Sunday Matthew 4:12-23

Prayer: O God, teach us about service to you through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Third Sunday after Epiphany

19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”

I used to enjoy fishing. Well, I still do, but don’t go very much. Our devotion writer doesn’t have good memories of fishing, like I do. For many years, every Mother’s Day weekend, my parents and some uncles and aunt and cousins would venture to this lake where the fishing was always good, even though sometimes the weather was not.

God called our devotion writer and his skill in fishing for fish was not required…fortunately.  But God calls us all in one way or another, to do His work.  There are many different ways to serve and to follow Jesus. Here is how our devotion writer sees them; “I look around my congregation and see the fast array of gifts that God is using—understanding numbers and money, teaching youth and children, praising in music and art, practicing hospitality and caregiving, serving those in need in our community, and lifelong learning, just to name a few.”

What gifts has God given you?  Maybe there are some you are not sure about?  How has Jesus called you? Are you listening?

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, you call me to follow you. Help me to drop my worries at your feet and go where you lead me. Amen.”

 

Matthew 4:12-23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,     on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people who sat in darkness     have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death     light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Prayer: O God, as your servants, we await your directions through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

One in Christ

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.

As you enter into worship this weekend; take a look around and see who you are worshipping with. There are age differences, difference in economic status, race, lifestyle and political affiliation. Yet they all there to worship the same God. In addition, all around the world people are gathering or have gathered for the same purpose.

Our devotion writer asks; “What is it that gathers us together, only to be sent out into the world again?” According to Paul, we are the body of Christ who have the same purpose in Christ, and the same mind.  We have the mind to love others as Christ has done and as He loves us, and to serve each other.  No, we don’t all act the same or think the same and yet we seek the same love of Christ which is in all of us.  So, we are different, but worship the same God.

Prayer: “Creator God, remind us that you made each one of us in your image—different, yet as one in your love, through Christ. Amen.”

 

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Divisions in the Church

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday Psalm 27:1, 4-9

Prayer: Praises be to you, O God, for your mercies and your gifts and your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Seek and find

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Peek-a-boo! What a great game with little children.  Even as babies they recognize faces and as they are learning, it seems to never get old for them and is loads of fun. Your face is special and very young babies can identify you by your face.

Our devotion writer explains; “The Lord created us to desire to see the faces of those we love. We are also created to seek out the face of God. Sometimes we see the face of God in other people. God sent Christ to us with a human face, to look upon us with love and compassion, even when we turn our own faces away. Our creator seeks us out, over and over again, calling us to drop the security blankets we cling to and recognize the face of God, who has been waiting for us all along.”

Prayer: “God our maker, forgive us when we turn away from those who bear your face to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Psalm 27

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 27

Triumphant Song of Confidence

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;     whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life;     of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me     to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes—     they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,     my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me,     yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,     that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord     all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord,     and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter     in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;     he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up     above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent     sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,     be gracious to me and answer me! “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”     Your face, Lord, do I seek.     Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,     you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,     O God of my salvation! 10 If my father and mother forsake me,     the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,     and lead me on a level path     because of my enemies. 12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,     for false witnesses have risen against me,     and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord     in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord;     be strong, and let your heart take courage;     wait for the Lord!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday Isaiah 9:1-14

Prayer: Let your Word lead us, O God, so we can share your Word with the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Light on the path

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

Walking in the dark can be dangerous and scary.  Before I got my cataracts removed, I didn’t realize how dark my vision had gotten. It was like wearing sunglasses at night.  Now sunshine is so bright that I am uncomfortable outside without sunglasses.

Walking in the dark is how many people still do today! They haven’t seen the “Light of the World.”  This light of the world that shows our way through the darkness, and takes away our burdens and gives us hope so we can be filled with joy and thanksgiving.

In today’s text, the prophet Isaiah tells of the coming of the Son of God. God is sending Him to lighten the way and show us the truth and the life He wants for us. He comes for all people and charges us with sharing this light with those still stumbling in the dark. We reach out with the hand of Jesus so Jesus can lift them out of darkness.

Prayer: “Lord of Light, do not leave my side. Guide my feet and illumine my path through this world. Amen.”

(Please also pray for those living with depression.)

