to others. Not just read about it, or even pray about it. We are to sing! What song of faith can you join in today?

Prayer: Lord, fill my heart with your love and grace. Open my mouth to SING your praise today. Through 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].

Tuesday July 15 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30

Key Verse: Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Reflection: You’ve heard of the parable of the talents? (If not, go back and read it in Matthew 25:14-30.) This is where we get the phrase, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Jesus is teaching on the subject of stewardship. It’s not necessarily about money; it’s about all of life. What are you doing, with what and who you are? All of it?

The slave who buried his talent and gave his master back exactly what he received is scolded. He didn’t do anything to cultivate it. He didn’t take any risk. He played it safe and according to Jesus, this didn’t work out so well! The judgment is kind of harsh. “’As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (25:30) Nobody wants to hear Jesus say that to you.

A wasted life is a terrible thing. We are an endowed people. The question is not, “How much are you giving to the church budget?” The question is “What are you doing with all of it?”

Prayer: Lord, I often do feel like a “slave,” to the wrong things. I have to keep this going, and keep that going, and make sure this works, and fix that. Then there’s the whole model of perfection. Does everything have to be perfect? The stress of this probably works on me in ways that I don’t even know. You have given me my life. You have given me everything I have. I don’t take a breath without you. Could you possibly wake me up to the truth of that fact so that I might become the kind of steward of my life that you give me the opportunity to be. In Jesus’ 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 July 14 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals

Scripture: Matthew 25: 1-13
Key Verse: 25:13 “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Reflection: Years ago, I had a friend who was never prepared for anything. If we went shopping, she would forget to wear comfortable shoes and would need to borrow my flip flops. If we took our children on a picnic, she would forget to bring a lunch basket. There was always something I was lending her: tissues, lip gloss, gum, sunglasses, sunscreen, socks, toothpaste, hairspray.   She never paid attention to what she might need! Of course, I was her over-prepared friend who had everything! As long as she had me around she didn’t need to worry.

A lot of people approach their faith journey this way. They hope it will just happen -that somehow they will grow closer to God in Jesus Christ without having to do anything. They put off thinking about their relationship with God to another day. They think they have all the time in the world. Then, something challenging or tragic happens and they discover very quickly they don’t have the resources they need to face it. They literally thrash around looking for God’s comfort and strength and it eludes them.

Today’s scripture passage is called the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, but it is more like an allegory than a parable. An allegory is defined as a “rhetorical device in which characters or events in a literary, visual, or musical art form represent or symbolize ideas and concepts.”   In this allegory the bridegroom is Jesus, the bridesmaids are the church and the oil (or having oil) is symbolic of “good deeds of love and mercy”. We are told at the beginning of the story that 5 of the bridesmaids are wise and 5 are foolish. Some are prepared and some are not.   They all fell asleep, but only the wise bridesmaids had enough oil for an unanticipated wait. Apparently, the foolish bridesmaids did not understand what was required of them. So, they had to make a mad scramble, at the last minute, to get more oil. Unfortunately, it was too little­­—too late. The door was closed on them and they were shut out of the banquet.

Jesus reminds us to be ready. Whether it is the second coming of Christ or the unexpected events in life, we are reminded to be prepared. Don’t miss out on the wonderful banquet you can enjoy now. Be prepared to meet God at any time and find out what confidence and joy this preparation adds to your life.

Prayer: Gracious God, we confess that we neglect our relationship with you. We are distracted by so many things in our lives. Please help us to change our ways. May we be prepared to meet you every day as we continue to give our time and attention to acts of love and mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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].