Respect For Nature Friday, Jun 26 2015 

Genesis 1:29-31 (NIV)

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.1 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life2 in it–I give every green plant for food.3” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made,4 and it was very good.5 And there was evening, and there was morning6–the sixth day.

 1 Timothy (NIV)

4 For everything God created is good,1 and nothing is to be rejected2 if it is received with thanksgiving,                            

DEVOTION – Stephen J. Bendit (Colorado)

Our bodies need air or we ill suffocate; water, or we will dehydrate; and food, or we will starve.  Many of us take air, water, and food for granted; yet each year we waste and misuse more of the essential natural elements made for our survival.    The materialistic lifestyle in some areas of the world plus a high demand on the earth and damages soil, water, air food – precisely what God provides to sustain us.

Scripture says that everything God created was good and was made for our benefit.  The first chapter of Genesis describes the global life-support system that God created for us.  If we are truly thankful for the gifts God has provided, we will do our part to take care of them.  Working hard to care for our rivers ad streams to ensure clean drinking water, keeping our air fresh and sweet for breathing, and making sure our food is healthy and pure are acts of thanksgiving to our Creator.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What can I do daily to help protect God’s creation?

PRAYER: Creator God, help us protect and preserve nature because through nature you sustain us.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: ENVIRONMENTALISTS

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Letting Go Thursday, Jun 25 2015 

Isaiah 46:3-10 (NIV)

3 “Listen1 to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain2 of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,3 and have carried4 since your birth.5 4 Even to your old age and gray hairs6 I am he,7 I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain8 you and I will rescue you. 5 “To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?9  Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith10 to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it.11 7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry12 it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move.13 Though one cries out to it, it does not answer;14 it cannot save15 him from his troubles. 8 “Remember16 this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels.17 9 Remember the former things,18 those of long ago;19 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.20 10 I make known the end from the beginning,21 from ancient times,22 what is still to come.23 I say: My purpose will stand,24 and I will do all that I please.

Isaiah 46:3 (NIV)

3 “Listen1 to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain2 of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,3 and have carried4 since your birth.5                            

DEVOTION – Olive Lois Fisher (Kentucky)

This year my oldest child graduates from high school, and I am not ready to let her go.  Despite reminding myself that this is a natural and necessary part of life, I have been struggling to hide my bittersweet feelings behind a brave and smiling face.

Today I looked out my window to see an empty bird’s nest above my front porch.  A month or so ago, I had watched the mother bird build the nest.  She diligently sat on her eggs through the cold rains and winds of early spring.  Just last week, I saw three baby chirping there, waiting to be fed.  Now the nest stood empty.  When did they leave?  Where did the time go?  How quickly they flew away?

I realize that as my daughter is preparing to leave home we have some similar feelings.  Like my daughter, I feel as if I, too, am flying right now on wings that are a bit shaky and uncertain.  Yet, as I look to God, I am reassured that neither of us faces the unknown alone.  In Isaiah, we are reminded that God has carried us from birth, and will continue to carry and sustain us even into old age.  In knowing this promise I find I am ready to let my daughter go after all.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God carries us every moment of our life’s journey.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your promise never to leave us.  Because you hold us close, give us the courage to let go when we need to.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: GRADUTES AND THEIR FAMILIES

Thinking Backwards Wednesday, Jun 24 2015 

2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1 (NIV)

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

DEVOTION – Teri Moffitt (Arkansas)

Many years ago, I worked for a photographer.  One of my jobs was to prepare the negatives for the process of developing the photographs.  What is dark in the negatives is actually light on the true photo; what is light on the negative is, in reality, dark.  So I became accustomed to thinking “backwards” to evaluate the negatives.

In the part of the world where I live, we have another kind of backwards thinking; possessions are too highly valued.  Many people feel they must have new cars, the latest phones, the biggest televisions, and the best homes – whether or not they can afford them.  We so often trade our eternal possessions for these fleeting luxuries.

May God forgive us and teach us to see earthly possessions only as a means of glorifying God – providing hospitality to others, providing for others; needs and acting with compassion when we have opportunities.  May God train us to reverse our thinking as we remember that “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:When we reverse our backwards thinking, we learn to cherish our eternal possessions.

PRAYER: Dear Father, give us vision to see life with your eyes.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PHOTOGRAPHERS

Path Markers Tuesday, Jun 23 2015 

Psalm 32:6-10 (NIV)

6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, a the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. (Selah) 8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

8 I will instruct1 you and teach you2 in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over3 you.                            

DEVOTION – Gerald McCann (Western Cape, South Africa)

I am a trailblazer, pathfinder, and guide.  In the area where I work, we have ways to guide hikers along the path.  Wherever a junction o paths occurs, a sign and a colored footprint indicate the new route.  Once hikers are on the right trail, they will see rocks painted with white dots placed roughly 50 paces apart to indicate the right track.  When the path is slightly overgrown, some hikers begin to feel a bit anxious, wondering if they are still on the right path.  At such times, they are relieved to spot a white mark on a rock so they can confidently proceed on their way.

