Devotions for July 6 – July 11

This week we have the opportunity to read about Communion. Pastor Paul preached a sermon this past Sunday called, “Communion Refresher.” May you be refreshed by reading these Scriptures and devotions this week.

Enjoy! Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, July 6

Read Isaiah 27:7-9

The ninth verse is especially powerful.

“My soul yearns for you in the night,

My spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

For when your judgments are in the earth,

The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

The writer of this verse expressed a deep desire to connect to God. Most of us might relate to the writer wanting to relate to God at night. If you find yourself awake at night you most likely would love to connect to God. 

Participating in the Lord’s Supper offers us this connection. When we drink from the cup and eat the bread that is offered we are connected by the Holy Spirit to the living God—Jesus Christ. Whether we feel this connection or not, we still are connected.

The next time you have a hard time sleeping, remember what Communion is like. Close your eyes and picture in your mind the act of taking the bread and the cup. This connection can settle us and help us connect.

 

Tuesday, July 7

Read Genesis 17:1-14

Pastor Paul shared in the sermon this past weekend that circumcision and the Passover were sacraments in the Old Testament. In both circumcision and the Passover God had shared a covenant. In this story we read how God shared a covenant with Abram. God shared that Abram’s name would be changed to Abraham and that Abraham would be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. This resulting generations of Abraham would be the community of followers.

God shared that people would be known as part of this community through circumcision. This was the sign of the covenant.

Communion is a sign of the new covenant. We can’t see the resulting mark of Communion, but a person’s spirit is drawn to God through Communion. A person’s spirit is marked.

Think yourself today how Communion has made a difference in your own life. How has your spirit been marked by this gift of grace from God?

 

Wednesday, July 8

Read Exodus 12:1-12

The Passover was the second sacrament in the Old Testament. Through the Passover the Israelites were liberated from Egypt. God passed over the Israelites and saved them from death. The first born of the Egyptians were killed. Pharaoh was so enraged that he let the Israelites go from slavery.

This is a hard story if you were an Egyptian. It’s hard to reconcile the level of violence that took place so that the Israelites could be free.

This is a wonderful story if you were an Israelite and eventually a Jew. The people remember the Passover by celebrating the Passover meal. When Jesus gathered with the disciples the night before Jesus was killed they gathered to celebrate this Passover meal. The Lord’s Supper or Communion became a new sacrament.

People see the relationship between the death and resurrection of Jesus to the Passover. Just as Jesus died, the first-born of the Egyptians died. Just as Jesus was raised and released from death, the Israelites were released from slavery.

Knowing this story deepens our appreciation for Communion.

 

Thursday, July 9

Read Luke 7:36-50

Jesus often shared meals with his followers. In fact, seven times Luke wrote about Jesus sharing a meal in this gospel.

These meals give us a “taste” of what it was like to celebrate Communion or the Lord’s Supper with Jesus.

In this meal Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to enjoy a meal. The events of the meal revealed that the Pharisee was more interested in following the law and being holy than loving his neighbor.  His neighbor was a woman—who was identified as a sinner and came to anoint the feet of Jesus.

She literally gave of herself to anoint the feet of Jesus. This was an incredible gesture by the woman who was willing to give everything she had to bless Jesus.

The Pharisee didn’t “see” what was happening. All he could see was a “sinful” woman was touching Jesus.

When we celebrate Communion we are given the opportunity to see what Jesus sees. When we come into the presence of Jesus through Communion we receive an entirely different outlook on the world. We shed the judgmental eyes that the Pharisee demonstrated in this story.

 

Friday, July 10

Read Matthew 26:17-29

This is Matthew’s version of the Passover meal.  The room was not special. It was in a house of an unnamed man whom Jesus knew about. The disciples were to find this man and share that the time was near for Jesus. 

While they were gathered to celebrate the Passover Jesus acknowledged that one of the twelve would betray him.

Then he shared some of the most well-known words in history.

“Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat, this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28

As you pray today, give thanks to God for this story, these words of Jesus, and all the ways that Communion refreshes your spirit.

 

Saturday, July 11

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to a community that was very divided. He believed and hoped that the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist could bring people together.

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon last week that different beliefs about Communion have divided the church. This is a tragedy and was never the intent of what Jesus wanted when he instituted the Last Supper.

Today as you pray, pray that the Lord’s Supper can bring people together. Pray that in this era of division and partisanship, we can look forward to celebrating Communion with all people—particularly people with whom we have large differences.

 
 
Devotions for June 29 – July 4

Romans 5:1-11 is one of the most important passages in the Bible. In these verses the Apostle Paul shared a foundation teaching for our faith—that of grace. This grace happened because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Knowing this passage is important for our faith. When we grow in our understanding of what the Apostle Paul was saying, we grow in our own faith. This week Pastor Paul is writing a devotion on the different sections of this verse. Look at this devotion as your own personal Bible Study.

Enjoy! Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org. 

 

Monday, June 29

Read Romans 5:1-2

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

Paul started out this foundational passage with the word, “therefore.” It shows how he was summing up his argument.

To say that we are justified by faith means as humans we are put into relationship with God. God is the provider of this justification. As humans we don’t justify ourselves—we are the recipient of what God has done for us. This justification is a gift.

The result of justification is peace. We are put into contact with a force that leads us to peace. This is the “peace” that Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:7, “the peace that surpasses all understanding will put our heart and mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What does it mean to you that you have access to this peace? How does having this access to peace influence the way that you look at God. The result of this beautiful gift of grace is peace. Live in peace today!

 

Tuesday, June 30

Read Romans 5:3a

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

This is a counterintuitive thought from Paul—people boast in their sufferings. This idea of boasting is not bragging. It’s like acknowledging our sufferings and even (as the New International Version puts it) rejoicing in suffering.

For three weeks Pastor Paul has been preaching about the suffering that people are currently experiencing. He’s been asking the question, “How can we find meaning in this bad time?”

To experience suffering doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us; it doesn’t mean that we are being punished by something we’ve done wrong; it doesn’t mean that we are experiencing bad luck.  Suffering is an inevitable part of being human.

Accepting suffering goes a long way towards minimizing the disillusionment that some have towards God and life when suffering happens.

How do you look at suffering? Are you afraid of it? Do you do everything in your power to prevent it?

Talk to God today about these questions.

 

Wednesday, July 1

Read Romans 5:3b-5

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

Suffering can lead us to a path that Paul illustrated in these verses.  Suffering leads to endurance and character and eventually hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

To boast in our sufferings mean we are not afraid of suffering; it means that we see the potential for ourselves that can result from our suffering; and it means that we freely talk about suffering from others.

This idea about suffering is profoundly counter-cultural. Our culture will do almost anything to help us avoid suffering.  Some pay thousands of dollars to trainers to help develop a body that avoids suffering.

However, suffering is inevitable. We don’t have to be afraid of it. Suffering can lead us to hope—and hope does not disappoint us!

 

Thursday, July 2

Read Romans 5:6-7

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

The death of Jesus on the cross and his subsequent resurrection gave all people who heard the message a connection.  Paul wrote that rarely will someone die for a righteous person, but Jesus died for us when we were weak. No one needed to prove themselves worthy to receive this gift of grace. Because we are human everyone received it

What’s most important is that you—you who are reading this devotion—have received this gift of grace. You do nothing to earn this gift. You receive it. 

This gift of grace connects you with other humans. Jesus died for everyone else too.

How is your life different because you’ve received this gift of grace? How can you celebrate this connection you have with other humans that God has given? Talk to God about these questions today.

 

Friday, July 3

Read Romans 5:8-9

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

This message is similar to the message we read about yesterday. While we were sinners Jesus died for us. Each of us has been justified by the blood of Jesus.

Some people have seen this message as connecting back to the Passover. When the Israelites were going to escape from Egypt, The Israelites put blood on their doorpost. God passed over the people and did not kill the first born of their family. The blood of the lamb saved them. Read about the story in Exodus 12.

The cross of Jesus has put blood on our own doorpost. We don’t receive death but life from God. Just as the Israelites escaped from bondage, we can escape from bondage too.

 

Saturday, July 4

Read Romans 5:10-11

This week we’re reading a foundational passage in the Bible—Romans 5:1-11

We’re back to boasting. And again as on Tuesday we learn that boasting in this passage doesn’t mean bragging. It means acknowledging the gift of grace that God has given us.

All of us are reconciled to God. This reconciliation doesn’t happen because of us. It happens because God has taken the initiative through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We receive this gift and open it up. When we receive it and open it up we experience reconciliation.

Imagine a Christmas tree where no one opened their gifts. What a waste of a gift, paper, and the effort put into the gift by the gift giver. In a similar way we don’t want to waste the gift of grace that God has given to us. We want to open it up. When we do open up the gift we are reconciled to God.

In that we can boast!

 
 
 
Devotions for June 22 – 27

When bad things happen in the world some people look at it as bad luck.

