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November 28

“May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there ‘so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.” I Kings 8:29 (NIV)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19

The verse from I Kings is part of Solomon’s prayer (verses 23-52) dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem. In verse 27 he wonders if God can really dwell on earth since the highest heavens cannot contain Him. Yet God has promised to be there, to be at this glorious temple that Solomon has built. If anyone wants to communicate with God, there is now this place on earth that they can go to. Solomon implores God to keep His eyes open, to be watching this temple, so that any who come to pray or sacrifice will heard by God in heaven. What if you can’t get there? Apparently there is provision that if you cannot pray in the actual location, you can pray toward the location of the temple. Thus any of the Israelites has access and Solomon prays that God will hear and will forgive.

The temple has been built for the Name of God which was important; knowing and using the Name signifies that God has revealed His character, that He has a personal connection to His people. This is not a distant God who created everything and then departed, this is a personal God, one who cares for His people and listens to and answers their prayers. But, does this mean that there is only one spot on earth that God dwells? Does prayer need to focus on a geographical location? Of course not, as Solomon says, even the heavens cannot contain our Lord, He is everywhere. We can connect and pray to Him at any place, and at any time.

We also are part of this chosen people of God. In Ephesians we are reminded of just how big this family is; it includes every person on our earth. We are all united by the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As Jesus did come and dwell on earth, part of Solomon’s question is answered – Yes, God can dwell on earth. And in heaven. And in everywhere. We can pray secure in the knowledge that God is listening whether we are in a temple, church, gathering of people, at home, or outside. Absolutely anywhere we go, God is already there, ready to listen, to heal, and to forgive.

Thank you, Lord, for placing us as fellow citizens and believers among the people of this world. We thank you that your love crosses all human borders and makes no distinction of race or class. Lord, open our hearts to all who profess your name, and open their hearts to us that we may all be united through your spirit in the bonds of peace. Amen.

Chris Gabel



November 27

Although these nations do give heed to soothsayers and diviners, as for you, the Lord your God does not permit you to do so. Deuteronomy 18:14

Do not bring us to the time of trial. Luke 11:4

How do we know what God’s will is? How do we figure out what God wants for our lives? What road do we take to be a teacher, a doctor, an engineer? How do we know if God is calling us?

Some people chose to ignore God because they think that their path will be less difficult. We sometimes forget God and we fail to hear him. God is always trying to help us, but how can you help someone if they aren’t listening.

There are many ways to listen to God. We can listen through nature, people, and we can listen in our heart. You see, God speaks to us in various ways and at numerous times. The problem is we often don’t recognize His voice. God wants to fellowship with us, to communicate with us. He created us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Try to listen reverently. Stand in awe of God, never take Him for granted. Don’t think God is here to do our bidding and pleasure. We are here for Him, He isn’t here for us.

“Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.” Frank Tyger

Lord, you yourself guide us with the power of the Holy Spirit – who needs astrology? Thank you for continuing to reveal your will for us daily. You promise to be with us in times of trial so that we may discern what is true and what is good. Remind us to listen to you first, dear Lord. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



November 21

Devotion for Wednesday November 21 2018

Better is a little with righteousness than large income with injustice. Proverbs 16:8

No one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins. 1 Thessalonians 4:6 NIV

Sometimes it seems as if our possessions are the most important thing. People want to acquire more and more, whether they have the means to do so or not. We hear on the news of those in positions of trust embezzling money to buy things they want like trips and fancy cars. The proverb says that righteousness is the way to go, having money and possessions, especially with injustice, are not. Nothing wrong with having the money and possessions per se, but a lot wrong if they are acquired in a way that is unjust to others. Paul too warns against wronging to taking advantage of a brother or sister. Those terms include the whole community, not just close relatives. Whatever one does that is unjust, causes harm to many others.

