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Glimpses of Grace

Lenten Daily Devotion Day 10. F23C7140-33B4-4374-B38A-5772135E88FDReading Mark 2:13-22.

Text: As Jesus was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

The thing that always struck me about Jesus is not the teachings, nor His examples nor even the miracles. Rather, it is the immediacy of the response to His invitation to follow Him in discipleship.

Discipleship is not about knowledge, though that is needed to a certain extent. Rather it is about apprenticeship in following Jesus. We must learn as we go. As apprentice we learn how to care, share and to love unconditionally within a community of faith.

If you do not have a faith community of faith to guide you in your Jesus’ journey of discipleship, I challenge you Look for one in this season of Lent. Don’t do it tomorrow, or later or when you get settled, but now.  Your first try will probably not be successful, but start. Find one that is disciplined without being judgmental and loving but not permissive.

Lord, I hear Your call to follow. Lead me to a faith community that can teach me. Amen.

 

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Glimpses of Grace Lenten Devotion Day 9: “God will take care of you”

Devotional Reading: Mark 2: 1-12

Text: And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof tiles and let him down before Jesus (v. 4)

Whenever I do a worship service in a nursing home I ask the residents if they have a hymn or two they’d like to sing. Invariably someone always requests “God Will Take Care of You”. As we sing, before the hymn is finished, several residents will wipe away a tear or two.

God will take care of you/ Through everyday o’er all the way/ He will take care of you/ God will take care of you.

In today’s reading the paralytic man’s friends knew that through Jesus, God would take care of their friend.

I continue to marvel at the unshakable childlike faith of the my friends in the nursing home as well as the man’s friends. May God grant me such faith.

Lord God, bless me with a trusting childlike faith that the world can never take away. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for Lent: “Take the Time”

Reading for the 7th Day of Lent: 1:29-45

Text: In the morning while it was very dark, Jesus got up and went to a deserted place, and there He prayed.

I used to have a ceramic mold of ” the praying hands”. It sat on the corner of my desk. It served as a constant reminder of the necessity and power of prayer.

One day it was knocked off the desk and onto the floor breaking the base. I carefully glued it back together but a couple of pieces were missing and the cracks were never really hidden. I kept if for it’s sentimental value and set it on relatively safe place on a shelf in the church study.

Several years passed before I plucked it from the shelf for a children’s message. As I talked about prayer I suddenly noticed that nestled in the crevice where the hands met, a spider had build a small web. Surprised, I changed the direction of my message and told told the children that even when things seem broken, prayer reminds us that we live under the Providential care of God. We live our lives in the palm of God’s hand.

Jesus took time to be alone in prayer. Do we?

Lord, teach me to pray. Convince me that I need to find the time to be alone in prayer. Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace for the First Sunday in Lent

Devotional Reading: Genesis 9: 8-17

Text: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (v. 13)

The story of Noah, the Ark and the Rainbow is a story often told to children but its profundity has often been ignored or forgotten.

When God brought order out of the chaos at the Creation, the Almighty declared the Creation “good”. But things soon went bad; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the fratricide of Able, the Tower of Babel, “the sons of God” impregnating “the daughters of Eve”, corruption and violence spiraled out of control nearly sending God’s good Creation back into chaos like grass braking disintegrating a sidewalk that hasn’t been maintained.

Finally God had enough. He vowed to wipe the slate clean like a child shakes an “Etch and Sketch”. But then the Almighty had second thoughts. God decided to save a remnant. It seems that God always leaves a remnant.

And then God did something totally unexpected and even unprecedented. God declared a unilateral peace treaty with all of the Creation.

In this story we are reminded that retribution never wins a human heart or anything else. In the end, only Love wins.

The story of the Rainbow moves us from retribution to forgiveness, and from frustration to patience.

Lord, as you set the Bow in the sky and thus declared a truce with all of Your Creation, show me how to be as wise. Amen.

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Glimpses Of Grace: A Conundrum

Lenten Devotional Reading for the 4th Day of Lent: John 17: 20-26 (from the Dailey Common Lectionary)

Text: …that they may be one… (vvs. 21& 22)

A conundrum is “a confusing and difficult problem or question; a riddle”. Today’s text is a conundrum in that Jesus prayed for His disciples then and now, to be one. He prayed for their “unity”. He prayed for this twice in today’s reading. Yet, as we look at Christianity today, we are far from united.

