The Clandestine Christian Tuesday, Sep 30 2014 

John 19:39-42 (NIV)

39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.  40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.  41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Luke 12:8 (NIV)

8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.   

DEVOTION -Tammy Kennington (Colorado)

Before Jesus’ death, Nicodemus was a clandestine Jesus-follower.  As a member of the Jewish council, he held great political influence.  Perhaps because Nicodemus feared a loss of position and power if others were to learn about his devotion to Jesus, he communicated with Jesus only under the cover of darkness.

Surprisingly, after Jesus’ death, Nicodemus brought close to 200 pounds of spices to the tomb to help Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus’ body for burial.  Such a large amount of Myrrh and aloes would be difficult to conceal, but at that point Nicodemus seemed unafraid for his connection to Jesus to become known.  Why, after Jesus had died, would a man of Micodemus’ standing risk his emboldened because he believed that Jesus was the Messiah.

Like Nicodemus, I sometimes find myself reluctant to proclaim my belief in the Lord, worrying, What will people think?  I pray God will give me the courage to boldly live out my faith.  After all, Jesus gave up his earthly life when he died on the cross for me.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: In what ways can I show others my devotion to Christ today?

PRAYER:God of encouragement, give us the boldness to proclaim your sacrifice that others might learn of your love.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: TO REMIAN STEADFAST IN FAITH

Something Beautiful Monday, Sep 29 2014 

Psalm 32:1-11 (NRSV)

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up  as by the heat of summer. (Selah) 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Selah) 6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress,  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. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.   

Psalm 32:8 (NRSV)

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

DEVOTION – Mathew Philip (Georgia)

Our family had been packing with excitement for our move into the new house.  Then, unexpectedly, my job was eliminated two days after closing on the home loan.  Uncertainly loomed all around us.  We had two children in college and a new house payment.  I did not know where to turn for help, so we all sat down and prayed.  That time together brought us closer to one another.  After that, our love for the Lord and for each other became stronger day by day.  After I had been unemployed for over two months, God opened new opportunities that I had never imagined before.

Now I am working at a place where I am able to witness for the Lord more than before.  We would not trade our experience during this difficult time for anything else.  When we do not understand how God is working in our lives, we can pray and trust that God can work bad things for good.  God can make something beautiful out of a difficult situation.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Challenging times can strengthen our trust in God.

PRAYER: Faithful God, help us to understand that you are working for good even when we face challenges.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED

The Prayer Blanket Sunday, Sep 28 2014 

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (NRSV)

12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters,  to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, beloved,  to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets,   21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound  and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.   

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NRSV)

17 pray without ceasing,

DEVOTION – Tom Gregg

While repairing my house, I slid off the roof, caught my foot in the ladder, and hit the patio deck.  I did not know if I had broken any bones, but I knew I was hurt.  Ginger, my wife of 50 years, heard the thud and can running.  I later learned that I had torn a tendon in my foot.

Before I had surgery, members of my church made a prayer blanket for me.  When Church members, friends, and family prayed for me, they tied a knot along the edge of the prayer blanket.  I took my prayer blanket to the hospital and asked my medical team to tie a prayer knot I it.  Some tied a braided knot.  My surgeon tied a surgeon ‘s knot, one that I used to secure stitches.  Most people tied a granny knot.  Some prayed for me aloud; others closed their eyes and prayed silently.  A woman from El Salvador prayed in Spanish and cried as she prayed.  Their prayers were uplifting.  I could feel the spirit of the Lord moving with each tied knot.  Sometimes, when I was feeling a lot of pain, I held the knots in the blanket, knowing that each knot represented someone’s prayer for me.  My recovery will take nine months.  During that time I will continue to pray for those who prayer for me, counting each knot as I do.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Praying for others is a blessing.

PRAYER: Dear God, give us the courage and desire to pray for others.  Teach us to “pray without ceasing.”  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE RECOVERING FROM SURGERY

Broken But Forgiven Saturday, Sep 27 2014 

.Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   

DEVOTION – Lynn Hare (Oregon)

One Summer, mu husband and I arrived home from a road trip to find large cracks in a window of our apartment.  We learned that while playing with friends in the nearby courtyard, a young neighbor had kicked a ball that broke the window.

