Stephentown Federated Church

 

Devotions by Bonnie & Music by Bev


March 31



Good morning Everyone,
I do want to remind you that if you no longer want to receive the devotions and music just let me know and I can remove you from the list. It’s not a problem. The music for today is the well known hymn Amazing Grace. Enjoy!
God bless
Bev


Amazing Grace



Morning friends. As we continue our journey together, so many on social media are beginning to talk about those things we might have previously taken advantage of in our lives. Now in this distancing we are appreciating more of the ordinary things of our life that we can no longer enjoy, for this season. This mornings devotion speaks to that with the book of Hebrews as our guide.

Ordinary things; High Value (Hebrews 10: 19-25)

“Long after his father died a son discovered a cigar box tucked away in his parents’ attic. In it he found an odd assortment of coins totaling about $12.00. “Not much”’, he thought. “These coins surely would never have carried my dad through very many rainy days.” He was about to spend them when he decided to check their value with a coin collector. To his amazement he learned that their value came to more than $100,000!

We all undervalue the things in our lives that seem so common and ordinary. Then one day we stop and consider carefully their value.

Baptism: In most cases we never even asked for it, yet we were given eternal life in that moment.

Sunday church School” Week after week we stored up treasures of Bible Stories.

Confirmation: A time when we affirmed for ourselves the gift we received in baptism.

Worship: the privilege of living in a land where no one stops us on our way to church and tells us to go home.

The Lord’s Supper: An oasis in the desert, a place to linger to be renewed in the faith.

Bible Study: Whether alone or in a group, a time to enrich our lives from the richest treasure chest in the World.

One of the dangers of living in a land where there is little or no persecution for being a Christian is that we get lethargic, seldom stopping to count the treasures we easily overlook in the attics of our lives.

The author of Hebrews is heart-broken over the way the believers have fallen away from the faith, taking for granted all the good things God has done for us. Stop today for a moment and ask yourself: “Do I realize the value of all God has given me?”

A Poem by Mary Oliver

“Every day I see or I hear something that more of less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle

In the haystack of light. It is what I was born for- to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy; and acclamation.

Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant-but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these – the un-trimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?”

Of wondrous God of the ordinary, the journey of Your Son our Savior who walked through the ordinary in his ministry among us, open our hearts to better enjoy those ordinary blessings in our daily life we pray. Amen.

Blessings, bonnie

 

March 30



Good morning, Today’s music is There is a Redeemer. Looking forward to going outside on this sunny day while we have some sun. Enjoy your day.
God bless
Bev


There is a Redeemer



This morning I’m starting with our Scripture from “The Message.” “The Message,” is an interpretation (The Scripture in contemporary language) written by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 5: 1-5

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with him, ;make us fit for him -we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hope we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.”

As we read this devotion it certainly mirrors Paul’s words to the Romans.

“God’s Love Poured In”

“The story is told of a man walking along a seaside bay in England. How astounded he was to see the tragic mess of ships lying helter-skelter against each other in the mud. Pondering how they could be rescued, he imagine hoists and cranes brought in to lift them upright. But while he stood there thinking of solutions, the tide began rolling in. Soon there was wild splashing of water against boats. Mud was being washed off. And then the miracle. As the tide filled the basin, first one ship straightened up and then another. And another. Until every one of the ships stood clean and tall. All so stately as they glistened in the sun.

Some days our lives are like those twisted ships in disarray. We’re not letting God pour love into our hearts. Like when one, with a full pitcher of water, tries pouring water into a container with a tightly-closed lid.

Let us open our hearts and listen carefully to hear God’s promise from Romans 5. And savor our baptismal gift. We have been justified by faith. We have been given peace with God. We even have access to the glory of God. Furthermore, God’s love has been poured into our hearts, cleansing us like the tide washed clean the ships. These gifts are ours, given through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

That’s why today, and every day, we can rejoice and have no fear of whatever a day will bring. Even in times of suffering, because there’s good news. The tide of god’s love is Rollin in for you and me. And we like the ships can stand tall again.”

