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August 28

The Lord is King!  Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!  Psalm 97:1

Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the nations!  Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?  Revelation 15:3-4

My study bible tells me that the above verse (Rev 15:3) contains words from the “song of Moses”, a song which was sung by Jews as they gathered on the Sabbath and at Easter.  They rejoiced and celebrated all that God had done and all that he would do by the end of time as we know it.

Do we not do the same as we gather on Sundays and join our voices in the wonderful hymns that have come down to us over the years?  The early Christians believed that Jesus was coming soon.  These many years later, we know that they were wrong, and we wonder and ask, how long O Lord, how long? 

We need perspective, for we are limited in our human seeing and thinking, limited in our ability to imagine what God is doing in our troubled world.  Indeed, “he’s got the whole world in his hands” just as he’s got you and me. 

Must we worry about North Korea and Syria and Central America and the immigration issue and the chaotic picture in Washington?  Yes, I suppose we must as it is part of our human condition to worry and fret.  At the same time, can we believe in our deepest hearts that Our God has his hands on the controls?  And then, be in peace?

Most holy God, give us eyes to see that you have the whole world in your hands.  Amen.

My God how wonderful thou art, thou everlasting friend!

On thee I stay my trusting heart til faith in vision end.

Verse 5, My God How Wonderful Thou Art.
 
Joan Perlich


August 27

“The Lord said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’“ Exodus 33:14

“Jesus said to Levi, ‘Follow me.’  And he got up and followed him.”  Mark 2:14

I have a friend who has said that in her childhood days she was afraid to be a Christian.  She thought all Christians were expected to be foreign missionaries, leaving their homeland and family, to “toil” in strange, dangerous places.  Many have been so called, and they went.

I recently read “Citizen Soldiers” by Stephen Ambrose.  It is a hard book at times, but important to be aware of the conditions endured and sacrifices made on behalf of others – by medics and chaplains as well as soldiers, and their families.  Who could comprehend – or prepare for – the frontline images, sounds, and smells of battle and death?  Some were called by a sense of duty, others called by the draft, and they went.

Moses hadn’t “enlisted” to herd all these people across an unknown, seemingly endless desert.  “You told me lead them, but you haven’t told me where to go or how to get there or what to do next.”  But Moses went.  Levi, a tax collector, a scoundrel, had no idea what this teacher Jesus expected of someone like himself.  But Levi went.    

We think of “God’s Country” as idyllic places – places we like to be.  God’s country is the whole earth including the places we don’t want to go, even places we call “godless” – places of horribleness, disregard for life, disregard for God, but God is there.  We will be called to places we would rather not journey – maybe not distant or violent – to experiences we cannot emotionally prepare for – a doctor’s waiting room, the frailties that come with aging, loneliness, financial anxiety.  We will have to go, but these places are “God’s Country.”  God waits there and meets us.   

“You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

“Be not afraid.  I go before you always; Come follow me, and I will give you rest. “  Amen
(prayer text:  John Michael Talbot)

Verla Olson



August 24

See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you in festal apparel. Zechariah 3:4

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe — the best one — and put it on him and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.'” Luke 15:21-22

The parable of the prodigal son has always been one of my favorites (along with the parable of the good Samaritan). As you know from reading my past devotions, forgiveness of sin is a concept that’s still exciting and amazing to me, as well as a really useful reminder.

We have all had moments in our lives where we’ve felt guilt – whether it’s because of our own actions, something we said or did to ourselves or someone else, or for our own lack of action, that feeling when you could have helped someone but knowingly walked on by. Sometimes guilt is something in our own mind, a self-imposed judgement when something has gone wrong and there’s no one else to blame for it, so we feel that it must have been our fault, rather than understanding that it didn’t have to be anyone’s fault.

