Scripture: Psalm 119:71
It is good for me that I was humbled, so that I might learn your statutes.
Thought for the Day: 19th century theologian and author, Horace Bushnell, wrote:
Habits are to the soul
what the veins and arteries are to the blood,
the courses in which it moves.
The Hebrew word for ‘learn’ is lamad which means to instruct or train someone. Often we train ourselves by practicing over and over again a certain behavior, allowing it to become second nature. The first step in this process, according to the Psalmist, is to humble ourselves before the one instructing us. There needs to be both a trust and willingness if the new behavior is going to make itself into the one receiving the instruction. Over time, these habits of the soul will become the means by which our highest values are shared. If they are not habit, the inconsistency will become an even more powerful teacher…but not for the good.
Prayer: Allow your Spirit to instruct me in your ways, O Lord, and be patient as it may take some time for it to stick. Amen.
BIG CHILI COOK OFF
Scripture: Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble.
Thought for the Day: I like how the Message translates the above verse: The stuck-up fall flat on their faces, but down-to-earth people stand firm. Prideful, stuck-up, arrogant, pompous – all words that describe those who tend to see themselves above others, too good to associate with certain groups of people or those of a specific economic or social status. Though instead of pointing a finger toward the haughtiness of others, it is always good to look inward and ask these questions: Do I puff myself up? Do I unknowingly do things that present an aura of arrogance? I must confess my appreciation of the Buddha, whose words always bring me down a peg or two. He said, “After enlightenment, the laundry.” We can feel pretty good about ourselves, the accomplishments we have achieved or our superior knowledge. Yet in those moments, it is good to be reminded of our common humanity. I had a coach who, after a big victory, had us celebrate by cleaning the toilets in the men’s locker room. He didn’t want us getting too cocky, and it worked.
Prayer: Lord, I know it’s ok to have a good sense of self-worth. It is good to claim that I am loved by you, but never allow any accomplishment to puff me up beyond the point of seeing the rare beauty in everyone else. Amen.
Don’t Miss The Big
This Sunday at Noon
Sunday’s Sermon: Luke 14:27-35
“Let No One Lowball the Cost of Discipleship”
Scripture: Matthew 13:31-32
Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
To View Video
Scripture: Psalm 145:12
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.
Thought for the Day: I got the hiccups this morning…and when I say I got the hiccups, I got them and they got me. It has been a long time since I got me a set that stuck. I’ve heard stories of people who had the hiccups for days, weeks, months and even years. I cannot imagine. I was beyond irritated by my rather violent synchronous diaphragmatic flutters (medical term for the hiccups), but they only lasted maybe 12 or 15 minutes. But even then, I begin to wonder if they would last forever.
I can think of much better things for my lungs, breath and diaphragm to be doing than simply causing my body to jolt in the process of making a rather repulsive sound. What else are we doing with those tools, maybe by choice, that is not a very good use? The author of the Psalm suggest we praise the Lord with our voices, and we do so forever. I’m not too sure exactly how long forever is, but if my voice is preoccupied with praise, it may not be used for less admirable things. I’m not suggesting praise as a folk remedy for hiccups, but it is worth a try.
Prayer: O Voice of Everlasting Grace, may I continue to work on using my lungs and breath, my voice and words, to give praise to you so that there is little room for those things that are not of you. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 15:29-30But the older brother answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!”
Thought for the Day: Hard work without recognition is not an easy pill to swallow. In most situations, the frustration we might feel has little to do with our need for recognition and praise. The issue is that we want to know that our time, a precious commodity for a human being, is of value. Whether it is your job or your volunteer time, there will be days (weeks or even months) when you will receive absolutely no positive accolades. For me, prayer is a helpful tool as God reminds me of how I am a precious and valued part of God’s creation despite what the world might say or not say.
