Tuesday Revelation 21:15-22

Prayer: O God, you are our hope and our salvation and we seek your council through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

A message of hope

22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

I have recently been watching a lecture series on the history and archaeology of Israel. Ever since King Solomon there has been a Temple in Jerusalem.  It had been built and rebuilt a few times since Solomon. It now has been over 2000 years since the temple was destroyed by the Romans.  Just as Jesus foretold the temple was taken down.  What’s worse is the Muslims now have the Dome of the Rock built upon the temple mount.

According to modern day prophets one of the signs of the end times was the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem. But modern Judaism does not seem bent upon rebuilding the temple as they once were and in today’s text we see that even in the New Jerusalem of heaven there is no temple, because then, just as now, the temple is the Lord God and Jesus. So I am not expecting the rebuilding of the temple anymore.

Recently we may have heard sermons that emphasize that the church is not a building, but the members…the people. The same is true of the Jewish Synagogues; they were not buildings, but the gathering of people.  There was only one Temple.  According to the lectures, Synagogues built like churches did not exist prior to Christ, but only were built after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and a temple to honor Zeus built in its place. The Jews met in houses or large meeting places to hear the Law and teachers of the Law.

I find the lecture series really enlightening for me and my misconceptions.  It also explains through archeology and historic writings how we misunderstand when we apply our society to Biblical times.

Our devotion writer writes; “The vision of New Jerusalem points out something amazing—there is no temple. Worship of God in the beauty of this great holiness will be in the new light of the Lamb of God, and unveiling of what here on earth is still mystery. There, Eternal Love revealed as light and Life will end mortal darkness and death. John’s message? Fear not! Keep the faith!

Prayer: “Holy God, source of all light and life, help me to worship you alone, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Revelation 21:15-22

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

15 The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

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Monday Isaiah 30:18-21

Prayer: O God, inspire us, the people of your church, through your Word to do wonderful things in your name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Philip and James, Apostles

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;

Yesterday was the day in the church calendar when we honor the memory of Philip and James. Our devotion writer calls them “two ordinary men called by our Lord to become his apostles, and sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God to the world.”  By God’s grace they did wonderful things and became the basis or foundation stones of the church all with the help of God and the Holy Spirit.

Today is the remembrance of Athanasius.  He was and Egyptian “who became a champion of the church, saving it from a dangerous heresy. He successfully argued before the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. that Jesus, the Son of God, was co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.” Thus the adoption of the Nicene Creed which we occasionally use in worship.

We like Philip and James and Athanasius, are ordinary people. We too are disciples of Jesus and called to service in His name. Our service may not seem extraordinary, or wondrous to us, but to others and in concert with others wonderful things will happen with the help of God’s Spirit. As our devotion writer puts it; “…. ordinary humans who trusted in God’s graciousness, not their own abilities.”

Prayer: “Patient God, thank you for waiting for me to trust you implicitly, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Isaiah 30:18-21

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 God’s Promise to Zion

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;     therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice;     blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. 20 Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

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Sunday John 14:23-29

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you give us direction and peace through your Word, thank you. Amen.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

The world can be a scary place, even as we sit in church. A world at peace would be nice. As our devotion writer suggests, we can follow the paths offered by the world through Money, Power, or Fame, but we’ve heard about these paths. They really don’t buy us world peace. In fact, I don’t believe these will ever provide any lasting peace in the world. Not with the ruler of the world running around creating chaos.

Jesus’ words today offer us peace, His peace. We don’t need to experience anxiety because of the world chaos. Our devotion writer explains; “Today we hear Jesus’ words, offering us genuine deep, and enduring peace. He offers this as a free gift, courtesy of the Holy Spirit. No striving, no stressing, no strings! …This gracious gift of peace also reveals the giver, the risen Christ who reigns as the Prince of Peace. This perfect peace from Christ is ours to share with the world. Let’s pass it on!”

When we are at peace within ourselves, we are free to focus on the purpose of our existence.  The world of chaos does not distract us and it is easier to hear the direction of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God.

Prayer: “Prince of Peace, fill me with your deep peace today, and help me to share it with others. Amen.”

 

John 14:23-29

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

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Saturday Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, understand the meaning of your Word, in Christ. Amen.

Heaven: here and hereafter

they will see his face… (v. 22:4)

Today’s devotion is difficult to comment about.  Our devotion writer’s words are spoken from experience and from the heart.  I don’t like to attend funerals, especially ever since my Dad’s. I don’t remember much about them, I felt uncomfortable and out of place.

Our devotion writer has attended many funerals and “honored the lives of the saints and celebrated victory over death.”

