Views

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

Be Present

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

“I will meditate on your precepts, and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15


Tom Hanks, who acts the part of Fred Rogers in a new movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” was asked, “What was the hardest thing about playing Mister Rogers?”


“Slowing down,” Tom replied.  Most of us find slowing down hard for us also. At this holiday season, we rush to send holiday greetings, shop for gifts, decorate our homes, bake goodies, and attend holiday programs and parties.


Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister. His wife, Joanne Rogers said, “He rarely talked about his faith but he spread God’s love in everything he did. His life was his sermon.” Joanne Rogers shared that her husband, Fred, “Would get up early in the morning to read the Bible and pray.” Do we take time out of our day to meditate and be silent with listening ears toward God?


Mr. Rogers imparted gentle wisdom and advice for children. He emphasized the importance of real human connections. In an earlier 2010 documentary called, “Mister Rogers and Me”, director Benjamin Wagner stated:  “What was so important to Fred was being really, really, present and deeply engaged with the person you’re sitting across from.”


A Guidepost magazine editor states, “The film, ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ captures his legacy, reminding people to be kind and neighborly, to try to forgive those who hurt them and see the innate goodness in all people.”


Tim Lybarger, the founder of the Neighborhood Archive fan-appreciation website, says he thinks Rogers’ work is as relevant as ever today.  “Who isn’t starving for a message of self-value and peace and love and appreciation?”


Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember to slow down, be still, and listen to you and to those who need us to be present with them. Amen.


Lois Poppe


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

God's Steadfastness


Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday. I had invited guests that had entered my life at different stages throughout my life. My nephew helped me prepare a video of different pictures of that many years of my life. There has been too many people, too many different events to include all in the video. We also included the many different changes in the world since my birth. It was amazing to go through and realize how many changes have occurred in what seems like such a short time in my mind. No cell phones, phones still hung on the wall, party lines, no internet, so of course no Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or other apps now a part of so many individual's lives. Interstate 80 wasn’t even completed, but they had begun to work on it. Library books were checked out by hand, stamping the date due in books and a card held for each book. There weren’t a lot of pre-prepared dinners. TV dinners were pretty new and not very tasty. We didn’t see the fast food restaurants you see now everywhere. Toys included slinky, paper dolls, Barbie was presented the year I was born, black and white movies and television were more popular and color was a big exciting new experience for many. No digital cameras so pictures were taken and waited for development to see if you got the picture you wanted.   


One thing has remained the same but fewer are realizing: the need for God in their lives. God was there when I was born, God was there when the ambulance came when I stopped breathing soon after being taken home, God was there as I grew up and was bullied, God was there when I felt depressed, God was there during the happy times, God was there when we went through struggles, God has listened and given answers; not always the answers I may have wanted but His plan was always better. I give thanks for Him for each day I have been here and those that I have met along the way. I give thanks for Him walking beside me during the trying times. 


But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5


Lori Hood

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Deepening Prayer and Relationship

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The details are long forgotten, but the words of John 3:16 have been memorized in my head and heart since middle school.  In Marion, Ohio I visited the church of my best friend since elementary school, Kathy, and all of the youth that day learned this verse. 

The second verse, one of my favorites, I see every day on the mirror in our bathroom.  I am trying to talk to God more each day, trying to see his wonders all around me, if only I would stop and take time for Him.  My daily living would be so much more fulfilling and less stressful if I would be in communion with God continually.  I want to learn how to discern God’s will and really listen for his voice; to be still instead of continuing my own words in prayer; and most importantly to deepen my daily personal relationship with Him.  

Prayer: Dear Father, forgive me for neglecting spending time with you. I use my busyness as an excuse. But as the patient and loving Father you are, you wait for me and I am truly thankful. The precious gift of your Son allows me this personal relationship with you and I so want our relationship to deepen and grow ever since my own baptism and memorizing John 3:16 many years ago. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. [Psalm 51:10]  Amen.

Cathy Schapmann (adapted/reprinted from the 2017 Eastridge Lenten devotional book)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Forgiveness


Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!" Matthew 18:21-22

Many years ago as I was walking the halls of the Sunday School rooms, I saw a large piece of paper on the wall. A class had written the word “forgive” on the sheet seventy times seven. The paper remained on the wall for many years and it caught my eye whenever I passed by. I hope it caught the eyes of others that passed by. 

Did Jesus mean that we should keep track of how many times we should forgive anyone? I think he meant we should forgive anyone who sins against us, no matter how many times. We need to remember to never stop forgiving others. Keep that word, forgive in your head. You will have a new lease on life when you forgive others.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help us to never stop forgiving others in our life, no matter how many times they sin against us. Amen.