Prayer: Lord, tell me one more time how I am one of your beloved and cherished souls. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 15:1-7
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance
Thought for the Day: I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again, Jesus doesn’t play the odds. He doesn’t even seem to be concerned about the odds. Most of us would be a bit disappointed to lose a sheep, but it is 1%. That’s not bad! Any business works into its budget a loss of product. Any rancher expects to lose an animal now and then. Those things happen, or at least that’s what most of us would say. But for Jesus, every loss is significant and is not forgotten. In fact, so precious are the sheep that the shepherd will do whatever is necessary to find the one that is lost. It is comforting to know that our God would never write us off as loss, but will continue to search for us in love.
Prayer: In my own experiences of being lost, O Shepherd of Grace, you have not disregarded me as unworthy of the search. For your unceasing mercy, I am thankful. Amen.
DON’T MISS WORSHIP
Scripture: Revelation 4:11
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Thought for the Day: Earlier in the week, I offered a quote from Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies. Sorry, but I’ve got another one:
There is nothing more touching to me then a family picture
where everyone is trying to look his or her best,
but you can see what a mess they all really are.
Those are some pretty honest and insightful words. A while back, I said in a sermon: “We humans have messiness down pat; we can do imperfection perfectly.” That is not intended to be heard negatively, for the charm of being human is that we are not God and were never intended to be God. Our journey is to search out and follow the Holy Mystery unveiled in Jesus. The path will be bumpy, and there will be a lot of stumbling, times of confusion, and a few outright failures. The searching, doubting, questioning, learning, growth and more confusion and questioning is strangely important.
Lent is the season of the year when the family picture – that is, the church family – doesn’t attempt to hide its messiness. It is the time when we are a bit more honest with ourselves and recognize that we haven’t been fooling anyone. It is our time to get real, cast off any facade we are wearing, and seek the true self God intended.
Prayer: Call me; invite me; draw me close. O Lord who first sought me, let me hear again your gracious and gentle request to a deeper and more passionate faith. Amen.
Scripture: Ezekiel 28:15
You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you.
Thought for the Day: The passage from Ezekiel has been used to argue the theological concept of original sin, but I don’t think that’s exactly what was intended with these words. It sounds a little more like the ‘iniquity’ (the Hebrew word describes a violent, unjust deed) grew within us over time. Some have suggested the second half of the verse should be translated a bit different: “…until iniquity found its way into you.” Did this iniquity, our sinfulness, come with birth, grow within us over time, or was it something that was imposed upon us by the world? Could it be a little of each of these? If so, how does the story of God’s redemptive and healing love assist us in living in the tension between the prevalence of iniquity and the Spirit’s call toward the divine wholeness?
Prayer: May your Spirit continue to provide me a vision of a life lived with mercy, love and kindness. O Source of All Being, I desire to manifest your presence in my thoughts, words and actions. Amen.
Don’t Miss IT
Scripture: Psalm 122:1
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Thought for the Day: The devotional planned for today will be postponed until tomorrow so that I can bring you the above words of scripture, words that Rev. Gary Groves offered last night at our quiet Wednesday evening Lenten Service. Maybe it was because I just happened to be in the right place emotionally, but Gary spoke right to the heart of what it means to be a faith community at worship. He also spoke right to my heart. Too often we are focused on petty likes and dislikes, we complain because the service went over by 10 minutes, or someone looked at us the wrong way. In those moments, our hearts are turned away from the beauty of heaven and to the gutters of negativity and squabbling. It is contagious, spreading faster than the Gospel in the hands of a good evangelist. It is time for us to say with our lips and passionately announce with our lives, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Prayer: May the prayers and praise of my life, O Lord of Heaven, celebrate your love for all of humanity, which of course, includes me. I wish to be grateful, full of joy and a true witness to what it means to know you. Amen.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“When Tenacity Becomes Reckless”
Scripture: Matthew 13:33-34
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing.
You are invited to enjoy this Video Devotional. Thanks to Larry Lipton for providing video work, and to Stephanie Hickman for the performance of her original song: Make a Difference.