A Poem from Dana Faulds

“I rest in sacred presence, not seeking meaning or essence, just resting in
what is. The power of this stuns me – to rest awareness on the One is
like holding the sun in my bare hands. Instead of being burned I feel
a surge of energy.

Whenever I trace longing, love or prayer back to its first impulse, there
It is, inviting me to rest, filling me with wholeness and contentment
As if the sun has risen in my soul, and nothing else exits but this.”

May we all know the presence of Gods anointing presence and peace in this new day.” Amen

Blessings, bonnie

 

March 29



Rev Bob Lowenthal

Sunday Worship Service


 

March 28



Good morning everyone,
This morning I would like to share two pieces...Through it All and The Old Rugged Cross.
If anyone has a favorite they would like for tomorrow please let me know through morg104@aol.com. I am putting together a few pieces for Sunday reflection.
God Bless
Bev

Through it All and The Old Rugged Cross



In this time of distancing and spending more time with our families; we are hearing where some families are doing just fine, while others may be struggling with the change of being cooped up together. Yet others are homeless, while city and town officials are seeking safe places for them to stay. This morning’s devotion speaks to home and family and discerning how we offer “places of full acceptance.”

“A Place For Full Acceptance” John 12: 1-3

“John and Idell were exactly the kinds of folks a young pastor and his family needed. With no children of their own, they “adopted” us and our children as their family. On a Sunday evening when the pace of life had slowed aa bit, we would often drive to their place in the country, an idyllic farm nestled between small lakes and wooded hills. After John finished milking his half-dozen cows, we settled in easy chairs in the living room and enjoy Idell’s chocolate cake with a cup of coffee.

Here was a place where we didn’t need to be on guard. We could open our hearts. We shared stories from the previous week as well as the distant past. We laughed. It was safe to cry. We lingered at the door, wishing the evening had not passed so swiftly.

This is the kind of home I envision when I read the stories of those dear friends of Jesus- Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Were they well-educated? Did they have some wealth? Why weren’t any of them married? What did they do for a livelihood?

All those questions go unanswered because they aren’t really very important. What is important is that Jesus felt completely at ease in their home. Here he could “kick off his sandals” and be totally himself. He didn’t need to be careful about every word he spoke. Here he could share his fears, his frustrations, his dreams, his hopes.

This is a good time to remember with thanks the places where we feel at ease and to ask about our own home. Are they places where others can be at ease, where they can bare their souls, where they can find a word of encouragement to help them move through another week of life’s challenges?”

Dear friends I have visited with many of you in your homes and found them “places of full acceptance.” I thank God for those homes of hospitality and grace. I also see our church sanctuary as a “place of full acceptance.” As we continue through this difficult time, may we continue to strive to give words of encouragement to help others move through another week of life’s challenges. Praying others might find places where they too can share their fears, frustrations, dreams and hopes.

Home by Danna Faulds

You’ve sought it everywhere, but you’re already there.
Home-the flowing river of the heart.
Love holding you in close embrace.
It’s not a place, but a state of being,
grace received and offered back.
Home – the taste of truth and refuge.

Blessings, bonnie

 

March 27



Good morning,
Our music today is Near the Cross.
My prayers continue with all of you.
God bless
Bev


Near the Cross



This mornings devotion is about a doctor in Scripture, Luke. Yesterday morning I learned on the news of a bakery in Rochester NY that is selling special donuts. The donuts each feature sprinkles as well as the face of Dr. Fauci.) Dr. Fauci a leading infectious disease expert that we’ve seen a lot on the news. He is a person who seems to be wanting to present the facts and the truth to the public. So too does Luke, as we see in the first four verses of his gospel, especially verses 3-4: “Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you, to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught.”

Is there a Doctor in the House?
Luke 1: 1-4

“Yes, if you have a Bible in your home there’s always a doctor in the house. His name is Luke, the author of the third Gospel. Luke plays as huge a role in the early church as anyone other than Peter and Paul. In addition to the third Gospel that bears his name, he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Given all of the stories from the life of Jesus that appear only in Luke’s Gospel, and then the history of early Christianity in the Acts of the Apostles, it is impossible to underestimate Luke’s importance to all of Christian history.

