Tuesday Psalm 51:1-17

Prayer: Almighty God, your Word lights our path through life, thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Confessions and consequences

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I can sympathize with our devotion writer as she explained how she dreaded confessing to her parents that she had been caught drinking at a high school basketball game. She knew she had broken the rules and she knew there would be consequences.  As she delayed telling them her burdens of guilt and shame and anxiety grew.

Well, I didn’t drink in high school, but that was not the only rule one could break.  I know of what our devotion writer speaks. “My subsequent punishment was nothing like the burden of guilt that I carried before I confessed.”  It seems her mom already knew all about it.  Isn’t that the way it seems in our relationship with God? We know we have sinned and broken the rules, yet the burden of guilt we can carry can be crushing.  Confession is good for the soul.

By not confessing, we are not hiding the truth from God. He already knows about it, yet we still think that we can hide it, ignore it, and so we carry the burden.  Our devotion writer explains; “God already knows all our sins! God is waiting for us to ‘come clean.’ When we humbly confess and repent before God, we receive only loving consequences: God’s cleansing forgiveness, which frees us from our guilt and shame.”

Prayer: “God of mercy, please forgive me and cleanse me of all of my sins, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

 

Psalm 51:1-17

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 51

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,     according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy     blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,     and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,     and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned,     and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence     and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty,     a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;     therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;     wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness;     let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins,     and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,     and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence,     and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,     and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,     and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,     O God of my salvation,     and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,     and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;     if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;     a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

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Monday Jonah 3:1-10

Prayer: Gracious God, let your Word guide my actions, in Christ. Amen.

God’s messengers

The word of the Lord came to Jonah… (v. 1)

Jonah doesn’t actually say how God’s word came to him. Was it a vision, a dream, or did it come from a friend or priest? We like to assume that it came from God as a voice from a burning bush, or a cloud.   Consider the source of our devotion writer’s friend, whose words gave her encouragement after the disappointment of not being chosen for a job. Instead of sympathy, her friend said “wonderful!”  An expression which moved her thinking to one of new possibilities and new blessings after the disappointment.

We know the story of Jonah…Jonah was God’s messenger to Nineveh.  Jonah was not excited about God’s calling.  He ran away, and God would not let him quit. And then after giving God’s message of destruction to the citizens of Nineveh, he was mad at God for changing his mind and making Jonah look foolish.

But Nineveh repented of its sins and God saved them from destruction. God used Jonah to speak to them.  Jonah was God’s messenger and like Jonah, we could be messengers to others.  God uses others to be messengers to us…friends, pastors, people we meet.  They help us find blessings or words of wisdom, or directions.  Thank God for the messengers who come with God’s Word for us.

Prayer: “Thank you, God, for your messengers who guide me, especially your Son, Jesus. Amen.”

 

Jonah 3

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Conversion of Nineveh

3 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

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Sunday Matthew 17:1-9

Prayer: O God, let you Word inspire us to do great things and little things that help share your love and mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Transfiguration of our Lord

…” listen to him!”

After witnessing God, Elijah, Moses and Jesus and hearing the voice of God tell them “listen to him!” the disciples are awestruck and nearly blinded by the light.  When the meeting had ended, Jesus told them to not be afraid. (a phrase that some say is repeated in one form or another over 365 times in the Bible.)  Yet do we listen?

Our devotion writer declares; “When we listen to everything Jesus had to say and continues to say, we can fully understand that there is never a reason to fear. Jesus’ life, love, and words can lead us to complete peace and trust in God, who loves us more than we can comprehend.”

How do we hear Jesus today? Reading the gospels. Through prayer, devotions and meditations. Through teachings by pastors. Through angels we encounter when we don’t expect it. Through faithful friends.  I’m sure we can think of other ways, but as our devotion writer puts it; “When we are listening attentively, we can hear Jesus say to us, ‘get up and do not be afraid.’”

Prayer: “Holy God, thank you for your Son, Jesus. Help us to always listen to him. Amen.”

 

Matthew 17:1-9

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

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Saturday 2 Peter 1:16-21

Prayer: O God, let us be your hands and feet as we share the good news from your Word, in Christ. Amen.