Walking with God through our daily lives is similar to hiking a well-marked trail.  God has promised to guide us and show the way at each important new intersection.  When no guidance seems to come, we may begin to feel anxious, wondering if we are still walking in the way of God.  That is when God’s “white dots” are so encouraging.  Each “dot”, each sign, could be described as a nod from God, indicating that we are still on the right trail and that God is pleased with our progress.  “Just keep following the path you are on right now,” God seems to be saying.  “I will show you where to turn next.”  These signs may appear in the form of scripture, spiritual songs, words from a friend, or parts of a sermon.  Even Life’s circumstances – good or bad – can play a part in revealing signs from God.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God is our best possible guide through life.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, open our eyes that we may see your guidance on our trail and lead others to a better understanding of you.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH A DECISION

Honor Your Father Sunday, Jun 21 2015 

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.1 For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline),2 then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits3 and live!4 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.5 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace6 for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:9 (NIV)

9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

DEVOTION – Suzanne S. Austin (Florida)

My father was known for his “I’ll-give-you-the shirt-off-my-back generosity.  But when I asked him for a dollar to buy a toy from a classmate, I was surprised that he responded quietly and thoughtfully, “No.”  He explained that the toy was a want, not a need.

The next day when my father wasn’t home, I opened his top dresser drawer, stole a silver dollar, and bought the toy.  A few days later, when he discovered the silver dollar missing, he knew immediately that I was the thief.  He told me I had no reason to steal from him and that I could depend on his promise to give me everything I needed.  He expressed a deep disappointment in me, yet ended his stern reprimand by saying, “But I still love you.”

When I reflect on how my father handled my disobedience, it became clear to me that he exemplified the kind of love that God, my heavenly Father, has for me even when I fall short.

God said, “Honor your father” (Exod. 20:12).  Today and every day I honor my father for his loving discipline, and I give thanks for the unconditional love God shows to us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Even in my disobedience, God loves me.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for the example of loving earthly parents and for your unconditional love for all your children.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: FATHERS

Broken Connections Saturday, Jun 20 2015 

Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;

10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. a
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; b do not claim to be wiser than you are. 
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.
18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; c for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 
20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:12 (NRSV)

12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.                            

DEVOTION – Faye Rots (Queensland, Australia)

I turned on the tap, but no water came out.  I ran to check the pump in the shed.  It was still working, but a pipe had broken.  Gushing bursts of water had covered the shed floor and water was flowing away, wasting  a valuable resource.  By disconnecting the power I was finally able to turn the water supply to the large storage tank that was draining into the now muddy backyard.

Being securely connected is important in our relationship with God.  To maintain healthy spiritual lives, we need to be connected through Christ in prayer and then maintained and nurtured by God’s word and the Holy Spirit.  If one link in this connection is broken, the precious flow of God’s Spirit in our lives and our abilities to care, to love, and to be strong in faith may be drained away by the corroding circumstances of daily life.  In such times our connection to God can sustain us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: How can I nurture my relationship with God?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us to be disciplined in our time with you so that we remain securely connected to you in prayer, word, and spirit.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WITHOUT ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER

A Matter Of Appearances Friday, Jun 19 2015 

Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)

3 At one time1 we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness2 and love of God our Savior3 appeared,4 5 he saved us,5 not because of righteous things we had done,6 but because of his mercy.7 He saved us through the washing8 of rebirth and renewal9 by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us10 generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace,11 we might become heirs12 having the hope13 of eternal life.14 8 This is a trustworthy saying.15 And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.16 These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Matthew 7:18,20 (NIV)

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.1                            

20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.                            

DEVOTION -Gale A. Richards (Iowa)

I remember one time when I was a young teen and my mother asked me to go to a local store and get a few things for her.  Then she looked at my tattered clothes and said, “Change your clothes and get cleaned up first.  What would the clerks think of me if they saw you looking like that!”  Mother believed that the way I appeared in public was a reflection on her parenting.

Although early Christians had to be careful not to talk openly about their faith for fear of persecution, they did reflect their faith in their behaviors and attitudes.  By their examples, many others were brought to Christ.  Things haven’t changed much in this regard.  Those we meet along the way notice our habits and attitudes,  They draw conclusions about our beliefs based on our outward demeanor and behavior.  If our words claim Christianity yet our behavior and demeanor testify otherwise, people will conclude that our actions reflect the truth about us.

Today I am old enough to be retired, but I still remember that my behavior, my way of living, casts a reflection on those whom I love and those who love me.  I can say with words that I am a Christian, but actions that reflect true Christian love speak louder than anything else.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: My actions and words can show God’s love to others.