Luke was almost certainly a Gentile. This is reflected in how he writes. His world is much broader than it would have been had he been born and raised in Palestine. Little wonder he and Paul were soul mates. Though Paul was a Jew, he too was born and raised outside Palestine. As a physician, Luke probably attended to some of Paul’s medical needs as they traveled together.

Much is made of the fact that Luke was a physician. But I wonder if he should not be honored more highly as a historian. In the opening verses of his Gospel he says that he was not an eyewitness of the events in the life of Jesus. But he has carefully documented them. Then comes what is most significant of all: Luke says he has written this account of the life of Jesus for his friend Theophilus “that you may know” (Luke 1:; 4). That’s the key – “that you may know.” Luke’s passion, plain and simple, is that others might know about Jesus.

Luke sets an example for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. “Doctor, Lawyer, merchant, chief” – whatever our work, wherever we live, we have but one calling – to let others know about Jesus.”

Certainly my friends we are seeing angels among us, the very hands and feet of Christ in the doctors, nurses, health care providers, truckers and well the list goes on. As we go through this time together may we let others know about Jesus through our words, our actions, our prayers and our reaching out to one another in any way we can. And even more so in the future.

A short Poem from Dana Faulds

Instructions

Hold the silence like a mother holds her child.
Hold your ground while all around you structures crumble into nothing.
Focus on the still point in your center until you are filled with light, until
Holy Spirit speaks to you in words you understand, until the love in your
heart grows so strong it must be shared.

Blessings, bonnie

 

March 26



Good morning on this sunny but chilly day,
Today’s music is Breathe on Me Breath of God. Just as an aside the aroma that flashes back to me are my mother’s multi colored sweet peas. In the summer she would have a small bouquet of them on the altar table in church on Sunday morning. They were so fragrant. Have a blessed day. Thanks Bonnie for the memories.
Bev

Breathe on Me Breath of God



Todays devotion is about Aroma. I learned yesterday that one of the signs of this corona-virus is a loss of the sense of smell. Sometimes we don’t celebrate the blessing of our five senses.

Aroma – 2 Corinthians 2; 14-17

“How can we describe a wonderful aroma except with a memory? Maybe it’s from the rose garden. Or perhaps from the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, connected to a memory of our mother’s loving hands. When you think of a wonderful aroma, what memory comes first to your mind? My memory is of freshly baked bread.

As children, the long afternoon since lunch plus walking home from school always made us hungry. Almost a mile we walked, first down a gravel road, then along the fence line of our neighbor’s field. Finally, we’d squeeze through the barbed wire fence and hike down the hill through our pasture, toward home. It was there, walking down that last hill on a spring afternoon when the windows of our house were open, that we could first smell the fresh bread. Just out of the oven, the bread’s aroma would always quicken our step. I can’t think of a better aroma. And with it the anticipation of home-churned butter on a thick warm slice of whole wheat bread in the presence of mother’s love. What an after school snack!

Scripture tells us that “God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2: 14-15) The “aroma of Christ!” Commissioned by God. Every day we meet someone who longs, even hungers to have some empty hole in their souls filled. Is it possible that we can be used as an aroma leading that someone hungry to receive God’s grace and love today? Only by the grace and working of God’s Holy Spirit can this happen. So let us ask boldly that today, we will be an aroma God can use to lead someone to eat and drink of God’s love until they are satisfied.”

Poem from Dana Faulds

Beloved, may your presence be so clear to me that I stop seeking.
I want to worship you in everything. I do – movement and stillness,
Speaking and listening, waking and sleeping all infused with you,
So life itself becomes unceasing prayer.

May truth lead me from confusion, and faith fill the space inside my
Heart so fear can’t gain a foothold. When life doesn’t unfold as I
Hoped, help me let go of my old ways of being so I can experience
the full force of your reality.