Susan Taylor (from the 2018 Eastridge Lenten devotional book)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Grace to You and Peace


Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:1-12

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Hope in a Tulip


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11


And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5


For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25 


Each year I think about buying those lovely, exotic tulips that I see in magazines and in others’ yards. However, it requires planning ahead…I need to find these fancy bulbs in October of the year prior and plant them in ground that might be a bit frozen and unyielding. 


Discussing this in our Wednesday morning Bible study, we all agreed: Planting bulbs is a sign of hope. It’s a sign of hope that we (or someone) will be around to witness the fall’s planting in the spring. It’s hopefulness that squirrels won’t dig the little bulbs up. It’s hope that time will pass and we’ll be able to witness a sign of beauty, of God’s hand in nature.


Prayer: Dear Lord, we know that we have hope in You. Help us to have faith and trust that you will be with us, granting us a hopeful future, if we remain in You. Grant us the ability to feel hopeful when we are feeling hopeless. Amen.

Donna Gustafson





Tuesday, November 19, 2019

“Asleep, Lukewarm, and Beloved” sermon from October 20, 2019

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin[a] of God’s creation: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." Revelation 4:1-22.” 

Do you remember…the first time you fell in love?

Do you remember…what it felt like?

Of course, I mean, when you first fell in love with Jesus.

I do. It’s a story I’ve shared with you before, and will likely share again. (We do that with love stories, don’t we?) I’ve long credited my freshman year roommate, Lissy. From the first time I met her there was a spark, or something. I can’t really describe it. But it was there. Even when she was sad. She was just different. She went – every day – to go pray and read the Bible (by herself!). Together, we became volunteers with a youth group for 50-60 5th and 6th graders every week. She joined a Bible study and encouraged me to do the same. And then it happened, just after Christmas of my freshman year. I realized I no longer just believed in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I had fallen in love.

Which was really hard for me, to be honest. Just as I’m sure there are some of you out there this morning who are a little uncomfortable with this. 

Presbyterians, you see, have long had the nickname “the frozen chosen,” some say because our theology makes us more reserved when it comes to sharing the gospel; some say because our worship is very “decent and in order.” My experience has more to do with my approach to living as a “head” person not a “heart” person. Being now pretty far removed from the reformation and all of it’s theological nuances and excitement, I’m pretty sure we’ve moved now into what many are calling “post-denominationalism” – which only means to say that denominations like Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian don’t matter quite as much as, say, what the church believes and how it lives it out. (I’m not saying this is a bad thing.)

I’m about to make a few statements based on some statistics provided by the Pew Forum. Did you know that Presbyterians in America are: mostly white (88%); mostly at least third generation Americans (87%); mostly educated – 73% have college degrees or higher? So my theory is that most of you, if we mirror these statistics, understand what I mean when I say I had a strong faith, but it was a head faith. What I’m talking about today is a heart faith. When did you first love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength?

It’s tricky, isn’t it?

Of course, I would argue today that the Holy Spirit came to me when I needed those glasses to see God in the world, just as John Calvin described in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

But – and here’s where all of this is going – I think there’s a difference in how we live our lives before we fall in love with Jesus, and after. And the kind of church we are is fully and wholeheartedly dependent on the spiritual lives of each and every one of us.

Take, for instance, the churches in our passage today. There’s just three of them, but two of them are some of the harshest of the four letters in Revelation 3 and 4. The churches in Sardis and Laodecia aren’t rating so good with Christ.
They are asleep. Like Dead. Lukewarm. Ugh.

Some more statistics. Get ready, it’s a roller coaster.

Good news – according to the pew forum, 96% of us (PC(USA))believe in God; 63% of us pray daily, another 22% weekly; 26% of us participate in a Bible study weekly; 41% meditate once a week or more; 38% read the Bible weekly. But – here’s the flip side…52% attend worship twice a month or less; 49% of us don’t ever participate in Bible study or “faith peer groups”; 46% of us seldom/never meditate; 36% of us seldom/never read the Bible at all. Those are some tough statistics to hear.

Friends, I don’t want to be a lukewarm Christian. Or a lukewarm church. But – here’s the real-world danger – it takes work to love Jesus. Just as much work as it takes to have a healthy marriage, or a healthy friendship, or a healthy family. In his book, Mere Christianity, CS Lewis writes, “Love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace you receive from God. You can have this love for each other even when you do not like each other. ‘Being in love’ first moved you to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables you to keep the promise.’” Yes, he’s writing it about marital love, but his thesis is that a marriage is based on the relationship with Christ and the church, a divine love. And I think it’s important for us today to know that love is not only a matter of the heart, it’s also a matter of our soul and our strength. Love is not a feeling, or a desire. It is a matter of where we are grounded.