Luck is something that many people embrace to some degree. People place bets based on probabilities, people try to contact spirits to tell them what to do, people engage in different spiritualities.

These strange types of spiritualities can be found in different stories in the Scriptures. This week we have the opportunity to read some.

Enjoy!

 

Monday, June 22

Read 1 Samuel 28:3-15

Saul was in a panic about what was happening. The Philistines had gathered their forces for war. Saul saw their forces and knew that they were greater than his. Saul cold not foresee winning this war. He thought he was going to die.

When he was in a panic he inquired of God about what to do. God did not answer him by the ways that God communicated with people—through dreams, by Urim (using stones to inquire what God wanted, similar to casting of lots) or through the prophets.

Not hearing from God most likely compounded Saul’s panic.

Then he did something out of the ordinary. He consulted a person who was dead. This was called necromancy. A person consulted a dead person to try to learn about the future.

Saul couldn’t live with not knowing what was going to happen. In his panic he participated in an odd spirituality.

When people are under great stress, they often create odd spiritualities to explain what is happening. 

How do you see this today when the world is suffering from COVID-19 and the divisions of race?

 

Tuesday, June 23

Read 2 Kings 21:1-9

Manasseh was known as one of the worst kings of Judah. Some blamed Manasseh for upsetting God so much that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and took many people of Judah into exile.

What did Manasseh do? He practiced all sorts of strange spiritualities.

“He made his son pass through fire; he practiced soothsaying and augury and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.” (2 Kings 21:6)

It’s hard to compare luck or playing games of change or making bets based on probability to what Manasseh did. Manasseh deliberately did not do what God commanded or was a role model for that.

This made God very angry.

 

Wednesday, June 24

Read Psalm 103:6-18

This passage is a wonderful and well-known description of God and the qualities or nature of God. No one needs to be afraid of God. Why? The qualities in these verses make the case.

This passage is worth committing to memory. Try memorizing the first section.

“The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

Psalm 103:6 – 10

 

Thursday, June 25

Read Romans 8:18-25

In these verses the apostle Paul wrote how even when people are in pain or going through a hard time, they still wait with hope for the revealing of the children of God.

Pastor Paul shared in his sermon this past weekend that a survey came out that showed that right now people’s level of happiness is at the lowest level in quite a long time. It’s as if these verses in Romans could be written to describe our present age.

When we find ourselves unhappy, our task is not to turn to spiritualities that we would never turn to when we are doing well. Instead, the apostle Paul would ask us to stay the course today. Don’t give up on God or the beauty of God. Instead wait with patience for the revealing of God’s way.  

 

Friday, June 26

Read Romans 8:26-28

This passage continues from yesterday.

Paul believed that life will turn out good for those who love God. This is hope. It’s the choosing of the right and just path for ourselves or for a person who is close to us.

If you feel overwhelmed by the events of the world—take heart! All things will work for good for those who love God and are committed to his purpose. Claim this Scripture as you look out at your life and make significant decisions.

God’s Spirit is working through followers of Jesus. Claim the Spirit’s direction and choose hope!

 

Saturday, June 27

Read Matthew 6:25-33

God’s providence makes the choosing of luck as a response to life as unnecessary. This Scripture reveals part of this providence. God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. If God can care about these seemingly insignificant items, then we can take hope that God cares about us.

We don’t need luck or other rituals or something that might seem a bit strange. We know already that God loves us and is present to us.

As you pray today, pay particular attention to how God is present to you. Where is God present? In what ways do you notice God’s presence? Share some times with someone close to you about when you experienced God’s presence. Even when we’re suffering, we experience God. We don’t need luck to go forward; we need God!

 
 
Devotions for June 15 – 20

God’s will or intention is an important part of our faith story. This week we have the opportunity to read stories about God’s will. Hopefully by using this devotion we can all move closer to living out God’s will in our own life.

Enjoy!!

 

Monday, June 15

Read Matthew 6:7-13

This prayer that has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer is right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. In this way the prayer centers this marvelous teaching of Jesus.

In the prayer Jesus taught people to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The central reality is God’s will is done in heaven. Whatever picture we have of heaven describes God’s will. 

For many, heaven is a place of peace and righteousness and justice. People are not snared by divisions or sins. The best of people comes out.

One task of the church is to create this heaven on earth. Heaven is not just a realm that is separate from earth; instead it is a realm that we as humans, with God’s help, create.

Take a moment to imagine what heaven is like. Pray silently and imagine heaven; or write out a description of heaven; or use another form to describe heaven.

Having an understanding of heaven can help each of us live out God’s will here on earth.
 

Tuesday, June 16

Read Romans 12:1-2

The second verse of this chapter is worth committing to memory. If you don’t have it memorized perhaps you could try to memorize it today.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Try the 3-2-1-1-2-3 method of memorization. Read it three times and then try saying it from memory; read it two times and then try saying it from memory; read it one time and say it from memory; say it one time from memory and then read it; say it two times from memory and then read it; say it three times from memory and then read it.

This verse shares that experiencing God’s will is an ongoing process. It’s not as if a person experiences God’s will and then is done. We experience it over and over and over again—and when it happens we are transformed by the experience.

What is good and acceptable and perfect to you? When you discern or discover that, then you are close to God’s will.

 

Wednesday, June 17

Read John 5:30

This one verse is part of a big story of Jesus sharing his own identity after healing a sick man on the Sabbath. Healing a man on the Sabbath was controversial. Jesus not only had courage to share this healing, he also then shared how he viewed himself.

In this one verse we read that Jesus was always seeking to do the will of his Abba, Father. Jesus was dependent on his Abba to discover and live out the will of God.

On Sunday, Pastor Paul talked about how the will of God can be best represented by Jesus. If we are wondering about discovering the will of God in a particular situation, we can think and reflect about Jesus.  What would Jesus do in this situation? How would Jesus approach the situation? What personal qualities in the situation would Jesus communicate? Answers to these questions will help us know what God’s will is.

Take these questions and use them as a guide for discovering God’s will.

 

Thursday, June 18

Read Ephesians 1:3-14

“God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, …” Ephesians 1:5

The last five words of the verse that is shared reveal the goodness of God’s will.

It is easy to think that God’s will places boundaries or limits on what we can do. But here we see that the thelema (the Greek word for will) of God is a good pleasure. When we live out and communicate the will of God we are experiencing good pleasure.

God’s will is not something to resist, but instead is something to embrace.

How do you view God’s will? Is it something to embrace or is it something that puts severe limits on your life? As you ponder these two questions, offer them to God in a prayer. Perhaps through your prayer you will experience this good pleasure.

 

Friday, June 19

Read Luke 10:17-22

This is one of the first times that Jesus empowered a group of people beyond the 12 disciples who traveled with him. When the seventy came back to Jesus they overjoyed because they had so much success. They saw Satan fall from heaven. Jesus had had commissioned the group of seventy to have authority over Satan, the enemy and on snakes and scorpions.

This might seem a bit odd, but a key part of this story is the authority that Jesus was giving a group of people.  Jesus took delight that these seventy saw God’s will in action.

Jesus is willing to commission each of us to live out God’s will. Sometimes we have to ask God to give each of us the authority to live out God’s will. Try one of the following prayers today.

“Give me the courage to live out and express God’s will.

Help me be a witness to your will.

Help me communicate what is important for you.”

 

Saturday, June 20

Read Acts 21:7-14

The Apostle Paul was near the end of his life when he shared these words.  He was willing to do anything for God. We can read this readiness to share himself in this story.

“What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.””

Acts 21:13-14

Paul had reached the point in his life where his most significant accomplishment would be to do God’s will. This is faith at its highest level.

Perhaps you are living your own life in a place where you don’t care about God’s will. If you’d like to turn your life over to God, try sharing a prayer. Tell God that you would like to do better, and would like to communicate God’s will.

 
 
Devotions for June 8 – 13

This week we have the opportunity to read different “call” stories in the Bible. In each story a person has a decision to make. God helps the person make the right decision. But the way this happens is different in each story. These stories can help us understand how God works within us when we have to make a decision.

Enjoy!

 

Monday, June 8

Read Jeremiah 1:4-10

Whenever we are discerning about a direction we are taking in life, it can be helpful to remember how deeply God knows us. God knows every part of our being—our physical, and emotional and spiritual being. God knows these parts of us better than we know ourselves.

God told Jeremiah that God knew Jeremiah deeply. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;” Jeremiah 1:5

It’s the knowledge of Jeremiah that led God to ask him to be a prophet. God knew that Jeremiah had the skills and gifts to do the task that God wanted Jeremiah to do.

How does this relate to us as when we are discerning a direction in our life? Since God knows us so well (like God knew Jeremiah), our discernment of a direction should start with our prayer life and prayer petitions. God knows us; because God knows each of us so well, God knows if a possible direction in life is a healthy way to go.

