Friday, May 12, 2017

Devotional 5-12-17

“Hear  Our  Prayer”
Psalm 31, verses 1-5,
Verses 15 and 16:  “My times are in Thy hands: deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.   Let thy face shine upon thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love.”

A vivid childhood memory is that of observing my grandmother pack boxes to be shipped to Poland. Years before, at the conclusion of the First World War, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South sent several persons to Europe to determine where the Church might establish a presence to relieve some of the suffering inflicted from the War.  Poland was one of the countries.  Now, years later my grandmother received a letter from a person she knew writing on behalf of the Methodists remaining in Warsaw.  Life was difficult due to hardships imposed by the Communist regime.  They were in dire need of medicines and warm clothing. Could she help? There were challenges in mailing packages to Poland as boxes were frequently opened, searched and inspectors kept what they wanted for themselves.  This did not deter my grandmother.  Friends from church donated clothing requested. Whenever a new garment was given, she was off to the scrub board in the basement to fray the fabric just enough to make it unappealing to inspectors. A physician in the church donated medications normally dispensed by prescriptions only.  I watched as she skillfully sewed medications, one pill at a time, into the lining of a man’s overcoat or another prescription into the hem of a heavy wool skirt.  Some might say that she was ahead of the times in shipping pills into a country undetected!  She later learned that while not all boxes arrived completely intact, many did.  Certainly those who received the contents felt not only blessed but that a prayer had been answered.

A lectionary reading for this week is selected verses from Psalm 31 including the verses quoted above. It is a psalm attributed to David.   The psalmist prayed to God to save him from the hands of his adversaries.   While we do not know a lot about those persecuting him, it is clear that the psalmist placed his trust and reliance upon the steadfast love of the Lord.  He prayed to God to deliver him.  I was reminded when reading this passage how many times throughout history God has worked through ordinary persons to answer the prayers of another.   What was true in the past is also true now:  a card or call to a person whose prayer is to be remembered; time or resources to fill backpacks with food for children whose unspoken prayer is for something to eat over the weekend; personal contacts with someone who has rarely gone to church but wonders what it would be like to meet others in a setting of fellowship and acceptance. 

There is another dimension to the psalmist prayer.  He knew that his times were in God’s hands.  He asked for a blessing that God’s face might shine upon him and redeem him yet he also inclined his spirit to God’s safe keeping.  The psalmist opened his heart to God and so can we.

Gracious God, nudge us and use us in answering the prayers of others and when as the psalmist, we incline our spirits and needs to Thy loving care, Lord in Thy mercy, Hear our prayer.  Amen.

 (This devotion is dedicated to the loving memory of Virginia Bourne Darlington.)

Sue D. Woods

Friday, May 5, 2017

Devotional 5-5-17

Pleasing our God

Read Genesis 1:1-2:4, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20

Our God is a loving, a caring God that is easily pleased.  Pleased when the earth was created with all that is on the earth and above; the stars, the moon, the heavens and sun.

He created man and woman and was pleased.  We are all children of this great and awesome God.  He is pleased when we treat one another with acceptance, love and care.  His son, Jesus Christ is our example of how we are to treat each other. God is happy when we help the least of our brothers and sisters. The poor, the prostitute, the addicted, and equally our neighbors, the rich and on and on, with love and respect for all. Let us be the hands and feet for Jesus.  Let’s make our life one that is pleasing to God.

Fred Herr

Friday, April 28, 2017

Devotional 4-28-17

Read Luke 24: 13-35

Many Christians are faithful in attending worship, volunteering to serve in many aspects of their church; such as singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, serving on different Committees and helping out wherever called. This was my Christian life--just going through the motion. I knew that Jesus loves me-------but I had not felt his Love!

My life changed when I attended my walk to Emmaus. Fred had attended a walk first, I had not planed on attending until later. But when he came home after his walk, I saw such a difference in him, a big smile and a changed Christian man, with the love of Jesus in his heart.

I wanted that too! I attended my walk two weeks later and I am glad I did!

I have experienced the Love of Christ that he has for all of us! i know that some are not interested in attending the walk, but if you would like to have a closer relationship with Christ you might consider giving it a try, if someone should approach you. It is something that will change your journey with Christ. You might just like it and come back to your home and church a changed Christian. It is out there for you to experience for your self.

Just like the two men walking to Emmaus discussing what was taking place in their home land, when a stranger joined them and continued on with them.......they didn't know who he was until he was gone.

Their eyes were opened and they saw Jesus more fully!

Dear Father please let your children have the desire to know you and experience your love that you have for them. Lead and guide them the way that you desire them to follow.
Thanks you for the love and blessing you spread to all your people.
Hold everyone in your hand and comfort them all no matter where they are in in their journey with you.

All Gods children say,

Melanie Herr

Friday, April 21, 2017

Devotional 4-21-17

Shadow of Doubt

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 16; Acts 2: 4a, 22-32; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; & John 20: 19-31
“You never saw him, yet you love him.  You still don’t see him, yet you trust him---with laughter and singing.  Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to:  total salvation”. 
1 Peter 1:  8-9  (The Message)

It was a week of highs and lows, pain, disappointment, wonder, and awe.  Was it only last week??  We started Holy week with a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a celebration with a parade and then the week ended with the amazing miracle of the resurrection.  In between these two mountaintop experiences were some of the lowest of “downer” events: the anger of Jesus in the temple that had become a marketplace, the Upper Room Last Supper, the trial, mocking and scourging and then the ultimate crucifixion and death of Jesus.  It was a traumatic week filled, to say the least, but filled with miraculous love and redemption.

