Friday Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Prayer: O God, let your Word flow through us and your love show to all we meet. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Gifts from above

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

Martin Luther worried whether he was good enough for God. In fact, this was a constant fear for him.  Often I, too, feel that I am beneath God’s expectations.  Not an unusual feeling for many people I’m afraid. Our devotion writer explains; “His turning point came when he realized that God’s righteousness wasn’t something we need to measure up to: instead, righteousness is something God gives to us as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ.  Likewise, God’s wisdom and strength are qualities God wants to share with us. The Lord is a generous giver, not a distant judge.”

So what do I do if God will not judge me? Then I like to judge myself.  Not a wise thing to do! Put myself before God.  I have to remind myself that if God forgives me, then who am I to judge?

Today’s text is a prayer to God for the king’s blessing.  That the king will reflect God’s wisdom and justice. That he will reflect God’s peace.  In order to do this he must recognize that God’s righteousness and peace is a gift.  Faith is a gift.  We don’t have to earn it.  Our devotion writer claims; “Last month we elected a new president. Regardless of how you voted, our new president needs your prayers for God’s gifts of wisdom and righteousness. God is nonpartisan. The Creator’s gifts, like the sun and rain, are for all.”

Prayer: “O God, ruler of the nations, give justice and peace to all people on earth, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Psalm 72:1-19

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 72

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King

Of Solomon.

Give the king your justice, O God,     and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness,     and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,     and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,     give deliverance to the needy,     and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,     and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,     like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish     and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May he have dominion from sea to sea,     and from the River to the ends of the earth. May his foes bow down before him,     and his enemies lick the dust. 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles     render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba     bring gifts. 11 May all kings fall down before him,     all nations give him service.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call,     the poor and those who have no helper. 13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,     and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;     and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!     May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually,     and blessings invoked for him all day long. 16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;     may it wave on the tops of the mountains;     may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities     like the grass of the field. 17 May his name endure forever,     his fame continue as long as the sun. May all nations be blessed in him;     may they pronounce him happy.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,     who alone does wondrous things. 19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;     may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

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Thursday Isaiah 11:1-10

Prayer: Open our eyes and our minds, O God, through the guidance in your Word. In Christ. Amen.

A tree grows in Advent

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse… (v. 1)

Have you done your family tree? If so, you understand the many surprises of people you never have met and many you may never have heard of, which were your Great Aunts or Uncles.  Great, great, great, Grandparents, who lived back in the days of Lincoln and even George Washington and before.

Jesus also has a family tree.  In today’s text, we read from Isaiah that Jesus would be a descendent of King David.  Isiah foretold this many years before Jesus’ birth.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Our devotion writer participated in what was called the “Jesse Tree”.  This was a way to prepare for Christmas but studying old stories of Jesus’ family, God’s family and now our families.  Our devotion writer explains it as “…the tree is an expression of confident faith! Isaiah writes about the earliest beginnings of growth; we live in time of fulfillment. The shoot and the branch have become a tree, and his name is Jesus.”

Prayer: “Jesus, Son of David, thank you for making us part of your family tree. Help us to bear fruit.”

 

Isaiah 11:1-10

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Peaceful Kingdom

11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,     and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,     the spirit of wisdom and understanding,     the spirit of counsel and might,     the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,     or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,     and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,     and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,     and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,     the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together,     and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze,     their young shall lie down together;     and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,     and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy     on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord     as the waters cover the sea.

Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah

10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

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Wednesday Romans 10:10-18

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

Andrew, Apostle

14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?

Today the church calendar recognizes Andrew the Apostle. Our devotion writer reminds us that Andrew was the first disciple called by Jesus.  Andrew was the one who introduced Jesus to the child with the five loaves and two fish so the five thousand could be fed.  Andrew “was considered thoughtful, courageous, and creative.”

Today’s text is also about evangelism.  Do you know that there are still people around who do not believe that Jesus as their Savior? There are many who know Jesus’ name, but they don’t know what you and I see in Him.  There are many who have never read the Bible. How can that be in today’s world? Yet how are people to believe in someone they have never heard?

Evangelism is an important ministry of any church body.  Yet is one of the least active in most congregations I have seen.  Why?  Evangelism is sharing the gospel.  What Jesus commanded us to do…what the Apostles did.

Our devotion writer tells about a evangelism leader in a church who started a Bible Study. Since people from the congregation did not show up, he invited non-members, and people on the streets.  They were the unemployed and the homeless.  But they sat around a table and shared coffee, the Word of God, and the Good News of Jesus.  That is one example of evangelism.

Because of people like Andrew, the Word of God was passed from person to person, country to country…across boundaries and race and have fed thousands.

Prayer: “O Spirit, send us to invite others to hear the Word of Christ, our Savior and Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.”

 

Romans 10:10-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,     and their words to the ends of the world.”

