Wednesday December 31 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  Our Wellness Ministry.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
Key Verse 17: So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Reflection: On the eve of a new year perhaps you are thinking about what could be different in the year to come. It’s a good time to assess what has past and make plans for the future. Maybe you make resolutions and keep them. (Good for you!) Maybe you make them and then don’t keep them. (There are many in this boat.) Maybe you know yourself well enough to not even make them, since you know you won’t keep them. (Honesty is often the best policy.) Whatever your own personal track record with New Year’s promises and resolutions, hear this: the good news is that God keeps God’s promises!

In this letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul boldly states the promise of God that for those who are in Christ, the old has passed, and a new creation is begun. The former things don’t count anymore: all those broken promises and resolutions, all our disappointments and mistakes. None of them matter. In Christ there is grace and mercy and a new beginning.

Those of us who have been forgiven and freed by the grace of God are entrusted with sharing the good news that results. We are “ambassadors for Christ.” We have an amazing message to proclaim to the world. Perhaps there is a resolution for the new year in that.

Prayer: Holy God, I have heard the good news of great joy for all the world. Help me embrace the new creation begun in me through the grace of Christ Jesus. Help me share his message of reconciliation with all whom I meet this day, and in the year to come. In the name of Christ 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 December 30 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  The unemployed and underemployed.

Scripture: Isaiah 25:1–9
Key Verses: 25:6-8 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. 8 Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

Reflection: It has been said that if you want to make God laugh, just tell God your plans! As we come to the end of 2014, some people make New Year’s resolutions, things they hope to accomplish or do. But I wonder if it’s our plans that make the difference or if it’s in discovering what God’s plans are and being a part of them that makes the difference. Most of my plans get changed in some ways. But Isaiah lays claim to the bedrock of God’s character that has proven itself in the past and will prove itself in the future. It’s what God will do that really matters in this world. Therein lies our trust as we enter the year 2015!

Prayer: Lord, there are things that I hope for and pray for as we enter this New Year. I even have some plans! (Is that you chuckling?) My hope and trust are in what you are planning, what you will do, that your will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Whatever that will is, I will accept with praise and thanksgiving for your activity in our lives. As I move into a new year, a new frame of time, I recommit myself to you, you who gives us time, who gives us our days, who grants to us your grace and peace. 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 December 29 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  Resident members of Plantation Estates.

Scripture: Revelation 1:1-8
Key Verses: 5b-6 “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Reflection: At the start of every funeral I remind the gathered congregation that the Lord God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last – “who is and who was and who is to come.” This message of hope, offered to early Christians who were suffering and dying, can sustain us in the face of sadness and grief. This is also the message of Advent and Christmas when we are reminded that God is with us now and always. God will come again to right every wrong and restore the world. The God described in the book of Revelation is personal, glorious, faithful, and almighty. When Jesus comes again everyone will see him. Quite a change from the few people who witnessed the birth of a little baby in Bethlehem!

So, as we draw closer to the start of a new year, let us remember that many people are struggling and suffering in the world. Horrible things are happening that we don’t want to think about like war, torture, poverty and starvation.   You may be suffering because of terminal illness, grief, or broken relationships. No matter what wilderness you or someone else is living in right now, God is still the Alpha and Omega who is and who was and who is to come. Of course, we all want trouble to go away. We want God to restore us to joy and happiness, to help us escape the hard realities of human life. But, we know that there are times when we have to wait for relief and walk the difficult path. God is with us even when we feel like our faith is failing us, even when we despair. Remember, God is the Alpha and Omega who is and who was and who is to come. Cling to this hope while we support one another in the good times and in the bad.

Prayer: Almighty and glorious God, we pray for those who are suffering pain and heartache. Help us to be instruments of your hope and love as we draw near to those who need compassion and care. May we set aside our anxieties so that we might more fully rely on you for wisdom and direction. 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 December 26 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-fri

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  Resident members of Sharon Towers.

Scripture: Acts 7:59-8:8 
Key Verses: Acts 7:59-60 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

Reflection: Let’s let Wikipedia explain Boxing day and let the shoppers do their shopping while we pause for a moment and acknowledge that today the church calendar celebrates St. Stephen. It was this day – when Good ol’ King Wenceslas looked out, on the snow that lay round about, deep and crisp and even –the Church set aside for Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian Church. I can’t imagine there were a lot of people vying for that particular place in history. It’s one thing to live a life of faith, it is another thing to die for it. The word martyr means witness and it does not mean witness to your faith by killing, but by dying. A martyr doesn’t take lives, but sadly, has their life taken from them. We remember Stephen, not because he died, but because of how he lived. He dared to see beyond the horror of the angry mob that engulfed him and saw instead the love of God that enfolded him. And he claimed that love not only for himself but also for the ones bloodying the stones. As he died, Stephen prayed that the Lord would forgive the very ones who were killing him. Stephen was the first martyr in the fledgling church and the first one to prove that the cross Christ asks all to carry can indeed be carried. Stephen was the first to teach with his life that Christ’s life can transform us all.