It is no wonder that after the crucifixion, the disciples experienced much anxiety and fear.  And after Easter, when he appeared to them on several occasions, they thought they were dealing with an imposter or a spirit of some kind.  I don’t think I would be any different.  Doubt is easy for me.  I can second guess myself and the circumstances of my life without any trouble at all.  Is that what God is really saying to me?  What is God sending me to do? Who am I supposed to care for??

And here we are, more than 2000 years past the actual events and we are still dealing with our doubts about these riveting events.  How do we cope with the unreality of the Holy Week events??  What do we do with those shadows of doubt?? What do we do with our lives to show that we do believe??  We can’t touch Jesus’ nail wounds to give us physical proof.  We don’t have a time machine so that we can go back and observe and “take notes” to fill in the gaps of time and knowledge.  We have to take it on faith that Peter and the gospel writers were relating the events as they happened.

There are not many “sure things” in this world.  But as the writer of 1Peter affirms:  “What a God we have!  And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!”  Peter was convinced of the truth of the situation beyond a “shadow of a doubt”.  He had no room for error, speculation or vacillation.  He was absolutely convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and through His amazing and wondrous love, had willingly sacrificed himself for our sins.

We are not promised a life free of aggravation, suffering or heartache.  Peter tells us that even pure gold must be refined in the fire.  Our faith in the resurrection means that our suffering in this life will be the proof of the fire that refines us for the wholeness and healing of the next life.  When we surrender our doubts to the God of Grace, His grace is sufficient for our every need, including our eternal life.

Dear God of Power and Grace, we thank you for your many gifts.  Most of all we are grateful for the gift of your son, Jesus.  We cannot easily believe that you love us so much that you would allow the death of your son for our sins, but we pray that you will help us with our unbelief.  Be with us as we struggle with this precious gift.  We thank you for the grace of your love for us and that we can be sure, beyond a doubt, that your love is dependable and faithful. We are thankful that we are yours and do not need to fear, because our eternal life has been arrangedAnchor.  AMEN!!

Chyrl Budd

“I serve a Risen Savior, He’s in the world today! … You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!!!”

Friday, April 14, 2017

Devotional 4-14-17

Please read Acts 10:24-43

Have you ever read something many times only to be suddenly hit by a passage that you had never really noticed before? That’s what happened to me when I read Acts 10:24-43. I was hit by not one, but two passages. The first was the second half of verse 28: “But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (NIV) The second came in verse 34: “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what’s right.’” (NIV) This reading is Peter, at God’s insistence, bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, bringing God’s love and acceptance to us. At that time Jews were not allowed to associate with us. We were the impure and unclean.

Peter arrived at the home of Cornelius, the centurion (a Gentile) with some of his brothers from Joppa. Cornelius was expecting him and had called together family and close friends. While Peter was telling them about Jesus, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The men who came with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out--even on Gentiles--even on us!

Is there any group of people that you would be astonished to find accepted by God? God does not show favoritism. We should not call anyone impure or unclean. We are each special to God.

The dark day is here, the day that Jesus died a horrible death for our sins. The good news is that Easter morning follows. On Easter we will shout Hallelujah! Christ the Lord is risen today! He is risen indeed--for everyone! Hallelujah!

Margaret Williams

Friday, April 7, 2017

Devotional 4-7-17

"You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.
James 2:1-4
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
Do you remember in the movie West Side Story, Anita sings to Maria, "Stick to your own kind, one of your own kind..."?
I'm glad I have not followed that advice in my life. When I was in grade school, I was fascinated by my Jewish friend's matzo sandwiches during Passover. Not one of my own kind, but my friend to this day. I'll admit, I didn't have an African-American friend until high school. Not because I came from a racist family. Unfortunately, that's just the way it was back then. My horizons broadened during college, but not a lot.
 I taught in a rural WV community for 3 years. I was in my 20's and knew everything and was quite superior and my first impression was "these poor country people." Well, guess what? Those poor country people had plenty to teach me!
Over the years, I made many friends via my children and their activities. I discovered over and over again that people who I first judged as a little rough around the edges were the very ones who would give you the shirt off their backs and would work long hours to send their kids on a band trip or make sure a sports team had a coach and uniforms. 
Some years ago, a Muslim woman was my substitute co-teacher for a year. We could easily share our faiths with each other and were eager to learn from each other. I consider her a precious sister.
Jesus said,  "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit._ (Matthew 28:19). Notice he said ALL THE NATIONS. He didn't say, "Go minister to people just like you." 
Stick to your own kind? No thanks!
Anita Gardner Farrell

Friday, March 31, 2017

Devotional 3-31-17

To Follow Christ
Here, O Christ, our sins we see,
Learn Thy love while gazing thus;
Sin, which laid the cross on Thee,
Love, which bore the cross for us.

Here we learn to serve and give,
And rejoicing, self-deny;
Here we gather love to live,
Here we gather faith to die.”
--Elizabeth Charles

When I read these words from an old Methodist hymnal recently, I felt that it expressed what I am thinking about during these days of Lent:  to look at Christ and his purity and his sacrifice, to see my sins, my lack of love, to learn of Him and to seek and follow Him more closely as long as I live.

Lent is a time to reexamine our lives, to seek to follow in Christ’s steps.  However, I know we need others to encourage us and to hold us in love.  May all of us who read our Lenten devotions, open our hearts, seek God’s presence, think about Jesus, and share his love in all the ways we can.
Please think on these verses:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:8-9

“Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”  Mark 8:34

Martha Casey