So how healthy is our church? A few years ago, our session decided to live into our mission and our passions. And we’ve spent some of the last months sharing these with you. It’s led us to become a Hunger Action congregation, to partner with the our family in the Maker Village in South Sudan; talk about how we’re raising our families; open our space for a daycare for our community, for Aging Partners, for scouting groups, and PEO; we’ve also focused on addiction and recovery as a part of our faith journey, with Faith Partners, AA and Al-Anon; the
Eastridge Hospice singers provide a ministry of comfort for the dying. Friends, these are our passions. This is our heart.

But I want to push a little today. Because I hear it a lot. We talked about it at Session on Thursday night. And, I said then, I’ll say now, I don’t have any answers.

We need you. (I know there’s a lot of other good things we’re doing in the community, and that we compete for time and money.) Here’s the statistic that I think is the most eye opening…71% of American Presbyterians do not have children under the age of 18 in their homes. 71%.

We need you. I don’t know how else to say it. I may come off as begging, but friends, I think it’s sort of a desperate situation. The truth is – the church today doesn’t look like the church of my youth, or the church of yours. I personally have grieved this, and am over it most days. The reality is that if we want this church to be healthy, to thrive, and grow in faith, we have to ground ourselves in Christ, not the world. We have to use different measurements, or we’ll become asleep, like dead, lukewarm. The area of the church I am most concerned about is our spiritual life, and our investment in the spiritual lives of others. I think that trickles through every relationship. Maybe your relationships are most strong with your peer groups. Maybe they’re stronger with those who see you as a teacher, mentor. Maybe you have a strong mentor. Whatever it is, find one. Get in a group, find a friend. Come to GiFT! Meet new people! Don’t just hand out food – pray for those you hand it out to. And, yes, I’m begging, share your faith with those who are 18 and under. They are thirsty little sponges. And they need YOU to share your faith. Or, maybe you’d like to share your faith with kids a little bit older, our beloved teenagers in the house. Those kids show up, every week, even though they have homework and sports and parents and friends, and 100 other things to do, because they have included being part of the body of Christ as something that’s important to them. They’re also smart, not sponges, but questioners, looking for mentors…..

We have visions and dreams for this area. College ministries, “worship workshops” for our younger wiggly friends…and the 29% needs the 71%. I can’t be any clearer. We need you.

In between these two harsh letters, with very little hope or encouragement, to Sardis and Laodecia, is the most affirming, kindest, love letter, to the saints in Philadelphia. These saints have known some adversity, they have been tested, they are smaller than they used to be, but they are mightier. These saints know why they are a part of the church – because they love God, and they love their community. They are commended not because they are perfect, but because they are led by their love for Jesus Christ, and their continual commitment to live that out, in community, with each other. Dear friends, let us hold up this vision as a church as the kind of church we want to be. Let us be known for our passion for following Jesus Christ in this place, in the community, and in the world. Amen.


Rev. Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon

Monday, November 18, 2019

Give Thanks to the Lord

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Judging a Book By Its Cover

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.”  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7

David was not the oldest, the tallest or the handsomest of Jesse’s sons, so Samuel first looked more closely at his brothers.  But not until Samuel saw David did God say “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” First impressions are not always right, but unlike God, we can’t look at someone’s heart. Others may judge us by our looks, our height or even our clothes. But God will always judge us by what is in our heart.  It’s really not that important what we look like on the outside.  What is really important is the kind of person you are inside.

Prayer: When you look at my heart, Lord, may you find a loving, caring person.  Teach me not to judge by others’ outward appearance, but to try to get to know them and learn what is in their heart.

Cindy Thomson (reprinted from Eastridge Daily Devotion book, 2008)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Helping Others

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.   “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.   Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  John 13: 12-17

This last month I was fortunate enough to help out on a Tuesday night with the Food Pantry. In all honesty, it wasn’t hard work, and there were enough of us helping that it didn’t take long at all. In a way, I kind of felt guilty as I drove back home that the task wasn’t harder and didn’t take longer!  And then I realized what a selfish thought that really is, as though if helping out were harder, then  I would feel  better  about having helped. All me, me, me.   Volunteering and helping do things for others shouldn’t be about the helper; it really is all about those being helped. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet we’re humans with complex emotions and wants. Christ provided us with the ultimate example of servitude toward others without asking for anything in return except our faith in him, our knowledge that he died so that we might have a place in the Kingdom of God. What a truly glorious gift he gave to us! Our hope for ourselves should be that we emulate his example as best we can to others here on earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to open my heart that I might be a better helper to others.  And above all else, let me always remember that the power and glory are yours alone, and it’s through you that I gather strength and comfort to do what I hope is right in your eyes.  In Christ’s name,  Amen.