God has ideas about the direction of our life. Our task is to pray deeply. Sometimes it might not seem like our prayers are answered right away about a direction in our life. But if we keep praying and keep asking, and are patient with God, a direction from God will take place.

 

Tuesday, June 9

Read Ruth 1:15-22

Ruth had a decision to make. She was Naomi’s daughter-in-law. She could travel with Naomi to Moab or she could leave Naomi as Orpah (Naomi’s other daughter-in-law) did.

It would have made sense for Ruth not to travel with Naomi, Ruth was a different nationality than Naomi, and Ruth was a widow. Because of the patriarchal times, Ruth needed to have a husband. She would have better possibilities finding a husband by staying where she was compared to traveling with Naomi.

Ruth chose to travel with Naomi. Her declaration of loyalty is inspiring:

“Where you go I will go;

Where you lodge, I will lodge;

Your people shall be my people,

And your God my God.

Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.

May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

Ruth 1:16-17

 

Loyalty might seem to be an overrated quality as loyalty isn’t lifted up often as something desirable. But using loyalty as the basis for a decision is healthy. Ruth is an example of this.

 

Wednesday, June 10

Read Exodus 3:1-6, 4:10-17

Moses didn’t want to follow God’s request to go to Egypt to be the person who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt. In chapters 3 & 4 of Exodus, Moses gave many reasons to God why Moses was not the person to do what God wanted. God was not deterred. God saw something in Moses that Moses didn’t see in himself.

Often this is the case in a relationship with God. God sees something in us that we don’t see in ourselves. In fact a powerful prayer could be, “Lord, help me see myself as you see me. Help me see qualities in myself that you see, but I don’t see.”

Eventually Moses did go back to Egypt. God answered every objection that Moses had. God was even willing to send Aaron, the brother of Moses to speak for Moses as Moses was unsure of his own speaking abilities.

 

Thursday, June 11

Read 1 Samuel 1:12-19

Hannah was accused by Eli of being drunk. Eli thought he saw Hannah praying silently. Her lips moved but her voice could not be heard.

Eli confronted Hannah about his belief that she was drunk. Hannah stood up for herself, “No my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16

Hannah stood up for herself even though Eli, as a priest had power over her. It would have been easier for Hannah to accept what Eli said. But Hannah didn’t do this. She wouldn’t let Eli define her.

As we are discerning a direction to take, it’s important to claim our own identity and not let another person define us incorrectly. Our own sense of identity will help us with the decisions we are making. Having answers to questions like, “who am I?” “What are my strengths and gifts?” “How can I use my strengths and gifts in this possibility?” When we act from our own sense of identity we lift up a higher possibility of success.

 

Friday, June 12

Read Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah received a vision from God in the Temple. Isaiah saw God sitting on a throne high and lofty in the Temple. These verses go on to share what Isaiah saw in the Temple and how God called Isaiah to go be a prophet.

It’s important to see in the first verse of this story that the vision Isaiah received happened during the year that King Uzziah died. Uzziah was a king who represented great promise to the people of Israel. His life was so important that this story was marked by his passing. This acknowledgment of Uzziah’s death would be similar to a story starting with “it was the year that President Lincoln died” or “it was the year that President Kennedy died.” Their deaths were significant.

In this hard time God have Isaiah a vision. God does not leave us alone to address the challenges in the world. God wanted Isaiah to share a message with the people of Israel. God had a plan “B” for what would happen with Uzziah gone. God is always willing to share a vision of life with us too.

 

Saturday, June 13

Read Luke 1:26-28

An angel shared with Mary an incredible vision. Mary would have a son and the son would “be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of this kingdom where will be no end.” Luke 1:31-32

This incredible vision was understandably confusing to Mary. She was a virgin. She shared her doubts with the angel. The angel responded to Mary by sharing what would happen.

Sometimes we don’t know about God’s direction. But if we keep praying, and asking, and listening, God will eventually respond to us. Part of faith is patiently waiting while doing what we can to find the right direction.

 

 

Devotions for June 1 – 6

This past Sunday, congregations across the world celebrated Pentecost. On Pentecost the birthday of the church and the gift of the Holy Spirit are celebrated.  This combination is important to remember. Chain of Lakes Church (or any church) cannot be a church without the Holy Spirit. At the core Chain of Lakes is a spiritual organization. 
 
Presbyterians have historically had problems with the idea of the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians are stereotypically known as “head” people. What people think about God is important. This has resulted in Presbyterians having a grand tradition of theological thinking. 
 

What people know about God is important, but head knowledge is not enough. Every one of us is called to know God through our heart—to value experiences of God. These experiences happen because of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

The following readings share some basic teaching about the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures share many other places where the Holy Spirit is mentioned, but these five give an introduction to questions like “Who is the Holy Spirit” and “What happens when the Holy Spirit is active?” and “Where does the Holy Spirit originate? Enjoy!!

 

Monday, June 1

Read Genesis 1:1-8

In the New Revised Standard translation (NRSV) of verse two we find the word, wind. The word comes from the Hebrew word, “ruah.” It is the wind from God or the wind of God. The New International Version (NIV) translates the word as Spirit. 

This wind, Ruah, is the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit. In this story the wind or Spirit of God started creating from nothingness or chaos. 

Who is the Holy Spirit? One definition is the wind of God. This wind creates out of chaos.

We might be experiencing chaos in our life right now, or we might know of someone who might be experiencing chaos. 

As you pray today, pray that you or this person might experience “ruah,” the wind of God, the Holy Spirit. Pray that the person might experience God’s creative power. That something will be formed out of chaos.

 

Tuesday, June 2

Read Galatians 5:16-26

The Apostle Paul encouraged people to live by the Spirit. One result of living by the Spirit is the Fruit of the Spirit. This Fruit is a powerful description of Christian character. In verse 22 we read nine characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These nine characteristics are the working of the Holy Spirit.  To use a metaphor, think of the Spirit as the seed and the resulting fruit as these nine characteristics.

Which of these nine characteristics come easy to you? Which of these nine come more difficult? If you are doing this devotion with another person, have some conversation about these two questions.

As you pray today, pray to live out all nine of these characteristics. Pray that people will know you by the Fruit of the Spirit. And, pray that we at Chain of Lakes can be people who are known by the Fruit of the Spirit.

 

Wednesday, June 3

Read John 20:19-23

The disciples were scared to death as they were with each other; they were afraid for their lives. Then Jesus appeared to them, breathed on them, and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” 

Another description of the Holy Spirit is the breath of God, in this case the breath of Jesus. 

In some ways this story is similar to the second creation story in Genesis 2 where the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into the man the breath of life. The disciples received life from the breath of Jesus; the man received life from the breath of God.

Where could you use the breath of God today? Imagine Jesus breathing on you—that you are receiving the Holy Spirit.  Imagine that you are experiencing life because of this divine breath.

 

Thursday, June 4

Read John 14:15-31

Another description of the Holy Spirit is the Advocate. Jesus was sharing with his disciples that even though he would be leaving them physically, he would give them this Spirit of truth.  Another way to describe the Advocate is “helper” or “comforter.” The Advocate would be the spiritual presence of Jesus. This Advocate would not leave the disciples as orphans.

Presbyterians believe that in baptism this Advocate was sealed into the person being baptized. A baptized person carries the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, with them for the rest of their life.

Try an experiment. Today when you have a chance silently talk to your Advocate—the Holy Spirit. Share with the Spirit what is going through your mind and happening in your heart.  Consider this Advocate as a being that is with you during the day—guiding you, comforting you, showing you God’s way.  This might seem a bit goofy, but if we reflect that the Spirit was sealed inside of us during baptism it doesn’t seem that strange.  Jesus wanted his disciples to know that the disciples would always carry the Advocate with them. He wants 21st century disciples to know that the Advocate is with us. Try and follow Jesus’ instructions by cultivating a relationship through conversation with the Advocate today.

 

Friday, June 5

Read Romans 8:18-27

One idea to take away from this very nuanced passage is how the Spirit helps people to pray. Look at verse 26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” 

As you go through your day today, ask the Spirit to help you to pray. Consider saying something as simple as, “Holy Spirit, help me to pray right now.” Your prayer doesn’t have to be long—the Spirit will help you with whatever prayer the Spirit wants.

This type of Spirit-led prayers could take place as you are walking, or biking, or gardening, or driving the car, or sitting on the bus. This is a wonderful way to pray as we go on an adventure with God. We never quite know where we will end up in prayers, but we enjoy where the Spirit leads us—where we end up praying.    

Perhaps your prayer for the day can be, “Holy Spirit, help me to pray right now.” 

 

Saturday, June 6

Read Luke 4:16-21

When Jesus started his ministry he took out a passage from Isaiah that started out saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Jesus then said that this Scripture was fulfilled. Jesus was saying that he carried the Holy Spirit. All of us carry the Holy Spirit, but it is obviously different to say that Jesus has the Spirit. The Spirit originated from Jesus and his Abba or Father. Another way to think of Jesus is the Holy Spirit with a human body. 