 

Isaiah 9:1-14

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Righteous Reign of the Coming King

9  But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness     have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—     on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation,     you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you     as with joy at the harvest,     as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden,     and the bar across their shoulders,     the rod of their oppressor,     you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors     and all the garments rolled in blood     shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us,     a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;     and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually,     and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.     He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness     from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Judgment on Arrogance and Oppression

The Lord sent a word against Jacob,     and it fell on Israel; and all the people knew it—     Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—     but in pride and arrogance of heart they said: 10 “The bricks have fallen,     but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down,     but we will put cedars in their place.” 11 So the Lord raised adversaries against them,     and stirred up their enemies, 12 the Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west,     and they devoured Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away;     his hand is stretched out still.

13 The people did not turn to him who struck them,     or seek the Lord of hosts. 14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,     palm branch and reed in one day—

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday Acts 4:8-13

Prayer: O God, show us your ways through you Word, in Christ. Amen.

Confession of Peter

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.

It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can do, or should I say what we can do when the Spirit is moving us.  It happens often, but we may not see it happening to others because maybe we aren’t looking.  I think you have to believe in miracles to see one, but it nevertheless can be amazing when you see them.

Our devotion writer was moved to see God’s hand in her participation in a huge group of Christian youth who volunteered to help clean up a blighted neighborhood in Detroit. It was movement that moved a large number of local people to pitch in and help. It was an action that showed Detroit that Jesus cares and loves all people.

Our devotion writer writes; “Jesus could have chosen anyone to follow him—the rich, educated, of famous. Instead, Jesus chose thousands of youth to help a city in need.  He chose the likes of Peter and John, ordinary fishermen, to heal and preach in the name of Jesus. He chooses ordinary people, and in our baptism gives us the only credentials we will ever need: a spirit of boldness and a hearty measure of the Holy Spirit. That’s how others will know we are Jesus’ companions.”

Prayer: “Lord, give us your Spirit to accompany us, that we may follow you with boldness. Amen.”

 

Acts 4:8-13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;     it has become the cornerstone.’

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

Prayer: O God, help me live as you would direct me through your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Heart vision

…for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Saul, as Israel’s first king, was a disaster. Samuel was sent then to find and anoint a new king from Jesse’s family.   Jesse had several sons, but as each one passed before Samuel, God rejected. Samuel was becoming nervous because he was risking life by leaving his home and venturing to Bethlehem where Jesse lived. Finally, David, the youngest was the one God selected.  Kinda like a Cinderella story.  The crown of God fit David.

We know that David was not perfect, but David had a good heart. (Well, he was human!) David committed some grievous sins, but repented and begged God to forgive him.  The point, though; is that God does not often choose people like we would. We look for those who are best, tallest, smartest, strongest, the greatest. Not God, time after time he selects the youngest, or the lowly shepherd. Someone who would be the least likely in our eyes.  Even the poor teenage girl to be the mother of God’s only son. “The Messiah, the son of David.”

Our devotion writer proclaims; “God chooses you, in every lineup, every time. Not because you are perfect, but because you are perfectly loved.”

Prayer: “O God, allow me to see other people as you do, with eyes of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

David Anointed as King

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday 1 Samuel 9:27-10:8

Prayer: Speak to me, O God, through your Word, in Christ. Amen.

What do we want?

What shall I do about my son? (v. 2)

There was no plan for a king for Israel. God was going to lead His people…but no, the Israelites had to have a king, just like all their neighbors. Then look what happened. The kings were human.  They were sinners, selfish and rash and arrogant.

But here is Samuel anointing Israel’s first king. Saul. Saul was a good warrior/leader, but he was rash and arrogant. He did not rule with faith and justice. But having a king was important to God’s people, and it didn’t take long for Saul to disappoint.

So often we too think we have a better idea.  We know what we want so we leave God out of the discussion. God says he will take care of us, but we aren’t happy with manna because it is boring, or life in a promised land…we need to be able to travel and see the world. We want to be more like our neighbors.

Our devotion writer explains; “We, as God’s people, also think we know what’s best for us. We make our own plans, which often don’t end well. We follow the wrong kings and lose our way. But God dos not lose us or give up on us. As God did with Israel, God makes adjustments and leads us as our ideal king.”

Prayer: “King of love, when we are ungrateful for the gifts you provide, forgive us and care for us. In your son’s name we pray. Amen.”

 

1 Samuel 9:27-10:8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Samuel Anoints Saul

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.” 10 Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?’ Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment