A Deeper Longing Monday, Jun 15 2015 

Exodus 33:12-23 (NIV)

12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’1 but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name2 and you have found favor3 with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways4 so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”5 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence6 will go with you, and I will give you rest.”7 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence8 does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?9 What else will distinguish me and your 17 And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked,11 because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”12 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”13 19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass14 in front of you, and I will proclaim my name,15 the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see17 me and live.” 21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock18 and cover you with my hand19 until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him1 must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.                            

DEVOTION – Ruth Ann Dalley (California)

Seeking God is the first step of faith for those who want to know, understand, and follow God who desires fellowship with us.  I learned tis lesson from my friend Brenda, whose life is a witness to me.  Her everyday behavior is a message to me from the Holy Spirit.

When I was struggling to see God, Brenda had the spiritual insight I was missing.  I realized that she practices noticing and acknowledging God’s presence minute  by minute every day.   I have learned that the power of the Holy Spirit is more available to us when we practice consciously living in God’s presence.  I want to live that way every day.

Our efforts glorify God when we praise and thank God aloud and when we encourage and accept other people.  Graciousness, joy, and peace are God’s gifts to us so that we can be grateful servants, witnessing for God.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Living in God’s presence gives peace to our souls.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for wanting a living conversation with us.  Make us more aware of ypur presence each moment of the day.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: MY SPIRITUAL MENTORS

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A Big God Sunday, Jun 14 2015 

Psalm 27:1-8 (NIV)

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold a of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall. 3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. 6 Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Romans 8:31 (NIV)

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this?1 If God is for us,2 who can be against us?3                            

DEVOTION – Linaati Santoso (East Java, Indonesia)

I work as a tutor.  At the time of her promotion to the next grade, one of my youngest students said to me, “The next class would’ve been hard, but because you’re here with me I don’t need to worry.”

Her simple words reminded me of my journey with God.  Sometimes I feel fear in the midst of life’s severe problems.  I worry and often cannot sleep.  The fear makes me forget that an almighty God is always besides me.  In fact, God is never far away from any of us.

I wonder:  Am I as eager to trust in God as fully as my young student trust in me?  If I can trust God that much, every time I face a problem I can say,  “If God is for [me[, who can be against [me]?”  And instead of saying, “God, I have a big problem,” I can say, “Hey, problem, I have a big God!”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:Because God is near, I need not fear.

PRAYER:  Almighty God, help us not to worry and to trust that you are always near and will leave us.  As Jesus taught us, we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but delver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:9-13, NIV).  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL STUDENTS

Adjusting To Change Saturday, Jun 13 2015 

Isaiah 42:5-10 (NRSV)

5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:

6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a a light to the nations, 
7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
10 Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar b and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Philippians 3:14 (NRSV)

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly a call of God in Christ Jesus.                            

DEVOTION –  Pat Watson (Texas)

As our music group, Joyful Noise, began practicing a new song, I could not seem to get the correct rhythm.  With a degree in music education, I rarely have problems reading music.  Why now?  Reading the words, I realized the words, I realized that the new song was actually an old one.  In the new version, however, the words were set to a syncopated rhythm rather than the familiar, simple 4/4 beat I had played for years.  Even though I could read the music, I kept slipping back into the familiar beat.

This experience reminded me how difficult change can be.  Our church is currently experiencing change as our much-loved pastor of eight years assumes responsibility for a new congregation and we prepare to welcome a  new pastor.  Although we want to hold on to what we know and love, we need to open our hearts to what God has in store for us.  In his final sermon to our congregation, our pastor, admonished us to press on.  We honor him and our Lord as we press on under new leadership.

The only constant any of us has is the promise that “Jesus Christ is the is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8, NIV).  Circumstances may change, but Christ’s message remains the same.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God will lead us through changing seasons.

PRAYER: Dear God, help us to release the past and to go forth in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: CHURCHES FACING CHANGE

A Father’s Pride Friday, Jun 12 2015 

Mark 1:9-13 (NIV)

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth1 in Galilee and was baptized by John2 in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.3 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son,4 whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”5 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days,6 being tempted by Satan.7 He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Psalm 149:4 (NIV)

4 For the LORD takes delight1 in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.2                            

DEVOTION – Justin Farrell (Washington)

Even when my dad struggled with alcohol addition, he made it clear to me that he loved me and was proud of me.  Sadly, some people never hear encouraging words from their fathers.  They feel a huge void because the one man in the world whom they want to please the most isn’t there for them.

