Third Time Around Sunday, Aug 31 2014 

Psalm 31:1-5 (NRSV)

1 In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. 3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, 4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.   

1 Corinthians 1:9 (NRSV)

9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

DEVOTION – Michelle Knight (Indiana)

Eleven years ago when my mother-in-law had breast-cancer surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, she declared after all the treatments were complete, “Now I know that God is able.”  She had turned each fear and worry over to God and discovered God’s strength to be sufficient for her.

When her cancer returned, she told us, “Yes, I know God is faithful.”  Our family  marveled at how God’s Spirit moved within her to bring her healing again.  She has lived a long life of faith, but her witness of God’s faithfulness intensified as she shared it with doctors, nurses, and families of other oncology patients.  Now my mother-in-law is undergoing treatments for her third round of breast cancer.  Her serious situation breaks my heart.

Yet, in spite of the suffering and pain – and all the emotions that go with these difficulties – our family has witnessed firsthand God’s power and faithfulness.  With renewed hope I find myself asking, “What will we discover about God this third time around?”  Simply asking that question brings comfort.  Indeed God is with us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God is present in surprising ways.

PRAYER: We thank you, dear God, because you make yourself known to us in joy and sorrow.  Give us courage to trust in your presence with us during all circumstances.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES

A Dangerous Habit Saturday, Aug 30 2014 

1 John 1:5-9 (NRSV)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NRSV)

9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   

DEVOTION – Pavel Serdukov (Moscow, Russia)

I spent a week in a village by the sea.  The air was fresh and pleasant, the sun and the sea were warm, and the surroundings were peaceful.  When I returned home to Moscow, I wanted to cover my nose at the railway station.  The smell of car exhaust and drunken people attacked my nostrils.  The air in Moscow was terrible.  I longed for the fresh air by the sea.  However, a week later, I no longer noticed the difference.  I got used to the city air that now seemed completely normal, though it was actually harmful.

When we first encounter a sin in our lives, our reaction may be like mine at the railway station.  The danger is that as we ignore our own sin, we no longer sense the stench of sin in our life.  It seems normal.  Failing to see the sin, however, does not remove its harmful consequences.  But God promises that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven and made whole.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Confession can renew our soul.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for your mercy in forgiving our sins.  Holy Spirit, bring us the fresh breeze of grace that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

PRAYER FOCUS: CHRISTIANS IN RUSSIA

Source Of Life Friday, Aug 29 2014 

John 15:1-8 (NIV)

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.   

John 15:6 (NIV)

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   

DEVOTION – Betty L. Wigal (West Virginia)

West Virginia was recently hit by a big storm with high, damaging winds.  Our area was one of the most severely affected, with several trees damaged and others blown down.

A week later, I noticed that in such a short time the leaves of the trees left unattended had turned brown and were dying.  Once they were cut off from their source of life, they were unable to live and continue to grow.

I was reminded that this is true of my spiritual life and relationship with God.  I am like the brown, wilted leaves on the trees when I fail to stay faithful with my Bible study, prayer life, active worship, and interaction with other Christians.  I have become removed from the source of life-Jesus Christ and my relationship with God.  This reminded me of how important spiritual disciplines are in helping me remain faithful.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What practices keep me connected to Christ?

PRAYER: O Holy One, help us remain connected to you so we can bear much fruit.  We want to be your disciples and show your glory.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE AFFECTED BY NATURAL DISASTERS

Always The Same Thursday, Aug 28 2014 

Hebrews 6:12-20(NIV)

12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.   

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,  14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”  15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.  16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.  17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,  20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.   

James 1:17 (NIV)

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   

DEVOTION -Larry Crockett (Tennessee)

My wife, Holly, had decided to surprise our daughter Jessie at her school for kindergarten lunch.  After they finished eating, Holly  suggested a game of Telephone (also called Gossip), where the first person whispers a phrase or sentence into the next person’s ear.  the second person passes on what they thought they heard, until all participants have received the message.  Then, the last person says aloud what was said to them.  Usually, the final statement is vastly different from the initial one.