The boy was usually playing outside with other children, but now he was nowhere to be seen.  We went to his home where he hesitantly came to the door, eyes downcast and shoulders slumped.

“We heard about the ball.  It was an accident; it could happen to anybody,” we said.  “We forgive you.”  The boy straightened.  His eyes came up to meet ours, and he smiled.

When we make mistakes it’s easy to wrestle with shame and withdraw from our world.  We may feel like we don’t deserve to be loved by god or anyone else.  We sometimes have the sense that our faults are so big that they can’t be forgiven.

But God sent Jesus Christ to die for us and redeem us.  This grace covers us.  We can hold our heads up high and meet the future with confidence and the certainty that even in our brokenness, God forgives us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s mercy precedes our mistakes.

PRAYER: Dear God, when we are feeling discouraged with our shortcomings and doubts, thank you for believing in us.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH SHAME

The Supreme Architect Friday, Sep 26 2014 

Matthew 7:24-27 (CEB)

24Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. 26 But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”   

Psalm 127:1 (CEB)

1 Unless it is the LORD who builds the house, the builders’ work is pointless. Unless it is the LORD who protects the city, the guard on duty is pointless.   

DEVOTION – Keith Honeyman (Western Cape, South Africa)

I have been an architect for over 50 years.  When designing a home for a client, an architect considers the big pictures: a client’s needs and lifestyle, as well as aesthetics, climate, topography, durability, cost, and a lost of other issues.  Enthusiastic clients often approach me with glossy magazines in hand and tell me they know “exactly what they want.”  My function is simply to “put it on paper.”  For example, if the magazine displays a luxury home on a level site, while the client, on  a tight budget, wishes to build on the vineyard slopes of Cape Town, I consider the big picture and refuse the job.  Wiser clients ask if we can work as a team to interpret their dreams and needs.  The, the results often exceed their expectations.

We are part of a team, all members of the body of Christ.  But so often we approach God in prayer, already knowing exactly what we want and enthusiastically pursuing our own dreams, desires, and plans.  Yet, when we work with God to interpret our dreams and needs, the results will exceed our expectations.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s dreams for us exceed our best expectations.

PRAYER: Dear God, grant us the vision to fulfill our dreams in ways that honor you and bring glory to your kingdom.  Amen

PRAYER FOCUS: ARCHITECTS

The Light Of The Cross Thursday, Sep 25 2014 

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.  13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.   

Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

DEVOTION – David E. Spivey Jr. (North Carolina)

It is wonderful to me that God communicates with us in many different ways.  We can hear God’s voice in the words of scripture or sermon.  We can hear God in the words of a song, the melodies of music, or even in the sounds of nature.  Sometimes, however God gets through to us without any words at all.  That’s what happened to me at our last Easter sunrise service.

For that service, our church sets up seats and an altar outside in front of our cemetery.  From the seats, we can see our church building in the background.  Then, if it is a clear morning and the timing is right, we can see the sun rising over the cemetery during worship.  This experience by itself gives a  powerful message to us about Jesus’ resurrection.  But last Easter, something even more powerful happened.

As the sun rose that morning, the rays hit the cross on the altar and then reflected an image of the cross on our pastor’s robe.  God spoke through that image, giving me a message without words.  We are all invited to reflect the glory of Christ to others.  We are not the source of that divine light; but if we are in the right place and allow God to use us, others can see Christ through us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: How do I reflect the love of Jesus to others?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us in all that we do to reflect your glory and your love.  Help us to let others get a glimpse of you when they interact with us.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: WORSHIP PLANNERS

Comfort Journal Wednesday, Sep 24 2014 

Psalm 16:5-8 (NIV)

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.   

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.   

DEVOTION – Camille Evans (Florida)

Toward the end of her life, my grandmother went into a nursing home.  I wanted to lift her spirits by finding a comforting Bible verse to send to her each week.  She was an amazing woman of faith, so I knew she would enjoy reading the verses.  Because I was new tot he Bible, I learned a lot as I searched for the right verses to encourage her.  Many of the uplifting verses I found were in the Book of Psalms (18:2; 46:1, 62:8); but I also looked for verses she might not know as well – such as Habakkuk 3:18-19 and Zephaniah 3:17.  I wrote the verses in a notebook so that I wouldn’t accidentally send the same verse twice.  I complied a list of 150 verses before my grandmother died.