For me, having chronic health problems can often be a source of guilt, that I must have done something wrong, or failed to do something to take care of myself, causing me to be in a flare-up (actively ill). No matter how many times my doctors and others in my life have assured me that it wasn’t something that could be prevented, that nobody is at fault, I need the reassurance that it’s going to be okay, the reminder that something went wrong this time, but it was a learning experience and next time I’ll know better, I’ll do better, things will go better. I think we all need that reminder that comes from reading or hearing or speaking God’s word to know that He loves us and we are (yet again) forgiven.

God, thank you for the gift of your forgiveness and eternal love. Help all of us to do better and to serve you, and to remember that love when we need it the most, at the darkest times in our lives.  Amen.

Lynda Tysdal



August 23

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! Psalm 84:1

Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

Meeting others at church services is an important part of my life. It is an inestimable joy and comfort to be among those who share a faith and worship tradition, have shared values, and who care about one another. It is also a joy to share communion with members who are homebound, or to visit a member whose needs require individual care and a listening ear. God’s presence is felt in such gatherings. It is also a time to welcome others as being together in God’s presence is an inclusive gathering. God’s arms are open to enclose all in his embrace. We must follow his example by helping others to recognize his presence in our gatherings.

It is such a joy to let Jesus dwell within each one of us. It lifts us to know that all is possible when God is included in the situation no matter how difficult it may seem.

Dear Lord,

Lord Jesus Christ be present now;

Our hearts in true devotion bow.

Your Spirit send with light divine,

And let your truth within us shine.*

Amen.

* Text from hymn

Florence Smallfield 



August 22

Lord, in your great mercies you did not make an end of your people or forsake them. Nehemiah. 9:31

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:3

When we do something wrong, we may expect some sort of punishment. When we keep doing it, we might expect a more permanent punishment. It is good to know that God is merciful to us, who were created by Him, and were deemed good, but then went on our own paths sinning as we go. In Nehemiah the people did just like we do – forgot the part where God had a plan to them. In chapter 9 verse 17 we read “They refused to listen and failed to remember the wonders you performed among them”. Most people would have given up on this group of ungrateful, disobedient people. Luckily, God is not most people.

But just two verses later, in Nehemiah 9:19, the prophet also tells the people of the faithfulness of God: “You, because of your great compassion, did not forsake them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud never turned away from guiding them on their path; and by the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go.” For all those years of wandering in the wilderness, the people had God right there with them. In the daytime there was a cloud, a pillar not one of those fluffy ones way up in the sky that was right there in front of them leading them. Then in the darkness of the night, there was a pillar of fire. That must have been a magnificent sight. Just imagine a dark night, you don’t really know the way you are going, and this pillar of fire is there to lead you and everyone else.

God is with His people, even when we don’t do so well at following the plan. Some people hear only the message of condemnation, and hear God as vengeful, with rules that need to be followed all the time or else. This is not the image of the loving God that Jesus brought us. Nehemiah is praising and thanking God in the verse we have today. Paul, many years later, is also thanking God. He tells the Colossians that when he and Timothy pray for them, that they also thank God for them. Their prayer is more than just asking for things, although that is certainly important and we are encouraged to act. But their prayer includes thanks to God, thanks for those in the group of believers, and thanks for all that He has done.

Thank you, Lord, for the assurance that your mercies are new every morning, as fresh as the dawn and as sure as the sunrise. When we weave a web of worry or spin our wheels to exhaustion, help us be still and know of your presence, promise, and provision. You are always there giving and providing for us. The least we can do is give thanks when we pray to you. May we remember to pray for those who give and rarely receive. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Chris Gabel



August 21

I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered. Isaiah 65:17

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Martin Luther 

The idea of Heaven is fascinating. It’s actually one of the few universal human fascinations. Pretty much everybody thinks about heaven. Even if it’s your own made-up, private version of “heaven,” you think about it. C.S. Lewis once described heaven as that remote music we’re born remembering. The whole human race has a kind of deep memory of paradise lost, a faint but powerful awareness that there must be a better, different world that we were designed for.

