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June 20

he Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. Deuteronomy 28:12 

From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:16 

The verse from Deuteronomy comes near the end of the second of Moses’ addresses to the people as he nears his death. This portion, from verses 1-14 is titled, “Blessings for Obedience.” The next section is “Curses for Disobedience.” So, this is addressed to people who “fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands.” (28:1) What is promised in the verse sounds great! The Lord’s storehouse is a term often used to say that heaven (the storehouse) is where the wind comes from, where the rain and snow and hail are sent to earth. The land and the crops will flourish; people will have plenty to eat and a good income. Plus, all undertakings will be blessed, which sounds like a great thing to have. God’s people will have everything they need. 

But, wait, who are these perfectly obedient people? Can we do that? Those being addressed by Moses had been wandering about in the wilderness for 40 years for their disobedience. There are lots of curses listed in the rest of the chapter that will happen to all those who are not carefully following the law, maybe that applied to the listeners. Yet, there is the list of good things too – for the obedient ones. This seems a bit confusing, as none of us can be perfect in following the laws, no matter how hard we try. 

We then read, in the book of John, the word “grace.” We encounter a God that loves us, and knows that we are not perfect; after all He made us and knows all about us. This verse is spoken by John the Baptist, right after that he says, in verse 17 “for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came from Jesus Christ.”  Because of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that we have been blessed with the grace of God and salvation. We have a God that will open the rich storehouse for us, blessing us in our daily endeavors as we strive to follow Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Loving Father, we thank you for your rich grace that flows abundantly from heaven to bless us every day. We praise you for your inexhaustible, compounding grace. We pray for those in need of physical and spiritual healing. Help us to be obedient to your call, and may our lives reflect your grace this day. Amen. 

Chris Gabel



June 19

The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he made. Psalm 145:9

Since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

In the world around us, people are loved on the basis of their performance. Athletes, actors, musicians, we love them for what they provide for us, their performance. When someone pleases us, when someone stimulates us, we appreciate what they do and use the term “love” to describe our response.

But God’s love is not based on our performance! God’s love, instead, is unconditional.

When Christ died for us, was he responding to something good in our performance? No, Christ died for ordinary folks like us, not for people who look like they have it all together.

So why did God love us? We are not lovable people. But despite our problems it was God’s pleasure; it was God’s will to us to be adopted as his sons and daughters. God’s love has nothing to do with our goodness; God’s love has nothing to do with our performance. God’s love is unconditional. 

Now I don’t know about you, but to me this truth is tremendously freeing. I don’t have to look over my shoulder all the time, wondering if God is going to abandon me because I blew it. I don’t have to worry that God might change his mind about me because of my poor performance. God already knows the worst about me — and he chose to love me! God’s love is unconditional — delight in that statement. How cool is that?

Compassionate Father, thank you for being the foundation of my life and faith. Your love has affirmed and sustained me each day of my life. I rejoice in knowing that it is your that has allowed me to love others. Help me to share your goodness with others today by affirming and encouraging them. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



June 18

“My spirit abides among you; do not fear.”  Haggai 2:5

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  Romans 5:5

Easy words for me who has been spared volcanoes, oppression, neighborhood bombings, dire poverty; for me who has food security and clean water, affordable housing, a warm coat and boots; for me … who so often forgets to feel grateful; for me … who fears losing what I have and so often wants still more.

Using abundance wisely can be as daunting as the fear of losing it.  It’s too much money, too much time, too much effort, too little know-how … too little trust.    Recently I was sitting with a social worker who speaks Spanish and Kachichel, and a translator.  Listening to their mission to promote and sustain education for all children, I noticed a sign on the wall, in Spanish but the gist is:  [Right now I can decide to leave behind excuses and go looking for what is to be.]  Excuses:  It’s no use; it won’t make any difference – no hope.  I’m not qualified; I won’t know what to do; it’s outside “my box” – fear.  But God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, not just to “sit there”, but to hope and to do, without fear of failure.  I like a quote by George Bernard Shaw:  “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” 

 We need hope as we face not so easy issues … concern for the environment and our children’s futures, career change, retirement purpose/income, being alone.  Then God will pour his love into someone’s heart to bring love and comfort to help us through life’s disappointments with peace and hope.  Listen …

“I will come to you in the silence.  I will lift you from all your fear.
You will hear My voice.  I claim you as My choice.  Be still, and know I am near.

