Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Family


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17

I just came back from a Family Reunion at Niobrara State Park with my Dad’s side of the family.  These reunions started back in 1937 when my Grandfather said he wanted his kids to know their Aunts, Uncles and cousins. It started off with just one Sunday in August meeting in the cemetery for lunch.  As family started to move and live farther apart it became a Saturday and Sunday and was a meeting in a park.  As the families grew and began living farther apart, their activities with school and fairs, it got moved to June and sometime along that it extended into Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those traveling from far distances needed more time and it was Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  As those leaving to travel the distances everyone would get together at a restaurant and meet for breakfast before taking off to head home on Monday morning. This year 50 attended out of over 100, some stayed in cabins, some in RVs, some at motels, but each day we would gather and talk of new things in our lives, new adventures, updating on current events in our lives. But also there were adventures where a smaller group would go off to an activity; such as swimming, neighborhood garage sales, horseback riding (got cancelled due to rain), fishing, biking, etc. Then we always take our meals together.  The younger kids get to know their extended family.  The ages range from the oldest in their 80’s, youngest this year was 3. 

Our Sunday is always started with breakfast, then a church service by the host family.  The church service is a time for us to give thanks to God for our family, to pray for those that could not attend, those having health concerns, those expecting new family members and other concerns.  We remember those family members who have passed.  We sing (not always in tune), but songs to extend our love for God.  We are of all different denominations, yet we share our love for God and rejoice in the many gifts we have been given. It is a time of renewal, relaxation, fun and emotional support until the next year. 

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for family. Prayers for those that are unfortunate not to have family in their lives; may they find friends that are as close to them as family. Prayers for those missing their family members who have passed on and help them find comfort in their loss. Prayers for the ability to take the time with those we love. May we remember to always take the time to praise you and thank you for all we have.

Lori Hood

Monday, August 13, 2018

Proverbs 16


Selected verses from Proverbs 16:

To humans belong the plans of the heart,

    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,

    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

    and he will establish your plans.

In their hearts humans plan their course,

    but the Lord establishes their steps.

Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;

    all the weights in the bag are of his making.

    his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

How much better to get wisdom than gold,

    to get insight rather than silver!

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,

    and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

The wise in heart are called discerning,

    and gracious words promote instruction.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,

    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

    it is attained in the way of righteousness.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Proverbs 22


Selected verses from Proverbs 22: 
A good name is more desirable than great riches;

    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Rich and poor have this in common:

    The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Humility is the fear of the Lord;

    its wages are riches and honor and life.

Start children off on the way they should go,

    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The generous will themselves be blessed,

    for they share their food with the poor.

One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace

    will have the king for a friend.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Be a Workman for Christ


Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words, it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:14-15

In this passage, Paul is writing to Timothy, reflecting on setting a high standard for ministry. Paul is calling Timothy to diligence as a worker or laborer. As a laborer, Timothy was being called to handle the Scriptures carefully and correctly, as a workman would handle the tools of his trade. Paul’s message to us is to be diligent to use God’s Word carefully and well in your ministry: that you will not be ashamed when you one day stand before Him.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Please give us the strength and assurance we need every day in order to present your word in ways that please you. Give us the words we need to share with others so that we may help them in ways that we may not even know. Amen

Laurie Schlitt (reprinted from the Daily Devotional Book, Eastridge Presbyterian Church, 2008)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Prodigal Son


Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living Luke 15:11-32

In the book by Christina Hergenrader “Family Trees & Olive Branches” I was touched by her words:

Because of our pride, we freeze one another out and

ignore God’s commands and examples of how to

show grace to one another. On our own we can

never extend an olive branch of mercy to our siblings

or parents.

We would rather live isolated and angry than risk a real,

dynamic changing relationship that’s greased with grace.

So, many of us live like this forever—never joining the party

God throws for us. Never forgiving our reckless siblings.

Never feeling fully forgiven.

I am sure you can think of an instance in your family where people hesitate to join an event when certain family members are there. Sometimes it is the political environment of today and sometimes it is something childish that happened many years ago. We need the Lord to show us how to give grace.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, we need you. Oh, how we need you. You showed us the ultimate grace by having your son, Jesus, suffer for our sins. The father in the Prodigal Son story showed the same grace to an undeserving son. Now help us show grace to those who need our grace. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Glorifying God

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

I used to accompany for a very gifted and hard-working singer, who accepted many compliments on her work, always acknowledging them with an expression of thanks and the phrase "To God be the glory". It was a selfless expression of gratitude for her gifts. It also reminded those around her of the source of all the miracles we celebrate. 

During a difficult period of my life, a friend who was a counselor listened to my thoughts about how I felt attacked and betrayed. She told me I had a lot to think about, and a lot to deal with. She then said she wanted me to do one thing in particular: "I want you to think about all the ways you can glorify God". 

My mind silenced in surprise at her words. I had expected something else entirely for an action plan, something grounded in the world that was swimming around me. In that silence, I rediscovered what really mattered to me. The noise in my head had almost stolen that.

Often the noise of the world's chaos can drown out what is at our core, what governs our being. To glorify God is a simple task reminder that opens up everything we are about. It brings us home, to a place of safety and belonging.  The world can be a challenging place, and it is up to each one of us to make it holy. But we carry that profound power inside of us, and can use it in everything we do. 

Glorifying God, I decided, was simply recognizing how everything that felt true in my life was something I could do with the consciousness of honoring God's hand and God's work in what was going on. I could help to advance God's presence in my life and in the world, just by my focus on what it meant to be aware of and a part of God. 

Prayer: God, help me to remember that to glorify you gives my life its meaning and wholeness. Help me to be open to you and help to give you to the world around me. The words on the wall of a concentration camp are like the faith I want to have: "I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. I believe in God even when he is silent." Help me continue to hear you in the silence that can itself be glorious.  Amen.

Mollie Manner

Monday, August 6, 2018

Dealing with Times of Pain and Suffering

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you surely, and strengthen and settle you. I Peter 5:10.  
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage. And He shall strengthen your heart, wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14   
For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16 
Life has its down times, its times of pain and suffering.  I often think of those times in my life where I was burdened with uncertainty, sadness, and pain as endurance tests.
The older I get, the more I have learned that the less I give in to those emotions that accompany those difficult times, and try to keep calm, and keep my wits about me, sometimes taking it hour by hour, not just day by day, the better I fare.  The less awful the situation actually is for me.  I have learned to hone in on my bag of coping skills at such times also. 
And, my faith gives me hope!  And courage and comfort and love!  I can endure such hard times with God in my heart and by my side.  My daily prayers become a source of strength! 
My 97 year old Mother has set a great example for my 9 siblings and me in difficult times. She has very strong faith, the gift of acceptance and even stoicism. She often says, "It is what it is, you cannot change it".  Maya Angelou, the beloved American poet also said, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." 
Prayer: Father God, source of all love and mercy and strength, thank you for sustaining me during my times of pain and suffering. Thank you for delivering me from those afflictions.  You are eternal hope and love.  I shall continue to grow strong and serene by your grace. Help me to trust you daily and to allow you to be in control. 
Connie Barry