I was trying to decorate something by hanging stuff from the crosspieces of the drop ceiling. It had to be light in weight because those slim pieces of metal don't hold much. I decided what to hang but then had to figure out how to hang it. I remembered someone bending a large paperclip into a shape that would be two hooks: one to hang on the ceiling and one to hold the decoration. It worked beautifully and the decorations were amazing! Do we ever have to change ourselves into something that is more useful for God? Do we need to try different tasks to become more beautiful in our faith?
Gracious and loving Lord, thank you for making me the person I am, but also for making me into someone else. Help me to be flexible in my faith to be able to become the person you are guiding me to be. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, Amen.
Church should not always be comfortable. If you are feeling to comfortable with your faith you are probably not asking the right questions. Challenge yourself to ask the deep questions that you would normally ignore. Challenge yourself to define what you truly believe in and your values and most importantly plan out how you can go about living your life differently in the future. If you have not had recent religious revival try to do something differently in your life to make that big change.
Recently, I followed the birth of three peregrine
falcons in downtown Baltimore via a virtual webcam. After several weeks the
birds developed feathers and mature wings. It was amazing to see them practice
flapping their wings, jump in the air, and attempt short flights. At last, the
young birds were ready to take flight, leave their nest, and rely on their own
By mid-summer our thoughts begin to prepare for the coming of fall. Young adults return or start college, children anticipate new teachers and new classrooms, families move to new homes, companies offer new jobs, committees invite new members and make long range plans, and the list goes on. Like the baby falcons, we are getting ready to take flight. As we approach the coming of fall and new beginnings, rely on the strength of our Lord to provide our wings.
Hear these words from Isaiah 40:31;
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
New International Version (NIV)
Saying we are sorry can be a painful, even embarrassing, experience. We have to admit that we were wrong. Sometimes, we are admitting something about ourselves that we wish were not true. Sometimes, we are admitting that we were deliberately hurtful. It helps that we must all apologize at some time or other. We are all human. It helps us who are believers because we know that admitting we are wrong is the first step toward becoming better and making that wrong as right as we can. As painful as it is, apologizing is a step toward becoming the person God created us to be.
Gracious and merciful God, we know that you are a loving and forgiving Lord. Please forgive us when we are wrong, whether accidentally or on purpose. Please help us to be better persons, to be who you want us to be. In Jesus' name, Amen.
A longtime friend of our son died recently. He was barely out of his teens, and we are still in disbelief about his passing. In our struggle to find God in our sorrow, we have found peace in the following simple prayer offered at his funeral. We would like to share these words of truth and hope with you.
Let us come together in Christ’s peace
To mourn because we are human,
To rejoice because we are Christian,
To thank God the Father for the gift of life,
To celebrate the power of Jesus’ Resurrection and
To sing our alleluias of hope because we are
People of God in life and in death.
I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world. John 16:33. Common English Bible.
Each day finds me making a "to do" list for the day. I have 24 hours in a day to accomplish what I think needs to get done. I mark off the completed tasks. Some of the items on my list get done and some get moved to the next day. Is God on my list?
Is the first thing on my list to ask God to guide me for the day? The Lord says that each day I will be guided along the best path and advised and watched over. Why would I not want God on my list. Not to be checked off as a task, but there as a permanent "to do."
Lord, help me to always have you first on my list. Guide me each day and show me the path you want me to take.
The Lord says "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." Psalm 33:8
About ten years ago, so the story goes, a newspaper announced that there was to be a contest to come up with a slogan to be put on a sign that would go on top of a designated mountain in the western United States. This particular mountain had been assigned as the place where the United States government was going to store all the nuclear waste produced in the United States – provided they could figure out a way to get it there.
The sign also had to say, very clearly – to anybody who might show up in, say, the next 10,000 years – “Don’t dig here.” This is a perfectly reasonable thing to want to put on the sign; the problem is that, given the rate at which languages evolve over time, in what language do we say this?
You might well reasonably be asking right now, “What in the world does nuclear waste have to do with a devotional?” Nothing, really. For our purposes, what matters here is the sign with its three-word command: Don’t dig here.
Many of us are very private individuals who keep most, if not all, things inside, whether good, bad, or indifferent. If anyone asks how we’re doing, we’ll respond with something along the lines of “I’m okay,” even when it’s obvious that we’re not. After that, most people correctly interpret that message to mean, “I’m not okay, but I don’t want to talk about it.”
