Friday, September 21, 2018

Your Word is a Lamp for my Feet

Your word is a lamp for my feet,

    a light on my path.

I have taken an oath and confirmed it,

    that I will follow your righteous laws.

I have suffered much;

    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.

Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,

    and teach me your laws.

Though I constantly take my life in my hands,

    I will not forget your law.

The wicked have set a snare for me,

    but I have not strayed from your precepts.

Your statutes are my heritage forever;

    they are the joy of my heart.

My heart is set on keeping your decrees

    to the very end. Psalm 119: 105-112

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Strawberry Tears

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). {God is glad to carry your burdens and give you the daily strength you need.}

Sometimes I find all I am hearing is bad news, not just from the TV, paper, Facebook, etc; but a call that a friend has cancer and not expected to live but a few months, another whose kidneys are failing or a friend who has lost their job. Today was one of those days I had taken my dog to be groomed and on the way home, I saw a funeral procession and a vehicle accident.  I went home telling myself to be thankful for all I have but the sadness was within me and I felt for those I couldn't help.  So I do what I do: chores to get my mind on something else. I cleaned the oven (darn salesman didn't tell us it wasn't self cleaning), I swept the driveway, vacuumed, did a few loads of laundry, and then decided the yard might be dry enough to mow. I mowed and then trimmed the bushes and pulled the weeds. Then I sat down on the front step for a break, and there in front of me in the front yard, was the tiniest but yet it was there: little wild strawberries. It may seem silly, but it cheered me up. It was the little plant growing as if from nowhere. It brought happy memories of times picking strawberries with my Dad. It also made me cry, I am but the little strawberry growing amongst the tall grasses, moss, and mushrooms growing after the rain. It made me stop and really thank God for all I do have, turn over to Him all that I have no control of and release my burdens and those of others to Him who created the tiny wild strawberries with their miniature details. He who has a plan and is the creator of all.

Prayer: Thank you Father for reminding me that You are the Creator of the Universe. Thank you for taking my burdens, and helping me find the peace that only You can provide. Amen

Lori Hood

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Jesus Comes to Seek Us

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the LORD, "Look, LORD! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:1-10
I am always amazed at the power of the gospel with its impact on me as if it was a fresh word today.  This scripture is no different.  I heard the story of Zacchaeus as a boy and sang the song of Zacchaeus “..a wee little man was he.”   Now as I read it I am drawn by another inspirational nudge of God’s Spirit.
In Luke 19:1-10, I am moved by the “sight” words – how Zacchaeus was seeking to “see”  who Jesus was.  But due to his short stature, Zacchaeus could not see that Jesus was coming through town because of the crowd that gathered in front of him.  Besides, Zacchaeus was not a very popular man – he was rich because of defrauding his town folk of money through collecting taxes.  But, Zacchaeus was going to see Jesus and so he climbs a sycamore tree to get perspective.
Now, Jesus comes along and “sees” Zacchaeus up in the tree.  Jesus tells Zacchaeus to climb down and receive him as his guest.  This thrills Zacchaeus, but the town folk “see” what is happening and grumble for Jesus is now being hosted by a notorious fraud and cheat.
But notice how the miracle happens.  Zacchaeus receives Jesus into his home and the impact is instantaneous.  Note the verbs that Luke uses – all present tense – suggesting an action is now taking place – an action of change.  Zacchaeus will make restitution fully and more so 4 or more times than what he took.  It is because of the power of the guest that Zacchaeus has received not only into his home, but into his life.
My encouragement is to take notice of Jesus.  See Him approaching your life and my life as Zacchaeus notices.  We may be hiding up a tree or in some corner someplace, but Jesus sees us and invites Himself into our home – our life and must take up residence with us.  God’s grace has found you and me and it’s impact is instantaneous.  Change will happen.  For when it does, Jesus will affirm you and me with the same grace that greets Zacchaeus:  Today, salvation has come to this house – your house and my house – your life and my life.  Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. John J. Duling

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Make Me an Instrument of thy Peace

Flee the evil desires of your youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call in the Lord out of a pure heart.  Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:22-24.