Greg Tubach (reprinted from Eastridge Daily Devotion book, 2008)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Praise

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of your marvelous works. Psalm 9:1.

How many times do we profess to the message in this verse—that we will praise You, O Lord, with our whole heart? Yet when a problem arises or something goes wrong, we immediately begin to worry or doubt our faith in Jesus Christ.  This verse does not tell us that we should praise our Lord only when everything is fine, when we are experiencing no problems. The verse tells us that we will praise the Lord at all times with our whole heart and that we will tell of the marvelous woks of our Lord. We do that through the prayers that we pray, through the attitude we exhibit to others, through the way in which we treat others, through the way in which we help others who may be having difficulties.  Our praise should be evident at all times. I challenge each of us today to praise our Lord and tell of His marvelous works as we go about our daily work.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, thank you for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon each of us. We praise your Holy Name. Help us to show that praise as we work with others, whether it be in our families, at work, or in our neighborhood. Help us to always show our praise for You. In Your name we pray. Amen

Linda Douglas (reprinted from Eastridge Daily Devotion book, 2008)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Take it to the Lord in Prayer. Wow!

How hard is it to write a devotion? Recently I was asked if I would write one. My answer was: “You really want me to write one? I don’t know how to spell very well, and I do not write very well either.” The person was kind and let me off the hook by saying, “I understand. It’s all right.”  As the person was turning to leave they said, “You wrote one before and we enjoyed it!” Wow!

Recently I was asked to serve the Church. And again I was going to say the same thing. I guess most of my life I was afraid of new things that I was not comfortable with. But this time I did something different. I took it to the Lord in Prayer. Wow! Believe it, it works. I felt the call to serve on the session and said “OK”. Then Pastor Jim said to me, I would like you to chair a committee and I said "what committee"?  He said "evangelism". I thought what I am getting into? What is evangelism? Fear struck my body and mind, what I am going to do? Well, I thought it worked once before, let's try it again. So I took it to the Lord in prayer. Wow! I didn’t even know how to spell evangelism or even know the meaning of the word. Well, now with the help of the Lord, I am chairing that committee.

If asked to serve, take it to the Lord in Prayer, he will help.
(By the way, I took this request to the Lord)

Prayer: Father thank you for being there for us when we need you to help us through uncertain times. Thank you for your guidance in doing your will. Wow! Amen.

Jim Budka (reprinted from May 2012)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Most Thankful


“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23

"From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another.” John 1:16

What am I most thankful for today?        
  • Knowing that God is with me today and always – no matter what?
  • Receiving God’s strength and grace when I have painful times?
  • God’s healing when illness challenges my body?
  • The support I receive from family, friends, and church members?
  • Hope for a better world even in times of hate and turmoil?
  • A world touched by caring, love and peace?
  • Enjoying bountiful food, a comfortable home, essential clothing and so much more?
  • Living in a world of wonder, beauty, and all of God’s creation?

I am grateful for so many blessings that I receive each day.

What are you most thankful for today?

Prayer: God, we often neglect to express our thanks for all our blessings that you give us daily.  Remind us to freely share from all that you give us. Amen.

Lois Poppe

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Prayers of the People from October 20 liturgy


When the preacher runs long…

Something gets edited. Unfortunately that was the case on October 20, 2019.  

However, I really love this prayer, and want to share it with you all...


Prayers of the People (from Spill the Beans Worship Resources)

Lord, we pray for the worldwide church, in all its different traditions.

Denominations vary across history and theological influences,
focus and context,
attitude and strength.

Sometimes the differences between us can be hard. It is difficult to feel at ‘one’ with those who,
talk a different Bible message than us,
who hold more conservative or progressive views than we do ourselves,

who conduct worship of a different style to the one we know.

Church structures vary too—
between the different denominations of your church. We have Assemblies and Councils,
Presbyteries and Synods,
Councils and Forums,
Unions and Federations,
Courts and Committees,
Session’s and Boards.

All this, Lord, would suggest that we are all very different!

Yet, maybe in what matters most of all, we are not so different.
Do we Love God?
Are we loved by God?

