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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Matthew 5

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:1-16

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Another Battle

As many families have had to endure, my family has been affected by heartbreak of another bad diagnosis, another death in the family, or another life altering change. Recently it seems like we are at that "don’t answer the phone stage", as you are afraid it’s more bad news. A phone call saying my Aunt had died in an automobile accident, a cousin diagnosed with breast cancer, a cousin with diabetes complications having to have their leg amputated and a cousin’s marriage breaking up. The feeling of that’s enough!

It was surrounding me with the feeling isn’t there anything good anymore? I prayed please show me why. More bad news and I continued to pray this isn’t fair and I don’t understand how this could be in your plan.

Then the end of July came our family reunion. This year it was in Washington state. This meant many of us would be driving many miles to attend. It would be a connected journey of separate cars connected by Facebook. Each group posted where they were throughout the day and the sites and adventures they encountered. Families not able to attend and family that already lived in Washington could keep up with all members and comment on events. There were funny adventures, beautiful adventures and even two different accidents.  (Both with minor damage and injuries). Then when we all arrived we spent four days catching up, reflecting on our experiences, talking about family and praying together. Then we headed home with the same communication till everyone knew everyone was home. 

I left with a renewed feeling that not all is good, not that I know where every path is leading, but that I have all I need. God, Family and Friends. 

God is with me, always guiding me. Family and Friends are with me. I have many blessings and I am never alone.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for always being with me. Thank you for sending your Son to save me. Thank you for sending me family and friends to help along my journey. Help me to remember my blessings and to trust in your love when all that surrounds me seems dark. Amen

Lori Hood

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sermon Notes: from the "cutting room floor"

It happens sometimes that there’s something to share about a text that doesn’t fit with the direction of the sermon. This excerpt is from the sermon on August 11, 2019.  The text is Romans 8:18-39, and was inspired by the words of Dr. Aida Weran, lecturer at the Nile Theological College in Kartouhm, Sudan:  “Hope for tomorrow gives us strength to make it through the suffering of today.”  The sermon itself focused on the hope that comes from God, even in the midst of our suffering. However, in light of recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and the funerals for the victims of those shootings, I wanted to share the following:

Today of all days, I need to throw something in here…because…it’s just on my heart…about suffering. In the last week I’ve read a lot of headlines and reports wondering who will do what, who said what (that shouldn’t have), and what will happen now. And I also know that it sometimes seems like an easy platitude to use words that roll off our tongues too easily, full of good intentions and sometimes poor follow through, “pray for the people who’ve lost,” “you’re in our thoughts and prayers,”  “we suffer with you.” But the truth is, and Aida would tell you this, that there will be no hope for healing until the suffering is acknowledged. And it’s one thing I haven’t really seen too much of. Anger, division, blame…and I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to lament, to suffer with and for those whose lives have been torn apart. I know, it’s hard, because it makes us feel like we’re weak, to acknowledge the pain.  Paul here, though, says that it is the Holy Spirit who “intercedes with sighs and groans too deep for words” (or – as one scholar paraphrased the Greek – the Spirit groans with our groaning.) The Spirit groans with us and for us and in us, calling out from our place of suffering to the God who redeems us through the suffering of Jesus Christ. 

Rev. Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon

Monday, August 26, 2019

Angels Unaware

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2

When I was 13 years old I went with friends to the fair for the first time with NO PARENTS! We were having a great time – riding the rides, playing games, looking at boys until we rode one of the spinning rides and two of us got sick.  We were SO embarrassed, we had been so cool and now we were leaning over the garbage can hoping that no one saw us (especially not any cute boys). A young woman who was probably a student from UNL raced to our aid. She had napkins from concessions, a soda and half a roll of Tums from the bottom of her purse. She held our hair, helped us clean up, gave us a drink and shared the Tums with us and told us it was no big deal. Anytime I think of someone I am grateful to she pops up in my memories! A complete stranger who came to me when I thought I was older and more grown up than I was, who shared all she had and brushed it off as no big deal.    

In August Brian and I spent a weekend traveling to a few different concerts and one sporting event. The first performance that we went to was in Chicago and attendees were allowed to bring in a picnic, water, soft drinks, lawn chairs, blankets and games. Admittedly it was the first concert I have ever attended that you could bring in your own food and non-alcoholic drinks (I refuse to buy $5 water). A few minutes after we got settled into our spot the couple in front of us had a lawn chair completely fall apart. No one was harmed! This left the husband to sit in the remaining lawn chair and the wife to sit on the mat they brought and then to sit on her sweatshirt to give her a boost. She was very petite and slender so after a little discussion we offered her our cooler as a seat. It’s soft-sided so we weren’t sure how much support it would give her but it was better than a sweatshirt for a boost. They were completely shocked that strangers would be willing to help them (much as I was when I was a young teen). They had fun taking pictures of her on the cooler and she had a great view of the show the rest of the night. They were also delighted to meet someone from Nebraska! 

