Friday Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

Prayer: Praise to the Lord for this new day because He is almighty yet His compassion is great. In the name of Jesus, praise to you, O God.

 Compassion

 …his compassion is over all that he has made.

 Do signs of healing really mean the first signs of civilization?  Can you not have helping others without compassion?  I think there are some reasons for helping others which may not include compassion, or civilization…selfishness…greed?

 Our devotion writer tells us that in ancient times civilization did not begin until people stared caring for and about others.  The evidence is in evidence of healing of broken bones in discovered skeletons.  Before healing, people with broken bones were left to die.  There was no compassion, therefore no civilization.

 

But truly we have many examples and even within our own memories of God’s compassion for us and for our world.  Sometimes we may not see it directly when we are in pain, but in His Word we see and feel great compassion.

 Our devotion writer explains; “Compassion is more than a feeling; it is all we do for others in need in response to God’s deep love and compassion for us.  Compassion is all others do for us when we find ourselves in need.”

 Prayer: “Help be to express your love through compassion, O Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  

Psalm 145:8-21

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lord is gracious and merciful,     slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all,     and his compassion is over all that he has made.

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.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,     and gracious in all his deeds. 14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,     and raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you,     and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand,     satisfying the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is just in all his ways,     and kind in all his doings. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,     to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him;     he also hears their cry, and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him,     but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,     and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.

 

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Thursday Isaiah 55:1-5

Prayer: Speak to my soul, Gracious God, through your Word. Grant me wisdom and faith to do your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

See, you shall call nations that you do not know…

 The war in the middle-east rages still.  It is as if the Devil is trying to turn the world against the Jews and the Christians in an effort to fight against God’s covenant.  Christians and Jews are persecuted around the world today and yet we read these words from Isaiah.

 We are called to “Abundant Life.” All, the poor the destitute and even the rich are called to buy without price the milk and wine of the kingdom of God.  Israel calls to all the nations of the world and those who do not know will run to God’s people.

 Our devotion writer tells us; “What is exciting about these verses is that God’s people will be witnesses to this love to all nations.”  God’s people are called to share this abundant life that God promises us and it doesn’t cost money, but it does cost us giving  up our own folly in favor of God’s wisdom.  All the nations of the World will want our love and our abundant life.

 Our devotion writer tells us about how Arabs and Jews living in Palestine have privately reconciled in God’s love and compassion.  They have done this through Christ.  He goes on to ask us “How are we being called to invite all nations and all peoples to worship God?”

This is a good question that the people of this world are looking for an answer.  Do we have the answer for them?

 Prayer: “Healing God, bless us and lead us to welcome all people in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

  

Isaiah 55:1-5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 Ho, everyone who thirsts,     come to the waters; and you that have no money,     come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk     without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,     and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,     and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me;     listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant,     my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples,     a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know,     and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,     for he has glorified you.

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Wednesday Deuteronomy 26:1-15

Prayer: O God, your Word is truth.  It is food for my soul and teaches me how to serve you better.   Show me more truths today, in Christ’s name. Amen.

 Moses speaks

 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you,

 Moses tells the people of Israel that once they have come to the promised land they must return God’s grace and help by tithing.  It is their way of thanking God for His generous protection and deliverance from slavery in Egypt.  After the trials of wandering in the wilderness, they learned from God that He would keep His promises and He delivered lessons on how to live as His people.

 Today we still tithe to thank God for this deliverance that we have inherited as God’s adopted children.  We give a minimum of 10% to the church and worthy ministries.  Our devotion writer explains; “When we give to our church or to other places where people in need are helped, we are thanking God for this journey to the promised land.  We are giving thanks for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Prayer: “Generous God, guide me to see that what I have is from you, and help me to offer my tithe in thanks, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

  

Deuteronomy 26:1-15

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

First Fruits and Tithes

26 When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

12 When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year (which is the year of the tithe), giving it to the Levites, the aliens, the orphans, and the widows, so that they may eat their fill within your towns, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: “I have removed the sacred portion from the house, and I have given it to the Levites, the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows, in accordance with your entire commandment that you commanded me; I have neither transgressed nor forgotten any of your commandments: 14 I have not eaten of it while in mourning; I have not removed any of it while I was unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God, doing just as you commanded me. 15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey.”

 

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Tuesday Philippians 4:10-15

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us the wisdom and the eyes to see then needs around us so we can share your joy  with others. Amen.

 Rejoice in the Lord

 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.

 When you receive a gift, don’t you feel obligated to give a gift in return.  At Christmas, especially someone you did not plan on gives you a gift and you are not prepared to give one back.  Awkward? Yes?  Embarrassed perhaps?  Well God has given us many gifts and does every day.  What do we give in return?

 Our devotion writer explains; “Paul has a different approach.  When we acknowledge that all we have is a gift from God, our obligation is not to give a gift to God in return.  Instead, Paul teaches that when we receive a gift from God, we are to give a gift to a person who is in need.”

 When we give the poor and the homeless a prepared meal through our Souper Sundays ministry we can thank God that we have the means to help those in need.  We do not expect a gift in return from these whom we have served.  But every now and then, we may receive a heartwarming thank you and a blessing in return from an ‘angel’ in our midst.  Or inspiration from a story of one who has now been restored to society and independence. (These are but more gifts from God.)

