Christian, devotion, faith, James, Matthew, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 2, 2017

Devotional Reading: Matthew 21: 23-32

Text: “Which of the two sons did the will of his father?” (v. 31)

What drives your crazier; a person who says that they will do something but never gets around to doing it OR, someone who says that they won’t do something but does it anyway?

Years ago I read a short essay that said the neighborhood bar is often more “Christian” than the neighborhood church. Go into any neighborhood bar and you will probably see somewhere a can for donations that will go to someone in need. Go to most neighborhood churches and will you find that before any special offering can be taken it first has to go through a committee or two and a board.  The neighborhood bar just wants to know if anyone knows the person needing assistance but the church wants to do a background check to make sure that the person is worthy.

Jesus’ in today’s reading is to those who questioned His authority to do the things that He did. He replied with a common situation. A father asks his two sons to do something. One son says he will but never gets around to it and other son says that he won’t but actually does what the father asked.  Which one did the will of the father?

To say that we are a follower of Jesus or to say that we will take Jesus seriously but not to use His teachings as our North Star is to be like the first brother. The neighborhood bar makes no pretense of following Jesus. The church, though, sings about Jesus and hears talks about how Jesus wants us to live but often there is little evidence that anything ever comes of it.

Taking Jesus seriously means, taking Jesus seriously. In the New Testament Letter of James the writer said that faith without works is dead. In other words, don’t tell me what you believe; show me what you believe. Your actions speak louder than all of your words.

Lord, show me Your will but more importantly move me to do it for I am weak. Let me be a light of Your Love revealed in Jesus in this world that has way too much darkness in it. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 24, 2017

Devotional Reading: James 5: 16-27

Text: The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.(v.15)

Prayer is essential. We cannot prevent ourselves from praying. Even when we are angry with God, prayer sneaks into our lives.And prayer changes things. A black free-church minister once told me that prayer changes God, God changes people, and people change situations. While I don’t agree with that theology, I do agree that prayer changes me and I can be a “change agent”.

I often pray with people for healing, especially when they are in the hospital or facing a terrible illness. But I learned long ago that not all healing is physical. The most important healing is spiritual. All of us will die from some cause. It is my prayer and hope that it does not happen for a long long time but even the New Testament figure, Lazarus, whom Jesus brought from the grave in the gospel of John, is not longer with us in the flesh.

When spiritual healing occurs we are at peace with ourselves, others and God. This is the peace that the apostle Paul meant when he wrote about “the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.” It gives us the ability to sing the words of the old hymn “It is well with my soul.”

It is my prayer for you today, that you have this peace. And that in having this peace, you will know both the love of God that will never let you go and the fellowship that knits us together into the Body of Christ on earth.

Lord, grant me peace. Give me the courage for reconciliation. Let me learn from my past but remember that it is past. This is a new day, one that You created and blessed. Amen.

Christian, devotion, James, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 23, 2017

Devotional Reading; James 1: 16-27

Text: Be doers of the word not just hearers of the word who deceive themselves (v. 22)

The Letter of James is Christianity 101. It is how to put “following Jesus” into practical everyday use.

Many of us read the bible, take time for daily devotions and go to church. We often select “our” church based on the message, sermon or homily. Sometimes there are other reasons such as family, tradition and the like.

Many of us have what I call “a sponge” Christianity. We soak up all that we can about Jesus and faithfully attend classes and worship but we never do anything with what we learned. We never put it to practical use. We are like “sponges” that soak up water but never get squeezed out. We never clean anything up. We just set ourselves aside and let the water in us evaporate before going back for another “soaking.”

James says that that is not following Jesus. We have to do what Jesus told us to do. We have to do our part in cleaning up the messes around us in the word. Our faith has to come alive through the things that we do. Only then is God glorified.

Lord God, make me a doer of the word, an active follower of Jesus going where I sense He wants me to go, doing what I sense He wants me to do. Let me “test” the spirits that move in my life through the reading of scripture, the tradition of the saints and the fellowship of fellow followers of Jesus. Aemn.

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Matthew, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 21, 2017

For Devotional Reading: Matthew 13: 24-34a

Text: (Jesus) put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. (vss. 24 & 25)

Th older I become the more hesitant I am to judge others. That does not mean that I always agree or accept what some says or does, doesn’t say or do. Rather it means that  I find myself wondering more than judging; wondering why they did or said what they did. And I wonder what God is up to in the circumstances of our lives.

I’ve come to the realization that God isn’t finished with either you or me, yet. Or anyone else for that matter. An old hymn says that God is working out His purposes, “as year succeeds year”.  I think that that about says it.

In Jesus’ parable a farmer’s field has been vandalized. The farmer’s workers want to “walk the rows” and pull out “the weeds”. But the farmer said “No”. He was afraid that some of the good crop would also be destroyed. There would be time enough at the harvest, he told his workers, to seperate the good from the bad.

God is patient…and forgiving. God is also ridiculously gracious. And we should be glad about that because you see, someone thinks that we are a weed. Yes, God works in lifetimes and even in generations. The story of our life is not over until the Author says it is. And the Author is fond of happy endings.

Lord, make me slow to judge and quick to forgive. Thank you for cutting me some slack. I don’t deserve it. I will do my best to glorify you with my whole being. Amen. 

Christian, devotion, faith, James, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 22, 2017

Devotional Reading: James 1: 1-15

Text: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all people generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (vss. 5,6)

There was a time when I was terribly lost and didn’t know which way to turn. It was the lowest point I ever experienced in life. My plans and dreams were simply not going to be. Almost by accident, or maybe Providence, who knows, I turned to The Letter of James and began to read. I read like a hungry man attacking a meal.

Early in my reading of James I saw today’s text. It was like a life-preserver thrown to a drowning man. I asked for wisdom for the moment, for the day and proceeded as if God was whispering in my ear and directing my decisions. I got through that day and each subsequent day, one at a time. And now, years and decades later I find myself still drawn to James’ instructions. Ask God for wisdom and believe that it will be given to you. Don’t second guess yourself. Believe that God is directing your decisions and move forward with confidence. Things will not always go as you plan but that’s okay. They happened the way that they were supposed to happen simply because that’s the way they happened.

To the best of your ability make every decision and live each day in the most God-glorifying way that you can. And remember, your life and mine are lived in the mystery of God’s Providential Care.

Lord, give me wisdom for this moment, this hour, this day. That is all that I ask. Amen.