Friday, May 25, 2018

Devotional 5-25-18

Bookend Celebrations
Pentecost and Trinity Sunday
Read Acts 2:1-42, John 3:1-17, 14-21, Romans 8:12-17

This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost: the Birth of the Church, the entering of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the Disciples.

Now I have to ask those that were in Worship: was not the Holy Spirit present in the Youth that so energetically and enthusiastically lead the Worship service?  I know I felt, just as the Disciples and John and Charles Wesley felt at a time in their lives, the Holy Spirit entering their hearts and changing their life.  Our Church and our life can be alive, just like this past Sunday as we listen for the Holy Spirit to enter us and to guide us.

This Sunday we Celebrate Trinity Sunday, the mystery of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is also Peace with Justice Sunday, a celebration of those that work in the world for Peace with Justice and calls us to allow the Holy Spirit guide our lives to work for Peace with Justice every day.

Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to lead you in your life.

Holy Lord, the whole earth is full of your glory! We are in awe of your majesty. In great kindness, you reveal yourself as the One who forgives us. You give us gifts and invite us to go into the world to tell your good news. Help us to respond in faith and go where you lead us each day. We dedicate our gifts so that our community will draw closer to you. Amen. (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Fred Herr

Friday, May 18, 2018

Devotional 5-18-18

John 5: 9-13    Jesus heals at the Pool

 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, " It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."  11 But he replied," The man who made me well said to me, "Pick up your mat and walk."  12 So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

This particular healing occurs in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate.  The area was used by a great many people who were blind, lame or paralyzed.  Jesus comes upon a invalid and commands him to pick up his mat and walk!  At once, the man was healed and did as Jesus directed.  However, this was the Sabbath and Jewish law demanded no work be done.  Instead of rejoicing at this great miracle the people criticized him for breaking the law.

How about you and your spiritual walk? Have you ever experienced true joy thru God only to have someone "steal" your moment? Or worse- have you ever accidentally minimized another person's mountain top experience by your concern for religious rule or order? 

We sometimes miss Christ interacting in our life.  Like society 2,000 years ago, we tend to get bogged down in the day to day trials of living.  Guided by the rituals of work/family/friends and the demands on our time we may not "see" Jesus moving in and among our daily struggles. But, just like the lame man at the pool, Jesus is there for us. Offering his healing touch and commanding each of us to go forth as his servants to do his will among the least of us!  May it always be so.

Prayer: Heavenly Father- help us to find your Joy in everything we do.  Keep us from being rigid in our spiritual life as we await that house not made with hands but eternal to the Heavens.  Amen

Marv Jones

Friday, May 11, 2018

Devotional 5-11-18

Holy Hurricane

Pentecost is a Christian holiday that is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter.  It occurs about ten days after the ascension of Jesus Christ.  It is signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the followers of Jesus while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks as described in the in the Acts of the Apostles.

There are some stories of how Jesus talked with the disciples before He ascended. He told them that they should not leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit arrived.  In Acts 2, the scene of the disciples in a room at Pentecost links the commitment of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church with the conclusion of Christ’s earthly ministry in the Upper Room before the crucifixion.

Descriptions of fire and wind in the Pentecost account resounds throughout the Old and New Testament. The sound of rushing wind and its might is always understood as under God’s control.  Another aspect of the account is the miraculous speaking of foreign tongues that enabled people from various language groups to understand the Apostles.  Many thought the Apostles were drunk but Peter convinced them otherwise.

The question is why did the Holy Spirit come with such force? Some research stated that God wanted to change the people and changing people is never easy.  The wind came like a “Holy Hurricane.” So many times when our country suffers from a hurricane, we learn that it brings the people closer together.  I remember when Houston, Texas was flooded.  We saw the people change.  They helped each other.  Physical possessions no longer mattered.  People’s lives became first concern for all. Everyone came closer, caring for the needy. It definitely worked in Jerusalem!  The words moved them, and they asked Peter what should they do? He told them to be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.  Peter preached a long sermon and over 3000 were baptized. They joined the others in attendance of the Holy Communion service.  A deep sense of awe was n all of them, and the Apostles did many miracles.

Hear Our Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Give us the sense of awe that your disciples felt as they began to preach your message among the people. Give us a sense of belonging to our church community.