Jessie started one of the rounds by whispering, “God is always the same.”  The game went on, around the table, through several little kindergartners, until the final statement was revealed:  “God is always the same.”  The original statement had not changed at all.

James 1:17 tells us that God is steadfast, unchanging.  Numbers 23:19 also speaks of God’s faithfulness:  “God is not human, that he should lie…[or] change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”  We can trust and rely on God.  Over a period of several thousand years, God promised the Messiah – and that promise was filled in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  How amazing was this steadfast promise!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God is always dependable and trustworthy.

PRAYER: Dear God, in a constantly-changing world, remind us that you are trustworthy and that your promises never change.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SOMEONE WHO IS DOUBTING GOD

Praying For A Friend Wednesday, Aug 27 2014 

Philippians 1:3-11 (NRSV)

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart,  for all of you share in God’s grace  with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.   

Colossians 1:9 (NRSV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s  will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

DEVOTION – Denise Loock (North Carolina)

Unfounded accusations at work, a rebellious teenager, and unpaid mortgage, nagging illness – the hardships my coworker was experiencing seemed overwhelming.  I listened without comment.  What could I say?  He surely didn’t need a lecture on how to endure hardship.  My heart ached for him.  My mind searched for a helpful response.  When he paused to take a drink of water, I said, “I’d love to solve even one of these problems for you, but I can’t.  But I can and I do pray for you.”  I picked up my Bible, opened it to Philippians I, and said, “Here’s what Paul prayed for the Philippians.  It’s what I’m praying for you:  that God will give you depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best, and that your behavior in each matter will bring glory to God.”
Just hearing those words comforted my friend.  He smiled and said, “You’re a good friend.  I’m praying for you, too.”

“I’m always willing to listen.  It helps me pray more often and more specifically for you,” I told him.

People don’t usually need advice.  Instead, God calls us to be listeners and intercessors.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:Who needs my attention and prayers today?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, our great High Priest, bring someone across our path today who needs to be encouraged.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PARENTS OF REBELLIOS TEENAGERS

What Is Important In Life? Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NRSV)

7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep  me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.   8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power  is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.   

Proverbs 18:14 (NRSV)

14 The human spirit will endure sickness; but a broken spirit—who can bear?

DEVOTION – Galina Samson (Voronezh, Russia)

One wonderful summer  morning I went out for a walk.  I went in a wheelchair because this is the only way I can move.  A man came up behind me and said, “I don’t envy you.”  I kept going, smiling and thinking that he should envy me!  What a shame, I thought, that people often didn’t see what is really important in life.  Health problems are seen as a huge calamity while problems with the soul go unnoticed and the other gifts of God are not valued.

God has blessed me so abundantly!  I live with my dad who is called the best father in the world by everyone who knows him.  We have an apartment, and we have our own room.  I have friends who enrich my life.  I live in a country where, after 70 years of religious persecution, there is now freedom of belief, and I have come to God.  My daughter is studying at a university, and recently she and her finance’ got married in our church.  I simply cannot find words of gratitude to God for all that he has given me.  No, I can’t walk; but I have so many other joys in my life.  Most importantly, I have the Lord.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today I will find joy in God’s gifts.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us to see your grace and mercy in our lives.  We pray as Jesus taught us, saying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4 KJV).  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PEOPLE WITH HEALTH PROBLEMS

Look Up Monday, Aug 25 2014 

Psalm 19:1-9 (NIV)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,  5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.   

Psalm 121:1-2(NIV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.   

DEVOTION – William David Willis (New South Wales, Australia)

One evening while on holiday, we went to an outdoor entertainment event, which culminated with our standing in darkness under a magnificent canopy of trees.  We were told to close our eyes just for a moment and then to look up.  When we opened our eyes, we found that hundreds of lights had been strung among the branches – quite an enchanting sight!

As we drove back to our accommodations through an area with no lights, we looked up to see that the whole sky was covered with brilliant stars – a sight which far exceeded the artificial light display we had seen earlier.

