Wednesday September 30 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8: 12

Key Verse: (12) But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

Reflection: One Christmas, my brother and I got boxing gloves. I loved it! He is younger than I am but has always been bigger and we compete at everything. Boxing was a way my dad encouraged us to work out our aggression. My mother always said, “It is all fun and games, until someone gets hurt. “  She had to say that a lot in our house growing up…..and every summer when we get together with our own children. We are still competitive. We compete at spades, banagrams and even in our arguments. We like it when there are right and wrong answers and when there are winners and losers.  Don’t most of us?

But when we insist on being right, it is our relationships that suffer, especially family. There is more to consider than always being right. This might be at the heart of the problems of the church in Corinth. Yes, they struggled with different traditions but for Paul relationships matter most. God is God of all of us and the basis of our identity in Jesus Christ.

The issue is always relationships, seen in the context of God’s will of wholeness for all of God’s people. It can never just be about being right or winning.

Prayer: God,

Show me the love in the center of my brothers and sisters.

Show me the love in the center of myself.

Show me the love in the center of this world.

In the name of Jesus, I pray, 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].

Advertisements

Tuesday September 29 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture: Matt. 7:1–12

Key verse: (12) In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Reflection: There are many reasons to obey the rules. You’ll be punished if you don’t. You’ll get a reward if you do. It’s what we do in this family. It’s what we have contracted to do as a society. It is simply the right thing to do.

Toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount we learn the motivation for all who would seek to be followers of Jesus. Here at the end of this Sermon we see the law and the prophets in a new context.

The Golden Rule puts moral and ethical behavior, the social dimensions of the Gospel, in the context of life under the influence of God’s values and purposes. We treat others with love and respect because that’s the way we have been treated by God. The indiscriminate love we are called to apply to everyone mirrors the expansive, forgiving, redeeming love we have received from God.

Do unto others as you would have them do to you—not because you have to—but because you know what it is like to be loved, respected, honored, affirmed, valued, and cherished. You know what it is like to be treated as a treasured child of God. That’s the way you should treat others.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple. Concise. Direct.

Prayer: We know what to do, O God. We know how we like to be treated. Help us take the next step: treating others in the same way. Love us until love becomes who we are and what we do. In the name of the master teacher, Jesus. 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].

Monday September 28 2015

Monday

Scripture: Psalm 145

Key Verses: (10-13): 10  All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
11  They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
12  to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Reflection: Psalm 145 is an affirmation of praise to God. The Psalmist proclaims, over and over, that God is faithful, gracious, just, and holds up all who are falling. He says in verse 2: “Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.” And not just the Psalmist alone: “all the faithful” shall bless the Lord, speaking of God’s glory and power, and making known God’s deeds.

Sometimes we shy away from speaking of God’s wondrous deeds and love out loud. We don’t want to be preachy, or to offend. We might say or sing words of praise in Sunday worship, or lift up silent prayers of praise on our own. But do we speak aloud, and share with others that praise of God at other times? We might worry that friends and family and neighbors don’t know the amazing grace offered to us in Jesus Christ. But are we sharing our experience of it with them, out loud? The Psalmist calls us to join a chorus of unending praise of God. Generations speak praise to one another, and in so doing, show God’s love to others, providing them the opportunity to, in turn, praise God.

With whom will you praise God today?

Prayer: Wondrous God, I give you all praise and thanksgiving. You shower me with love and grace. Help me to open my mouth and proclaim it out loud 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].

Friday September 25 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-fri

Scripture: Matthew 6:7-15

Key Verses: (12,14) “. . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” “. . . if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Reflection: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us how to pray. To this day, every Sunday as we are gathered in worship we use his template for prayer. Yet, have we read on in his teaching beyond the model prayer he shares to his word about forgiveness that occurs in verses 14 and 15?  It is a bit foreboding isn’t it. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

What if we do not forgive others? Notice in the Lord’s Prayer itself that qualifying petition Jesus teaches us to make as we ask for forgiveness — “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

William Barclay, the late Scottish New Testament scholar, shares a story of Robert Louis Stevenson. “When Stevenson lived in the South Sea Islands he used always to conduct family worship in the mornings for his household. It always concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. One morning in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer he rose from his knees and left the room. His health was always precarious, and his wife followed him thinking that he was ill. ‘Is there anything wrong?’ she said.  ‘Only this,’ said Stevenson, ‘I am not fit to pray the Lord’s Prayer today.’”[1]

Some Sundays, should we get up in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer and go tend to some unfinished business of forgiving others before returning to finish the Prayer?

Prayer: Lord, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Amen.

Author: Pete Peery

[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]

[1] Barclay, Wm. The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Revised Edition, The S=Daily Study Bible Series, Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1975, pp. 222-3.

