Friday, June 21, 2019

Devotional 6-21-19

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
 
Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)

Paul (although there is some disagreement among scholars that he was the author of Hebrews) makes the argument that faith, based upon the word of God, enables the believer to make the right decision when presented with a difficult choice.  Faith is synonymous with perseverance.  Chapter 11 of Hebrews recites the stories of several Old Testament figures to illustrate his point.

For example, Noah, when faced with the unknown after being warned of things not yet seen, was convinced by his faith in God that a flood was coming.  He persevered in the face of doubters and derision and stayed true to his belief.

Faith is the belief that God is right and if we pray and hold fast to our belief we will prevail in the end.  Whether the challenge is in our work, in a relationship, in school or even at Church, if we maintain our faith in God we will be all alright.
 
Lee Oxley

Friday, June 14, 2019

Devotional 6-14-19

That All May be One
Please read John 17:20-26

Have you ever had someone tell you that they had been praying for you? How did it make you feel--humble, touched, maybe even surprised because you hadn't realized that you were in need of prayer? I have read this passage many times, but this is the first time that it really struck me. Jesus prayed for us! He prayed for unity that we would be as one with God and with each other. Jesus prayed that the love God had for Him would also be in us! Words are hard to find that can explain how that makes me feel. God's love is in us, Jesus' love is in us! Do you feel the amazing awe of that?

In this diverse climate that we live in today, we surely need that prayer. How do we heal our decisive world? How can each of us use the talents that God has given us to replace hatred, distrust, and fear with hope? God's love is in us! Jesus' love is in us! How can we fail to share that amazing gift of love with the world?

Margaret Williams

Friday, June 7, 2019

Devotional 6-7-19

This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the church, the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples of Christ after his ascension.  But who/what is the church? Who are we today?

As I was contemplating this writing, the song “We are the church” came to mind.  As the song says “we are the church, you are the church”.  The church is not a building; the church is the people.  Many kinds of faces, ages, from many places and from many times.  There are times we march, times we hide but we are always learning.  When we the church gather we sing, pray, laugh and even cry.  But we are always saying WE ARE THE CHURCH!!

We the people of JM or any congregation, are many, we all have many gifts and talents that God has given us to share as one body.  (Romans 12:4-8).  For any church to live out our mission of making disciples for Christ (Matthew 28:19) .  We need to work together, and we are not to expect the clergy to do it all.  Jesus didn’t do his Ministry alone; he called on his disciples as well.

As the church we are called to love all.  “Romans 12:9-17 CEB: 9Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.

I believe that our JM Mission statement sums it all up, as a church/people of Christ.

“The mission of Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church is to bring others to Christ, embrace them with love, nurture everyone in faith, worship God joyfully, and reach out in service to the world.”

Let’s pray, God thank you for your love of all persons, thank you for our guide Jesus Christ.  May we be led to be the church for all in the world, as WE ARE YOUR CHURCH. May the Holy Spirit be our driving force.  Amen

The Holy Spirit be with you.

Fred Herr

Hymn “We are the Church”  BY DONALD S. MARSH; RICHARD K. AVERY

Friday, May 31, 2019

Devotional 5-31-19

For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15)

If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:8)

 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I like that Facebook shows what I posted in previous years each day. Recently, a post was from 2013. I had had a cyst removed from my knee, and I was publicly thanking the doctor, nurses, and staff at the out-patient surgery center, plus my daughter-in-law who was my chauffeur, and finally my son, Marty, "who made me a killer peanut-butter and jelly sandwich that was so God."

My first reaction was, "stupid auto-correct," or, "stupid me and my typos." But the more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe it was right on. I would suggest that showing a kindness is a God-thing.

A little thing like a peanut-butter sandwich means a lot to someone who hasn't eaten all day, in this case because of the anesthesia. A simple smile or kind word might be just what someone needs to get them through a hard day. A meal or a visit during a time of crisis can mean the world to someone. God-things.

Does one have to be a Christian to deliver kindness? No, but as Christians, we have the example of Christ and because of his love for us, we are compelled to pass it on.

I challenge you to do a God-thing today.

Anita Gardner Farrell

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Devotional 5-24-19

Falling Apart
 
I have a terrible fear of heights. I haven’t always had it. There were times in my youth that I climbed neighborhood trees, dived off of the Riverside Club high diving board, and found myself on the roof of Meadows Elementary School. But sometime during my teen years, I found I could no longer do any of those things.

When I began driving, I noticed that I became very apprehensive if I didn’t know exactly where I would end up because steep roadways scared me beyond reason. When I learned to snow ski, I was very cognizant of black diamond signs that could lead me to certain death, or at least certain pain! I have never sought professional help for my phobia, but I suspect it has something to do with being a control freak. Anyway, because of my fear, I shy away from trips to Gatlinburg or celebrations of the New River Gorge Bridge Day!

Recently Jon and I attended his nephew’s wedding in Washington, DC. We decided to do some sight seeing while there, and I had already mentioned that I would not be taking the tiny elevator to the top of the Washington Monument. I couldn’t really think of any other “high” adventures to avoid, and he agreed to my terms.
We stayed in Arlington, Virginia, right across the Potomac River. I was really excited that we’d be taking the nearby subway into DC. We walked the few blocks to the Rosslyn Metro Station, purchased our Metro cards, and headed for the escalator. At the edge, I looked straight down 207 feet and froze. The black moving staircase was beckoning me to my death, and I was having none of it.