Do we seek the Holy Spirit?
Are we seeking to be led and driven
by the energy she brings?
Lord, today bring us together
with the different denominations,
different congregations,
and allow us to see ourselves as one church;
led by your Spirit,
existing in different forms but sharing a gospel of love.

Gracious God enable this church to do your will.
Make it genuine and responsive
that it may speak with calm humility;
make it outward looking that it may care for your people; make it a community driven by the desire to

build peace in people’s lives,
Make it patient that despite the urgent need for ‘change’, it is prepared to remain attentive to your Spirit.
Amid the noise and clamor,
may this church continue to listen
for your still small voice….Amen.

Rev. Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Spiritual Cornucopia

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. John 15: 4-5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peach, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23

…and beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if all these things be in you, and abound, thy make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8

During the Thanksgiving season the cornucopia filled with fruit and grain is used as a decoration to symbolize the abundance of the harvest. The colorful fruit and bundles of grain spilling out of the horn of plenty” make us mindful of the blessings that we received and remind us to be ever thankful for them.

Consider the scripture selections for today it the context of a spiritual cornucopia. John 15:4, 5 starts us at the pointed end of the cornucopia. Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches and teaches that when we abide in him and he abides in us much fruit will be brought forth. He also instructs us that we can do nothing without him. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians qualities that constitute the fruit of the Spirit are named. This “fruit” fills the body of the cornucopia. If we want the fruit to grow, we must abide in Jesus and strive to live lives that imitate him. With the selection from 2 Peter 1:5-8 we have reached the large circular opening of the cornucopia and the contents are flowing from it. Peter instructs us to put our faith in action and to develop the character qualities which will help us to live fruitful life of love and serve to God and man. Are we abiding in Christ so the fruit of the Spirit will grow? Are we helping the cornucopia to overflow abundantly by placing our faith in action?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your son Jesus Christ.  Empower and enable us to grow in the fruit of the Spirit and to share these qualities by our actions so others may also live the abundant life. Amen

Gail Keown (reprinted from 2008)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Thanksgiving

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16                                                                                      

As we approach Thanksgiving, it seems to be fairly easy to think about our blessings and to give thanks.  Many people post on Facebook each day, indicating something they are thankful for.  Thanks are often given for family, friends, food, shelter, and jobs. However, as nice an idea as that is, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone choose to remind us of their blessings in April or July.  Maybe it’s because the holiday is called “Thanksgiving,” and just the word reminds us to give thanks.

But we are not just blessed during the holiday season. God watches over us throughout the year.  He’s there whether we’re thinking of him or not.  And he’s present even when we are not praying to him.

We often hear as part of a stewardship sermon or announcement that the more we give the more we are blessed.  There were many years when I was skeptical of that idea.  But I’ve changed my opinion to believe that it may be true.  God truly blesses us as we worship him.
          
There are many Bible verses that mention blessings, such as Psalm 113:2, which states, “Just to remember God is a blessing - now and tomorrow and always.”  Let us pray that God will help us to remember that he is a blessing always, and not just at Thanksgiving.
          
Prayer: Dearest Lord, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him.” Ephesians 1:3 (The Message)  Please forgive us when we fail to appreciate the blessings you pour down on us.  And help us to show gratitude throughout the year for all you give to us.

Robin Hadfield (reprinted from 2013)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Who’s in Control?

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16.

It’s human nature to make plans and set goals. We have calendars on our computers or phones to help us keep track of our schedules. It’s part of wanting to maintain control of everything around us. As we get wrapped up in making it through each day or week, it’s easy to forget that our time here is limited and that we do not control the time we have.
            
There are a number of songs, movies, and books that address heaven and our beliefs about what it will be like. George Strait had a song called “You’ll Be There” that mentions making it to the “other side” to see a loved one. One line says, “From the beginning of creation I think our maker had a plan, for us to leave these shores and sail beyond the sand.” Later, the song states, “Well, you don’t bring nothin’ with you here, and you can’t take nothin’ back, I ain’t never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.”

The lyrics remind us that, no matter what plans we make, God has his own plan for us. But the plans mean nothing if we leave God out of them. As the scripture says, we are a mist that appears for a while and then vanishes. Sometimes we create turmoil in our lives by trying to fit in more activities or finish more projects. In the process, we may forget to say “I love you” or to thank God for our blessings. We need to remember that the future is in God’s hands.
    
Prayer: Dear Lord, Forgive us for wanting to control our lives when we know that it is you who are in control. Help us to spend more time with you each day so that our time here is more valuable. Thank you for your gifts, and help us as we strive to live for you today. Amen.

Robin Hadfield