The majesty of our moments

16 …we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Today our devotion writer has an excellent suggestion for expanding one’s daily talk with God. Each morning she spends an hour our journaling. With coffee cup in hand, she writes hopes, plans and insights for the day. She finishes by asking God, “What would you have me know today?”  As time has gone on, she notices how God inspires, guides, and answers prayer.  Often her day shows the “coincidental” answers to morning reflections and questions.

Our devotion writer explains further; “We are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. I usually feel inadequate to share my faith with others; evangelism seems intimidating. Yet I find I can easily tell about those holy moments when I witness God’s love for me, reflected and affirmed in my journal entries.”

We are all disciples of Jesus. If we look, we can see the wonders of His majesty in our own lives and share them with others.  We can see and tell of the wonders of God’s love. This is evangelism.

Prayer: “Help me, O God, to notice and to proclaim your majestic work in my life, through Christ. Amen.”

 

2 Peter 1:16-21

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Glory

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

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Friday Psalm 2

Prayer: Gracious God, let your Word teach us through today’s reading. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Deserving derision, receiving refuge

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.

It is important for us to remember that we are not in control. No matter how hard we try, we can’t obstruct God’s will. We can turn our hearts away from Him, but His will, will win out.

When nations and their leaders set themselves above God, He will laugh. “Why to the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? (v. 1).  Our devotion writer says; “We are not pleasing God when we believe we are in charge or important, perhaps even at the expense of others; when our greed and self-centeredness take advantage of those less fortunate; when we do not work for justice and quality of life for all and not just ourselves.”

Yet, happy are all who take refuge in him. (v. 11) He will always love us, even when we do not live up to His expectations.  Our devotion writer declares; “This verse also gives us a reason to be challenged, to work to help every person find refuge in the shelter, provision, and care of God’s love, freely shared by all.”

Prayer: “God, our refuge, help us to share our resources and your love with everyone, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

 

Psalm 2

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed

Why do the nations conspire,     and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,     and the rulers take counsel together,     against the Lord and his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds asunder,     and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;     the Lord has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath,     and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son;     today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,     and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron,     and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;     be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear,     with trembling 12 kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;     for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

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Thursday Exodus 24:12-18

Prayer: O God, guide my steps and my service through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Watching and waiting

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there.

And Moses obeyed and climbed the mountain…and waited.  Six days he waited in surrounded by a cloud.  Then God called him to come higher on the mountain in more fog for forty days and forty nights. Our devotion writer asks; “Do you think Moses wondered if he had heard God’s instructions correctly?

Great question…How often do you wonder if you have taken the correct fork in the road?  Sometimes after an inspired event where you think you have heard God’s direction and made a decision to pursue a goal; and then after a while things don’t seem so clear.  Maybe you didn’t hear God’s calling correctly.  So, we stop and wait, unsure of what to do next.

Our devotion writer suggests that we are sometimes given opportunities to go forward and sometimes told to wait patiently. Things seem unclear to us, but in these foggy moments which may last days or even years, we must keep listening.  We need to remember this is God’s plan and God’s timing. We are living in God’s time.

Prayer: “Ever-present God, help me to abide in you as I keep watch for my next calling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Exodus 24:12-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”

15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

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Wednesday Exodus 6:2-9

Prayer: Teach me, O God, through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reassurance

I will take you as my people, and I will be your God.

Hope! What have you got if you don’t have any hope? Where there is reassurance there can be hope.  Moses was picked by God to lead God’s people from slavery to the promised land.  God promised, reassured, given covenants, and provided leaders and many promises to give His people hope.

You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession.

When our devotion writer experienced serious illness, she treasured all the words of hope and encouragement she received from her doctors.  Help was there. Healing would be possible.  And so Moses was encouraged by God. He needed the faith and the hope so he could inform the people that their future was secure.

Our devotion writer explains; “God’s reassurances and promises gave Moses hope and strength for the journey. God’s words are still true for us today. Whatever troubles we are facing, God has already heard and remembers. God will deliver us and free us from our burdens. We are taken and loved as God’s people, all the way to the promised land. We can face our trials with hope and even joy.”

Prayer: “God, your promises and your great love reassure us. Thanks you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Exodus 6:2-9

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

God also spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord’ I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’” Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.

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