I looked at Jon and cried, “I can’t do this!” He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t cajole. He didn’t argue. He simply stepped in front of me, enfolded me in his arms, and said, “Close your eyes. I won’t let you fall.” I did as he said, knowing that he would keep me safe.
As we traveled into the bowels of the earth, a hymn from my childhood played in my head, and although I couldn’t remember all of the words, I knew it had to do with God holding me in his arms in times of trouble.

There are several stanzas, but the following are the ones that came to me that day.

“God Be with You till We Meet Again”
      By Jeremiah E. Rankin 1880

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

If you’re falling apart due to grief, fear, addiction, or loneliness, my escalator story may sound trivial, but Jesus and his modern–day disciples guided me through some pretty frightening situations. They want to help. Let them put their arms around you. They won’t let you fall.

Heavenly Father, thank you for those you have sent to help me through times of trouble. Let me now be that disciple who enfolds someone who is falling apart and say, “Close your eyes. I won’t let you fall.”

Amen

Becky Warren

Friday, May 17, 2019

Devotional 5-17-19


Hallelujah!

The Message has been used for this devotion
 Psalm 148

As I sit on our screened-in porch writing, I hear the beautiful sound of birds singing. How long will it last, I ask myself, as the sky darkens in the west, and the wind begins to blow. I think to myself, not again! Is the rain ever going to stop?

And I pick up my laptop and head inside. Settled in and ready to continue, I read the Psalm listed for this week’s devotion, Psalm 148. The Psalm continues along the theme of giving praise, as I learn in verse13, " to the name of God--It’s the only Name worth praising.”  The psalmist mentions God’s angels and warriors in praise of Him. Then he jumps to some of the most beautiful of God’s creation as giving praise as well. Who would think that the sun, the moon, the morning stars, heaven, and yes--even the heavenly rain clouds, would join in praising the name of God!  “Praise, oh let them praise the name of God. He spoke the word, and there they were! He set them in place from all time and eternity, He gave his orders, and that’s it!”

The Psalm goes on to include listing of men and women of the whole world; and animals of all types, shapes and sizes, hills and mountains, and the acts of nature, such as hurricanes, all created by God, the psalmist says, and all should praise Him.

So what is the psalmist trying to say? How does an inanimate object, a non-human without a mind, or feelings, or understanding, praise God? Through their actions, just as we can. The rain beats down heavily on the earth, and its companions, the thunder and lightning, share their praise in concert with it. The stars? They twinkle or shine a steady beam of light from the heavens. The hills and the mountains are joined by the sun and the moon in praising their creator, all day, all night, as their light plays along their valleys.

God’s creatures, both wild and domestic, speak in their own way with growls and howls, with their music compositions, with their tramping and running. Some bark. Some meow. Some moooo. Some baaaa. Their ways of praise for their creator are many and diverse, and I believe they are praising God.

And us? What about us? We can sing our praises or pray directly; just like God’s creations, we can praise Him through our actions. It’s a curious thing that the psalmist includes the creations of God’s world in praise with us!

Lord, your amazing creations join us, and in their own way, praise your Holy Name with us. It is one way to let You know how much we love you, and how grateful we are for Your love.  Amen.

Diane Feaganes


Friday, November 9, 2018

Devotional 11-9-18


Please read Zephaniah 3:14-20

I remember.  I remember in the months following the births of our sons, holding them, and marveling over them. They were tiny and new and miraculous.  I remember standing and rocking them, swaying on my feet, and singing to them, overwhelmed with the love I felt for each of them. 

If you’ve held a newborn, I imagine you can understand and relate to this.  When they are so small and so new, they are innocent and amazing. We hold them close and sing over them in joy.

The book of Zephaniah is set in the time of King Josiah of Judah.  Josiah was king of Judah just before the invasions by the Babylonians that ultimately caused the fall of Judah and the exile to Babylon.  The words of Zephaniah are prophecies meant to warn the people of Judah of coming judgment and consequences.  Zephaniah 1:17b says, “because they have sinned against the Lord, their blood shall be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung.”  Read the book, but be warned that it is not very pleasant.

It is a book of judgment against Judah, but at the very end, in the verses of our reading today, it is as if God says, “I remember.”

“[The Lord] will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud signing as on a day of festival.”  (Zephaniah 5:17b)

What is grace? I think this verse is an example of what grace is.  Even though God knows – and completely understands – the wickedness and disloyalty of his people, God remembers that they are his.  God remembers what it was like to create these children in his own image. God remembers how much God loves us – the people of Judah and us.  That memory of love is so much stronger than anything else. 

As you move through Advent, remember:

The Lord rejoices over you with gladness. 
The Lord renews you with his love.
The Lord exults over you with loud singing
As if it were the day of your birth.

And when you are angry or upset or disappointed with someone else, remember these words.  The Lord rejoices over ALL of us with singing – yes, even that person.

Remember that, as God remembers us.

Prayer: Creating, loving, sustaining God, remember your love of us. Recreate us daily in your own image so that we can see others as you see them, and remember the love you have for our neighbors and for us.  In your son’s name we prayer together, Amen.