As you pray today, give thanks for the connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus.

 

Devotions for May 25 – 30

 
This past Sunday Pastor Paul started a sermon series called “Holy Humor.” It was a lighthearted sermon filled with jokes. In fact, people shared jokes throughout the service.
 

Humor is part of faith. And in some instances the stories of the Bible can cause us to burst out laughing. Enjoy some of these stories this week—along with some jokes. The jokes that are included each day in the Devotion are taken from fatherly.com.  Enjoy!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to: pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, May 25

Read Numbers 22:22-31

The story of Balaam’s donkey or Balaam’s ass is probably not well-known to many. And the story has been interpreted in an apocalyptic way—especially the interpretation of the four oracles that Balaam shared.

But at its core this is a funny story. Whoever thought that a donkey would talk – in the Bible!

God had a high amount of empathy for the donkey when Balaam became upset with it. Balaam hit the donkey three times. The donkey spoke to defend itself—with God’s help.

Sometimes it’s healthy to look at life in a comic way—to be less serious about what is happening. Life is serious enough as it is, especially during a Pandemic. See if you can go out of your way to laugh today.

 

Joke of the day

Question:       Which bird has the worst manners?

Answer:          Mocking birds.

 

Tuesday, May 26

Read John 2:1-11

This is one of the first stories of Jesus as an adult in John, and it’s the first story in John of Jesus sharing a miracle. 

Jesus was at a party. The party was a wedding celebration. There was so much celebrating taking place that people drank all of the wine. Mary, the mother of Jesus, told Jesus that there was no more wine left. And though the story didn’t directly share that Jesus changed the water into wine, the meaning of the story is that this happened.

What do you imagine happening at the party, especially a party where people drank so much wine that they ran out of wine? Most likely many jokes were shared and there was a lot of laughter. It’s easy to think that Jesus was part of the laughter and joke-telling.

Can you ever remember a wedding party where the spirits of the people weren’t high and that not much laughter was shared?

Jesus was part of the merriment and the humor that must have taken place.

 

Joke of the day

Question:       Why are teddy bears never hungry?

Answer:          Because they’re always stuffed.

 

Wednesday, May 27

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-15

David was in a mood to celebrate. He had just brought the ark from Obed-edom to Jerusalem. This was quite an accomplishment. Eventually the ark was put in a tent and that was the start of the Temple.

When the ark was brought to Jerusalem, David danced with a joy that fit the occasion. In this celebration there must have been much laughter and even humor.

A spirit of humor is a powerful source of energy.

Not everyone will appreciate this energy; not everyone appreciated the dance that David shared. Michal, daughter of Saul, saw David dancing and despised him in her heart.

The energy of this story—that includes the energy of humor—will be resisted. But it’s clear that this energy is one for each of us to enjoy.

 

Joke of the day

Question:      Why does Humpty Dumpty love autumn?

Answer:        Because he always has a great fall.

 

Thursday, May 28

Read Proverbs 17:22

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 NRSV)

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 King James)

The thought that laughter is good medicine comes from the King James translation of this Proverb.

Many studies have shown that laughter is good medicine. This past Sunday in his sermon Pastor Paul shared results of studies that showed the healing power of humor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter enhances the intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles and increases endorphins.

In addition to taking medication, laugh at a joke today!

 

Joke of the day

Question:       What did the beaver say to the tree?

Answer:        It’s been nice gnawing you.

 

Friday, May 29

Read Matthew 7:1-5

This story is an example of hyperbole. “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

The translation of log is more than just a log. It was like a tree. Another way to put it is “Why do you see the tiny piece of dust in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the very large tree in your own eye?”

The message of not judging is very serious and important for all followers of Jesus to embrace. The way that Jesus communicated this message is funny. No doubt the people who heard this teaching could have easily burst out in laughter.

 

Joke of the day

Question:       Why did the A go to the bathroom and come out as an E?

Answer:        Because he had a vowel movement.

 

Saturday, May 23

Read Matthew 16:13-20

To think that Peter would be described as a rock is almost a joke. Peter was impetuous and unpredictable and full of passion. He was the one who ran to the empty tomb when he heard that Jesus was raised from the dead. He was the one who sat naked in a boat and when he saw Jesus, Peter put on some clothes and jumped into the water. Peter was anything but a rock. But there was Jesus calling him a rock.

In this story Jesus was using irony to make a point. And in a certain respect it’s funny. It’s not hard to imagine the disciples bursting out laughing when they heard Jesus called Peter a rock.

 

Joke of the day

Question:       What do you call a droid that takes the long way around?

Answer:        R2 detour.

 

 

Devotions for May 18 – 23

Helping the poor is a central part of faith and of following Jesus. But why is helping the poor so important?

Part of the answer to this question is the teachings of the Scriptures. This week we have the opportunity to learn at a deeper level what the Scriptures teach about helping. Enjoy!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to: pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, May 18

Read Leviticus 19:9-10

The book of Leviticus is not one of the most loved books of the Bible because it shares laws and regulations that don’t speak to people today. But often in Leviticus important nuggets of discipleship come up. Care for those who are vulnerable and poor come up in the verses we read today. 

In these verses we read that God wanted people to remember those who are struggling. These verses informed people that they weren’t to use all of their land for themselves. Instead they were to think about how the proceeds of the harvest could be shared with those who were needy.

The principle behind this teaching is important for us to remember. God wants us to think how to share what we have with those who are needy. Even when we are struggling financially, God still wants us to remember those who are struggling even more.

Chain of Lakes has established relationships with organizations in Anoka County who directly help the poor. Those relationships are HOPE 4 Youth, Stepping Stone, HOPE for the Community, and Manna Market. All of these organizations are experiencing high demand during COVID-19. They need help. Perhaps you could share the benefits that you have with one of these organizations. Your sharing would be a direct reflection of this teaching in Leviticus.

 

Tuesday, May 19

Read Isaiah 58:5-9

Throughout the book of Isaiah, God shared disgust with people who amass wealth and have no consideration for the poor. The message that Isaiah shared was not that wealth could not be accumulated. The message was that accumulating wealth without regard for the poor is not the way of God.

In Isaiah we read that practicing spiritual disciplines like prayer and worship and fasting are connected to the poor. Through the prophet Isaiah, God shared that fasting without helping was not a complete way to follow God.

 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from our own kin?” Isaiah 58:6-7

Fasting without remembering those who have no food is incomplete.

This message could be expanded to teach that any spiritual discipline that does not lead us to help the poor is incomplete. As you pray or fast or help others, may your prayer, fast and helping include the poor.

 

Wednesday, May 20

Read Amos 2:6-8

The prophet Amos had strong and condemning words for those who neglect or ignore the poor: “because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way.” Amos 2:6b-7a

Congregations are judged by God based on what they are doing for those who are neglected or those who are poor. This judgment reflects the deep desire of God to see the poor helped. God does not want the church to go its way without helping those who live on the margins.

Helping the poor is a central part of the church.

As you pray today, pray for one or two people who you know are poor. Not only pray for their welfare, but ask God how you can be helpful to them. Perhaps the person(s) needs $100 from you; perhaps you could bring food to the person; perhaps you could call the person and listen to their needs.

This prayer and ultimate helping is a central part of the life together as disciples.

 

Thursday, May 21

Read Luke 4:16-21

The first words out of the mouth of Jesus in this sermon were directed at helping the poor. The ministry of Jesus was and is for everyone, but these words share that a primary focus of the ministry of Jesus was to help the poor.

Jesus wanted to do everything he could to bring his message to those who were on the margins of the world—the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed.

As Pastor Paul shared in his sermon this past Sunday, it’s important during COVID-19 not to neglect those who are on the margins. It’s easy to get so focused on our own individual needs and problems that we neglect those who are on the margins.

As you pray today, ask God to help you be lifted out of your own concerns so that you can be attentive to the needs of those who live on the margins.

 

Friday, May 22

Read James 1:26-27

The book of James has many passages that share the desire of God to help the poor. Look at the following passages:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

“You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (James 2:8)

“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing” (James 1:22-25)

Meditate today on this call to action to help!

 

Saturday, May 23

Read Matthew 25:31-46

Pastor Paul preached on this passage this past Sunday. This passage is easily one of the ten most important passages in the entire Bible. Shortly before his death, Jesus shared the motivation of helping the poor. When people helped “the least of these” they were directly helping Jesus.

In this passage Jesus shared the motivation for serving the poor. When people help at HOPE 4 Youth, or Stepping Stone, or Hope for the Community, or Manna Market people are directly helping Jesus. “When you do it the least of these my brethren, you do it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Have you ever wondered about serving the poor? Your motivation can be to serve Jesus directly.

 

Devotions for May 11 – May 16

This week we have the opportunity to read stories about women who exhibited great courage and selflessness in the Bible.  These stories are important for all of us to know—especially the week after Mother’s Day. They can help all of us—no matter what our gender.  

