Christian, confession, devotion, I John, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), sin, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for April 24, 2017

Devotional Reading for the Day: I John 1: 1-10*

Text: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (v. 8)

In our weekly worship service we include a prayer called the Confession of Sin and an Assurance of Pardon or Forgiveness. The Confession of Sin is for the world as well as for ourselves. Like the ancient prophet Isaiah we live amongst a people and in a world with “unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5)

From time to time someone say that the “Confession of Sin” is depressing.  It’s something that we should not include in worship. I’ve never found it depressing but, rather an exercise in honesty and humility. And frankly, we could use a little more of each right now.

No one is perfect. If we think we are, those nearest and dearest to us can straighten us out on that count!  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We participate in evil intentionally and unintentionally, through neglect as well as well-meaning but misguided attention. We can’t help it. We are broken people living in a broken world. And this brokenness is why Jesus came into the world; to extricate us from brokenness; our separation from one another as well as from God.

Health–spiritual and physical–being begins with honesty.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Lord, forgive us our debts and our trespasses. Amen.

*I am sorely tempted to write a Glimpse on the Gospel lesson assigned for today in the Common Lectionary and may write an evening entry. But, I John is such a wonderful letter with so many practical teachings. 


Christian, confession, devotion, Lenten Devotion, The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 15th Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 5: 30-47. Morning Psalm–22; Evening Psalm–105

Text: I can do nothing on my own…(Jesus, John 5: 30

In today’s gospel lesson Jesus told his critics that He could only do that which God enabled Him to do. He was dependent upon God. In saying this, he set an example for His disciples.

So often we say that we are going to do great things or fix this and that problem. The truth of the matter, though, is that we can only do Kingdom work when we are in direct relationship with God. Jesus did promise His disciples that they would do greater things than He did (John 14:12) but only if they stayed connected to the Father. “I am the vine, you are the branches”, He said, “… cut off from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

In this season of Lent we are called to reflect upon our separation between God and ourselves, as well as our contribution to the world’s brokenness. But we are also called to recommit ourselves to being connected to God–the Creator of the Universe, the One made visible in God’s Incarnation–Jesus, whom Christians call the Christ. 

Lord, give me a reflective and penitent heart. During this season of Lent, as I practice the spiritual disciples of worship, fellowship, generosity, prayer and mission reconnect me to the True Vine, Jesus the Christ. Amen.















han good. They will try to sabotage






Christian, confession, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, The difficulty of change, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 13th Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional  Reading: John 5: 1-18. Morning Psalm–5; EveningPsalm–27

Text: When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  (John 5:6)

“Do you want to be made well?” is one of the most insightful questions in the Bible. We automatically think, “Of course, I want to be made well?” but the truth of the matter is that that is not always the case. By asking the question Jesus was asking if the lame man wanted to change. At some level we want to change–we want to get a new job, move to a new place, lose those accumulated pounds, go back to school, be a better parent, be a better spouse, etc., but change means…well, it means “change!” It’s hard. We’ve become quite comfortable where we are, even if we know that it is a bad spot. We want change only if it does not cost us anything. Subconsciously we–or those closest to us–sabotage our efforts at change. I am a stutter.  At one point in my life when I was going to begin a new therapy program for stutters someone closest to me wasn’t sure that the therapy was such a good idea. If I wasn’t a stutter, who would I, then, be?

The man’s response to Jesus was not a direct answer to our Lord’s question. It was an excuse–“I have no one to put me in the pool…” (v. 7).  The man wasn’t sure he wanted to change. He could say that he was a victim and that was quite acceptable. Being a victim wasn’t really so bad.  Jesus challenged him. “Stand up, take you mat, and walk.”  At that moment the man had to decide if he was a victim or a victor.

In Lent we say that we will make a change; tradition says that we will give something up. My experience is that it is usually something that we needed to give up anyway but were just afraid to do it; chocolate, sugar, smoking, etc. We’ll do this for 40 days and struggle through, quite proud of ourselves if we succeed. But the gospel reading challenges us: Do we want to make a forever change? Do we want to walk in the path of Jesus? Do we want to be a disciple? Discipleship is not just for 40 days. It is for a lifetime. Do we want to take of risk of not asking God to bless our plans but rather ask God to show us His plans and where we can fit in?

Lord, in the season of Lent let me hear the voice of Jesus ask, “Do you want to get well?” Give me the courage to trust in you. I give to you my life; do what you will, for I am yours. Amen.




Christian, confession, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, sin, Temptation, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 9th Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional Readings: Hebrews 4: 11-16;  Morning Psalm-22; Evening Psalm–130

Text: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness that  we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need. (Hebrews 11:15, 16)

    To be reminded of our mistakes, short-comings, indiscretions or whatever we want to call it, is uncomfortable for most people. Like Adam and Eve trying to hide their nakedness, it seems that our default mode of operation is to deny, lie and cover up. All this does, though, is separate us more and more from God.

Each week, at the church I serve, we join together in a Prayer of Confession of Sin. From time to time someone will tell me that the Confession is depressing. Owning our sin is very counter-cultural. We often enter this part of the service by reminding worshipers of the words of  I John.  “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”(1: 8)  The apostle Paul wrote that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23) Whether we like to hear it or not, we are sinners living in a state of sin. Period.

Today’s reading from Hebrews reminds us that sin does not have the last word, though. Like us, Jesus was tempted in every way but unlike us, Jesus did not fall. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness that  we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.  As the Incarnation of God, Jesus knows who we really are and has compassion upon us. With the confidence of a child standing before a loving parent, we can confess our sin and the part that we play in the world’s sin knowing that we will receive mercy and grace.

Lord, with David I can ask for Your forgiveness. It is against You and only You that I have sinned. Give me the courage and the wisdom to mend broken relationships without harming myself. Heal my wounds of the spirit and draw me more and more into the likeness of Christ. Amen.