In other words, “Don’t dig here.”
Most of us don’t want others to “dig here” because we’re afraid of what they might see, and that they’ll be so disgusted by what they find that they’ll just walk away and never come back.
And it’s not just other people to whom we do that. We do that to God as well. Many biblical characters, when called upon by God to do something, had an excuse for not doing so. Moses wasn’t a good speaker; Jeremiah was too young; Jonah didn’t want to preach to the heathens; and so on. They didn’t want their hidden talents dug up, and used by, God. Maybe they were afraid of failure; maybe they were afraid of success. We don’t know.
Whatever the excuse, though, eventually they did what they were called to do. Moses set his people free; Jeremiah preached an unpopular message before the exile; Jonah did go to Nineveh – reluctantly. Perhaps someday we too will shed our reluctance and yield to the call of God.
Who knows? We might even end up liking what we’ve been called to do.
PRAYER: Lord, you have called us to do great things for You, but we are so reluctant and stubborn. Please keep at it until we relent and say “Yes” to You and Your Kingdom. Amen.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 12:21 PM
Some people are amazing. The depth of their knowledge or the clarity of their insight can be awesome. I am humbled by the prayers that are offered on this site, by the conversations I am privileged to have with these kind of people in my life, by the books I have read. I can feel as though I am missing out on a good bit of life, moving through my day without these perceptions of the world around me. When I read the Bible I can learn about these kind of people, but I can also read about people who are more like me: quite ordinary. They are part of the story of God and God's people because they were willing to follow God as best they could. The power and the wisdom they showed came from God's Spirit.
Holy Lord, I thank you for the people in my life who teach me how to be better than I am. I thank you for your Spirit living in me and stretching my abilities and knowledge. Please grant me wisdom and compassion so that I may be the awesome person you created me to be. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I saw some flowers recently that were so beautiful. I had never seen any like them before and asked what they were. Someone said that they are weeds that grow in areas that are grown up from previously plowed fields. Weeds! They were gorgeous. God is amazing to put such beauty in a weed.
"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you- you of little faith!"
- Luke 12: 27-28
Gracious and almighty God, you put so much attention into even the smallest detail of your creation. Your will is perfect so that all things may be beautiful and whole. How sorrowful that creation could not be as you created it to be. Please help us to be gentle with all you have made, including one another. Thank you for the loving care with which you created us and for the way you continue to care for us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Starting something new is exciting! It can be a little intimidating, too. I feel a bit fluttery in the pit of my stomach when I go somewhere I have never been or try something new. It is always easier for me if I can do it with a friend.
Thank you, Lord, for always being with me. Thank you for walking with me into new experiences. Help me to remember that nothing is really new for you! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Have you ever seen those jugglers who start with a ball or two, then add a couple more, then add a knife, then add a chainsaw or something in flames? They are amazingly skilled. Once, I saw a juggler who had an assistant keep adding more and more bowling pins as he tossed them higher and higher until he actually dropped them all.
I can feel like that juggler sometimes! If someone adds one more thing to what I am doing, I will lose it all. Have you ever felt that way?
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30
While traveling in my car over the Fourth of July weekend, I was listening to a radio station that was honoring our men and women in the Armed Services. The station was broadcasting a number of interviews with those who had so bravely fought for our country. I was very interested in hearing them speak of their experiences because I admire these men and women tremendously. Many of the people interviewed had been in combat and had survived serious injuries. They talked about the fear they had experienced during combat and also when they returned home. For some, their injuries had changed their lives. I noticed that many talked about praying and asking family and friends to pray for them. They talked about how prayers had helped them when they were afraid or discouraged. It had given them strength to persevere when they were afraid.We all experience fear at times in our lives, although usually not to the extent that these men and women in combat experience it. We can avoid letting our fears consume our thoughts by replacing those thoughts of fear with prayers and scripture.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
The vacation I recently enjoyed was relatively technology free. We had no landline, limited cell reception, no internet unless we traveled, and only used the laptop for simple document writing and watching a couple DVDs we had with us. I think the vacation was enjoyable for those reasons. We had a radio for news and weather, but were otherwise disconnected. What cell reception we had, we used to keep in touch with family. It was mostly rainy, so we felt cozy and cut off.