Enjoy!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, May 11

Read 1 Samuel 1:21-28

Hannah was determined to have a child—she was courageous.  She stood up to her husband, Elkanah, and stood up to the priest, Eli.  Because of the woman’s status in her day, both of these actions by Hannah required tremendous courage.

In this story we get a sense of Elkanah’s respect for Hannah.  Hannah was not going to take her child, Samuel, to Shiloh until he was weaned.  Elkanah’s response in verse 23 suggests his respect.

Hannah had the courage to give Samuel back to the Lord.  She lent him to the Lord as long as he lived (verse 28).  Hannah didn’t have Samuel with her for a long period of time as she gave him to God.  Her motivation for having and carrying and delivering a child was self-less.    

No matter what our relationship with our own mother, we can probably think of self-less qualities that she possessed.  Take some time to reflect on the self-less qualities of your own mother.  Give thanks to God for these qualities

 

Tuesday, May 12

Read Luke 1:26-38

The story of Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to Mary is one that we should read every month of the year—not read just at Christmas.  It took tremendous courage for Mary to accede to the statements that Gabriel made.  Mary’s trust in God carried with it great risk.  She risked being divorced by her fiancé; she risked being stoned by the community; she risked the scorn of her community.  She did all of this while she was in her teens.  Mary is a role model for courage. 

Who do you know as a mother who could use some support, that is someone who is currently struggling as a mother.  Mary is a role model for that person.  Is there something you could do to support that mother?  Today as you pray, pray for that mother.  Pray about some possible ways you could support that person.

 

Wednesday, May 13

Read Ruth 1:6-18

Both Naomi and Ruth exhibited self-less qualities.  Naomi wanted her two daughters-in-law to leave her so that they could find the security of a husband.  She was more concerned about their welfare than her own.  Even though her sister-in-law left Naomi, Ruth exhibited tremendous courage.  She was willing to take a risk to stay with Naomi.  Ruth’s pledge of commitment to Naomi mirrors a wedding vow.  In fact, Ruth’s commitment was read at Pastor Paul & Amy Moore’s wedding.

Ruth eventually found Boaz and married him.  Naomi helped her in this process.  Ruth’s son became the grandfather of David; Ruth was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew 1:5.

Selflessness can be misused and manipulated; however it can also be a quality to be lifted up.  Think about your own mother and grandmothers.  What qualities of selflessness did they exhibit?  Are there ways you can carry forward these qualities in your own life?

Today pray that you can grow in qualities of healthy selflessness.  Give thanks for the selflessness of your own mother and grandmother(s). 

 

Thursday, May 14

Read Joshua 2

Rahab was a prostitute.  Today we would call her a sex worker.  She helped Joshua and his men conquer Jericho.  She defied the order of the king when the king was looking for the men, misdirected the king’s men, and helped Joshua’s men escape.  When the Israelites later conquered Jericho, Rahab and her father’s family were saved.

According to later Jewish legend, Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women in history.  She married Joshua and was the ancestor of eight prophets, including Jeremiah.  In Hebrews 11:31 Rahab was cited as a heroine of faith, she was lauded as an example of righteous works in James (2:25), and was also (like Ruth) included in Jesus’ ancestry, Matthew 1:5.

Perhaps you don’t know a sex worker, but you probably know of some women upon whom many critically judge.  These women have faith, but haven’t been encouraged by their families or the church to exhibit their faith.  Pray for these women today. 

It’s amazing to reflect on the impact of Rahab.   This sex worker born thousands of years before Jesus eventually became an ancestor of Jesus.

 

Friday, May 15

Read Genesis 30:1-7

The desire to have children transcends the generations.  Rachel wanted children so deeply that she envied her sister Leah who could have children.  She shared her anger with her husband, Jacob.  Eventually Leah gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob so that she could parent a child.    

Rachel eventually was able to have children.  She bore Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24) and Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-21), two of Jacob’s favorite sons.  She ultimately died when she bore Benjamin. 

You probably know of women who can’t bear children or who have husbands who can’t provide children.  Pray for those women and couples today.  Pray that they can come to terms with their barrenness.  Also, pray for the adoption process.  Pray that we can develop an adoption process that serves children and families.

 

Saturday, May 16

Read Romans 16:1-4

Phoebe and Priscilla were important leaders in Paul’s work.  Phoebe was a paid employee of the church.  She walked from Greece to Rome to deliver the letter that Paul wrote—the letter that we know of as Romans.  Paul had enormous trust in Phoebe if he asked her to transport this letter

Prisca was also known as Priscilla.  More of her story can be found in Acts 18 and 1 Corinthians 16:19.  She was married to Aquila.  The two worked in a trade with Paul when he lived in Corinth.  Priscilla and Aquila were among Paul’s closest friends.  Paul noted that the two of them risked their lives in order to help Paul.

You probably know of women like Phoebe and Priscilla—women who performed courageous acts.  They either did or would have risked their lives to achieve their tasks.  Today as you pray give thanks for all the courageous women you know.

 

Devotions for May 3 – May 9

This past Sunday Pastor Paul talked about blessing our friends.  During the sermon he asked each person to write down the names of their “2:00 in the morning friend” and the names of others who are close to us.  

The sermon and the entire worship service can be enjoyed on the Chain of Lakes Vimeo site and the Chain of Lakes Facebook page.

The blessings of God are far different than the blessings that the world knows. In the world we believe that people are blessed through a powerful job, or money, or a big house and fancy car. The blessings of the world don’t last; the blessings of God do.  

This week we have the opportunity to read six stories about the blessings of God. Being clear about a theology of blessing is important for our own understanding of how God works in our life and in the world.  Enjoy!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to: pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, May 4

Read Genesis 12:1-9

A form of the word “bless” occurs over six hundred times in the Scriptures. In this story “bless” is used for the first time in the Bible. In a blessing a special favor is transferred to another person. In this story God offered a blessing to Abram. God blessed

  • Abram
  • Others through Abram
  • Those who blessed Abram
  • All the families of the earth through Abram

One significant part of this blessing is that God blessed people through Abram. 

This past Sunday Pastor Paul talked about our “2:00 in the morning” friend. This is a person whom we would feel comfortable sharing our troubles at 2am.

Consider blessing this person today. As you pray today, ask God for ideas about how you can bless this person.

 

Tuesday, May 5

Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20

These words of God were given to the Israelites right before they were entering the Promised Land. God gave the Israelites the opportunity to choose life. When they chose life, the Israelites would be blessed.

It’s important to understand the nuance of this blessing. It’s not as if God was saying that when we do the right things, then we would receive special favor from God; instead God was saying we discover blessing when we choose the right things.

To put it another way: I (Pastor Paul) always encourage people to take the high road during a situation. When we are criticized or harmed, the natural reaction is to fight back—an eye-for-an-eye; a tooth-for-a-tooth. Instead when we choose the high road we experience blessing. We can live with ourselves and the choices that we are making. We discover blessing by taking the high road. 

As you pray today, pray that you can choose life and experience blessing through the process.

 

Wednesday, May 6

Read Matthew 5:1-11

The first eleven verses of this chapter are known as the Beatitudes. Jesus shared with the crowds who had a special place in his heart. The people to whom Jesus wanted to extend a special favor are people on the margins of life—the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, those who are reviled on behalf of God.

This list of people will not receive a star on Rodeo Drive in Hollywood. Our culture does not go out of its way to bless this group of people.

God wants us as individuals and as a church to have a special place in our heart for people who exhibit these characteristics. 

As you pray today, reflect on who you know who has one or more of these characteristics. Would you go out of your way to bless that person today? Just as Jesus was urgent in communicating this message, pray with urgency that you can bless someone on the margins today. Especially during this time of Social Distancing, it is essential to go out of our way to bless someone on the margins.

 

Thursday, May 7

Read Psalm 115:12-18

At the start of this passage the Psalmist described the blessings that God would give. Then at the end of the Psalm the Psalmist wrote about blessing God. This is an interesting idea for how do we bestow special favor upon God—who really is lacking in nothing?

In this passage blessing is like praise. We praise God for a quality of God. God doesn’t need our blessing or praise, but God is willing to receive our blessing or praise. In the process of praising God, we—who are doing the blessing—are blessed.

What qualities of God are special to you? In what ways can you bless God. Today as you pray, spend some time praising and blessing God for special qualities of God. If you have set your alarm off on your phone to remind you to pray to God, you could use that prayer time to bless God. Imagine sharing five different qualities of God today that you want to praise!

 

Friday, May 8

Read Numbers 6:22-27

This blessing is known as the Aaronic blessing. It’s often shared by pastors as a benediction at the end of worship. It’s worth committing to memory. Spend some time today, memorizing the following words:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

 

Saturday, May 9

Read Matthew 14:13-21

Miracles can happen when God blesses something. This story of the feeding of the 5,000 is probably a familiar story to us. We don’t want to forget the blessing that Jesus gave to the bread.  In some ways this is a story of Communion. When we receive the Lord’s Supper we remember how God blessed the bread and wine as a reminder of Jesus’ body and blood. These were given to us so that we can remember all the blessings that God has given to us.