Several years ago, Barbara Walters did a two-hour TV documentary on different views about heaven and it showed that people of all sorts of religions have views about “heaven” that are all over the map. But Isaiah says there will be a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. By renewing all things in a new heaven a new earth, God will reverse the curse on the land that came as a result of our screwing up. Ever since we were thrown out of paradise, redemption would involve a restoration to a life of harmony with creation.

So, would this redemption mean the idea of a ‘Promised Land’? Would we be gathered together as God’s people to enjoy the Old Testament promise of the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’? I don’t know, but I do know that the resurrection of God’s Son, promises me that I will live with Him forever.

Maybe the point is that just as the whole creation suffered the consequences of human sin, the whole creation will be redeemed along with us. The resurrection of Jesus is the decisive victory of God over death and destruction.  

Father, I rejoice in your creative intentions for the world. But so many suffer horribly and lack hope. I’m thankful that you intend to reveal better things for your Creation, to remove suffering once and for all. Help me to share your vision for the world with others who are in need of hope. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



August 20

“The Lord said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.  Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city?’”  Jonah 4:10-11

“Do not see your own advantage, but that of the other.”  1 Corinthians 10:24

As children we were taught to take care of our things – our toys and books.  As adults we tend to our homes, yards, and cars; and for pleasure – our pets, flowers, musical instruments, bikes. 

We don’t seem as interested in taking care of what we don’t personally own.  Wildlife is endangered because habitat is destroyed.  Water is dirtied and other natural resources wasted without regard for future generations. 

We live in a society that emphasizes “looking out for Number One.”  We first want to be sure we have enough.  Enough grows into more than we can possibly use.  Achievement is measured by position and wealth rather than efforts toward improving the well-being of our Earth and others.  “It’s not my problem.”  “I’m too busy with my own stuff.”  What –and whom – we can’t touch doesn’t seem to touch us.  Jonah was more concerned about having shade (his own comfort) than other people.

It is important to take care of our things, and to work to support ourselves.  Our relationships also need building up and nurturing.  That includes people we don’t know – strangers in our community, those we read about in the paper, people we are quick to judge.  Last Sunday we heard Paul’s words to “be kind and tenderhearted … and imitators of God.”  Jesus rubbed elbows with the ordinary and outcast.  He told a story about the kindness of a man from Samaria toward his enemy in his time of need.   The Holy Spirit does not enter our hearts to stay captive inside, but to manifest the love of God for all, as we journey together.

“Jesu, Jesu, Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from You.

Neighbors are rich and poor.  Neighbors are black and white.  Neighbors are near and far away.

These are the ones we should serve.  These are the ones we should love.  All these are neighbors to us and You.”  Amen                 

(Prayer text:  Thomas S. Colvin)

Verla Olson



August 16

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.  Isaiah 48:17

The Lord will give you understanding in all things.  2 Timothy 2:7

Paul writes to Timothy, “a beloved son,” from a cold jail cell, knowing that his life and ministry are soon over. Paul’s hope sustains him as he looks forward to being with his Lord forever.  However, he knows that the church must continue to grow and so he sends advice to his trusted friend telling him to keep the faith and to be strong in grace.  Paul has long been a teacher to the younger man, instructing him in matters of faith and doctrine.

Where would we be today without faithful teachers who have helped us along on our faith journeys?  Our parents who took us to church and taught us to pray.  Our Sunday school and confirmation leaders, our pastors, each other.  Christian writers whose words speak truth and help us to understand.  While our individual paths have differed little or a lot, the Holy Spirit, through our teachers, has led us in the way that we should go.  And so we have grown from infants needing milk to the solid food of the gospel.

May we never stop learning and growing, for to grow is to live.  And we have been promised abundant life if we live in Christ and He in us.

Wise and gracious Lord, we know that you want only good for us.  Thank you for the saints (and sinners) who have helped us to find the right way to go.  Forgive us when we stray from your path.  Set us straight.  Like Paul, let our hope in you sustain us along the way.  Amen.