 In many other ways through our ministries we reach out to others.  Much of what we give monetarily, we do not see the results.  Yet from what we receive from God, we give in service to Him.  We need remember that giving money to the church is not the only giving we can do.  There is our time and our talents as well.  When we give of our time and talents, there are more opportunities to see the results of our giving.

 Prayer: “God of endless love, thank you for all your gifts to us. Guide us and make us bold to serve others, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  

Philippians 4:10-15

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Acknowledgment of the Philippians’ Gift

10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

15 You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone.

 

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Monday Proverbs 10:1-5

Prayer: Almighty God, your wisdom is so great! Share with us more wisdom so we can teach others through Jesus Christ. Amen.

 Proverbs

 A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother’s grief. (v. 1)

 Today’s text reflects King Solomon’s wisdom. As you may recall from Wednesday’s devotion, Solomon asked God for wisdom in order to better serve as King.  God was pleased by his request and gave Solomon great wisdom and skills of management.  Today’s text is attributed directly to King Solomon and contain good words to ponder and consider their truths. In Proverbs 1:7, our devotion writer points out that says; “the fear of the Lord’ is the beginning of such wisdom.”

 Once we have fear of the Lord, we have started down the path that leads to more wisdom from God.  Of course as one reads Proverbs the reality of the applicability to today’s world is amazing.  Wisdom, overload! Thousands of saying that have meaning and in many cases may seem like common sense, but we sometimes do not follow in practice. Like in keep our mouths shut when we want to say something that results in putting down others.  Not wise!

 Our devotion writer explains the difference between gladness of the father and grief for the mother.  In a traditions family, the display of grief by the mother is greater than that of the father, and we have all heard of a father’s pride as he boasts to others of his son’s successes.  Fathers often being more boastful than mothers.

 Still in today’s context a wise child would be something for parents to have pride and is a blessing.  Our devotion writer claims; “God gave Solomon wisdom to perceive the intricacies of life’s situations.  Each of us can benefit from listening to what he says about wise living.”

 Prayer: “Good and loving God, bless me with wisdom, so that I might live in your good ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  

Proverbs 10:1-5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Wise Sayings of Solomon

10 The proverbs of Solomon.

A wise child makes a glad father,     but a foolish child is a mother’s grief. Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,     but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,     but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty,     but the hand of the diligent makes rich. A child who gathers in summer is prudent,     but a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame.

 

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Sunday Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Prayer: Fortify our faith and make us better stewards, O Lord, through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

 Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

 51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”

 I’m glad the disciples answered yes.  I learn new things, it seems, every time I read these parables. Today is no exception. 

 Our devotion writer explains; “Matthew includes many parables that Jesus used to teach about the kingdom of heaven.  Some, like the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, tell how God’s kingdom is like something very small that grows into something wonderfully great.  Others describe the kingdom as something valuable that is hidden, and the one who finds it gives up everything to obtain it.”

 Our devotion writer asks us how we see the kingdom of God?  Is it a beautiful forested valley in the mountains? A city on a hill with streets paved with gold with angels with harps singing hymns?  We see it in different ways, but no one knows what is like.  Jesus in His parables and teachings is trying to make it clear that whatever it is, it is something valuable that we need.  It is something that is small but surrounds us.  We as little people are marked with the cross from baptism for eternity to be part of a huge number of Saints who God has promised memberships.

 We should not forget that each parable has meaning for each of us and help us understand the many facets of the kingdom of heaven and what it takes to get there and also that not everyone will get there.  This is why it is so important that we share our joy with others and that in order to share we have to accept Jesus’ free grace, in favor of all the false rewards of this world.  What is our true treasure? Our possessions in this world or our ticket to heaven?

 Prayer: “Gracious God, sustain us in this life with the promise that we will dwell with you forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  

Matthew 13:31-52

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

——————————————–

Three Parables

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Treasures New and Old

51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

 

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Saturday Romans 8:26-39

Prayer: Embolden us through your Word, O God, increase our faith and faithfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Love of God in Christ Jesus

 If God is for us, who is against us? (v. 31)

 As I read today’s text the following stood out:

 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

 Many in this world are faced with adversity, persecutions, illness, poverty, homelessness.  Those who love God have work to do “according to God’s purpose.”  We have gifts and talents to be used at appropriate times to further the Kingdom of God.  Paul teaches that there is no way we will lose in the long run because God is with us.  He gives us what we need to live and to serve as He pleases.  Furthermore, God knows our needs and hears the prayers of the Spirit who intercedes for us even when we don’t know what to pray.

 Our devotion writer relates a personal story about how he lost his job and became self-employed. Since he was self-employed, he had flexible hours; he was able to study theology at the seminary. In doing this he strengthened his faith and learned how better to follow Jesus.  So God used the employment situation to increase his skills and talents.

 Our devotion writer writes; “Each one of us suffers at some time, and we know well that all sad and difficult things do not turn out for the better in this life.  People are killed by accidents; people die of cancer; people are abused.   Paul’s words speak to us, proclaiming that our only hope is God’s promise that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

 Prayer: “Merciful God, fill me with the hope of your promise that my life as your child will never end, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

 

Romans 8:26-39

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;     we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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