After Jesus was baptized and emerged from the water, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Then the Spirit sent him into the wilderness.  He didn’t pack anything; he didn’t say goodbye to anyone.  All he took with him was his Father’s approval and pride.  That was all Jesus needed to endure 40 days of temptation from Satan.

I’m grateful that over time my father achieved sobriety, and we’ve had the opportunity to repair the brokenness that kept us apart.  But regardless of our relationships with our earthly fathers, we have a heavenly Father who can fill all the holes in our lives.  This heavenly Father knows us, loves us, and is well please with us – simply because we are his beloved.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s love is more important than any earthly approval.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for always loving us.  Help us to see ourselves through your eyes.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: CHILDREN ESTRANGED FROM THEIR FATHERS

Life In The Blood Thursday, Jun 11 2015 

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NIV)

25 I will sprinkle1 clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse2 you from all your impurities3 and from all your idols.4

26 I will give you a new heart5 and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone6 and give you a heart of flesh.7 

27 And I will put my Spirit8 in you and move you to follow my decrees9 and be careful to keep my laws.10

Ephesians 2:13 (NIV)

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.                            

DEVOTION – Deanne Ruedemann (Texas)

A few years ago I worked as a nurse in a cardiology lab.  Frequently I participated in certain heart procedure for patients who were close to death because of heart disease.  Nothing thrilled me more than to see the miracle of a partially dead heart come back to life when the balloon was inflated to open up a clogged artery.

This sudden rush of blood from the newly opened artery hen enters and revives the dead heart muscle with fresh oxygen.  That dead muscle, which has been more like a stone than a living organ, becomes flesh and is able to pump blood more effectively to the rest of the patient’s body.  In fact, many of those patients would die quickly if their arteries were not reopened.

Seeing lives revived by the introduction of new blood brought to my mine the verse from Leviticus 17:11, “The life of a creature is in the blood . . . it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”  Also when I read in Ezekiel how God will remove our “heart of stone” and give us a “Heart of flesh,” I envision my own heart as having been dead before I accepted Jesus.

I see now how God’s Spirit infused my own heart of stone with the blood of Jesus, bringing me to everlasting life.  My heart is now alive and I have new life, both here on earth and for all eternity with Christ.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The power of eternal life comes from the blood of Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for reviving our hearts by your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: CARDIOVASCULAR SURGEONS

Remember Wednesday, Jun 10 2015 

Hebrews 11:1-39 (NRSV)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen 2 Indeed, by faith a our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. b 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable c sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith d he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. e 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” 13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. 17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 19 He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial. f 23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. g 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ h to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though i he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. j 29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, k because she had received the spies in peace.32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, l they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,

Psalm 77:11(NRSV)

11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.                            

DEVOTION –  Eugenie Daniels (Massachusetts)

When I was a child, my family lived with my grandparents and my uncle.  My uncle loved to tell family stories.  Through his stories I learned that I had my grandfather’s nose,  that my great-aunt also loved to write, and my talent for cooking came from my mother’s older sister.  I also learned about the big farm where they all lived.  Because of my uncle’s storytelling, I began to know who I was and where I came from.

The Bible is like my uncle’s stories.  I need to know about my ancestors in the faith, about God’s mighty acts, and about the love that God has for me.  Because I am part of the family of God, I need to know who I am and what God’s dreams are for me.  I can discover this through the Bible and its stories of the family of God.

I need to spend time with my Bible every day, learning and remembering the stories so that I can live as a part of God’s family in the world.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Remembering our faith stories leads us closer to God.

PRAYER: Loving Father, thank you for the stories you have given us.  help us to remember who we are through your stories and to share them with others.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: MY EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS

Simple Wonders Tuesday, Jun 9 2015 

Luke 12:22-31 (CEB)

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! 25 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?a 26 If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest?  27 Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these.  28 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith!  29 Don’t chase after what you will eat and what you will drink. Stop worrying.  30 All the nations of the world long for these things. Your Father knows that you need them.  31 Instead, desire his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 10:31 (CEB)

31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

DEVOTION -Yohana Defrita Rufikasari (Central Java, Indonesia)

One sunny afternoon, I was thinking about my many problems.  Some weeks before, I had sent out job applications with no results.  With no more openings available – and constantly aware that all my friends had good careers – I was feeling depressed and stuck.  Then I looked around and noticed the works of God’s hand right in front of me.  It was a beautiful day.  I looked up to see Mount Sindoro, Mount Sumbing, and even Dieng Plateau, so strong and majestic.  The golden light of sunset warmed my skin.  I heard birds singing, and the cool afternoon breeze made me realize that in spite of my burdens, God had not neglected me.  God was delighting me with little surprises, the recognition of simple wonders I see every day but rarely notice.  And when I saw all God’s creation in front of me, I remembered that Jesus said, “You are worth so much more than birds!” (Luke 12:24).

