DAILY DEVOTIONS

23 Aug 2021

Image by Kristopher Roller

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  
1 Peter 5 : 6

Reading:
James 1:17-27

The book of James is thought to be written by James, the brother of Jesus.

James is concerned about the way we live our lives and control our speaking which is how we put our faith into actions.  The power of words can lead to life and love, or it can hurt or cause death of a relationship.  But the control of our speech and actions ultimately comes from God.  God seeks to work through us to serve all those with whom we come in contact.  We need to allow our actions to be inspired by God’s love.  He directs us to be morally right, upstanding in all we do, honest and trustworthy, honourable, and appropriate in our actions, because that is how  God is.  (Definition in dictionary for righteousness.)  This requires faith and intentional actions on our part.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak and then to be slow to anger as Jesus taught us.  He prayed for and blessed the people who persecuted Him, even from the cross. We cannot do this on our own, but God can enable us to conquer our innate selfish nature and so to love and bless those for whom we feel no love.

“Let us love one another, for love comes of God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  ---  If we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”  1 John 4 : 7 + 12b

Prayer:

O Lord, open our eyes that we may see the needs of others.

Open our ears that we may hear their cries.

Open our hearts so that they need not go without care.

Show us where love and hope and faith are needed,

And use us to ease other’s loads.

Show us how we may work for peace through Your strength and love. 

We ask this in Jesus’ name. 

Amen

24 Aug 2021

Image by Kyle Cottrell

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
   my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2

Reading:
Luke 4:1-13

Throughout the pages of Scripture we find affirmations of God’s protective love for God’s people. The Scripture reveals confidence in God’s protective presence in spite of the circumstances of the time.  The prophet Isaiah voices this truth of God’s presence saying,” I have taken you by the hand and kept you..” (Isaiah 42:6). The Psalmist affirms, “ The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1). Jesus assures us: “ I am the Good Shepherd; I know My own.”

(John 10: 11), and again in John 14:18 , “ I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.” (RSV). In the midst of the pandemic through which we live it is easy to wonder if perhaps God has not lost God’s grip. Many have died and families are mourning,  others have lost their source of income and struggle to make ends meet. Many are sick and pray and longs for healing. This pandemic, Illness,  death and suffering make us aware of our human vulnerability. The temptations and His suffering on the cross remind us of Jesus’ moments of vulnerability, but He entered those moments with an inner confidence in God’s protective love.  In His temptations Jesus rejected easy answers as a means of experiencing and communicating God’s love. The cross, a symbol of rejection and condemnation, Jesus embraces as God’s expression of love, forgiveness , grace and mercy. Jesus’ confidence was in God alone. God came to earth in Jesus embodying God’s searching, shepherding, and protective love. Let us continue to live through these moments with confidence in God’s love for a vulnerable humanity.

Prayer:

O God of love, grace and mercy,

we come seeking strength and courage for our lives

and the life of our community, St. Johns.

We ask for spiritual reinforcements to hold us and to guide us

through these uncertain times.

In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Amen

25 Aug 2021

Image by Felipe Giacometti

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 
Romans 10:9,10

What does it mean when we read that Jesus is Lord?
According to the Webster’s Dictionary, a “lord” is one who “has power and authority over others.” The greek word (kurios) as applied to Jesus meant exactly this.
The Savior who saved us when we received Him by faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot and do not receive Him as Saviour only. We receive Him as Lord and Savior.
When Paul says in Romans 10:9 that when we confess "Jesus is Lord", it is not a magic formula to seal a deal between us and Heaven. Rather it points to the type of relationship we need to have with our Saviour.
Scholar and minister  S.M. Zwemer makes a sobering statement about the lordship of Jesus Christ: "Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all." 
It is a challenge to all Christians to bring every area of our lives under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. In our lives there should be no rivalry for His throne.
For Jesus to be Lord of our lives means that He is the ruler, the boss, the master of our whole life. He cannot be Lord of a part — He must be given control of the entire life - the whole life, spirit, soul, and body. Everyday anew we need to yield our lives to Him. Allow Him to be in control. But we cannot do this in our own strength but only when we ask the Lord in prayer in faithful submission and invite Him to help us in our weakness.
Paul wrote to the Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
It is when we submit every aspect of our lives to the Lord that we will also experience the joy of the Lord
Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is our strength". The wonderful joy that happens when we accept His gift of righteousness through His grace which reunites us so we can enjoy His presence.