Recently I attended a 24 hour 3 day professional development class. During one of the presentations the presenter noted that the “pre-Constantine” Church was focused on caring for one another and the general community. They showed no partiality between those in the Church and those outside of the Church. They met need wherever they found it. They realized that they had been “saved to serve”. Accordingly, as people saw their selflessness and their numbers grew.

The “post-Constantine” Church, by contrast, focused less on serving and more on doctrine. As a consequence, the Church became increasingly divided along doctrinal lines. The unity that Jesus prayed for faded into what we see today.

So, here’s the conundrum, how to work toward the building unity For which Jesus prayed?

In this season of Lent I encourage you to visit a worship service other than the one in which you were raised or now attend. Engage in one local mission project were participants cross the boundaries that divide us be they cultural, economic, religious, racial, etc. Look for “the other image of God in those around you. See them as one of God’s children worthy to dignity and respect, just like you. When you do this, you will be a living glimpse of grace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your preface. Let me be the one who takes the first step to dismantling the walls that divide. Amen.

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Glimpses Of Grace: Being In the World

Lenten Daily Devotion Day 3: John 17: 9-19 (from Daily Common Lectionary)

Text: And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. (v. 11)

The world is a big place. It is an overwhelming place. The world’s problems are exponentially compounded by people, by you and me.

In His life Jesus showed those who would take Him seriously a new Way, a way illuminated by the lantern of Truth. This Truth would in turn lead to a Life that knows no end.

He expected us to sow the tiny “mustard seeds” of God’s Kingdom each and every day of our lives. He didn’t ask for full-grown highly developed programs because He knew better. Just a mustard seed or two.

When Jesus saw the crowd of 5000 in search of Truth and Meaning, he asked of the disciples no more than what they could provide. He asks the same of us.

In the season of Lent many people talk about what they’re giving up. I think that that is too easy. Besides, usually it’s things that we should give up anyway, or at least cut back on: coffee, chocolate, maybe a lunch or two–you get the point.

Maybe we shouldn’t give things up but give things to–time to the irritating person who just wants someone to listen, comfort to the frightened, help to the person who doesn’t know how to ask for help. Maybe it’s deciding to being on time, writing a note or card a day to people on your Christmas list. It could be buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you. Just do an act of kindness without wanting or expecting anything in return.

The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus once said. It begins small but grows into something beyond imagination.

Jesus isn’t here anymore, except as He is reflected in the lives of those who call Him Lord.

The world is big. We are small. We have a lot of work to do. Let’s get to it, for the glory of God.

Lord, move my spirit in this season of Lent to plant the mustard seeds of God’s Kingdom in this big world. Amen

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Glimpses of Grace: The Mysterious God

A Lenten Daily Devotion for the 2nd Day of Lent

Daily Reading from Daily Common Lectionary: John 17: 1-8

Text: And this is eternal life… (v.3)

After my father died I went through his papers. In the process I discovered both a creative and spiritual side of him that I never knew existed. Among his papers was an old time card. On the time card, written in faded pencil, these words: “My variety of Christianity is not used to explain everything. It accepts and appreciates mystery.”

I thought of the those words as I read the assigned gospel lesson for today, especially the part about “eternal life“. What is it? What does it look like? At times Jesus seemed to say that it is in the “here and now”. At other times He seemed to say that it is in the “sweet by and by.” Maybe it’s both.

Not too long ago a woman asked me if when she dies will she see her husband again? More importantly, will she be able to recognize him? I paused before answering. Before speaking about the mystery of death, I’d better be sure that what I said was true. I recalled the words attributed to John Calvin; “We should speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent”.

Finally I replied. I said that while I hadn’t been to the other side and back, I was sure of one thing; when she died she’d be with her husband as well as with all of those whom she had ever loved in this world for ever and ever.

Life and Death are mysteries. The challenge is to accept and appreciate the Mystery. We can only do this if we trust in God.

Lord God, in these 40’s days of Lent give me a greater acceptance of Life’s mystery and wonder. And when my understanding falters, give me a faith that will carry me to firmer ground. Amen.

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