Scripture: John 15:13
No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.
Thought for the Day: The story is a few days old, but most of you probably heard about a school principal who pushed children from the path of a school bus. In her choice to save others, she lost her own life. Just rereading the article, I find myself very emotional. But what bothers me more is where the article sat on a list of news stories among four separate media outlets. It ranked fifth and seventh and not even on the main page of two. If the article was on the main page, it was below articles about political bickering, sporting events and celebrity nonsense. A person who is described as an outstanding educator makes a choice to put children above herself in the ultimate way. She makes a choice that caused her death, yet it falls way down on what our culture considers important or news-worthy. There is no greater love than to give up one’s life for a friend or school children or even a complete stranger. Let us celebrate and honor this life.
Prayer: For all who give so generously of themselves each day, O Lord, we are thankful. And for those who put the interests of others before their own, may their example become our culture’s heroes. Amen.
A GREAT SUNDAY
FOR CYPRESS CREEK
Scripture: Isaiah 25:9
It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Thought for the Day: As we continue through this 25th chapter of Isaiah, I am struck by seven rather simple words: It will be said on that day… There is a lot of hope within those words – and that’s because what will follow in the remaining words of vs. 9 has not yet been realized. As someone is preparing for surgery, such as a knee replacement or removal of cataracts, I have been known to say, “Well in a short time, I believe you’ll look back on this moment and think it was a great decision.” In most cases, I am correct…it might be days or weeks or months. I can say that because my experience has told me it to be true, but there are other times when we do not have the personal experience to back up our words. It is a statement of faith and faith alone. What stands out to me in this passage are the pronouns that are used. They are all plural – our, we and us. Some might suggest that it is nothing more than a communal delusion, but a community that believes in the saving and healing work of God tends to find them. That doesn’t mean a group of people will always get what they want in the way they want it, but at the core of God’s being is found One who desires to see us rescued from our brokenness and brought into wholeness. And when a community is faithfully looking for such a thing, I believe God finds a way of bringing those gifts into the community.
Prayer: Though it may not be perfect – in fact, it might be rather mucky – but you, Gracious God, seem to find creative ways of bringing salvation and healing into some pretty difficult and dark situations. Thank you for being the source of my faith. Amen.
Don’t Forget About Sunday Worship
8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am
Scripture: Isaiah 25:7-8
And the Lord will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Thought for the Day: Recently I was sitting with some church folks and we were joking around. Someone intended to say that God just might smite you for thinking that way. Smite is a word often associated with the fire and brimstone of some angry god, but instead of saying the word smite, the person said smitten. Just an extra ’T’ and the addition of an ’N’, and boy does the meaning change. As you begin to read this section of Isaiah, “And the Lord will destroy…,” I believe there is an expectation of where the passage is going. People assume God is going to strike down (smite) all those sinful people, but as you continue to read, that’s not the case. God destroys the shroud that hangs over humanity. God swallows up death forever and comforts those who grieve. Too often we are expecting a God who is going to smite the world, but what we find is a God who is smitten with the world.
Prayer: In your love, O Lord, I am challenged to change my ways. I do not fear your smiting power but choose to live within your Spirit that is smitten with me despite my many flaws. Amen.
Are you praying for your church?
A church built on prayer will do things
it never imagined it could do.
Scripture: Isaiah 25:6
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
Thought for the Day: This is one of the early images where we find the breathtaking word ALL. As I’ve said before in a devotional – my colleague in ministry, Rev. Glen Miles, continually reminds us that the word we translate as ALL means ALL. In this eschatological image – in this expression of the fullness of time – there is a welcome feast on the mountain of the Lord that has seating for all…for every last one of us. In our world defined entirely by unyielding boundaries that we have created – boundaries that determine who is in and who is out, who is good and who is bad, who is a child of God and who is not – God shakes apart every aspect of that mindset with a single word. We may disagree with one another. We may be at odds with others in regard to some topic, but instead of categorizing the opposing opinion and the person who holds it as evil or demonic or ungodly, maybe we should picture that person’s place at the feast of the Lord. I may still disagree with some folks, but it is hard to toss them aside as nothing if I realize that I just might be seated next to them at the great banquet feast.
Prayer: God of the amazing and unconditional ALL, I give you thanks this day. My gratitude spills forth as I embrace my inclusion within your ALL. Amen.
Scripture: Isaiah 25:4-5
For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.
Thought for the Day: As we move further into the 25th chapter of Isaiah, we find beautiful prose that describe what the Lord God has done and will do among the people. The word we translate as refuge, can also be translated as fortress. The poor and the needy continue to experience suffering, but it is the desire of God to see them safely into a place where their needs are met and they are no longer known by the broad categories of poor and needy. The Psalmist also speaks of a shelter from rain and heat. The Hebrew word we translate as shelter has been translated in other portions of scripture as hope. This broadens our understanding of what it means to find oneself within God’s shelter. It is more than a momentary protection, but an experience of hope and promise. Too often we read portions of scripture with such literal eyes that we miss the visionary beauty being portrayed in the poetry of the prophet.
Prayer: O Holy One of Creation, the moment I believe I have found you is the moment that I discover there is so much more of you to discover. Keep me searching. Amen.
Noon & 6:30pm
Consider this event with Tony Dungy
(Marshall Martin has tickets)
Scripture: Isaiah 25:1
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Thought for the Day: For the next few days, I am going to look at Isaiah 25. The reason for this focus is simply because I opened my Bible and read the chapter. There was no specific reason, and though some might say that there was divine intervention, I am going to suggest that it was entirely random (though some people will suggest that there is no such thing as random). This verse begins what I would call a song of praise. To suggest that the Lord is “my God” is to speak in terms of covenant. There is more than a casual relationship with God, and to use the imagery of covenant is to unleash a slew of stories and images from scripture that speak of this magnificent relationship between God and humanity. To speak about this relationship and the “plans formed of old” is to recognize how God desires to be in relationship for the sake of some end goal. As we get further in the 25th chapter of Isaiah, we will find insights into what that goal might be. At this point, it is good to simply know that God not only loves us and enjoys being in relationship with us, but that God also desires to be in partnership with us. That notion is joyous, humbling and a bit intimidating.
Prayer: I desire to have more than a casual relationship with you, O Lord, and this day I strive to grow in my commitment to you and the wonderful dreams you have for your creation. Amen.
Are you Registered?
Scripture: Romans 5:5
…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Thought for the Day: Peyton Manning will be going to another Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. Though I’m making no prediction about the game, I have always appreciated Peyton. Along with having a great sense of humor, he appears to be a very genuine person. I also liked what he said about prayer:
I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.
I admire someone who could actually get away with some bragging about his accomplishments, but instead of claiming some place of superiority, he speaks with humility…and in doing so, reminds us of an important truth about God
Prayer: We are thankful, O Lord of the Universe, for your love that shows no partiality. Amen.