May I learn to love as you love, see as you see, breathe as you
Breathe, or at least not turn away from today’s difficulties.”

Gracious God may we use our senses to be the aroma of Your love, grace, compassion and joy to one another. Continue to bless us so that we might boldly be an aroma that You can use to bless others. Amen

Blessings, bonnie

 

March 25



Today’s music is "Pass it On." Hope you enjoy it.
Bev


Pass it On



In this time of quarantine I see your faces in my minds eye, shining in my heart. Many in our congregation are hunters; sounds like a strange place to start our morning devotion. Yet it speaks to us as a congregation of brothers and sisters in Christ, where all of us are needed, even in this time of separation.

“All Are Needed”

In late October I used to hunt my way across South Dakota with a group of five friends. We were three bishops, two pastors and a psychiatrist. After a few years of this comradeship we learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Some could cook; others could not boil water. Some were sharpshooters; others could scarcely hit “the broad side of a barn.” We would begin by hunting pheasants in the eastern part of the state, then geese on the Missouri River, then more pheasants in the foothills of the Black Hills, and finally deer in the higher elevations.

Some could tromp the fields and hills tirelessly; others would have to “post,” waiting for friends to drive game in their direction. Some could skin out a deer in a few minutes; others needed help. At the end of the hunt all the game was divided equally among the hunters.

There was one gift we shared in common – we were brothers in Christ. As much as we enjoyed the hunt, far more important was that we simply enjoyed being together as sons of a common Father.


This is what a pastor sees as she or he looks out over the congregation on a Sunday morning. No two out there are alike. Each brings to the church unique gifts. There sits one who is a good cook;; here one who can fix anything; there one who is naturally outgoing; here one who is quietly reflective; there one who leads, here one who follows; there one with an earned doctorate, here one with little formal education; there one with the voice of an angel, here one who can’t carry a tune. And the list goes on. Different gifts but a common Lord.



In that what Jesus had in mind when he chose his disciples? Bombastic Peter, pensive John, radical Simon, cautious Andrew, doubtful Thomas, confident James. Different disciples, but all needed.



1 Corinthians 12: 4-6



A Poem that speaks to me of our community of faith.



Sangha



“Teach me what I cannot learn alone. Let us share what we know, and what we cannot fathom. Speak to me of mysteries, and let us never lie to one another.



May our fierce and tender longing fuel the fire in our souls. When we stand side by side, let us dare to focus our desire on the truth. May we be reminders, each for the other, that the path of transformation passes through the flames.



To take one step is courageous; to stay on the path day after day, choosing the unknown, and facing yet another fear, that is nothing short of grace. “



May the grace of God embrace us, strengthening us, lifting us and comforting us. And may we be present one for the other day after day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen



Love, bonnie

 

March 24



Good morning,
What a beautiful spring day! I chose "Here I am, Lord" to go with Bonnie’s devotion. I know this is a favorite with many of you so I found the words for two verses. You will find them under the music.


Here I am, Lord




Have a blessed day.
Bev





Spring is here, crocuses are breaking through the ground, the cherry tree’s are blossoming in Washington DC, it is a season of blooming. Our devotion starts along the Sea of Galilee and the blooming of red lilies.

Anxiety or Serenity (Matthew 6: 25-34 Jesus teaches about worry)

On hillsides beside the Lake of Galilee, bright red lilies of the valley open their faces to the sun, happy for one glorious day to bloom. They do bloom only for a day, not caring that tomorrow, after drying up, they’d be harvested and thrown into an oven to make fire to bake bread. That in fact, was the custom in Jesus’ day when he used the lilies for an example.