Joan Perlich



August 15

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8

 

What does a name signify? Parents name their children. Sometimes they pick a family name or one of a person they admire including names of saints. Maybe they wait until they see the child born and pick a name they think is appropriate. In some cultures names are not given at birth. In many African cultures a name is given at birth then later an adult name is given. For example, in Nigeria this name often reflects the circumstances around the birth(born in the rain time),and later given their praise name which includes hopes for their future, in Kenya an elder picks a name reflecting the child’s appearance, about 40 days later the parents pick the adult name. Often in China girls are given names reflecting grace and beauty, while boys are given plain or meaningless names to trick evil spirits into overlooking them.

 

In Biblical terms, the name is the equal of saying the person, since the name expresses the person’s nature and qualities. The name reveals the true nature of the bearer so that to know the name is to know the bearer of that name. Throughout the Bible there are numerous names given to Jesus and God, by some counts more than 50, others say many more. Today’s verses have several of these. In Proverbs, we see our Lord as a strong tower – a place to go to for security and safety. We too can run to the Lord when we are troubled. This image of a fortress that protects all those within is powerful; a place we can go to when things are not going so well.

 

In Revelation, we have many more names, in 1:8 – the Lord is the alpha – He comes first before all things and has been He is the omega, the ending, the future. And, He is everything in between Almighty and powerful. Whatever we encounter in life, we can remember that God is right there with us. He is there in our past, our present and our future.

 

Eternal God, today we are filled with joy at your incredible presence in our lives. When doubts come near, help us rely on your strong name and make us whole. Beginning and the End, you are the one who knows our past, present and future, the one who holds it in your mighty hands. With your vision for all of us, anything is possible. May we trust you in all we do. Amen.

 

Chris Gabel



August 10

The nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as dust on the scales.  Isaiah 40:15 

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18-20 

This morning I’m having a good time looking at the pictures posted all over Facebook of Wednesday night’s National Night Out – an evening when neighbors all over the country get together to share food and fellowship, and sometimes, to meet one another for the first time, if it’s not a neighborhood that socializes often. The awesome pastors of Christ the King held our own National Night Out for people who live near the church and/or for those whose neighborhoods didn’t have their own gathering. Though my husband and I weren’t able to stay long on Wednesday night due to other obligations, I would call the evening a success, and hope that people who don’t attend Christ the King felt welcomed and invited to come back. 

After Jesus was crucified and then raised from the dead, he came back to see his disciples one more time, and we can only imagine how important it must have been to Him to bring back one last message for emphasis. All four of the gospels tell us that he returned and though the book of Luke is not as specific about the Lord’s words to his followers, saying that “My words are still with you” they all seem to have the same important message.

Matthew repeats his words as a strong order to go out and make disciples of all nations and baptize them. Mark remembers Jesus’s words as an order to go out into the world and proclaim the good news, and John tells that Jesus told Peter to “Feed my sheep”. Can these words be any clearer to us? When God created the universe and our world, and then created humankind to live there, He knew that we should not be alone, that we need one another to live, to share, and be of comfort to one another. The hymn Jesu, Jesu written in 1969 by missionary Thomas Colvin during his time of service in Ghana reflects this, reminding us to fill us with your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.

Dear God and Father, thank you for not creating us to be alone, but that you placed us here on Earth to love and serve one another. Give us the courage we need to reach out to our neighbors and share with them your love for the world and all of us in it. May we keep your love in our hearts and willingly share it with others, whether they are our family or dearest friends, an acquaintance or someone we have just met, or someone across the globe that we will likely never meet in this life, knowing they are all our neighbors as well as our brothers and sisters in You. Stop us when we indulge in judging others based on wealth or lack of resources, race, or any other outward appearance. Thank you, Lord, for everything and may we praise you forever. Amen

Lynda Tysdal