At all times, but especially when we are in need of comfort and assurance, it is important to lift our eyes and look beyond the cares and concerns of our earthly life that can cloud our vision.  As we do, we realize that we are in the hands of the great God of the universe.  God is no distant figure, as Jesus revealed, but is here with us, sharing our lives and walking with us each day.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s love shines through our cares and concerns.

PRAYER:Gracious God, in every situation of our lives help us to be aware of your nearness and your love reaching out to us.  Amen,

PRAYER FOCUS: PEOPLE ON VACTION

Daily Tasks Sunday, Aug 24 2014 

Acts 2:36-42 (NIV)

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NIV)

4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.   

DEVOTION – Mariella Carr (Texas)

“Where are my socks?”  was the plaintive cry from my daughter.  I hear this plea often in the rush of getting everyone off to work and school in the morning.  Sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives, we feel that we do not have enough time to meditate and praise God.  Sweeping the floor, Making beds, washing clothes, cooking meals – these required daily tasks seem endless.

Being a homemaker reminds me that God also expects daily tasks from us.  Having a daily devotional time and praying without ceasing (see 1 Thess. 5:17) helps us to maintain our faith and the wellbeing of our souls.  Keeping our faith new and fresh requires daily renewal.  By taking the time to worship by praise and prayer each morning, we are being good housekeepers of our souls.  However, rather than being the chore that housework can become, this daily communion with our Maker always brings us joy.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: As we daily communicate with God, we can better see the way God works in our everyday activities.

PRAYER: Dear God, as we struggle in our busy lives, help us to find time for the joy of communion with you – our Lord and our Maker.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: HOMEMAKERS

Growing Saturday, Aug 23 2014 

Matthew 6:25-34 (CEB)

25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (CEB)

7 Happy are those who trust in the LORD, who rely on the LORD. 8 They will be like trees planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water. They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green. They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit.

DEVOTION – Howard David Glawson (North Carolina)

Twenty-five years ago I was transferred to a group home some distance from my family and friends.  I had suffered from alcohol dependence and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I greatly needed the assistance of mental health professionals.

Each year, my mother takes me to visit my relatives.  on those occasions, I have grown to admire a lovely painting in aunt’s home.  It depicts a wide variety of colorful flowers.  The painting has drawn me to another understanding of my life by encouraging me to grow and develop wherever God has placed me, as these magnificent blossoms have grown where they were planted.  Jesus reminds us that the wild lilies of the field are not anxious about their role in life; they radiate with God’s purpose by being themselves.

I find satisfaction and great joy in the place where God has planted me.  I have not consumed alcohol in over 13 years.  I have developed loving relationships in the church I attend.  After several changes in treatment, my medication therapy has brought about successful results.  I want to be like one of the flowers in my aunt’s painting, planted in this lovely family of mental health residents.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: We can thrive where God has planted us.

PRAYER: Dear God, help us to find peace where we are, even in the midst of trauma.  Give us the power and grace to overcome mental illness and all obstacles to abundant life.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS

Those Annoying Dogs Friday, Aug 22 2014 

Luke 11:5-10 (NIV)

5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Luke 11:9 (NIV)

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.   

DEVOTION – John Bagdanov (California)

The neighbors’ dogs are at it again.  Everyone knows when the neighbors are not home because the dogs bark constantly – all day long, day after day.  My attempts to scold them from over the fence only encourage them.  Apparently, they perceive my actions as a standing ovation to their “performance” – and, like a performer, they oblige with increased volume and fervor.

Even though their barking annoys me, I have to grudgingly admit that in one way they are setting a good example for me in my relationship with Christ.  In today’s reading Jesus encourages us to be persistent in seeking a deeper relationship with him.  He calls us to ask, seek, and knock.  In other words, he is calling us to engage in prayer with him throughout the day – and then do it again the next day and the next.  Jesus assures us that those who ask, seek, and knock will strengthen their relationship with him.

One good thing about those constantly – barking dogs – they remind me to be persistent in growing in my love and devotion to Jesus.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: It’s a new day, and I want more of Jesus in it.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us to be persistent in seeking a deep and meaningful relationship with you.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: TO FALL MORE IN LOVE WITH JESUS

Next Page »