Jesus want us to have such complete trust in God so that we, too, can bloom where we are planted, across the landscape of our lives. But knowing our human weakness, Jesus warns, “Do not worry about your life (Matt. 6:25). The word in Greek, merimnatay, ;means do not be anxious about your life today, distracted from duties of this day, drawn in different directions, annoyed in spirit so you cannot trust God, and having futile anxiety. This kind of worry not only robs one of good sleep, but also harms body, soul, and spirit. Actually, it can be disabling – an obstacle that prevents us from knowing and doing God’s will. And haven’t you experienced, as I have, that in looking back most of our worrying was unnecessary? We see now, how in past storms we’ve weathered, that God did intervene. And will continue to do so.

In the serenity prayer, we ask God to help us change the things we can, accept the things we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. May God give us grace to let go when we need to. And guidance to move ahead with confidence and boldness, always allowing God’s Spirit to both intercede and work on our behalf. “Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter5:7)

What a gift that the Holy Spirit gives us the miracle of faith and serenity the surety that God is acting, loving, caring, protecting, guiding, and giving new courage. God’s peace be with us.

One of my Favorite poems –The Message by Dana Faulds

Here I am, Lord, thirsting for your presence. I know this makes no sense.

It’s as if I stand next to a flowing spring and long for water, but I feel cut off.

I try to reach you, but there’s a wall, a veil, an abyss I fail to jump.

There’s distance.


“It’s not true,” you whisper.

“Here I am, as near to you as breath. I don’t hide or require you to jump hoops

To earn my love with acts of faith or desperation.

Here I am, residing in you desire to find me. Receive me, and I’m your again.”

Amen.

The Peace of Christ, bonnie

 

March 23



Morning friends. As we find new ways to “be still” in our time of distancing, these words based on Psalm 37: 1-9 seemed appropriate.


Be Still My Soul




Be Still

“Americans are known for being workaholics. A Minneapolis Star Tribune article that caught my attention some years ago stated, “The ancient ideal of leisure in a lost are in America… it is a disgrace to just do nothing.” Even vacation is paced with productivity. We manage it like work, indicating our importance. Our many gadgets keep us wired to work. The article continue, that for ancient Athenians, leisure meant “absence of the necessity of being occupied.” Can we even imagine leisure of this kind? Is it possible for us to relax fully? Know how to be still? Meditate and spend time in contemplation?

Scripture says, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (ps 37: 7). Not to fret. “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your hear” (v. 4)

If only for our physical heath and well-being, it would help to relax and be still. It would relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and renew us in body, mind and spirit. We need periodically to quiet mind, body, and spirit.

The psalmist shows us added benefits of being in God’s presence. Fretting can turn to trust in God’s presence. Then we can be opened to understand God’s will and find grace to commit our ways to the Lord, leading us to new trust that God will act for us.

Elijah was all stressed out in the Lord’s work. He had searched everywhere for answers. The Lord was not in the wind. Not in the earthquake.. And not in the fire. But “after the fire a still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). It was God’s answer and he had peace.

It is hard to be quiet in God’s presence. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to help us be still. To wait patiently. New joy and blessing comes in patient waiting. When we learn to be still. God has surprises waiting.”

Wondrous and gracious God as we find ourselves in quarantine, we are faced with quiet time. Many are out of their element, not being able to go to work, church, organizations or family gatherings. May we embrace this time to “be still,” waiting patiently to hear “your still, small voice.” May the words of “You are My Hiding Place,” be our prayer. “You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid I will trust in you. I will trust you. Let the weak say, “I am strong in the strength of the Lord.”

Blessings, bonnie


 

March 22



Good morning on this first Sunday in Spring, 
The music today is Love Divine All Loves Excelling. Hope you enjoy the beautiful sun today!
Our thoughts and prayers are with you. 
Being today is Sunday we have a part two which I will send in a bit. Rita Pickett a guest speaker we have had recently sent a reflection for us and I have prepared a true Music for a reflection that includes some hymns and praise songs. 
God bless
Bev



(in the last few days as we have seen and heard of so many people doing extraordinary things for their neighbors, as well as people they don’t know.  They have modeled perseverance for us. These words spoke to me.)