Chain of Lakes celebrates Communion on the first Sunday of the month. Even with Social Distancing, Communion was celebrated this past Sunday. How is Communion important to you?  How do you see Communion as a blessing?  Today as you pray, give thanks for the blessings you receive through Communion. Pray that Communion can be a special time at Chain of Lakes where everyone present will receive God’s blessing. 

 

Devotions for April 27 – May 2

This past Sunday, Pastor Paul began a new sermon series called, “Connecting in a Stay At Home time.” Each week he is going to give practical tips for connecting.

This past Sunday he talked about connecting to God.

 In the first three devotions this week, we have the opportunity to learn more about the identity of God. In the last three devotions we have the opportunity to take a mantra and incorporate it into our daily prayers. The mantras that are shared come directly from the Scriptures.

 Enjoy learning more about God’s identity and then incorporating these ideas into your own prayer life!

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, April 27

Read Exodus 34:1-6

Moses would speak to God as a friend would speak to a friend. In chapter 33 of Exodus we read that “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  Moses wanted to have an even deeper experience of seeing God. As a response to Moses, God told Moses to go to the top of Mount Sinai, the place where God had previously given Moses the 10 Commandments. The tablets of those commandments had been broken by Moses in anger when he saw that the Israelites had made a golden calf to worship when Moses was gone.

Now the second act of receiving the Commandments happened. Not only did Moses receive the 10 Commandments, God passed before Moses and proclaimed the divine identity.  The identity of God is worth knowing and even memorizing.

 “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6.

Is this how you see God? How would you describe the identity of God?

Talk to God today in your prayers about your understanding of the identity of God.

 

Tuesday, April 28

Read Numbers 14:13-19

These verses are part of a remarkable story. God was upset with the Israelites for how they had turned away from God. God was willing to destroy the people.

But Moses interceded.

Moses made the case to God that if the Israelites were destroyed that the Egyptians would hear of what happened.  Moses also reminded God of the divine identity.  Moses was reminding God of the divine identity. What a turn-around! The words are also the same as was shared in yesterday’s devotion.

“The Lord is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Numbers 14:18

Can you imagine reminding God of the divine identity?

 

Wednesday, April 29

Read Jonah 4:2

The story of Jonah was written thousands of years after the story of Moses in the wilderness. Despite this length of time, the identity of God was still known.

Jonah confessed to God that he ran away from God. He ran away because he knew the identity of God. Jonah felt inadequate compared to this identity.

What was the identity of God?  Jonah knew it.

“I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Jonah 4:2

The similarity of Jonah’s statement to Moses is remarkable. It shows that the identity of God was successfully communicated throughout the ages.

 

Thursday, April 30

Read John 20:19-23

In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Paul encouraged people to pray five times a day. Praying this number of times a day is similar to our Muslim friends who pray five times a day. In our prayers we would not have to face a specific location and kneel down. We can sit still or stand still and pray.

One way to do this is by setting an alarm on your phone. Set the alarm for five different times during the day. Your prayers do not have to be lengthy or verbose. Consider a breath prayer when you pray. Breathe in and out with your palms faced upward. Focus on the mantra.

In this story Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22.

Perhaps you could use this as your mantra as you pray five times a day. Say the following, “Lord, help me receive your Spirit.” Say this over and over during your breath prayer.

 

Friday, May 1

Read Matthew 11:28-30

These verses from Matthew are often shared at the start of Communion.

“Come unto me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

We could take this verse and incorporate it into a mantra as we pray five times during the day.  Consider praying a breath prayer and saying, “Lord, help me experience your rest.”

This rest is more than sleep. It is nourishment and help from God.

During the times you pray today, pray for this rest. All of us need this rest, especially during this Stay At Home time.

 

Saturday, May 2

Read Psalm 8

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Psalm 8:1,9.

These thirteen words begin and end Psalm 8, a beautiful Psalm that describes the majesty of God.

Consider using some of these thirteen words as your mantra as you pray today.

Perhaps you could pray the following, “Creator, help me experience your majesty.” 

Having an experience of God’s majesty is unforgettable. Consider praying for an experience of that majesty. You won’t regret this prayer!

 

 

Devotions for April 20 – April 25, 2020

This week we have the opportunity to read what are called the post-resurrection stories. These are stories about Jesus that happened after he was raised from the dead.

 Only Matthew, Luke, and John have these stories. Mark did not share any post-resurrection stories.

 Knowing these stories is important to our faith as they reveal to us much about Jesus and the message of the resurrection. As you read them this week, pay attention to what these stories teach you about Jesus.

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, April 20

Read Matthew 28:11-15

When Jesus was raised from the dead—the ultimate in goodness—the religious leaders had a problem. How were they going to explain what happened?

The easy way for them was to bribe the soldiers into telling a lie. The soldiers would communicate that the disciples of Jesus stole his body. This lie would explain what happened and keep the political leaders from asking too many questions.

Before any of us go down the road of judging what happened, let us admit that each of us is capable of doing the same thing. We might have run into a situation where we shared a lie to protect ourselves. We even might have paid somebody to tell the lie. If we had found ourselves in the shoes of the religious leaders, we might have done the same thing.

Living out the truth is not always easy.

How are you doing at living out the truth? Even if we don’t share deliberate falsehoods, how often do we shade the truth to fit our own self-interest.

God is willing to help us stay true to the truth. As you pray today, talk to God about how well you do at sticking to the truth. Then ask God for help to stay true to the truth.

 

Tuesday, April 21

Read Matthew 28:16-20

Even after Jesus was raised and appeared to the disciples, not all of the remaining eleven could believe what they were seeing. Some bowed down and worshiped the resurrected Jesus, but some doubted.

It might seem hard to believe that some could doubt what they were seeing. The reality of a dead man coming back to life must certainly have influenced their doubt.

Jesus never chided those who doubted. He commissioned all of them—the doubters and those who worshiped—to go make disciples of all nations. This commandment in the last three verses is called the Great Commission.

How beautiful that Jesus gave the Great Commission to those who believed and those who doubted. If you find yourself at times doubting what God can do, take heart. You are like the disciples who still doubted that Jesus was alive—even though they were looking at him!

As you pray today, give thanks to God that God accepts doubters. If you find yourself in a place of doubt, ask God for help. Ask that God might take your doubt from you.

 

Wednesday, April 22

Read Luke 24:13-35

The story we read today is called “The Road to Emmaus.” It’s interesting that as the disciples walked with Jesus, they didn’t recognize him. In other places in the gospels people didn’t recognize Jesus after he was raised.

If we have moments where we have a hard time seeing God, then we can take heart. The people in this story had the physical reality of Jesus in front of them, but they could not recognize him.

As you pray today, ask God for help in “seeing” Jesus in your own life. You probably won’t see his physical body, but you can see the result of his actions—goodness, mercy, beauty, love, and truth.

 

Thursday, April 23

Read Luke 24:36-49

Jesus proved to his followers that he was alive by showing them his body and by asking for something to eat.  “I can’t be a ghost,” he practically said. “I have hands and feet, and you can touch me.”  Jesus ate a piece of fish in front of the disciples. He ate it not because he was hungry, but because he wanted to prove that he was alive in bodily form.

One big idea of faith is called the “Incarnation.” The Word, or Jesus, became flesh. Understanding the Incarnation means that faith is more than an other-worldly activity. We are concerned with more than “going to heaven” when we die. We’re concerned and have compassion for people and their humanity. Why do we do this? Because the Word, Jesus, became flesh.

.

Friday, April 17

Read John 20:24-29

In this post-resurrection story, Thomas had questions about whether Jesus was alive. After Thomas asked his questions, Jesus appeared to him. Look how Jesus proved that he was

alive. It was through human touch. “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe,” Jesus said. John 20:27

Once again Jesus showed his body and asked someone to touch his body to prove he had come back from the dead. Jesus was not an angel. He was human.

Thomas is an example of how Jesus accepts people’s questions. As we read in the devotion last week, Jesus wasn’t offended by the questions Jesus had. Jesus didn’t seem them as wrong or petty. He accepted them.

If you have questions, know that Jesus looks at you in a similar way to how he looked at Thomas. He accepts your questions; he does not condemn you for your questions. AND he wants you to touch him, to see him, to experience his presence in your life. 

Keep praying that your questions lead you to a full experience of Jesus in your own life.

 

Saturday, April 25

Read John 21:15-25

In these eleven verses we find the last stories of Jesus in John’s gospel. Jesus gave a command to Peter to look after the followers of Jesus, his sheep. In the second story we read a story about the beloved disciple. Some, not all, believe that the beloved disciple wrote the gospel of John.

