The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Colossians 3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. Colossians 3: 1-4; 12-18; 23a 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

With Me

Several months ago, my husband and I, along with our English yellow Labrador, began Therapy Dog training. One of the things we practiced is having and keeping the attention of our dog. An important command we learned is the phrase, “with me”. We would begin with the dog at our side. As we take a step forward, we would give the command, “with me”, expecting the dog to look up and move along with us. As we keep moving, we hope the dog will continue by our side, not pulling away. If the dog becomes distracted, we are to call the dog back “with me” again, watching for the dog’s gaze to meet ours, sometimes stopping to be sure their attention is with us, offer a treat reward, and resume walking; repeating, as distractions approach. 

Sometimes I imagine God, our Master, using this phrase “with me” for his people! The writer of Hebrews encourages us, “and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us; fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Psalm 16:8 says, “I keep my eyes on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” We read, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.”, in 2 Corinthians 4:18. Proverbs 4:25 says this, “Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good.”

Many times, when I struggle with worry, doubt, faith or sin, I’m slow to realize that my focus has been diverted from my faith in Christ. Like my dog, I am easily distracted. There are really good sniffs over here; I’m aware of a threat or fear over there; I can’t ignore the enticing smell over here; SQUIRREL!  I just can’t help myself! In my humanness, I selfishly do what I want to do; self-medicate my stress; respond to upsetting forces around me in anger, fear, and judgement; rationalize my beliefs and what I must protect; and waste time and energy on worry and doubt. 

When I remind my dog to stay “with me”, it’s not the intention to control her. It’s to establish trust, consistency, guidance, discipline, love, and teamwork. I don’t expect that she’s simply strong enough to control herself on her own. When I stop to listen for God’s voice, gently saying, “with me”, my Master is calling me back to his side; a place of trust, guidance, calmness, safety, grace, and love. With my purpose and focus on him; for him and accepting his grace, I find my stress is lessened and my thinking and priorities are better aligned with his will, not my own. I’m kinder, stronger, and more resilient to face whatever comes my way, “with HIM” by my side. 

Prayer: Dear Master, like sheep, we have gone astray. Please forgive us. Help us to seek and trust your voice of, “with me”, calling us safely and lovingly back to your side, once again. Amen

Diane Worrell Eaton

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Water to Drink

So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.  Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.

And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.  Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. Genesis 21:8-21

A devotion from the Upper Room recently caught my attention…a story from Genesis 21: Hagar and her son Ishmael are in the desert. Literally and figuratively. God called to Hagar from heaven, giving her hope that her son, Ishmael, wouldn’t die from dehydration. He would provide water to drink, saving mother and son from certain death.

The devotion went on to say that God doesn't abandon us. I thought further on this theme: God sends ways to help us, and sometimes those are through others. Who is your “water to drink” today? For whom will you be “water to drink”? During this time of social isolation and quarantine, uncertainty, sadness, and fear, can you be someone’s “water to drink”? Can you show appreciation for those being your "water to drink"?

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us minister to others when we see a need. Show us ways to empathize and serve, as your son, Jesus, showed us during His time on earth. Help us when we don’t know the words to say. Reveal to us the actions you would have us demonstrate to show others Your love. Let us express our gratefulness to those who share love and concern when we need it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

This is My Father’s World

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2: 11-12  

“This is My Father’s World” is one of my favorite hymns. The words so majestically lead from line to line, and the music is glorious in its praise to God. This hymn was written by Maltbie D. Babcock , a Presbyterian minister in New York (1858-1901). He was the son of minister-- athletic, intelligent , and was known for his stirring oratorical powers. He was a graduate of Syracuse University, and graduated with a degree in Theology from Auburn. He was the pastor at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore from 1887 to 1901. While there, he led fundraising to assist the Jewish refugees from Russia who were victims of an anti-Jewish pogrom in the 1880’s.  At his funeral, the eulogist said “we do not need a candle to show a sunbeam.” He was known to tell his wife that he was “going out to see the Father’s World” as he started out on a stroll. 

Many of us continue to stay safely at home during this pandemic despite the opening up of places in our community. One of the safer activities we can participate in is “going out to see the Father’s World”. Consider going for a daily walk or enjoy the birds at your feeder. Take time to see the flowers, the trees, and the beauty of God’s creation. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise you as the creator of the world and the universe. Thank you for reminding us that your love is all around us. Help us to appreciate the indescribable beauty of your world. Amen

Nancy Hall

Monday, June 1, 2020

Now is the Time

“You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep." Romans 13:11

As we live through this unusual time of staying home, staying safe, and being without close contact with family and friends, we can still be engaged in different ways to be with those we love. I have been amazed at the creative ways people have devised to keep in touch, celebrate events, teach others, promote family time and just have fun doing it. Technology has played a big role in this, but our imaginations have also greatly contributed to doing this. I hope that as restrictions are lessened and people return to some of the ways we used to do every day things, we can continue to use our imaginations and develop more positive methods of living our lives with God as our guide.

Here is a poem I found that I really like. I don’t know the author.

One Step More   

A hill is not too hard to climb taken one step at a time.

One step is not too much to take; one try is not too much to make.

One step, one try, one song, one smile will shortly stretch into a mile.

And everything worthwhile was done by small steps taken one by one.

To reach the goal you started for, take one step more, take one step more!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us our creative minds that we might use them to better serve you, in taking one more step toward that goal. Amen.

Carolyn Brandle

Friday, May 29, 2020

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
 You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

    and lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning

    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

    and your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Holy Bible Acronym

The Holy Bible Acronym tells a great story. We recently were called to our 91-year-old brother’s bedside and I was able to talk to him about Jesus, our Savior. He asked Jesus into his heart as I talked with him.

Christians are blessed to have the Bible which gives us history, prophecy, and the story behind Jesus’s love and his saving grace. We know we will be in heaven together. I cannot fathom how fearful it would be to lose someone without believing God’s truth. 

Sandra Hilsabeck