 

Perseverance (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

 

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is named after the nineteenth century author whose stores about overcoming adversity gripped our country;, writes Harvey Mackay.  The association gives over $10 million every year in scholarships to young folks experiencing adversity. One of their notable members is Oprah Winfrey, whose life experience taught her that, if you want to  succeed , you must overcome obstacles.  Another member, J. C. Penney said, “I would never have amounted to anything were it not for adversity. I was forced to come up the hard way.” Adversity, like a grindstone preparing us for sturdiness, happens also in nature. For example, a tree needs wind to become strong. It needs wind also for movement that drives sap up to its leaves for nourishment.  A beautiful pearl is formed in the mouth of a mollusk to seal off the irritation from a grain of sand. 

 

Our Scripture today encourages perseverance. It tells of the cloud of witnesses who are our cheerleaders in heaven encouraging us to carry on. Remembering those faithful ones now on the other side helps us in our faith journey. Reading stories of others who have done great things after persevering hardship is helpful as well. Looking to their example gives us hope that we, too, can endure adversity and come out strong to do  God’s work.

 

But most of all, we look “to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Heb. 12:2). And Jesus is even now at the right hand of God interceding for us.  With encouragement from Jesus and the cloud of witnesses cheering for us, there is surely strength enough to bravely persevere.”

 

Words from “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

 

Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heav’n, to earth come down!

Fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown. 

Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;

Visit us with thy salvation, enter ev’ry trembling heart.   

 

The Peace of Christ, bonnie


Love Divine All Loves Excelling

 

March 21



Good morning everyone, 

I am trying my hand at adding music today. If you look at the box after Bonnie’s devotion you will find a piece of music...Let There Be Peace On Earth.

Peace Be to each of you this day. 

Bev



Make Your Voice Sound Like Mine  (John 10:1-6)

 

After Harry’s accident, he was hospitalized. But this was a bad day because it was his son’s big game, and he couldn’t be there to cheer him on. So important for him as a father, and he never missed a game. Important for the son too. Having his dad there gave him confidence. It was a special father-son thing. In the midst of Harry’s discouragement, his brother walked in. After hearing him out, his brother said, “Harry, I’ll go there for you and yell like everything.” As his brother was leaving, Harry said, “Be sure you make your voice sound just like mine.”

 

What is there about a familiar voice? The door opens or the phone rings and it’s the voice of your loved one.  What happens to you? In a moment, the whole history of a close relationship comes together in hearing that voice. And it fills you with joy.

 

John uses the image of shepherd and sheep to picture Jesus’ relationship with us. When the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, they become responsive, alert, and excited. When he calls them by name, they come, eager to follow because they know his voice, which summons trust and goodness. They have reinforced memories of the shepherd’s protection and loving care. Hearing his voice is promise of more goodness. 

 

The word know is full of meaning – much more than understanding facts.  “They know his voice” O(John 10:4) indicates a relationship with one who also knows them. Like Jesus, who has revealed himself to us.  And there’s a history, like shepherd with sheep, of Jesus rescuing, protecting, healing wounds, leading to green pastures, always loving us.

 

Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold” (16). So with hearts full of thanks for Jesus as our shepherd, we are called to the sidelines today with Jesus saying, “Be sure you make your voice sound like mine.”

 

Gracious and wonderful God we humbly give thanks for our Shepherd, who rescues, protects, heals and lifts us up from brambles we fall into as His sheep.  Let us ever be mindful that we have the opportunity to sound lovingly like Him. Let us make that call to loved ones, widows, widowers, church friends in a voice that brings the very joy of the Lord into their hearing and hearts. Amen.


Let There Be Peace On Earth

 

March 20



This mornings devotion speaks to what we are all dealing with throughout the world.

 

Before You Call I will Answer

 

“It was a beautiful summer day filled with excitement. And Michael loved excitement. His best friend had invited him to go swimming. His mother was bringing a picnic lunch, and they would pick him up at 11am. But before that, he had an early game at the park.  He worried how everything would fit together because he didn’t want to miss a beat. Hoping it would work out, he was off happily for his first event of the day.