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Tuesday Genesis 9:1-17

Prayer: Gracious God, lead us by your Word, in Christ. Amen.

God sustains life

16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

I didn’t know that some people think that when the Lord comes, He will destroy the earth, but our devotion writer says so.  I guess I think of Jesus coming as the end of the earth as we know it. But I prefer to think that the beauty of God’s creation will be preserved.  From today’s text, we are reminded that God caused a great flood and decided to start over with Noah and his family.

Our devotion writer explains; “but as I read the Scriptures and listen to God’s Word, I’ve come to realize that God has promised not to annihilate the world. Instead God promises to sustain and care for the earth and its creatures forever. Followers of Jesus Christ trust that God will complete and transform creation into a new heaven and a new earth.”

When I was very young, my mom told me about the sign of the rainbow.  I can remember how she told me about the great flood and Noah and that God created the beautiful rainbow to tell us that He made a new promise to Noah and would not destroy the world by flood again. Every time we see a rainbow we can remember that God promises to care for the earth and His promise of love and the hope of peace.

Prayer: “When the fire of hatred overwhelms me, O God, help me to see your promise of care, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Genesis 9:1-17

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Covenant with Noah

9 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.

Whoever sheds the blood of a human,     by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image     God made humankind.

And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

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Monday Genesis 8:1-19

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, into our hearts, and speak to us through your Word. Amen,

The mercy of God’s memory

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. (v. 1)

Our devotion writer reminds us that if we look beyond what we see outside our doors, we might come to understand that we are a really small piece of this universe. Even our planet Earth is small in comparison with the whole of the universe.  When I think about my place among all the universe, I also feel small and very insignificant indeed.  How can God remember me amongst all the others?

Like Noah, the animals of the Earth have come under our care.  Yet we often do not do a very good job.  As our devotion writer says we might easily threaten our own survival.  Do we wonder what Noah felt like after the flood waters started to recede? Does God really remember us?

Our devotion writer tells us; “If all we see are flood waters, we might keep wondering.  But God, who is gracious, does remember us and the wild and domestic animals. The Spirit blows, the clouds of despair disperse, and the sun of mercy shines through. The waters recede from the land. Finally, a dove brings us an olive branch.”

Prayer: “Creator of the earth and sky, remember us and all your creatures with mercy and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Genesis 8:1-19

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Flood Subsides

8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; 11 and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

13 In the six hundred first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

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Sunday Matthew 24:36-44

Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, we await your coming and praise your name. We look for your voice in the pages of your Word. Amen.

First Sunday of Advent

42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Are you ready? Are you keeping awake? Jesus is coming, but when? We do not know. Only God knows. Jesus tells us to be ready and to keep watch and to be prepared.

Our devotion writer relates a story which illustrates maybe not being so ready.  He leaves home in anger over a family argument to catch a bus to work.  It is raining.  At the bus stop and stranger tries to start a conversation.  He wants no part because his anger has him focused on his own depression.  When he finally gets on the bus he finds a seat, but the irritating man finds a seat across the aisle.  And the conversation continues.  Our devotion writer sighed and bowed his head. “In the breath of my sigh, the Spirit calmed and opened me to listen to the stranger.  Soon, his stories, kindness, and humor had me laughing…”

This world has a way of distracting us from keeping watch; so much so, that if we are not careful we will miss the Lord’s coming.  Because sometimes He meets us through the angels he sends to help us.  Our devotion writer writes; “Christians often talk about the Lord coming at the end of all space and time.  But we also speak of Christ coming at any time and in any place. ‘Keep awake, therefore!’”

Prayer: “O Lord, wake me up to see you coming into my life today, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Matthew 24:36-44

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Necessity for Watchfulness

36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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Saturday Romans 13:11-14

Prayer: O God, share your wisdom through your Word, and I will listen. In Christ. Amen.

Rise and Shine

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.

Tomorrow begins the new church year.  It is the first Sunday in Advent.  Today we hear Paul’s words that remind us to wake up and smell the coffee. Christ is coming again, sooner than we may think.  Our salvation is one more day closer to Christ’s return.  It is time for us to live our lives in accordance with Jesus’ values, not this worlds values.

There is urgency in Paul’s words. There are still people, some we may know, who are lost and who do not know Jesus. Our devotion writer declares; “Every day is another opportunity for us to wake form sin and rise to God’s glory. By your baptism into Christ, this day—Saturday, November 26, 2016—and this moment of your devotional time are a critical turning point. Remember your baptism into Christ.  Splash some water on yourself or a loved one. Receive and share God’s forgiveness and release. Then get dressed for the new day by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and letting God’s glory shine in all you do.”

Words to follow!

Prayer: “Thank you Jesus, for waking me this new day and clothing me with your light and salvation. Amen.”

 

Romans 13:11-14

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

An Urgent Appeal

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

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