Thursday September 24 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-thurs

Scripture: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Key verses: (4,18) “ . . . and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Reflection: I love the Sermon on the Mount – now. When I was a young Christian I wanted to use these chapters in the Gospel as a kind of guide to Christian living. I was challenged over and over again. There were times when I thought “I can’t do any of this!” So, I didn’t. I laid these teachings aside and told myself I would get back to them later. In those days, I wanted to read and study the more inspirational passages of scripture – the ones that made me feel good. Eventually, though, I couldn’t avoid these teachings so I made my way through them with the hope of discovering  another way of living in the world.

Soon I discovered that the biggest temptation I faced was being too proud of being pious. I struggled with spiritual pride. I wanted people to know that I worshipped regularly, that I gave to the ministry of the church, and that I prayed and fasted as a spiritual discipline. I was very proud of myself and I desired  to be commended by others. Soon I learned the folly of this endeavor and I was convicted by the scripture passages that I had avoided studying for so long.

Jesus warns us in today’s text to be careful about practicing our piety before others in order to get praise and admiration. If we brag about our giving or show off in our prayers or look dismal when we give up something for God, we will get a reward.   But, it may be a different reward than we think! Jesus reminds us to keep our piety to ourselves and God will see our devotion. There is no need to show off for others. If we show off and get praise from others, we will receive an earthly reward, but we will have no reward from God. Our motives for cultivating piety are important.

The reward of spiritual practices is in the experience of the deep and abiding presence of God through friendship with Jesus Christ. Read these verses, draw near to God and see what God so generously wants to give you.

Prayer: Loving God, help us to let down our defenses and draw closer to you. Teach us how to give, to pray and to fast. Mold and shape us into the people we are meant to be. Keep us from bragging about our spiritual achievements and focus on drawing near to you. Thank you for the blessing of your presence and peace. 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].

Wednesday September 23 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-wed

Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48

Key verse: (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reflection: Evagarius came up with eight of them and later Pope Gregory the Great condensed the list to seven. The list was the Deadly Sins, transgressions that hurt your spiritual life and relationship with others. Pride was considered the chief sin (how like pride to top the list) followed by envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth (how like sloth to be last). While this list is one to be avoided, it is yet so much easier to name than the seven Heavenly Virtues. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

(Faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence. Points if you could do this, I had to Google for what came after charity). While these lists are not found in the Bible they certainly are biblically based and commendable for their desire to see us grow in every good thing and to reject those things that will only stifle and suffocate us.

In James Conner’s engaging book on prayer and meditation Silent Fire he describes the deadly sins as baby sins. When a baby is hungry they do not care if you are busy, they will cry and be impatient and angry until you direct all your attention to them and feed them to their heart’s content. Afterwards, they love nothing better than a big belch, a long nap and the hopes of doing the same thing all over again. Though St. Augustine thought these actions made children ‘reprehensible” (Confessions p. 8) it only makes children what they are: children. Parents delight in the sounds of a happy baby and respond with love to the sounds of an unhappy baby. What makes the deadly sins baby sins however, is when the child grows into adulthood and does not leave childish ways behind. When we are grown but not mature we are destructive to ourselves and others.

Far from it being an impossible command it is a welcome invitation Jesus makes in the Gospel passage today. The word perfect is better translated mature or whole. ‘Grow up’ Jesus is saying and grow in to the mature, full, disciplined and gifted person that God created you to be.  Every day we grow older but we can miss the opportunity to grow up and grow in to the image of God. With God’s help, may it not be so for us.

Prayer:   Lord in whose image I am made, let me do all things today with grace and maturity, patience and wisdom. I will need your help.  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]

Tuesday September 22 2015

130801-dailydevovisuals-tues

Scripture: Matthew 5:27-37

Key verses: (27-28) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Reflection: What is sin? We might answer that question with a list of behaviors, things we do that we know are wrong. We might move deeper to include the sins of omission, things we know we should do but we don’t do. In today’s passage Jesus moves even deeper to include our thoughts, our motivations, and our inner life. Sin isn’t just about what we do or don’t do; it’s also about what we think and feel.

If that’s the case, then this teaching from Jesus teaches us that we are all sinners. We are all in need of forgiveness and grace. We are all called to follow Jesus, not because we are worthy but because he is gracious and he includes us.

Today’s key verses are about adultery and lust. Our culture has begun to teach that sexual behavior is purely about physical pleasure and is a morally neutral act between consenting adults. Promiscuous behavior is rampant in the movies and on television. Pornography is an addiction that has trapped many people and destroyed many relationships.

Our faith teaches that sexual behavior is God’s gift to humanity as a life-affirming part of monogamous covenantal relationships. We are grateful for the gift of sexual desire and we seek God’s will for our sexual actions and our sexual thoughts and motivations. It’s not just what we do.  It’s also what we think and we feel.

Prayer: Heavenly Creator, you made me in your image.Thank you for the gift of my body and for bodily pleasures. Teach me to honor you with my body and to seek your will for my bodily pleasure. Through Christ 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].