 

But there was a delay and he came rushing in the door just after the car pulled into the drive.   Breathless, he wondered where were his swim trunks.  And a towel.  Bursting into tears, he saw his mother come with everything he needed neatly folded in a swim bag. A quick smile and hug and he was out the door happy and thankful.

 

How many times are you and I like young Michael, rushing breathlessly to God in prayer, worried and anxious? Feeling there’s no way this difficult situation can work out. Desperate because we are not able of ourselves to change what seems impossible.  And then to stop and realize that like a good and loving mother, God has been quietly working behind the scene. Preparing everything. Working in ways we could not have imagined or even thought to ask.

 

In Isaiah, God’s people have despaired. But God assures them that even as he first created heaven and earth, God says even now, “I…create new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65: 17). Right now, if you’re trapped in a dilemma, God may be creating something new. Preparing the way. Answering, even before we ask. The promise is for us all, “Before they call, I will answer. I will go ahead and answer their prayers.” (v. 24)”

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ let us faithfully embrace God’s promise of answering our prayers.  May we be in prayer as we journey through this difficult time and our Lenten journey, knowing that our God answers prayer.

 

Gracious and wonderful God we are reminded of the words of a song – We Walk by Faith

 

We walk by faith, and not by sight; no gracious words we hear of him who spoke as none e’er spoke, but we  believe him near.

We may not touch his hands and side, ;nor follow where he trod, yet in his promise we rejoice, and cry, “My   Lord and God!”

Help then, O Lord, our unbelief, and may our faith abound, to call on you when you are near, and seek where you are found.

 

The Peace of Christ, bonnie.    

 

March 19



Four Gospels, One Story (Every Morning New – Herbert and Corinne Chilstrom)

“Why are there four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Don’t they all tell the same story? Could we not do well with just one of them?

The answer is both yes and no. Each gospel is complete. But those who have studied these books know that each author has his own unique way of telling the story of Jesus’ life and ministry. Though many of the accounts are the same, each gospel has stories that the other here do not include.

What is fascinating, however, is that when they come to the place where they relate the account of Jesus’ death the four gospels are very similar. Up to this point each gospel tends to focus on where Jesus was- his geographical location. Now all four concentrate on what he did.

In the earlier part of each gospel the time stretches over most of three years. Now all four concentrate on what happened in the course of a week, and much focuses on a single day. As one reads one can feel the intensity of what is happening to Jesus. Now the account is not just told, but told in such a way that the reader must pay close attention to what is unfolding. In Mark this intensity reaches its climax when Christ utters the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (15: 34)

These movements in the four gospels can be a guide for us during the season of Lent. Over the rest of the church year we look at the life of Christ from a broader perspective. We pay more attention to how we should live as followers of Christ. But with each step through Lent the intensity of our own journey increases. Now we find ourselves saying, “This is what is unique about Christianity. This is when we move to the center. This is the point of it all – that Christ died for us.”

Philippians 2: 5-11

In this time of volunteer distancing may we continue to celebrate this season of Lent, reading through the gospels as we can. Turning our hearts and minds to Christ’s gift of salvation, grace, healing, and joy.

Gracious God we give You thanks and praise for the gift of Your Son Jesus Christ. May we continue our Lenten journey with Jesus to the cross and more to the Upper Room. “Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Receive the Holy Spirit.” May we know that our Jesus stands among us and calls us to receive the presence of His Holy Spirit within us. Amen.

The Peace of Christ, bonnie



 

March 18



Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I’m thinking of our body of Christ and our distancing one from another.  We will miss one another, yet we honor the guidelines we’ve been given to keep one another safe.  I will try each morning to send a note of encouragement that in some way, might bring the light of Christ into our lives.

 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4.6-7

 

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. God will not fail you or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31.6

 

May we trust in a new and deeper way the words of the Psalmist, found in Psalm 46: "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 . . . The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

 

“The Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”  Let us lean full into Christs waiting arms of help, strength and ever loving arms. Praise God

 

The Peace of Christ, bonnie