Of all the post-resurrection stories you read this week, which one is your favorite? Look over these stories and identify one that especially speaks to you. Take this one story and use it as your own foundation in this Easter season. Read it frequently, study it, approach this story as a way to learn about God and about your own faith during this Easter season.

 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

How deeply does your own faith depend on your belief in the resurrection?  Talk about this with God today.

 

Devotions for April 13 – April 18, 2020

The resurrection is a doctrine that is hard for many people to accept and believe.  For some, the idea that a dead body can come back to life and then eventually ascend to heaven defies science and logic.

 The Bible is clear that believing in the resurrection is central to our faith.  The stories that are shared in the Bible are not dependent on scientific or logical knowledge.  Instead they are dependent on the knowledge of faith.

 The following six stories give us some flavor of the resurrection.  They can add to our own understanding of this central idea of faith.  Enjoy!

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

 

Monday, April 13

Read Genesis 5:21-24, 2 Kings 2:1-12

Enoch and Elisha were two people in the Old Testament that never died.  Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah.  The reference to the ending of Enoch’s death is not clear -“Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.”  However, hundreds of years later people read Enoch’s story and came to believe that Enoch went directly to heaven by God.

There is a book called Enoch that is part of the Bible for some Orthodox traditions.

Elisha was the other person in the Old Testament that didn’t die.  In the same way that Jesus ascended into heaven, Elisha was taken by God.  During the time of Jesus people expected Elisha to come back.  When Jesus was dying on the cross, some of the bystanders expected Elisha to return. 

As you pray today give thanks for the gift of heaven.  Give thanks that during this Easter season we can focus on the resurrection.  Give thanks for the gift of salvation that is offered to you.

 

Tuesday, April 14

Read Daniel 12:1-4

Part of the resurrection is the thinking of what will happen at the end of the world.  These verses from The Old Testament book of Daniel are an apocalyptic vision of the end times.  At the end the people who are asleep or buried will come back to life.  The dead will come to life.

Some people believe that the book of Daniel was included in the Old Testament because of the reference to the resurrection in these four verses.

This assurance of what will happen in the future is hard for some to grasp.  Appreciating the gift of the resurrection is an act of faith.  We are asked to receive something that doesn’t make sense with our modern mind-set.

As you pray today, talk to God about your own beliefs of the resurrection.  Do you believe in the resurrection?  Do you believe that you will receive resurrection?  Does your belief give you a peace that passes understanding?  God wants you to share your thoughts about these very important questions.

 

Wednesday, April 15

Read Matthew 22:23-33

Throughout history people have always questioned the resurrection.  In Jesus’ day the Sadducees were one of three groups within Judaism.  The other two were the Pharisees and the Essenes.

The Sadducees struggled with the Pharisees over control of the Temple.  For the Sadducees the Temple was paramount in their thought.  The High Priest, Caiaphus, was a Sadducee and accused Jesus of wanting to destroy the Temple.

Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection.  In this story in Matthew they concocted quite a scenario of what happens in heaven.

Jesus was a master of responding to these sorts of riddles.  By sharing that God is the God of the living and not the dead, he put the focus away from an obscure scenario and towards the reality of the resurrection.

As you pray today, give thanks for the wisdom of Jesus!

 

Thursday, April 16

Read John 20:19-29

Thomas had some legitimate questions for Jesus and the disciples.  Thomas needed to see the proof that Jesus came back from the dead.

Many of us are like Thomas.  We are willing to believe in something like the resurrection, we just need proof of its reality.

However, the resurrection is a doctrine that cannot be proved by human logic or reasons.  It takes faith to believe.  Jesus’ words to Thomas are significant.

“Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”  John 20:29

If you struggle with believing in the resurrection, ask for help from God.  Ask that God will deepen your own faith in something that defies our own logic and reason.

 

Friday, April 17

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

This chapter from Corinthians is Paul’s defense of the faith.  If you have time, read the entire chapter.  It is weighty and meaty and will grab your attention.

In verses 12-19 Paul made the case that if the resurrection doesn’t exist, then Christ would not have been made.  Paul argued that the resurrection is not something that only happened to Jesus – it happens for us too.  The resurrection is much broader than an event that only happened to Jesus.

For Paul the resurrection was central in his own faith.  Faith falls apart without the resurrection.  Look at verses 17-19:

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

How deeply does your own faith depend on your belief in the resurrection?  Talk about this with God today.

 

Saturday, April 18

Read Revelation 1:17-19

In the first chapter of Revelation, John received a vision of Christ.  He was then to share that vision with seven churches.

As part of that vision John saw Christ in heaven.  Jesus shared with John that he was no longer dead but was alive.  This is the resurrection. 

As you pray today, give thanks to God for this vision.

 

Devotions for April 6 – April 11, 2020

Our faith is not complete without having a basic understanding of the last week of the life of Jesus.  Jesus was an amazing moral teacher whose teachings for life would have transcended his life.  But through his actions in the Upper Room, on the cross, and from the empty tomb the message of Jesus became everlasting.  We wouldn’t worship Jesus this week without these stories. 

Take some time this week to read, reflect and pray on these stories.  They are some of the most important stories in the world.  Enjoy them this week.

Enjoy!  Comments or questions can be directed to Pastor Paul at pastor@colpres.org 

 

Monday, April 6

Read Matthew 24   

These stories are about the coming of the kingdom in its fullness.  Many people have looked at these and other Scriptures to try to determine when Jesus was going to come again to create his Kingdom.  People look at this story and passages in Daniel and Revelation to try to prove the “when” of Jesus’ return.

It wasn’t an accident that Jesus never told us when he was going to return.  He does teach us how to live in this “in-between time.”  We are always called to be ready for Jesus’ return, but we aren’t called to be obsessed with it.

The same idea applies to our own death.  We all know that we are going to die.  We can try to predict the time of our own death, but this isn’t ultimately healthy for us.  Our task is to live in a way that shows we are ready.

On this most holy of weeks we can give thanks to God that we don’t need to fear death.  Jesus has prepared a place for us. 

Death has been overcome.  As you pray today, give thanks to God for this gift of resurrection.

 

Tuesday, April 7

Read Matthew 25

This chapter is one of the most important in Matthew and it doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  Jesus shared the priority of reaching out to those on the margins.  Jesus wanted his followers to reach out and help the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, and those who are in prison.

And even more than helping, Jesus taught that when we reach out to those on the margins we are reaching out to him.  We see the face of Jesus in the person who is hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison.  Helping is more than helping.  Helping is recognizing the face of Jesus in those who need help.

Another part of this phrase is the first part of verse 37.  “Then the righteous will answer him …” Jesus defined righteousness about reaching out to people who needed this help.  This is a non-negotiable part of faith.

We can live out this righteousness in a lot of ways.  But living out this righteousness is an essential part of being a disciple or follower of Jesus.

 

Wednesday, April 8

Read Matthew 26:1-16

The anointing of Jesus by the woman with the alabaster jar of ointment is a beautiful story of ministering to Jesus.  Whether she knew it or not she was preparing his body for what was going to happen the next day. 

This story appears in all four gospels.  Matthew didn’t choose to name the woman; John called her Mary. 

Her action was misunderstood.  Some couldn’t understand why this ointment was not sold and the proceeds given to the poor.  This would make logical sense and would have helped people.

But we wouldn’t be talking about this story if the money had been given to the poor.  The woman’s action was extravagant.  She was willing to do whatever she could to bring comfort to Jesus—even if it meant stepping outside of the comfort zone of those who were watching her. 

We don’t have the actual body of Jesus to anoint, of course.  But we can do extravagant ministries to help people.  Pray that the Spirit will prompt you to extravagantly love or serve someone. 

 

Thursday, April 9

Read Matthew 26:17-75

Jesus started a revolution on this day of Holy Week.  He gathered with his closest of friends to celebrate the Passover.  During the celebration he shared with his friends that one of them would betray him. 

Then he started this revolution that we call Communion.  It’s worth reading the words again:

“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:26-28

As you pray today, reflect on the place of Communion in your own life.  Do you remember the first time you took it?  Do you remember some very special times that you participated in Communion?  Do you remember the last time you took it?  What is special to you about Communion?  Share with God your response to these questions.

 

Friday, April 10

Read Matthew 27:1-56

This chapter is one of the most solemn in the entire Bible.  It really needs no explanation.  Jesus’ death on the cross distinguishes him from any other person who has ever lived. 

To think that the Messiah would willingly go to the cross to suffer and die is hard to grasp.

Think about what the cross means to you and your own life.  Do something today that illustrates what the cross means to you.  Perhaps you could write something, or do some art, or share with another person your own understanding of the cross.  May this day deepen your own relationship with God and relationship with others.

 

Saturday, April 11

Read Matthew 27:57-28

Tomorrow we celebrate Easter. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event that has ever happened in the world.  We are like the disciples in that we are ready to worship while also doubting.