“I am hope for all who are hopeless.  I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadows of the night I will be your light.  Come and rest in Me.”  Amen     

(Hymn text by David Haas)

Verla Olson



June 15

He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.  Isaiah 53:5

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

In the devotion I wrote last week, I told of how special it is to have people in your life who know you personally and call you by name, and even more so, how the Lord God knows us by name and loves us each as a child.

Going further, I think about how special it can be to have a special nickname for a loved one, or them for you. Being called honey, darling, sweetie, sweetheart, love, just to name a few is a wonderful feeling. If you’re a parent, I can only imagine how awesome it would feel, having someone call you mama or mommy. Grandparents have even more variety in what they’re called by the kids, special names that they retain long after the children grow up:  they’re often still called nana and pop pop, or mimi and gigi., whether their grandkids are babies or old enough to have babies of their own. 

We have our own loving names for God, and a favorite of many, including myself, is Abba, or Father. I’ve heard it translated as Daddy, but other articles indicate that it isn’t the word of a small child, but rather a word of respect to an elder, as one adult to another, more senior adult.

These ideas came to me as I was reading through the book of 1 John and looking for ideas. Doing some research, this epistle seems to have been written when John the Evangelist was an old man, and he addresses the readers of this letter many times as children, my little children, beloved, and other terms of endearments. In this way, as in many other ways, we know that he dearly loved the people he was writing to, and in reading it, we might still feel that love ourselves.

It’s not just in reading John’s words that we feel that love. In so many verses of the Bible we are children, dearly beloved children, sons and daughters, told to live as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8), and 2 Corinthians 6:18 says, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.

I’m sure I’ve written this in a devotion before, and will likely write it again, but the best news bears repeating; when we feel that life is hard, or dark, or we are afraid, how amazing it is to open the Bible and be reminded of God’s mighty and endless love for us all!

Holy God, our Lord, whether we call you Abba in the sense of Daddy, from a needy child, frightened or just longing to be close to you, or Abba as Father, honored and respected as one who is aware of and in awe of your incredible power, we come to you in love and respect. We are amazed by your love for us and that you know each one of us and count us as your beloved children. Lord, there are those who would use the power of your name to further divide our world by claiming that there are those who you could not love or care for!  Help us to share your love with others who have either not heard of you or who have only heard of you in connection with the ways they must change in order to earn your love, as if that was something we could possibly deserve without your grace. May we make everyone welcome as we all come to you as little children to be loved. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Lynda Tysdal



June14

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2.

God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  Ephesians 1:9-10.

God’s plan for salvation is world wide.  His love, compassion, mercy and grace extend to all people.  The faces we will see in heaven may not be black, brown red yellow or white, they may not have features which define us here on earth, but there will be multitudes from all lands.

One devotional speaker I heard believes that we will have our own property in heaven.  Maybe even an address.  I dare not speculate, I only know that Jesus went to prepare a place for each one of us no matter our color, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation. I believe that we are all in for a wonderful surprise.

But for now, we are earthlings.  Struggling or not to live lives worthy of our calling and thrilled to know that we will one day receive our birthright.  We have been promised that we can have abundant life, heaven on earth. How fortunate we are to live in the United States of America where life is mostly good.  Sadly, life is not good in many countries in our world.  We must remember that God has a plan and will use his saving power everywhere.  We also must thank Him constantly for the abundant life that we experience here in this country.  And as Christians, though we may not feel God’s presence with us always, or feel his face shining on us always, the fact is that he is present and we are secure because of his promises.

Most holy God, your ways are above ours and we give  to you our heartfelt thanks and devotion.  Forgive us for selfishly guarding our way of life, knowing that so many of your children live in fear, hunger, hopelessness.  Help us to do what we can and then to trust you with the rest. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Joan Perlich



June 13

He will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4 

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 NKJV

Have you seen a mother hen with her brood of cute little chicks? She stays with them, hovers over them and protects them from danger. If it is cold they can snuggle in under her feathers and be warm; if it is raining, they can stay dry under those feathers. Of a mother duck, she moves along with the ducklings lined up and following her across land or swimming in a lake. When needed, she too keeps those wings over her ducklings. Or if the ducklings are lost – say down one of those grates in a road? Again we have a news story of how she stays there calling attention to them until the rescuers appear, get her ducklings out for her, and they are reunited at the nearby lake. All birds do this – they have wings and nests and keep their young safe, they are truly a place of refuge. This is the same for us, Psalm 91 tells us that God will use “pinions” – that is the outer part of the wing that is comprised of the flight feathers, to cover us. He will give us refuge under His wings.  