Romans 14:8
for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Come To Us
You Are One With Us, Mary’s Son.
Cleansing Our Souls From All Their Sin
Pouring Your Love And Goodness In

Jesus Our Love For You We Sing,
Living Lord.

Amen

26 Aug 2021

Image by David Beale

I will sing to the Lord all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 104:33

Reading:
Instruments of God
(by Joyce Rupp)

A small, wooden flute,

An empty, hollow reed,

Rests in her silent hand.

It waits the breath

Of one who creates song

Through its open form.

My often-empty life

Rests in the hand of God;

Like the hollow flute,

It yearns for the melody

Which only Breath can give.

The music of divine love plays uniquely in each person’s life.  This may be our God-given character, our talents and life’s experience.  The goodness of God makes its own melody.  The song of God needs an instrument to give it shape and voice.

We become an instrument of God, when we let go of our own needs to perform; when we are open to hear the cries for help from those around us.  We can become an instrument of God when we open ourselves and trust God to move through us, creating a song of harmony and goodness in us.

We often wish to meet God in our work situations, in our family lives, in our recreation times and more especially when we meet with others in worship.  We worry about unhealed hurts, financial worries and health problems, such as we are experiencing with the Covid pandemic.  We would love to feel God’s presence influencing our lives.

As the breath of God acted in creation, we need to allow it to flow through us to create a song and music in our lives as the breath of the flutist creates music with his breath.

The small wooden flute and I,

We need the one who breathes,

We await one who makes melody.

 And the one whose touch creates,

Awaits our empty, ordinary forms,

So that the song-starved world

May be fed with golden melodies.

Prayer:

“Glory be to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”  We pray this in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  Amen. 

 ( Ephesians 3 : 21)

27 Aug 2021

Image by Pisit Heng

For we live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

Reading:
1 Peter 3:3-9

Most Biblical scholars attribute e this writing to the Apostle Peter, or to a scribe writing on his behalf. The early church was facing great and growing persecution under a Roman tyrant named Nero. Peter felt compelled to send a message of hope and encouragement to a community of believers scattered all over the Roman Empire. Peter encouraged them to remain in a spirit of hope and holiness despite the persecutions. Peter was communicating with a community that was firmly grounded in a deeply committed faith and relationship in Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Peter uses the metaphor of gold that is cleansed of impurities through a refining fire, to convey the assurance of God’s presence in their struggle. Peter is aware that their struggle brings pain and death. Our struggle is different. There is no persecution, and yet we feel the pain of having lost loved ones, unemployment, hunger, homelessness and above all the pain of the vicious deaths of so many women.  When struggle and suffering capture our hearts and control the attention, to  of our spirits, we can see nothing but difficult days ahead. Peter calls the people of his day and us, not to ignore the reality of our time, but also to look beyond the immediate to see what can be. Then to ask: what must we do now to get there? In all of this, God is busy to shape a new future. Peter reminds us that struggles are temporary, but hope is eternal. Let us hold onto our faith in the Crucified and Risen Lord, because in Him and through Him God has something new in store for us.

Prayer:

Dear God of our lives, we thank You that You know us by name.

Keep us faithful to the highest and best,

in a world that would lure us to the lowest.

Hear our prayers for the poor and the oppressed,

who suffer the afflictions of poverty, abuse and neglect.

Forgive us if we have offended the light of Your love,

And help us to trust in Your love and mercy,

which is larger than our sin.

In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

AMEN.