Reflecting on these experiences reminded me of this verse from Hebrews. I try hard to always be good to others. Obviously the stranger in my life has had a lasting impact on me and I am hopeful that I can have the same impact on strangers…. or, as Edgar Guest famously said, friends I haven’t met yet.

Prayer: God who watches all things, thank you for those who sweep in and save us, even when it is just from embarrassment.  Thank you for the moments when we have enough to share.  Help us to remember to offer our hospitality to all of your children, in all of the times we find one another in need.  

Christi Moock

Friday, August 23, 2019

A Wonderful Lord He Is

To wake up in the morning—listening to the sing-song ping of rain on the roof and to realize that this, too, is a good day.

To know the squish of wet sod underfoot will yield grain and flowers, rather than mud and inconvenience.

To know that the glint of sunlight off broken glass and abandoned houses gives a glimpse of beauty where some see only ugliness.

To understand the promise of sun bursting through a cloudy sky and a rainbow over a field of grass and horses.

A wonderful Lord, he is; one who gave us a world full of beauty—beauty that is there for us to enjoy if only we will let ourselves be aware of it.

A world of sparkles, reflections, shadows, colors, textures, shapes, contrasts and movements which allows thought and feelings to grow and flourish.

A world full of promise for today, tomorrow and the day after that—full of promise that the faithful will endure, that evil will perish, that beauty can motivate our lives through our seeing, reading, thinking, understanding and sharing.

That God gave us these abilities to observe and be involved in life’s beauty evermore.

A wonderful Lord, He is.

George and Mary Lynn Tuck (reprinted from the 1972 Eastridge Devotional Book)

Thursday, August 22, 2019


Back in 1953, when I lived in California and taught a ‘release time” class in high school, I was very unsettled in my own mind just exactly what I believed in, how much faith I had in prayer, in Christ and God. I felt I shouldn’t be teaching these high school boys and girls about things I wasn’t certain of myself. I became anxious about these questions and tried to pray for guidance. My husband offered his help as best he could, but I needed definite answers. Could I tell these youngsters to pray about their problems—that God would surely help them find an answer? My anxiety continued for several days. Finally, one morning while doing my housework, I felt a very warm, strong feeling of love around my chest and the word “reassurance” came to mind. I thought to myself, what is this that is happening to me? What should I do with this much Love? How do I get rid of it? It lasted only a few minutes, then gradually left me. I marveled at its apparent power and wholesomeness. I thought no evil could exist when surrounded with such a Presence. Now, years later I remember this experience and try to recapture this lovely moment of “reassurance.”

Myra Dickerson (reprinted from the 1972 Eastridge Devotional Book)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Prayer from August 11 liturgy

Lord God,
source of Hope and Justice for the World, we ask that you cast your net over each one of us today.
Individually, we need to sort out or lives, that the emphasis of our heart’s desires are first and foremost centered on the values of the Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is for each of us:
a place where we know ourselves to be recognised, valued, cared for and blessed. In that place we come closest of all to identifying ourselves children of God; beneficiaries of your full care and protection.

Your Kingdom is for others.
A place where others too will have their needs met, their potential fulfilled. Some in the world need help to clear the way for
that experience to be possible. May the work of the Kingdom flourish in the lives of those who face individual hardships or community challenge.

So this day we pray for those who see no hope in their lives.
May they be reminded that from the smallest seed of possibility hope can be born and grow.

We pray for those who are starving, who hunger for bread.

We pray for those who cannot find the treasure they are looking for: the right career, the perfect companion, peace in their hearts, the family of their dreams, inner satisfaction, the right opportunity, fulfillment.

We pray for those whose poverty or circumstances mean
they possess little that the world would deem as precious.

And we pray for those who cannot sort out the good from the bad in life;
who cannot maintain a desired life for themselves
because of mistakes accidentally made or the result of bad choices.

Lord, may your Kingdom come
for people across the whole world.
It is abundant and available for all.
It is not meant to be in the possession of some in the world, 

but is given for all.

Use us, active God,
that we might live by the values of the Kingdom
and direct us that we might uncover that wonderful treasure
so others may possess and share it.

We pray all this in Jesus’ name, who taught us to pray together, saying,

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done; on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts; as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen  

Prayers of the People - from Spill the Beans, 2014

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” 1 Chronicles 16:34

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” Psalms 9:1

Do you appreciate the small joys in life? Are you grateful or thankful for simple blessings?

Here are some things that you maybe haven’t thought of before, to be thankful for:
  • When the slow driver in front of you turns onto a different road. If YOU are the slow driver, you can be thankful as well!
  • When birdsong follows a storm
  • The fact that other people can’t hear our thoughts. We can live safely inside our own heads.

You may find these silly, but challenge yourself to come up with a few on your own! Maybe you’ll look at something in a new way, or find humor in a situation that seems ordinary.

Perhaps regarding more serious matters, sometimes we don’t know to be thankful for something until months or years later, when God’s plan is revealed to us. Even during those “waiting” times, we need to glorify God.