Our devotion writer explains; “The test for today often has been read to bring comfort and assurance to the bereaved on such occasions. I read this text as also speaking a word about the lives of the faithful in the present time, as well as in eternal time.  The writer, referred to as John, is inviting those who are afflicted, hungry, oppressed, or doubting to experience God’s kingdom in the present time and space. I have seen the face of God in present time when sitting at the bedside of a hospice patient; others have witnessed the tabernacle of God in the present space of a homeless shelter. Scores have watered the tree of life in food pantries, and countless women and men have seen the light of God in the midst of hopelessness and despair.”

“Indeed, the kingdom of God is at hand, in our midst and in our time, and our names are written in Christ’s book of life.”

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, refresh me by the water and bread of eternal life, beginning this very hour. Amen.”

 

Revelation 21:10

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

Revelation 22:1-5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ev

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Friday Psalm 67

Prayer: O God, let us sing you praises and share your name with all; teach us through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessed to be a blessing

May God continue to bless us;

Sometimes our lives may seem inane and lackluster.  We go through our days trying simply to use common sense and live according to what we have learned from our parents, the Scriptures, and church. Most of the time, to us it is boring and not very notable.  Then when we leave, or even retire as the devotion writer’s friend, all of a sudden there are many people who attest to the appreciation, respect, and influence you have had on them.  It is a moving experience yet it is simply that God has blessed you to be a blessing.

So we should not wait until we move or retire to know that we are blessed and we are blessing to others. Since God has called us to service and we serve to the best of our ability, we are blessed and a blessing.

Our devotion writer explains; “it all starts with God’s blessing—marvelous and manifold, continuous and contagious.  Once blessed, we can’t contain ourselves, and we simply must pass it along. There is clear direction, too, to share the blessing widely, wisely, and justly, so that abundance will beget abundance. Thus does God bless us; thus does the Lord’s face shine on us.”

Prayer: “Inspire me, God, to share my abundance faithfully, generously, and joyfully, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Psalm 67

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 Psalm 67

 The Nations Called to Praise God

 To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

 May God be gracious to us and bless us     and make his face to shine upon us,Selah that your way may be known upon earth,     your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God;     let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,     for you judge the peoples with equity     and guide the nations upon earth.Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God;     let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;     God, our God, has blessed us. May God continue to bless us;     let all the ends of the earth revere him.

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Thursday Acts 16:9-18

Prayer: Help us see the needs around us through your Word, O God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hospitality squared

The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly… (v. 14)

Sometimes it takes us getting into uncomfortable places or situations in order to advance the Gospel.  Paul and Silas were sent by God to Philippi.  It was not a pleasant place and there were no friends. They were later put in jail.  There was not even a Jewish Synagogue.  But they met a woman of influence and standing, Lydia, who invited them to her home and she and her whole household became believers and were baptized. This way God created a new church in a new community.

Our devotion writer explains; “Jesus calls us to attend to situations that may be uncomfortable or even hostile. He calls us to be his voice and his hands, and he promises us the hospitality of his presence. We may need to deal with family conflict, political unrest, or a crisis in the faith community. But we can go without delay, knowing that God’s hand leads us and the Spirit accompanies us.”

Prayer: “God, send your Spirit to accompany me when I face an uncomfortable task. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Acts 16:9-18

 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

The Conversion of Lydia

11 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very

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Wednesday Leviticus 19:9-18

Prayer: Teach us, Gracious Father, through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Holiness and neighborliness

I am the Lord your God. (v. 10)

God has given us guidance for living and how to treat others.  Our devotion writer reminds us that it is easy to get along and be nice with people who look like us, who talk like us, believe like we do, and even vote as we do.  The hard part is treating strangers and people who look and dress differently with that same love and respect.

The issue I have with this is that we don’t know how to act around strangers or especially foreigners.  If we treat them the same as we treat our friends and family, we might offend them. We certainly don’t want to do that.  So we have to adopt some common courtesy.

However, our devotion writer goes on to say; “God instructs us to be ‘holy’ toward our neighbor, whether that person is poor or rich, or has a handicap, or is at odds with us.”  At the end of each of today’s text instructions God reminds us of His authority.  It is clear “I am the Lord your God.”

Our devotion writer teaches us; “The first lesson that comes ringing through to me is that faith and holiness are inseparable.  If I don’t walk my faith in the inclement climates of my neighborhood, I am a hypocrite. The second lesson is that God stands with me in the quest, when I stumble and when I rise up.”

Prayer: “God, help me to be holy in my neighborhood. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Leviticus 19:9-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.

11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12 And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.

13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14 You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

 

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