Stephen, the first martyr, the first one to taste death because of Christian faith, is ironically the first one who teaches the church how to live like a Christian and how to follow their Lord.

Prayer: Lord, in Jesus you show us your way and will for us. Grant to us a gentle heart and a steady will so that we might joyfully welcome Jesus in to our lives and courageously follow him. Amen.

Author: Derek Macleod

[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 December 25 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-thurs

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  Our Community of Faith.

Scripture: 1 John 4:7-16
Key verse: 1 John 4:9 “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.”

Reflection: Merry Christmas!

As you celebrate the holiday today, take time to think about how God’s love has been revealed to you. Perhaps you have felt God’s love in the embrace of someone who arrived from far away. Perhaps you have seen God’s love in the twinkle of a child’s eyes waiting in anticipation for you to open a gift. Perhaps you have heard God’s love in the quiet background music playing in the house.

God chooses to be revealed to us in the flesh. That’s what “incarnation” means—God came in the flesh to live among us so that we might live through him. God’s love for us was revealed in Jesus Christ. We see God’s love in everything Jesus did. We hear God’s love in everything Jesus said. Our God does not remain distant from us, but has become flesh and dwelt among us. We experience that power alive in the world around us, in all sorts of unexpected ways.

Praise God today and tell the story of his love to someone who needs to hear it. Jesus is born! Jesus has come! God’s love has been revealed!

Prayer:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come:
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and heaven and nature sing.

May my heart sing praises to welcome you today Lord! 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].

Wednesday December 24 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is: Our clergy.

Scripture: Luke 1:67-79
Key Verses: 1:76-79 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Reflection: Christmas Eve. When I was growing up, this was the day my Dad always went shopping. Even when we moved to only $5 gifts, my Dad would declare that EVERYTHING he purchased on Christmas Eve was on sale for $5! This is not a peaceful time to do all of your shopping, to send Christmas cards and bake all of the Christmas goodies for neighbors. However, it is still a time of preparation. We could use John the Baptist to keep us on the task of Advent. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” We could use “a voice of one crying out in the wilderness” in whatever your crazy looks like today.

People were drawn to John the Baptist. He called people to wake up, turn around and John guided their feet in the way of peace. Scripture has a unique way of speaking to the people in that day and speaking to us today. Zechariah’s prophecy is a reminder on this Christmas Eve, that light has cut through the darkness and that Jesus Christ was sent to guide our feet into the path of peace.

God sends messengers to bring us back to Scripture, angels to bring us to the manger, prophets to point us to justice. God’s messengers point us to what matters.

Prayer: Prepare us for this holy night, O God. Give us hope to see beyond what eyes can see to the Christ who was and is and shall surely be. 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].

 

Tuesday December 23 2014

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is:  Our Celebrate Band.

Scripture: Luke 1:57-66
Key Verses: 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed.

Reflection: Do you know the story of where your name came from? Most of us have a story. In the south family names are often passed down from generation to generation, just like in Bible times.

One such naming story comes at Christmas alongside the story of the angel giving Mary and Joseph the name of their son.

Some months before, an angel had appeared to Elizabeth, an older relative of Mary, who was married to Zechariah, also getting along in years. The angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that he and his wife would have a son (sound familiar?). Zechariah scoffed and was punished. He became mute and couldn’t speak for months.

After Elizabeth gave birth, she and her husband took the baby to be circumcised and named. Elisabeth announced her son’s name: John. All her relatives and neighbors wanted Elizabeth to name the baby Zechariah, after her husband. But he named him John. For the first time in many months Zechariah was able to speak.

In the Bible, stories of older parents having babies and the frequent great drama around names usually means someone significant and amazing is being introduced. Their son, John, named by an angel, was the one who paved the way for the coming of the Messiah.

You probably don’t have angels in your naming story. But God continues to use parents and children to prepare the way for the coming of the Savior of the world.

In a few days we remember Jesus’ birth. The rest of the year we get ready for his coming again. What are you doing to prepare the way for his return?

Prayer: Open our minds, O God, to believe in things beyond our experience. Open our mouths to interrupt the silence of inaction. Open our hearts to receive your Son, Jesus. Open our hands to prepare the way for the Messiah and his Kingdom on earth. In the holy name of Jesus, 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].