Our nation is divided worse than I can ever remember. There is little or no peaceful and respectful listening going on between groups and individuals with opposing views. In its place are frightening displays of mean and hurtful rhetoric, petty behaviors, and even acts of violence. Hate is powerful, but I know love, especially that which springs from God's love, is more powerful.  True love for one's fellow man, true belief that we are all created equal and are deserving of respect, dignity, and kindness is the only path to a peaceful world.  We are each directed by Paul, in this scripture, to do our part.

This past weekend the news was filled with examples of that kind of love and peace both in Senator John McCain's funeral coverage and in the sharing of Mollie Tibbett's father's plea for a stop to associating his daughter's death with racist thoughts and hatred. Both Senator McCain and young Mollie strove to live lives of love and peace toward others. These events have renewed my hope for our nation and for our world. They also have renewed my commitment to do my part, in every way, every day, to bring peace and love to others.  

I know that goal will not always be easy, and even in my personal life, may involve swallowing my pride and certainly putting my ego on hold for the greater good of peace and harmony. I will not always succeed, but I have a revived and renewed commitment to this as my mantra. It brings to mind a Christian mantra that was very widespread ten to fifteen years ago. "What would Jesus do?"

My 97 year old Mother and I have both chosen the Prayer of St. Francis as a funeral hymn. This has been a favorite prayer and song of Catholics and other Faith denominations since its original publication in 1912. There is no evidence in St. Francis of Assisi's writings of him penning this, however. But it is a powerful reminder of God's direction for us to bring His love and peace to others.

Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to Eternal life.

Connie Barry

Monday, September 17, 2018

Entrust Loved Ones to God

The Lord replied: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus: 33:14

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen. Ephesians 3:20

Our son has been waiting on a new job opportunity for two months.  Many hoops to go through and many delays.  Added to this is his decision to give notice and quit his then-current job without having the new one in place.  A life lesson for sure. During this time we have been praying for the right doors to open and his path to be made clear.  This week my Jesus Calling devotion for the day focused on the above scriptures and the word were so timely.

“When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch and see what I will do.”

I should note this page was dog-eared as a favorite, so it has applied in years past.  I started jotting a note with year, so I remember what was occurring when Jesus so lovingly placed this devotion in front of me again.

This week our son officially has the new job. He looks forward to this new adventure and we are thankful the Lord is with him every step of the way.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being in control and answering prayer in your time and in your way. Amen.

Cathy Schapmann

Friday, September 14, 2018

Reflect God's Love

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the Day of Judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4: 17 

Do you sometimes feel guilty because you don’t take time to share God’s love as often as you would like? I certainly do.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I met someone who took an eight-week class with me. We visited briefly and continued our shopping. A few aisles later, I met a person who regularly exercised at Snap Fitness with me. I commented that I had not seen him lately.  He shared that he had some heart issues. I listened to him, expressed concern, and let him know that I hoped to see him back at Snap Fitness soon.  Before leaving the grocery store, I greeted a couple, members at Eastridge Presbyterian Church.  Each of these brief conversations brightened my day and hopefully theirs. A friendly greeting to the grocery store “checker” may be appreciated also.  Little things mean a lot!

A quote in the July, 2018 Guideposts Magazine suggests, “If God is love, the only way we can worship God is by loving others.”  John Shelby Spong from his book “Unbelievable”.

As the school year begins, we are encouraged to take a student’s name (or two) from the student board in the Welcome Center. We are asked to pray for them regularly. It is perhaps a small thing, yet important.

The Stephen Ministry bulletin board near M12 at Eastridge Presbyterian states, “Called by God to share His gift of love for others.”  We can all provide emotional and spiritual support to those we meet each day.

Eleanor Brownn in her book, “The Other Serenity Prayer” states, “God, grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly, the courage to forgive myself because I’m working on doing better, and the wisdom to know that you already love me just the way I am.”
Prayer: Dear God, help me to choose to reflect your love every day.  Guide me in finding time for what is truly important. Amen.

Lois Poppe