When I read and hear the news these last few weeks I see so many that have lost everything in the fires in California. There was a woman on the news this morning happily getting some clothes as all she had was the burnt shirt she was wearing. We see many coming to help from firefighters, to medical personnel and those that bring much needed food and clothing. We also see homeless shelters where there are fires, evictions, and people who just need a safe place to live. And, again, we see many who are there to help with blankets, food and efforts to find shelters. We who have much certainly should be thankful and share from our abundance.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I would like to share a prayer from Bread for the World:
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
“God of all Creation

The abundance of your provision gives us pause to gather
around the table to give thanks with those we love.

As we enjoy the food now before us, we are mindful of those
who do not have a place at any table and of those who have too
little or nothing at all to eat.

Nourish and empower us with this meal to work toward your vision
of abundance, which extends to all your beloved children,
knit together as one human family

May your hope, peace, joy, and love
compel us to end hunger.

Amen”

Chris Gabel



November 20

O Lord our God, we set our hope on you. Jeremiah 14:22

We wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13

During the funeral of her husband, Brezhnev’s widow carries out a silent protest. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. 

There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. 

True hope is a uniquely Christian thing, like faith and love.

Merciful God, thank you for the life giving hope that you continue to provide for your people. Give me persistence and patience, trusting in your abiding faithfulness. Help me to spread your hope by the way I live, including what I choose to do today. Amen.

p.s. This repeat is one of my favorites. Thank you.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



November 19

I will not fail you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5

Your pain will turn into joy. John 16:20

I opened my devotional book one day and read these words, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (JESUS ALWAYS by Sarah Young, p.326 ) Not the words I wanted to think about as I started my day.  However, the words are true, no day will be perfect in whatever way we would like it to be.

Joshua was God’s chosen man to guide the Israelites after the death of Moses. His success depended on his courage, his strength and his daily meditating on God’s word.  The people were whiny and full of complaints.  There would be trouble for sure, for Joshua.

We cannot compare our daily lives to those of Joshua or the tired and whiny Israelites.  Our troubles are different but perhaps just as tiring and draining. Think of a teacher who struggles daily with a wayward student or a mother who worries constantly about her addicted child.  We all have worries and troubles, they are part of being human.  There is much to be worried about in our turbulent world.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strengths.”

How do we not worry?  I don’t think that we can eliminate worry from our imperfect lives.  But God has promised to help us in our struggles.  His words to Joshua are just as timely today, Be strong, have courage, and meditate on my Word. 

I love these words from the late Billy Graham.  “I’ve read the last page of the Bible.  It’s all going to be all right.”

Most holy God, we know that you are bigger than all of our troubles.  We need you, the whole world needs you.  Thank you for your steadfast presence in our lives, for your everlasting promises and your love.  Amen

Joan Perlich



November 16

“Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”  Psalm 50:23

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

A friend gave me a block of wood that reads:  “Start each day with a grateful heart.”  Most days I take a little time to feel my cheek on my pillow and know gratitude for having a home, bed, and pillow I call my own; not to mention a warm coat and hat, mittens and boots; a full cupboard; clean tap water.  I wonder what those living in tent cities, those sleeping under bridges, in fire shelters, might be thinking.  God knows their names just as surely as he knows mine.

Recently I was talking with my grandsons about Malala Yousafzai, shot in the face for attending school in Pakistan.  We thought how important her education must have been to her parents, a right for both boys and girls that we take for granted.  We also mentioned voting, that we have a choice and feel safe at the polls, while many don’t.  I grumbled when my alarm woke me up to go to work, not thinking how fortunate I was to always have a job.  I wake up feeling grateful but then … I mope washing windows, without feeling grateful that I have a house to live in.  I “stew” about grocery shopping, forgetting I buy anything we might want, more than we need.  I wonder what to make for supper, not thinking others wonder if there will be rice left for supper – or not.

Next Thursday Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving.  Some will complain about “all the work” and say they’re glad when it’s over – stuffing a turkey, mashing potatoes, stirring gravy, cranberries and green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and whipping cream.  I wonder what people in Yemen will eat?  But then, they don’t have Thanksgiving Day.