God lovingly cares for all creation – birds, flowers, mountains, and especially us.  Even though our problems continue, so also does the knowledge that the hand that takes care of birds and flowers is the same hand that takes care of us.  I feel very blesses.  Problems may come and go, but through it all the providence of God sustains us.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God’s love is revealed in the wonders of nature.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your love that helps us face our problems without worry and fear.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: SOMEONE OVEWHELMED WITH PROBLEMS

Never Give Up Friday, Jun 5 2015 

Philippians 3:7-16 (NRSV)

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, a the righteousness from God based on faith.

10 I want to know Christ b and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 

11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; c but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

13 Beloved, d I do not consider that I have made it my own; e but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly f call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Philippians 3:10-11 (NRSV)

10 I want to know Christ a and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,

11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

DEVOTION – Mary NG (Signapore)

I was enjoying my breakfast at the park when I observed a couple training their son to kick a ball between two cones.  At first the child could not kick the ball between the cones many times in a row, but he never gave up until he finally could do so consistently.

Similarly, Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, reveals a heart that never gives up.  From Paul’s relationship with Jesus came the fruit of his fervor.  And because of this fervor, Paul was able to guide others to faith in God.

If our goal is merely serving the Lord, we may burn out soon.  But if our goal is like Paul’s, that is to know Christ, we will find that Christ is our true source of strength – enabling us to make him known to others.

I never want to give up in my efforts to joyfully serve and know Christ, the source of my strength.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: To know Christ is to joyfully serve each day.

PRAYER: Dear God, we want to know you more fully.  In your strength may we give up but serve you joyfully.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY WEARY

Sin That Dams Thursday, Jun 4 2015 

1 John 1:5-2:2(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. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.                            

1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.                            

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 – Barb Winters (Illinois)

After the storm passed, I strolled down to the creek. The two-year drought we had experienced was finally over, and I was delighted to see the waterway filling. To the left, the current carried the water along its natural course; to the right, however, a pool 0f stagnant water rested against some debris.

The storm had washed leaves, sticks, grass, and trash into the creek bed, and rubbish was caught on a log. This created a dam that prevented the water from flowing freely. If allowed to stay, the pooled water would attract mosquitoes, create an odor, and become contaminated. It needed to be cleaned out.

Sin is like that debris. We may not notice many problems from a few minor infractions. But left alone to collect and pile, these sins will clog the path to life and freedom.  Habitual sin – such as pride, gluttony, lying and idolatry – creates a barrier and blocks our relationship with God and others.  The fallout of the construction, a stagnant spiritual life, attracts further sin and spills over into other areas of our lives.  The obstruction that sin creates in our lives needs to be cleaned out.  Thankfully, we have a remedy – repentance. (See Acts 3:19.)

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The abundant life is available to all who seek it.

PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, reveal our sins to us.  Help us repent so that we may have a closer relationship with you and live life more abundantly.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE STRUGGLING WITH HABITUAL SIN

Are You Weary? Wednesday, Jun 3 2015 

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

28 “Come to me,1 all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.2 

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,3 for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.4

30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”5

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

1 He who dwells in the shelter1 of the Most High will rest in the shadow2 of the Almighty.a                            

DEVOTION –  Susan Tedrow (Indiana)

In  my therapeutic massage practice, I see many women who are tired, worn out, sick, hurting, and unable to sleep.  They tell me they have no time for themselves.  They always have things to do and to achieve – meetings, practices, work, housework.  The list is endless.  We put a lot of stress on our bodies when we don’t allow ourselves time to rest and recover, and we tend to ignore the warning signs when we have pushed ourselves too far.

The Bible tells us we are to work, but it also tells us to rest.  We often have a hard time finding a balance between the two.  God commands us to rest. Listening to our bodies’ cries to slow down isn’t easy. However, if we hand over all our cares and worries to God each day and put our focus on God and not on the world around us , we will discover over time that rest becomes easier.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we go to God with our daily struggles, we find rest.

PRAYER: Dear God, we give you are cares and worries today. Please be with us as we go about our daily lives and help us to rest. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS:SINGLE MOTHERS  

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