Thank you, Lord, for the times of pause and refreshment. Thank you for setting the example for us of taking time away to rest and to connect with you better. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I was on vacation last week at the beach. Tuesday evening we heard that a "deadly lightning" storm was headed our way. The word "deadly" as an adjective for lightning in a weather forecast was foreign to me. As it was getting darker outside, we went out on the deck and saw clouds coming from the northwest. We have never been at the beach when such low, dark clouds were rolling in, and they were coming in fast. The forecast recommended to seek shelter and stay away from the windows because the wind was expected to break off tree limbs and signs and they could fly through the windows. The children were nervous, the adults were nervous, too. We sat in the middle of the house, together, and watched the storm. The lightning was bright and the thunder was close. The children didn't have to count long between the lightning strikes and thunder to see how far away it was.
Life can have the same type of drama. We sense the clouds dark and low upon us and we wonder if we will get through it safely. Someone will turn the tables and strike unexpectedly. So how do we get through the storms of life? I guess the same way we get through the "deadly lightning" storms we can see. We stay together with God and know that he is counting with us between the lightning strikes and the thunder.
Lord, please hold my hand when the expected and the unexpected negative dramas of life are turbulent. Help me to steer around the storms, and when I can't, help me to get through them safely. Amen.
In the spring, I felt the need to get away. The past year had been a difficult one with decisions I didn’t want to make but had to: with frustrations caused by plans altered by the weather; with disappointments and changes to life that grieved me. So I took a three day journey that took me along a scenic highway half up a mountainside. From that elevated road I could look down at the river meandering below, and across the valley to the mountain that descended to the river from the other side of the valley. The mountain was decked out in the fresh, promising light green of spring foliage. It was a calming and pleasant sight. Yet even as I soaked it in, it occurred to me that beneath that foliage and mountain grandeur there was life in struggle---animals foraging for food and other animals watchful lest they become that food; young life struggling to survive the helpless days of dependency on their parents; even illness that meant that some of that wild life may not see the warm and less brutal days of summer.
But even as I pondered those thoughts, the peace of the larger view struck me as a symbol of the peace of God. It is bigger and more permanent than the limited challenges to life’s safety, survival, and security.
Then it hit me---I’d thought I was “getting away” on this trip. I was really getting back to a realistic perspective. Life gets chaotic sometimes, but the peace of God and of God’s presence is always bigger and more reassuring than the chaos. That Sunday, the part of the service of worship that filled me with a “yes” was the benediction when the minister said, “The peace of the Lord fill your hearts and lives.”
Whatever threats and storms you face just now, remember the presence of a loving and redeeming God whose mercy is greater than we can take in and who is ever directed toward our good. Breathe that prayer and experience a peace that passes understanding.
Trusting God's Promises
Someone recently called to talk with me about his concerns over an upcoming serious surgery. His impending procedure felt ominous and slightly overwhelming. Though he was assured that all would be well and that he was in good hands, he did not feel very confident at the moment.
Difficult news often comes to us unexpectedly. Most of the time we go along managing to keep such thoughts out of our minds as much as possible. So when we receive a tough diagnosis, even though we have strong faith, it can throw us off balance for a while.
One response is to find ourselves confronted with the reality of our own mortality. We are reminded that nothing in life is guaranteed and that one day, we will eventually die. Though no one knows when, we know that we are not going to live on in this body forever. We are reminded that we are vulnerable, not finally in control of our lives, and limited in what we can and cannot do.
We also realize that we are dependent on One who is greater than we are. For while life does not hold a guarantee, nothing is bigger than God. God’s promises are sure and dependable. Difficult news can motivate us to dig deeper into our faith by recalling God’s promises. Here are some of those promises:
1. We are never alone. No matter where we go or what happens to us around us or in us, God is with us. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”
2. Faith is trust in what we do not see yet know to be true. God’s grace through faith is sure. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
3. Love is the truest truth about the reality of God. Through it all, all comes down to love. Let yourself be held in love. “Love is greater than fear.” “Love never fails.”
God is closer to us than we are to each other - even than we are to ourselves. God knows everything about us, knows our needs, and desires the best for us. So place your hope in God - your help and your strength. And may you find that the depths of God’s love, help, and comfort go deeper than you even imagined.