PRAYER: Dear God, teach us to praise you not only with the words of our mouths but also with our actins.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: TEENAGERS

Stop, Look, Listen Thursday, Jun 18 2015 

Psalm 46:1-11 (NIV)

1 God is our refuge1 and strength,2 an ever-present3 help4 in trouble.5 2 Therefore we will not fear,6 though the earth give way7 and the mountains fall8 into the heart of the sea,9 3 though its waters roar10 and foam11 and the mountains quake12 with their surging. “Selah” 4 There is a river13 whose streams14 make glad the city of God,15 the holy place where the Most High16 dwells.17 5 God is within her,18 she will not fall;19 God will help20 her at break of day. 6 Nations21 are in uproar,22 kingdoms23 fall; he lifts his voice,24 the earth melts.25 7 The LORD Almighty26 is with us;27 the God of Jacob28 is our fortress.29 “Selah” 8 Come and see the works of the LORD,30 the desolations31 he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars32 cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow33 and shatters the spear, he burns the shieldsa with fire.34 10 “Be still, and know that I am God;35 I will be exalted36 among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob37 is our fortress.38 “Selah”

1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!1” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

DEVOTION – Valerie Battle Kienzle (Missouri)

My life can be hectic and hurried:  rushing out the door to work, caring for children and other loved ones, preparing meals, dealing with unexpected interruptions and emergencies.  On some days, I don’t slow down until I stumble into bed.

Early in the year the church pastors offered us a challenge: Slow down.  Let God get your attention. Look around. Listen.  Take five minutes each day to notice life.

I accepted the challenge, and the results have been surprising.  I stopped to watch the purples and pinks of a sunset become more vivid with each passing minute.  I noticed movement behind my house and saw deer, romping like children.  I lit a fire on a cold night and felt its warmth surround me.  I listened as a friend talked about challenge in her life.  Her comments helped me deal with situations in my own life.

By slowing down for a few moments to be open to God and the life around me, I saw that each day is full of blessings.  The challenge is to take time to notice.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today I will slow down and be thankful for life’s blessings.

PRAYER: Dear God, thak you for the many blessings that come to us each day.  Help us to slow down and to appreciate all that you give us.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PASTORS

Baptized Wednesday, Jun 17 2015 

1 Peter 3:18-22(NRSV)

18 For Christ also suffered a for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you b to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for c a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 16:16 (NRSV)

16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.                            

DEVOTION – Helen Bliss (Washington)

Years ago, m husband and attended a small church in California.  Once in a sermon the pastor told us that his mother had framed her children’s baptismal certificates and hung them above their beds.  They could rest assured as children of God.

Remembering this story, I recently decided to take out our baptismal certificates, frame them, and hung them above our bed.  As I di, my mind traveled back trough the years of my life that have been enriched by the assurance of God’s love.  Our heavenly Father gave his only son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us, to save us from all our sins.  We realize this gift when we repent  of our disobedience and turn to the love of God.

To me, the most important part of my life is the fact that I was baptized.  I am thankful that through baptism God bestows on us the gift of the Holy Spirit to be our companion, guide, and comfort.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What is my Visual reminder of God’s love?

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for the gift of baptism and for salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SOMEONE PREPARING FOR BAPTISM

The True Treasure Tuesday, Jun 16 2015 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NIV)

1 I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure1 to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,”2 I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine,3 and embracing folly4–my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself5 and planted vineyards.6 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves7 who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold8 for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.9 I acquired men and women singers,10 and a harema as well–the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem11 before me.12 In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;13 nothing was gained under the sun.14

Matthew 6:1-21 (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,1 where moth and rust destroy,2 and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,3 where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.4 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.5

DEVOTION – Daniel Sebbah (Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Zur, France)

My mother has dementia, and she is no longer able to live alone.  Last year she went to live in a nursing home, and now I’m emptying her house to sell it.  For 50 years she accumulated many treasured possessions – furniture, dishes, clothes, shoes,letters, books, and photos to name a few-seemingly never throwing anything away.  Today, most of these things have little or no monetary value.  In a few days her possessions will be sold, given away, or thrown out.

While doing this difficult task, I’ve never so clearly understood the words in Ecclesiastes:  “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (2:11).  It occurred to me that our accumulated possessions are of no value to us once our earthly lives are over.

Now it is time for me to refocus my priorities and my efforts, not on the material things of this world but on the kingdom of God – on justice, and on my relationship with Jesus and with others.  That is the real treasure Matthew 6 speaks about.  This treasure will never lose its value and will never be thrown away.  This treasure will be with us in eternity.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The best things in life come from God.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to discern the important things in life – our relationship with you and with others.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: FAMILIES OF PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

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