Afterward, I bought a small journal, wrote the verses in it (one verse per page), and gave it to my mom, who suffers from depression.  I also made journals for my mother-in-law, sister and grandson.  Then my sister made one for me, which I carry in my purse.  I pull out my journal when I want a new verse to memorize or need a pick-me-up.  Through these journals, my family members have shared God’s comfort with one another.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Whom could I help by sharing a favorite Bible verse?

PRAYER: Merciful God, help us turn toward your word for comfort and direction.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: NURSING HOME RESIDENTS

Christ’s Suffering Tuesday, Sep 23 2014 

Isaiah 53:3-9 (NIV)

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.  9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.   

Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows,and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.   

DEVOTION – James C. Hendrix (Indiana)

Albert looked helpless as he lay on the hospital bed.  A formerly energetic 50-year-old business owner and community leader, Albert now faced one of the most difficult challenges of his life.  One year earlier, Albert’s doctors had told him that he had incurable cancer.  He underwent a series of treatments that often left him feeling weak and unable to work.  In spite of great suffering and financial loss, Albert, he managed to smile as he spoke of God’s goodness and grace.

We may never experience an illness as serious as Albert’s, but all of us encounter difficult situations at some point.  Albert’s example showed me that as Christians, we can find comfort in knowing that Christ understands our suffering because he endured humiliation, persecution, and pain during his time on earth.

Today, Christ shares our pain and suffering and invites us to rest safely in his arms.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God comforts us in our suffering.

PRAYER: Dear Father, strengthen and comfort us during our times of suffering.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: PEOPLE WITH INCURABLE DISEASES

The Geranium Monday, Sep 22 2014 

John 15:1-7 (NRSV)

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes  to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed  by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.   

Romans 6:23 (NRSV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

DEVOTION – L. Margaret Tansley (Ontario, Canada)

Some months ago I was given a geranium plant with four large red-orange flower clusters.  In time they faded away.  For weeks I had only a plant with green leaves.  I was disappointed because there were no blossoms.  Then I thought, I’ll add some plant food to the water.  Soon I saw a short stem with buds; a few days later, I saw more.  In a few weeks there were 10 clusters of buds on six-inch-stems.  What a glorious display when all the buds fully developed!

Then it occurred to me that our lives can be like that.  When we follow Jesus’ teachings and practice them, we absorb qualities that provide an added dimension of life. This is God’s to us for a life more abundant and fulfilling than we could ever imagine.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: We are made in the likeness of God with a potential for inner, spiritual growth.

PRAYER: Thank you, O God, for revealing your very self to us in Jesus.  What an awesome gift that through Jesus we find our lives fulfilled as we walk the road that leads us to you.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WHO HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE.

Who Made The Difference? Sunday, Sep 21 2014 

Galatians 6:2-10 (NIV)

2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,  5 for each one should carry his own load.  6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.  7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.   

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.   

DEVOTION -Jason Ponzio (Georgia)

When I was a teenager our church had a weeklong revival meeting.  The first evening I didn’t find anywhere to fit in.  I was too old for elementary programs and too young for the high-school kids.  I remember sitting under the basement stairwell of the parsonage as someone was heading down to the high school group.  When he saw me, he paused and stopped to talk with me.  That night, without really knowing it, he changed my life.

Most of us have encountered someone who made a profound positive difference in our lives and in our walk with Christ, someone who took time with us at a pivotal point when no one else did.  But how often do we think about doing the same for someone else?

In our Christian faith, we need people who will take the time to guide and teach us.  At the same time we have friends who hold us accountable and encourage us.  Perhaps most importantly, we can bear one another’s burdens and share our faith with others.  That way, we all help each other grow in faith.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Who needs me to notice and reach out to them today?

PRAYER: Loving God, grant us wisdom and insight so that we can encourage someone today.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SPIRITUAL FRIENDS

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