Carol L. Brown

Friday, May 4, 2018

Devotional 5-4-18

JOHN 15: 9-17

I would imagine most of us know enough about Facebook to understand that using it is most commonly to help us keep in touch with friends. Someone asks you to be their friend and you accept; or you ask someone to be their friend and they accept.  You have gained the privilege of posting messages which they may read, and vice versa. Personally, I check Facebook perhaps twice a week, and reading through the posts, I can further communicate with my friends by clicking one of several little icons. You can like the comments or pictures, love them, laugh at their humor, show your utter surprise, indicate your sadness or your anger—quite a good selection, don’t you think?

I don’t do much clicking unless the comment or picture makes quite an impression on me. The ones I use most often are simply that I like it (thumbs up!)  or am quite moved by it in some way and I love it (red heart!).  

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus often addresses the disciples and sometimes others in the crowds that follow him as “my friends….” In the above passage, he says, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

If the above scripture reading were a post from Jesus on Facebook, what other response could I possibly have given than to click the little red heart?  His post is wonderful news!
 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

As we yearn to be part of the Body of Christ, let us reach out to others—even to those we may not know well, call them our friends, obey God’s commands, and click the little red heart.

It’s not so easy as clicking the little red heart on Facebook.  But—perhaps it could become so, if we did it as often as we do on Facebook! 

Diane Feaganes

Friday, April 27, 2018

Devotional 4-27-18

Fear Factor

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment."
1 John 4:18 NIV

It seems all too often l find myself with a heavy heart and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I contemplate the latest news. I lament “man’s inhumanity to man” and ask God why. Recently, the answer came. Fear. Fear of people who look different than we do, who have different beliefs, different customs, a different lifestyle. Fear that something will be taken away from us, be it something as small as a possession or as big as 'our way of life.'

Isn't that what happened to Jesus? Jesus was upsetting the status quo. He was shaking things up. The leaders of the Jews in Israel were afraid of him, afraid of losing the power they had, afraid of losing their 'way of life', so Jesus had to go!

We all know what happened next. Love triumphed! Love always triumphs. Let us all reach out in love and banish fear from this earth!

Margaret Williams

Friday, April 20, 2018

Devotional 4-20-18

Two excerpts from the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15: 11-32:

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. --Luke 15: 20

But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him. --Luke:15: 28

I find it fascinating how we can always find something new in a Bible passage we've read/heard many times. Rev. Barry Steiner Ball recently wrote a series of devotions applying the story of the Prodigal Son to our current opioid crisis. In one, he conjectured about the mother, who is not mentioned in the story which begins, "There was a man who had two sons..." How had I, a mother of four sons, never thought about that mother, whose son turned his back on his family and walked out the door?

Something else hit me as I read the story again. The father went out to/sought out both sons. When the younger son returned home, beaten down and repentant, his father ran to welcome him back into the fold. When the older son was sulking, the father left the party to find him, make sure he understood his thinking, and ensure him that he was still a valued member of the family.

The father made the effort to connect with both sons. God does the same. God makes the effort to connect with us.

In Methodism, we learn about Prevenient Grace. John Wesley understood grace as God's active presence in our lives. The presence is not dependent on human actions or human response. It is a gift--a gift that is always available, but that can be refused.

God's grace stirs up within us a desire to know God and empowers us to respond to God's invitation to be in relationship with God.

God takes the initiative in relating to humanity. We do not have to beg and plead for God's love and grace. God actively seeks us. (From the Our Wesleyan Heritage section on The  People of the United Methodist Church web page).

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving us before we even know you, and for pursuing us to bring us into your Kingdom. Help us, knock us on the head if necessary, to respond to your call. Amen.

Anita Gardner Farrell

Friday, April 13, 2018

Devotional 4-13-18

Chasing Rainbows

Many years ago my late husband, Keith, and I invited friends to join us at a reception celebrating our wedding. The day had been dull and dreary but as we neared the event the clouds parted and a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. We both smiled and declared it to be an omen of many happy years ahead. Indeed it was and our years together were blessed with happiness.

I have on my kitchen counter a Page-A-Day calendar with a new quote for each day. Today's quote reads, "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud today", written by poet Maya Angelou.

What a challenge! Can I meet that challenge today? Can I turn someone's cloud into a rainbow today?  Can you?

Revelation 4:3 and 10:1
Jean Dean