Paul in Romans concludes the 8th chapter with the verse we have above, followed by his reasoning as to why this is true. Go ahead and read Romans 8:31-39 – it is a great summary of the refuge and protection we have from the God who loves us. Paul reasons that if God is for us who could possibly be against us, or do anything against us. First of all in verse 32 he says that since God gave us His only son, the greatest gift of all, He certainly will give us everything else we need. Then in verse 33 Paul says that God has already declared believers righteous, so how could anyone when a court case with God as judge? Plus we will not be condemned, and finally nothing can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ. (verses 34, 35-39)

God does not abandon us in our times of troubles. We may, at times, feel far from God but I have heard that it is not God who moved away, but we who did the moving. He is still there loving us and waiting with pinions and wings ready to cover us, to protect us. No matter what troubles we may encounter, or the fears we may have, we can take comfort in knowing that we are under God’s protection. His love and care are more than a match for anything that comes out way.

O God, we are grateful that you are for us in every circumstance of life. In you all our needs are met. Even in times of great storms we can find refuge with you. Nothing can stop your love for us. Forgive our doubts and fears. Help us live in the promise and protection of your forgiving love and grace. Give us boldness to proceed to do your will and share your love with others. Amen 

Chris Gabel



June 12

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings. Isaiah 32:18

 

We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 2 Peter 3:13

 

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do…There can be no courage unless you’re scared!” unknown

 

Life has its twists and turns, ups and downs, and it could leave one feeling helpless and in need of shelter…a shelter that’s safe and secure. The need for shelter is in our DNA, and we seek shelter form the time we are little. We seek shelter from the rain, from blizzards, from heat, from cold, from fear.

 

But God wants us to live with assurance and confidence, with faith and hope, with love and caring. So where can we feel safe and secure? Where can we seek shelter? It just sounds too easy to look to God for shelter, but it really is that easy. God is our hiding place…our safe place…our resting place! God is our shelter of courage, because He is the source of our courage.

 

God of all righteousness, thank you for a word of peace so strong that it becomes a shelter where I can confidently greet your tomorrow. Strengthened with the power of that dwelling place, help me to step out and welcome others in, with your hospitality. Amen.

 

Peace,

Susan Hanson



June 11

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness in unsearchable. Psalm 145:3

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. Matthew 21:22

God is always there for each one of us. We are most fortunate recipients of his love and compassion. He, with all of his greatness and wisdom, still looks on each one of us with all-encompassing love, and listens to every prayer. 

Because we worry and fear, we sometimes fall away from listening for God’s still small voice. Then we try to settle our concerns without his guidance. Corrie ten Boom, the noted author and concentration camp survivor, said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.” Depending on our own resources without turning to God, leaves any one of us with less energy to solve the problem, or with fewer resources to gain inner peace when that which is difficult cannot be changed.  

Do we always get the answer we would like to have? No. Your illness may not be cured; that promotion may not materialize; the scholarship may go to someone else; a loved one could still burden your heart with sorrow; someone close to you will die. God is there to strengthen our faith, to lift us up, and to assure us that he is near. Even in our sorrow, disappointment, and maybe even anger, God can help us to be receptive to his presence in our lives. We look to his assurance of always being there for us; and we know that he cares, has a plan for each one of us, and knows far better than we can imagine what our future will be.

Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

It is such a comfort, Lord, to know that you hear our every prayer. Help us to turn back to you when we give in to worry and fear. Fill us with faith that gives us assurance that you are always near. help us to receive all that you would give us. Amen.

Florence Smallfield



June 8

You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.  Isaiah 62:2
 
The good shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3
 
Have you ever made a new year’s resolution? If so, were you able to keep it?
 
Whether your resolution was to break a bad habit, like smoking or biting your fingernails, or to start doing something good for yourself, like taking the time to read your Bible and pray every day, it feels good to set a day to say “this is the day that I start____.” New Year’s Day is a traditional day to start over, to get a fresh start on life, but it occurs to me on reading these verses that any day can be that new start. A birthday, an anniversary, the first day of Spring, or just a day chosen at random, any day that we wake up is a new start if we will only make that first step to change.
 