Reflect today about your own understanding of the resurrection.  What does the resurrection mean to you?  How are you a different person because of the resurrection?  How is our faith community different because of the resurrection?

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

Devotions for March 30 – April 4, 2020

The Stay At Home edict by Governor Walz means that many families will be spending more time together. This week we have the opportunity to read about one of the most important families in the Bible – Jacob’s family.

 Jacob is one of the most important people in the Old Testament.  However many people aren’t familiar with his story.

 This week we have the opportunity to read and learn about six important stories in Jacob’s life.  Each of them reveals a part of the mess of Jacob’s family.  The deepness of the messes never did negate the power of God in working for good.

 Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org.

Monday, March 30

Read Genesis 25:19-28

Jacob might be the 4th most important person in the Old Testament—after David, Moses & Abraham.  

Jacob was born in conflict.  In the womb he and his brother caused pain to his mother—so much so that Rebekah wondered why she should continue living.  When he was born he came out of Rebekah’s womb holding onto Essau’s heel.  According to a text note in the Harper’s Study Bible another name for Jacob is “He takes by the heel or he supplants.”

As Jacob grew up he encountered a family where favorites were played.  Jacob’s dad loved Esau more and Jacob’s mother loved Jacob more. 

What a mess!  Conflict was part of Jacob and his reality.   

Experiencing conflict in our family is not desirable, but it’s real.  And it’s similar to what happened in Jacob’s family—the First Family.

Tuesday, March 31

Read Genesis 25:29-34

The conflict that happened at birth between Esau and Jacob now reached a zenith in this story.  Jacob manipulated Esau into sharing Esau’s birth rite with Jacob. What would lead Jacob to do this?  Was it manipulation or desire for status or perhaps a need to be a leader?  Or perhaps he wanted to hurt his brother.

It’s hard not to judge Jacob in this story.  He manipulated Esau into selling something that was important.  Esau could have said no—but Jacob tempted Esau when Esau was famished and vulnerable.

Whatever your view on the sale of Esau’s birth rite to Jacob, it wouldn’t be surprising if we’ve experienced this type of manipulation in our own family.  It’s a mess!

Fortunately this is not the final story of the relationship between Esau and Jacob.

Wednesday, April 1

Read Genesis 29:21-20 

Life was never easy for Jacob.  He worked for seven years to procure Rachel as his wife.  Then on his wedding night he found out he had mistakenly married Leah.  And to be able to marry Rachel he had to work another seven years. 

He worked fourteen years in order to be married to his love.  What a mess!

Despite this mess God continued to work for good through Jacob’s life.  God didn’t prevent this pain from happening, but God continually worked for good through the situation. 

If you are experiencing a hard time, know that God is working for good through it.  Do you have the patience to wait for it?

Thursday, April 2

Read Genesis 32:22-32

Fast forward many years—Esau and Jacob are about to reconcile with each other.  (Later in the story Jacob stole the blessing that his father had intended for Esau). 

This story shared what happened to Jacob the night before he was scheduled to meet with Esau.  Jacob had no idea how Esau would treat him. 

Jacob wrestled all night with a man—many people see the man as being an angel.  

Verses 27-28 are significant. 

“So [the man] said to [Jacob], ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’  Then the man said ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

This is the first time that the word, “Israel” is used in the Old Testament.  The naming of Jacob as Israel is significant.  Many different interpretations could be offered.  One is the story foreshadows the eventual conflict that happened between God and the nation of Israel; another one is the power of naming that God has on our life. 

But this is a messy story!  Can you imagine wrestling all night with God before you are to encounter something very significant? 

Jacob walked away from this wrestling match with a limp.  For the rest of his life he had a physical reminder of this evening.

Friday, April 3

Read Genesis 37:29-36

Amidst all the pain the Jacob experienced in his life, this was probably the most painful story.  He was told that Joseph—this favorite son—was killed.  Jacob didn’t know until later that his sons were lying to him.

It’s hard to imagine lying to your father about selling your brother and then seeing the pain in your father’s face.  What a mess!  This is a difficult story. 

It’s important not to look too quickly for the silver lining in this story because looking for it can negate the seriousness of what happened. 

However God didn’t abandon Jacob’s family during this time.  God knew that this terrible pain happened, but God was still present.  God didn’t enter into the situation and change it or prevent it from happening.  But God was also very present.

If we are going through a difficult time, it’s significant to know that God is still with us.  Perhaps God hasn’t and won’t fly into the situation and stop all the pain from happening.  But the reality of terrible pain doesn’t negate the potential for good that can happen. 

Sometimes it takes tremendous faith to continue believing amidst terrible pain.  Part of faith is believing—even when the evidence can’t convince us—that pain will not have the final word.

Saturday, April 4

Read Genesis 45:25-28

Towards the end of his life Jacob received one of the greatest gifts of his life.  He was told that his son, Joseph was still alive. 
 
Devotions for March 23 – March 28, 2020
 

During this uncertain time of dealing with the COVID-19 virus, people still have the opportunity to be a blessing and to bless others. The Scriptures are full of stories that share understandings of a blessing.  This week we will have the opportunity to learn and study them.

May you be a blessing through your own study of blessing!

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org.

Monday, March 23

Read Genesis 1:20-23, 1:26-31

In the Creation Story the Creator God was active in blessing.  God blessed the sea creatures and the flying creatures (verse 22).  God also blessed humankind (verse 1:28)

One way to understand a blessing is that some important divine “stuff” is transferred to that which is being blessed.  In the church we call this the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit resides within us.  It is the mysterious way that God takes residence in each of our bodies.

We are blessed by the Spirit’s presence.

Today take some time to notice how you are blessed by God.  Be aware that the Holy Spirit is with you.  Take note of how this blessing always goes with you. 

No matter how you are feeling today, you are carrying the Holy Spirit.  What a blessing!  What a wonderful gift!

 As you pray today, pray for a blessing on a family member.
 

Tuesday, March 24

Read Genesis 12:1-3

Some people believe that this story should have started the entire Bible.  In the calling of Abram, God started the relationship between God and the people of Israel.  All three significant religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism trace their origins back to this story.

Notice that God told Abram that God would make Abram great.  And notice that God told Abram that Abram would be blessed and that Abram would be a blessing to others.

Often when we think of something great we think of something powerful or majestic.  In this story “great” has another meaning.  Think of greatness in terms of blessing others.

You have an opportunity to be great today!!  You can do this by blessing someone in an extraordinary way.  Be aware of your opportunities!

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on someone in your neighborhood.

 

Wednesday, March 25

Read Numbers 6:22-27

These five verses are often known as the “Aaronic blessing.”  We hear them sometimes as a blessing or benediction at the end of worship.

This is a beautiful blessing to memorize.  Try memorizing it today.  Carry the Scripture with you.  Consider putting someone’s name in the verses and pray it as a blessing on that person.

Here are the words of the blessing.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on someone from Chain of Lakes.

 

Thursday, March 26

Read Deuteronomy 10:6-9 

The Levites became known as a group of people who were set apart for priestly duties.  One of those duties was to bless people in God’s name.

We might not be called to be set apart to be a priest, but we have the same calling as the Levites to bless people.  Imagine how the church would change if the people in the church became known as those who bless others. 

How powerful it would be if this became how you and I became known as people who blessed others.  Imagine if people who described Chain of Lakes said, “those people are the people who bless us and our community.” 

Being a group of people set apart for blessing is not something just meant for “religious people who are paid.”  It’s meant for you and your family, too.

As you pray today, pray for blessings on all of the staffs of hospitals testing and treating people with the COVID-19 virus.

Friday, March 27

Read Luke 9:12-17

What’s often missed in this story of the feeding of the 5,000 is how Jesus blessed the bread and blessed the fish.  See verse 16:

“And taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them,”

Somehow this small amount of food became enough to feed 5,000 people.

A blessing isn’t magic, but when a blessing takes place magical things happen.  Events happen that we weren’t expecting or anticipating. 

We probably have had times in our own lives when we were blessed—something happened to us that we weren’t expecting.  It wasn’t necessarily magic, but it was like magic.  We couldn’t have ever anticipated what happened.

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on government officials who are making decisions on the best way to go forward.

Saturday, March 28

Read Matthew 26:26-29

The first act of Jesus with the bread was to bless it.  Jesus had been celebrating the Passover meal with his followers.  He then blessed bread.   

This blessing was extraordinary.  When we celebrate Communion we still receive this blessing.  God loves us in a way that we cannot even imagine. 

God promises that we will never be alone.  Through the cross we are forgiven of our sins; through the resurrection we are promised eternal life; through the Spirit we are challenged to create a world according to God’s desires.  What blessings!

You might remember some moments when you’ve been blessed through Communion.  Take a moment to remember these blessings.  What was happening?  How were you blessed?  How did that experience form you? 

As you pray today, praise God for the spiritual gift of blessing.