I was reminded of this while reading the First Five app (a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries) earlier this month. A summary of the lesson: Exalting God’s name should be what we strive to do in every situation that life hands us. As the devotion writer says: “Uplifting the Lords’ unchanging character helps stabilize our souls during uncertain circumstances.” This is possible because of His faithful promises. He is our help, and our hope.

Prayer: Dear Lord, things don’t always go our way. Often life is filled with hurts and heartache. Remind us of the things we can be grateful for, even if those things are simple, everyday blessings. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Monday, August 19, 2019

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.

 Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

 For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
 Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

 Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
 Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
 Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:1-12

Friday, August 16, 2019

Prayer of Illumination from August 4 worship

(click on photo to view larger)

Written by: Mary Kanymala
Dodoma, Tanzania, East Africa
Ordained in 2001, Mother Mary became the first woman priest in both the Diocese of Central Tanganyika and the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

from Lifting Women’s Voices:  Prayers to Change the World, Margaret Rose, Jenny Te Paa, Jeanne Person, Abigail Nelson, 2009, editors, New York: Morehouse Publishing, pg 108.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Words from Paul in the book of Philemon

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Refresh my heart in Christ. Philemon 1:4-7; 20

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I Lift Up My Eyes

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121 (NIV)

What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Psalm 104:24 (MSG)

As we drove through the Appalachian Mountains this summer, I was struck by their awesome majesty and beauty. In fact, when I look at any of God's beautiful creationslike the rolling plains of the Midwest or the sprawling beaches of the coastmy heart swells with wonder and thankfulness. But there's something about the mountains that stirs even stronger feelings. As I behold their magnificent peaks, I feel humbled. I realize that the same God that created tiny little me, also created those massive mountains. They're so lofty, they almost seem to touch heaven....reminding me of our God, who is even higher and mightier than they. 

When I see mountains, my mind is drawn to the Psalm above: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” Sometimes we forget where our help comes from. Our heads are down, focused on our worries and troubles. We should lift up our eyes to God, the same way we lift up our eyes to view the mountains. When we do, God lifts our hearts....encouraging us, comforting us and giving us hope. How reassuring it is to remember that wherever we go, his protection is always with us.  Whether on the highest mountain or in deepest valley, we're surrounded by his powerful love...a love infinitely larger than those massive, protective walls of granite.

Prayer: Almighty God, forgive us for the times we have our heads down, lost in our worries. Thank you for your magnificent mountains, that can remind us to lift up our eyes to you, and rely on your powerful love. Please give us the strength we need to do this daily—especially when there are no mountains in sight. Amen.

Sharon Irvin

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Joy and Togetherness

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink.  Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12

I love this verse. With our family currently spread wide across the country it can be hard for everyone to stay in touch and stay up to speed. I know that many people use social media as a tool for this, but like this verse – I long to see my people. Our extended family, our son and his wife, my best friend in central Nebraska, the consultants on my Epic project that I spent multiple years working with, my husband’s childhood best friend. 

Our annual family trip to Ely, Minnesota this year was packed with family events, we enjoyed visiting with cousins, giggling in the lake, singing the Johnny Appleseed song  during the family potluck, telling stories about the great aunts and uncles and setting out flowers to mark the one year anniversary of one their passing. There were a few animated game nights, lots of turtle cookies and caramel corn and plenty of fish stories. Our joy in spending time together was obvious, and we heard that during one of the sauna nights our laughter on the floating dock could be heard throughout camp. 

As we are planning the rest of our travel this year, we are making sure to take advantage to see family and friends along the way. Those visits warm our hearts. They re-connect us. They remind us of the strong friendships and relationships that cannot be divided by distance. Even though technology helps us to receive regular updates, it cannot make up for the time with those we love – in-person, celebrating, laughing, mourning and completing our joy.

Prayer: God in heaven, thank you for sharing joy and togetherness with your children on earth. Help us to appreciate time and travel to see those who warm our hearts and complete our lives, no matter how far we may have to go to see them.  Amen

Christi Moock

Monday, August 12, 2019

Love and Nature

I associate God with two main things. The first is Love. To put it simply, without God there is no feeling, no desire to care about and love our fellow man.

The second is nature. Within the past few years, I have come to realize what a beautiful earth He has given us. It is absolutely pathetic that man is ruining God’s gift with pollution.

For example, I experienced this fantastic feeling of my love for nature and God this past January when I went on a ski trip in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

As I ascended the ski lift, I inhaled the fresh clear air and feasted my eyes on the breathtaking view of the scenery around me. The majestic, snow-coated mountains darted through the white puffy clouds which dotted the silken blue sky. The sun shone down brightly and watched over God’s great creation. This was, to me, Life, Beauty, Grace, and Power. This was God. 

                        “My child you didn’t knock”
Sometimes I’ve been on the mountain top,
And pause; before entering the day
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray. 

Kathy Haskins (reprinted from the 1972 Eastridge Devotional Book)

Friday, August 9, 2019

Psalm 79

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins 
for your name’s sake.
we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
    we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 79: 8-9;13