One thing about resolving to make changes is that we’re not going to always keep that promise every day. We might cheat on a diet, or fall asleep at night without flossing our teeth first, or catch ourselves saying something unkind about another person. We might tell ourselves, oh, I’ve ruined that diet, I might as well go back to eating the way I did before, it’s useless, and so on. I think it’s really easy to quit, but it’s more rewarding, at least in my experience, to decide to have another fresh start tomorrow.
 
Doesn’t it seem like it would be great to have a new name, given to you by the Lord Himself as part of that new beginning? As a child I didn’t especially like the name Lynda. It just didn’t have that popular-girl ring to it like the several Jennifers and Kellys and Kristys in my class at school. There were lots of girls with those perky, peppy names, and I didn’t know any other Lyndas or Lindas then. Over time, I grew to appreciate my own name as part of my identity, to enjoy that it’s spelled a little differently, that God created us as individuals, that we are each given our differences and our talents as a great gift from Him. Over the years, I have come to enjoy hearing my name spoken, as I guess most of us do. Having someone call us by name means that we are recognized and known to that person. My favorite is when the person serving communion calls me by name and says, the body of Christ given for you, Lynda. In that moment, the wafer as the body of Chris is a personal gift given to me and for me.
 
In this same way, whether we change our name to something we fell fits us better, or keep the name we were given at birth, or in heaven, when our transformation is complete, we will receive a new name that matches our completely transformed nature**, God knows us, inside and out, no matter where we might hide or how we might try to keep our problems to ourselves, our sins and thoughts a secret., whether we are successful at making a change in our lives or not, He knows us, and as I have written here before, God loves us anyway.
 
Loving, giving God, thank you for each day you have given us and all the days we have to come. May we not take our lives for granted as we do when we wish for our workday to be over or for the traffic to move a little faster. Help us to live in the moment and to look around us at your creation everywhere. Remind us that you are constantly with us in our hearts and minds and thoughts, even when we are distracted by the every day minutia of our lives. I ask that you help me forget the mistakes of yesterday and look with fresh eyes and new ideas for what I can accomplish today to help another person. Protect all those that need your loving care, and may those of us who have received so much reach out to others to share with them what you have given us.
Most of all, we thank you for loving us in spite of ourselves. Amen.
 
 
** Commentary by David Guzik of Enduring Word Bible Commentaries.
 
Lynda Tysdal


June 6

The Lord is my strength. Habakkuk 3:19 

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 

It is very hard to admit that we have some weaknesses. We usually want to seem as though we are strong, and can take care of anything that comes our way. Yet, we do have weaknesses and struggle, how great to know that the Lord can be our strength and we don’t have to do this alone. I roomed with a black woman pastor at a Lutheran conference a number of years ago – one of her common phrases was “Lord, give me strength” which she said helped her immensely over the years. 

To the Corinthians Paul is lamenting his “thorn in the flesh” and wanting God to remove it. But the answer he gets is not what he wants or expects. He hears that he is to depend on God’s grace, and let the power and glory of God be shown. The weakness of humans is seen as an opportunity for God to display His power. We, as the weak humans, would rather not have this weakness or the problems in our lives. But there are those who have encountered tragedies in their life who have then glorified God. 

Thomas Dorsey, the writer of many gospel hymns, wrote Precious Lord in 1938 after the both death of his wife in childbirth and the subsequent death of the newborn child. He was traveling at the time trying to get his gospel music accepted as appropriate for church. While he was away the message of first one and then the second death arrived. He was devastated. And after making it back home, a few years later, wrote Precious Lord with lyrics such as: take my hand, I am weak, I am torn, lead me home, through the storm to the light. 

He wrote many more gospel songs of course, including, “What Could I Do If It Wasn’t For The Lord?

[verse one]

“He’s my bread, He’s my water, He’s my life, He’s my ev’ry thing

He’s my comfort whatever years may bring

He is my rock, my mighty tow’r, He is my strength, He’s all my pow’r

What could I do, it if wasn’t for the Lord?” 

Indeed, what would any of us do if it weren’t for the Lord and His strength and grace? Habakkuk ends with the verse we have today – the Lord is my strength. 

Lord God, please forgive us for whatever seeks to separate us from you. Precious Lord, in the face of utmost unfairness, calamity and despair, may we persistently abide in your promises and claim you as our sovereign. Give us grace to live by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Chris Gabel