“Praise and thanksgiving, Father, we offer for all things living, created good:
harvest of sown fields, fruits of the orchard, hay from the mown fields, blossom and wood.
“Father, providing food for your children, by your wise guiding, teach us to share
one with another, so that, rejoicing with us, all others may know your care.”  Amen 

(Prayer text:  Albert F. Bayly)

Verla Olson



November 15

The Lord is the strength of his people. Psalm 28:8

 

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

 

Recently, I took my computer to the store to learn more and to restore a couple of things I thought I had lost. Of course, I tried my best to figure out what to do to fix the issue myself and spent too much time one afternoon in utter frustration. Finally, I made an appointment and went in to have my questions answered and my work restored by a qualified technician. Greg, the technician who helped me out, took care of the issues within a few minutes. I felt relieved and happy that things could be fixed so easily. 

 

As I read the verses for today’s devotions, I was reminded of my computer repair incident. How often do we set out ourselves to take care of things when we could just turn to God who gives us strength and hope? We lean on our own strength and fail; we wear ourselves out; we blame others; we try again; etc. All the while God is standing beside us just waiting to give us the power to help others and live victorious lives. When we turn to him, it does not mean that we will never have serious issues, but it does mean that he has the solution and wants us to lean on his promises. He cares for us more than we can begin to understand.

 

Dear Lord and Savior,

Continue to show us how to choose to live in the power of the resurrection. Thank you for the strength of your promises. Forgive us when we try to depend on our own strength and then fail. Help us to live victorious lives through your guidance and strength. Give hope, peace, and strength to all who suffer from the tribulations of life. Help them to see victory available to those who live in your promises. Amen.

 

Florence Smallfield   

 



November 14

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it. Isaiah 45:8 

 

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:2 

 

Showers and rains of righteousness, that is what Isaiah tells us that God is planning. Who is it that is going to be involved in this? Probably the prophet or someone in authority within the people of Israel. That would be our human through, but it is not what God has planned. This is the part of Isaiah where we read about Cyrus, king of Persia, where the Israelites are in exile. Cyrus is referred to as God’s anointed and as one through whom this will happen.  He is the leader who arranges for the return from exile. In the verses just ahead of verse 8 the Lord says to Cyrus that He will go before him, open doors and gates, will level mountains and give him treasures. This is so that he and everyone will know that the Lord is the only God. The one true God of everyone. 

 

And, what wonderful things that will be happening. Showers from heaven, all the rains, the earth open to allow salvation to spring up from it along with righteousness sprouting, all of these are what they have to look forward to. The Lord creates all of this just as He created everything in our world. Their exile is over and they can return to Jerusalem and a wonderful life. 

 

Paul in 2 Corinthians relates this to the current time, his and now ours. Our verse for today is a reference to Isaiah 49:8 which begins a section on the restoration of Israel. This act of salvation is present in the past for Israel and Paul, in the future and in our present time as well. To quote Matthew Henry: “The gospel day is a day of salvation, the means of grace the means of salvation, the offers of the gospel the offers of salvation, and the present time the proper time to accept these offers.” This is something we all can have right now, we just need to acknowledge our salvation by the grace of God and accept Jesus as our Savior. 

 

As the recounting in Isaiah shows us, this is not limited to any one group of people. God involves Cyrus in His plan of salvation, someone who is certainly not among the “chosen people.” He can use anyone, anywhere, at any time. We need to be alert to His ways, and share the gospel with all. 

 

Thank you, gracious Lord, for breaking into our lives with your gift of salvation. Help us to remember that today is the day to claim your salvation. Awaken us to the joy of sharing your gospel. Hasten the coming of your kingdom when justice and righteousness shall cover the earth and bring forth a harvest of peace. May we nurture the seeds of faith you have planted, until that day when you shall return in glory to fulfill your promise of a new heaven and earth. Amen 

 

Chris Gabel



November 13

Let all those rejoice who put their trust in you. Psalm 5:11

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11

“I love mankind; it’s the people I can’t stand.” Sounds about right. People can annoying. Loving people can be hard. Yet the Bible says that is what we are supposed to do. Loving your neighbor is not a grey area to be discussed and debated. It is a command. Clear and concise. And to the point.

