Thursday Psalm 123

Prayer: Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God, for the gift of your Word.  Do you have a message for me today? Amen.

The right source

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us

I used to be pretty independent.  My parents taught me to be self-sufficient.  I didn’t like asking for help because it meant weakness.  I still don’t like it, but physically I can’t do everything I used to.  So I have to ask for help.

Our devotion writer tells us that we all need help.  We can’t be an island to ourselves, but we try sometimes and that is not always the best way.  Sometimes we really need help and we go find a person we think should be able to help us.  A Plummer, or a mechanic, a specialist, or maybe a psychologist; it is important to find the right one.

What about mercy?  Our devotion writer writes; “If it’s mercy that we need, we might not be terribly successful if we ask for that mercy from the IRS or our mortgage holder. No, for mercy it’s best to go right to the source. ‘The source of all mercy and consolation,’ a phrase based upon 2 Corinthians 1:3, is used often at funerals.  It is also true outside the context of funerals.  God is the source of mercy.  When we need mercy, forgiveness, and comfort, let us seek it from God.  We will not be disappointed.”

Prayer: “God, be gracious and merciful to us according to your mercy and for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Psalm 123

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 123

Supplication for Mercy

A Song of Ascents.

To you I lift up my eyes,     O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants     look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid     to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God,     until he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,     for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill     of the scorn of those who are at ease,     of the contempt of the proud.

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Wednesday Ezekiel 2:1-5

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

On your feet

He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. (v. 1)

When in the presence of royalty or greatness we have a tendency to bow, or fall on our knees.  Especially if we were, like Ezekiel, called before God because God has something important for you to learn; certainly then we would likely not be able to stand.

We can tell by our text today that God was serious.  He had a message for Israel and Ezekiel was called before God to listen.  Our devotion writer emphasizes that God told Ezekiel to stand on his feet and face God as God spoke to him. “God says Stand up on you feet, and I will speak with you.” It was as if God wanted to look Ezekiel in the eyes, face-to-face.  Why did God do this?

Our devotion writer explains; “This is not about how special or important Ezekiel is.  It is about how much God loves humankind.  God wants to put us on our feet, to lift us up, and to help us stand up straight.  What amazing love it is that God does not say; Kneel before me! Instead, God says: Stand up so I can speak with you!

Prayer: “God, help us to know the joy of standing in your presence, through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.”

Ezekiel 2:1-5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Vision of the Scroll

2 He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

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Tuesday Jeremiah 16:1-13

Prayer: Merciful and Almighty God, we praise you for your mercy and for the Word that sustains us, in Christ. Amen.

Warning: danger ahead!

10 And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us?

When there is a tornado alert, people scramble for cover, storm shelters, and community shelters.  In some areas of our country there are dedicated warning systems, sirens and such that warn of approaching danger.  We have seen the aftermath of storms, tornados and hurricanes where life has been disrupted and property destroyed.  New beginnings come in the morning after the storm.

Jeremiah’s words are given to the Israelites because God was displeased with their rebellious actions.  God was furious with them idolatry and the turning to worship other gods.  Jeremiah warns that there is danger ahead if they do not change.

We are also hearing warning signs for the actions of our own country today.  It seems we are nation which is turning away from our God and there are voices of prophecy warning us.  Is there danger ahead?  Is God sending messengers to warn us, or the world?

God is s the creator who warns and judges and is also the one who saves.  There is hope in Jeremiahs message.  Those who have wandered away are called to return.  Our devotion writer declares; “The Lord warns in order to save.  The Lord warns to that all may return to God’s open and welcoming embrace and know grace, mercy, peace and abundant life.”

Prayer: “God, alert us when we wander away, and lead us back to your sheltering arms, through Christ. Amen.”

Jeremiah 16:1-13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jeremiah’s Celibacy and Message

16 The word of the Lord came to me: You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bear them and the fathers who beget them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried; they shall become like dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall become food for the birds of the air and for the wild animals of the earth.

For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament, or bemoan them; for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the Lord, my steadfast love and mercy. Both great and small shall die in this land; they shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them; there shall be no gashing, no shaving of the head for them. No one shall break bread for the mourner, to offer comfort for the dead; nor shall anyone give them the cup of consolation to drink for their fathers or their mothers. You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to banish from this place, in your days and before your eyes, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

10 And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?” 11 then you shall say to them: It is because your ancestors have forsaken me, says the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law; 12 and because you have behaved worse than your ancestors, for here you are, every one of you, following your stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me. 13 Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.

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Monday John 21:15-19

Prayer: O God, make me a better servant through your Word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Peter and Paul, Apostles

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (v. 15)

Today the church remembers Peter and Paul.  How they served Jesus and share His gospel.  Each had a different path, but both preached the good news.  Our devotion writer writes; “Their stories are ones of faith, brokenness, forgiveness, redemption, and blessing.  Each in his own way told the story of god, who speaks life into being, brings order from chaos, works deliverance from oppressions, and gives salvation and new life because of Christ.”

Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loved Him.  Just as many times as Peter had denied Jesus during Jesus’ trial.  Peter painfully aware was defensive and irritated that Jesus would have to ask three times and give the same command; “Feed my sheep!”  If Jesus were here with you today asking if you truly love Him and saying that if you do, then you need to feed and tend to His sheep.  How do you do that?  How do we feed Jesus’ sheep?

Our devotion writer asks; “How might we feed Jesus’ lambs today in our time and place?  How might we speak a word of God’s love? Perhaps through helping out with vacation Bible school or volunteering in a food pantry.  Maybe through listening to the cares and concerns of a friend or befriending someone who is lonely….”  We can add on our own lists of things we know we could do. (if we only had the time.)

And about the time remember from Saturday:

“the one who had much did not have too much, And the one who had little did not have too little.”

The story of the gospel goes through each and all of us and by God’s grace, the kingdom of God is growing even while we think about it.  Let us do our part.

Prayer: “Inspiring God, help me to tell the story of your love and grace today, through Christ. Amen.”

John 21:15-19

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

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Sunday Mark 5:21-43

Prayer: Jesus, teach me through your Word. Amen.

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

What kind of faith did it take for the woman in the crowd to think that Jesus would heal her if only she could touch Jesus?  Jesus tells her that her faith has made her well and for her to go in peace, she was healed.  Are we not amazed?

In today’s text we see two of Jesus’ miracles.  He also brings the dead young girl to life. Again Jesus restores life, but does not want the crowd to witness it, but only the immediate family and His most trusted disciples. He says; “do not fear, only believe.”

Have we not had people in our lives who have died after a long illness?  Was our faith not enough?  Did we fear too much?  Did we not believe enough?   It is important to note that we know of no other healings Jesus did on this day, but we can assume that there were others who died or were not cured.  We don’t know, but we learn from today’s text that Jesus is present and has the power over illness and death.

Our devotion writer tells us about his sister who is a cancer survivor.  She was healed and she held fast to her faith through the ordeals of the illness and the cure. “She life this trust and shared it with others around her, shining light in the threatening darkness.” Do we not know survivors like her?

Today’s message shows us God’s power over death and sickness.  These two, the woman and the child had nothing left to lose and in their desperation, Jesus acts. “Each is touched by God’s loving and healing presence, given new life and the opportunity to live a life overflowing with grace, joy and hope.”

Prayer: “Loving God, be near to me when I call on you, and meet me in my place of need, through Christ. Amen.”

Mark 5:21-43

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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Saturday 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Prayer: Fill me with your Spirit, O God; lead me by your Word, in Christ. Amen.

Empty or overflowing

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ

Is the glass half full or half empty?  We see needs and we have requests for our time and talents.  Like the Corinthians, Paul asks us to be generous with our time and talents and gifts, but some of us think that we don’t have the time or the talent to share.  In some cases we see far too much need for our resources, so we turn away.

But Paul and our devotion writer remind us that God has given us time and talents enough to share.  If we are generous, God will make sure that we have enough, not just enough but a bountiful amount.  We might ask; how much is enough?   God says:

“the one who had much did not have too much,

And the one who had little did not have too little.”

This applies not only to ourselves, but to our church and community.  There are missions and ministries all around what stops us from sharing from our “much” to giving to those who need?

Prayer: “God, open our hands and hearts to provide for others as you provide for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written,

“The one who had much did not have too much,     and the one who had little did not have too little.”

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Friday Psalm 30

Prayer:  Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God, for you teach us well, in Christ. Amen.

The dance of life

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;

God does not want us to be in mourning or in pain.  The psalmist remembers to praise God for delivering him from suffering and even death.  God wants us to be happy and joyful, yet so often people don’t turn to God unless there is trouble.  It is easy to forget about God when things are good and we can pat ourselves on the back for our own good favor.  When things are going well is the time for sharing our joy with God.  Of course, I am sure all who are reading this know this.

Our devotion writer writes; “Psalm 30 is a prayer of thanksgiving for healing and recovery from a life-threatening illness.  With the psalmist’s suffering came feelings of abandonment, isolation, even death.  God responded with healing, and the psalmist recovered to rejoin the community. The Lord saved the suffering one from the things that prevent living life as God intends.  Mourning turns to dancing…”

So if our friends are suffering from illness or loss we can be assured that they are feeling just a little lost and separate from us.  Isn’t this the time for us to call upon them in the spirit of God’s love and healing?  Isn’t it time for us to bring a little joy and compassion and dancing as God heals them?

Prayer: “Compassionate God, tough us and make us well, through Christ our healer. Amen.”

Psalm 30

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 30

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Grave Illness

A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,     and did not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,     and you have healed me. O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,     restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,     and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment;     his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night,     but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,     “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord,     you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face;     I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,     and to the Lord I made supplication: “What profit is there in my death,     if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you?     Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!     O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;     you have taken off my sackcloth     and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.     O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

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