Jesus gave love priority over all other Christian virtues. Every thought, response, and act of goodwill must first pass through the fine filter of love, or it means nothing at all. In “Strength to Love”, Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraged us to realize that “our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it out in our daily lives.” But why love? What makes it so important?

Why must we love the people who kill our children? Why must we love the neighbor who had an affair with our partner?

When Jesus spoke to the disciples regarding the first and second greatest commands, he explained that “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matt. 22:40).

To the people of Israel, as well as for many of us today, it would seem more logical for obedience to be the peg from which the Law hangs, since the point of writing a law is follow it. Paul tells us “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love,therefore, is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

This may sound irrelevant to us in today’s world, because we depend on police departments, guns, and force to uphold and fulfill the law. Yet Jesus’ simple command requires greater strength than any of us naturally possess – more power than any man-made weapon.

The logic of Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’ command that love fulfills the Law seems simple. Well, relatively. For if one loves his neighbor, he will not commit adultery with his neighbor’s spouse. If he loves his coworker, he will not lie to him. And if loves his enemy, he will not kill him. Love fulfills the law, because if we truly love every person because he is a person, we will not desire to hurt or violate him or her, thus never break the law. God established love as the impetus for obedience.

OK………so when we demonstrate Christian love, it should distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Jesus did not say that people will know that you are my disciples if you promote my agenda, or wear Christian T-shirts or a WWJD bracelet, or have a fish decal on your car, but rather if you love one another. A watching world will be persuaded not when our values are promoted but when they are incarnated, when we become purveyors of love. It is as though Jesus has given the entire world the right to judge whether or not one is His follower simply on the basis of their love for fellow human beings. It is the vivacious virtue of love that distinguishes us.

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love
 
We will work with each other, we will work
side by side We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
 
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love
By our love, by our love
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love”

Written by Peter Scholtes

Music by Carolyn Arends

Jesus, my joy, I rejoice in the promise of your abiding love. Thank you for loving me even when I am unlovable. I am sorry that I don’t love with the same love you have for me. Teach me how to abide in your love and to love others so that I might be part of your complete joy. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



November 12

“The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.”  Psalm 103:6 

“See, the home of God is among mortals.  He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them’ he will wipe every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 21:3-4 

“A just war” … “Freedom is not free” … “Fighting for peace” … are familiar slogans.  Yesterday we honored those who have served in the military, and their families, especially brought to mind by special events honoring this 100th anniversary of the signing of the WWI Armistice.  “The war to end all wars” did not.  Wars will happen as long as there are resources and borders to fight over; differing ideologies; ethnic intolerance and hatred.  This past weekend was also the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.  Oppressive regimes will stir up armed rebellions to defend homeland and freedom.   A right to be angry is not a right to be cruel and inhumane.  

I am not a fighter, but God does confront us with a duty to defend the poor and oppressed, armed with the plowshares of concern and kindness.   Our Savior, Jesus Christ came to earth and still lives among us, in the midst of our wars and fighting, broken relationships … and unkind political campaigns.  Drafted by Parent God, Jesus came to show us his way of justice and compassion toward the poor and outcast and sick; a way of humility, setting aside our human view of power for spiritual strength; and to save us from our own follies, from the oppression of the cares and worries of this world.  As some think of veterans specifically on Veterans Day – and Memorial Day – some think of Jesus on Christmas and Easter, or Sunday morning/Saturday evening.  Our Lord’s day is every day.  There isn’t a day that we don’t need to feel Jesus’ message of peace and comfort to share with others. 

God bless America … and all who are in need of care and compassion, enough to eat and clean water.  Your kingdom – of fairness and decent conditions for all – come; and your will – of mercy and forgiveness – be done.  Amen 

Verla Olson