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August 8

The Lord filled Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Isaiah 33:5-6 

As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 10:7 

Jesus told the disciples to go out to the local area and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was near to everyone. What was this kingdom that those “lost sheep of Israel” were hearing about, what did they perhaps think it meant? Maybe Jesus was saying that it was time for the Roman rule to end, that there would be a Davidic kingdom centered on Jerusalem. No more taxes going to Rome, no more oppression of their religion and activities. God was about to wage war on these conquerors just as He had against the enemies in the past. Some may have hoped for this type of kingdom. Many of the listeners would have heard the phrase “kingdom of heaven” as something that comes at the end of history, but rather something that happens in the future, in this case apparently the near future. 

But this is not what is contained in the contents of the message that follow this verse. The disciples were to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy and drive out demons.” They are also not to take along any money, or a bag for the journey, not extra clothes, just to go out and spread this Good News. Does Jesus mean that the kingdom of heaven is near because He is there – healing and forgiving – right there in the midst of the listeners? It does sound like that. To quote from Mark D. Roberts, “I used to think that Jesus’ announcement  . . . meant something like you can go to heaven after you die. Now I realize that I had mistaken Jesus’ primary message. His Good News has everything to do with this life. In Jesus, God was beginning to reign on earth in a new way. “ [First part of prayer below, also from this source} 

As the passage from Isaiah says, the Lord will be “The stability of your time,” there will be an “abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.” Jesus sent the disciples out to proclaim this wonderful news. There is a source of healing of physical ills and spiritual ills as well. We have a part in this work of spreading the news, healing and caring for people and all of God’s creation. We can live now in this kingdom in anticipation of a time when Jesus returns to reign over all. 

Dear Lord, what fantastic news you once delivered! Thank you for being the one who not only announced the coming of God’s reign, but also inaugurated that reign through your life and ministry. Thank you, most of all, for opening up to us the possibility of living under God’s rule because of your death and resurrection. As we are called to share the Good News with the world, may our actions reflect our words and our hearts’ desire. Lord, we ask that you teach us every day how to be your disciples. Amen. 

 Chris Gabel

August 7

You came near when I called you; you said, ” Do not fear!” Lamentations 3:57 

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt 

Fear starts early……..monsters under the bed, in the closet, in the basement, (ours was called Norman). Some, like these fears are imagined, but there are many fears that are all too real. 

There are two kinds of fears, healthy and unhealthy.  Healthy fear is jumping out of the way of a speeding car, going to the Doctor when we feel a strange lump. Healthy fear is clear, concise and usually pretty obvious. Unhealthy fear is the kind that keeps us from being ourselves, that stops us in our tracks when we try to take a risk, that whispers in our ear that the world is too dangerous for us to try something new or make a change. Unhealthy fear is a bully. This bully is the inner voice that tells us we aren’t good enough or smart enough or together enough to be whole. This bully is fear run amok; it is Chicken Little and the boy who called wolf. But like real bullies, the best way to approach this unhealthy fear is to face up to it.

Easy thing to do? Ya, right! But we are not alone. We have a guardian, a protector, a safe haven, loving arms to hold us. All we have to do is ask. 

“Take courage my friends. The way is often hard, the path is never clear, and the stakes are very high. Take courage. For deep down there is another truth; you are not alone.” Wayne Arnason 

Thank you, Lord, for encircling me with your loving arms when I cry to you out of my struggles and fears. Thank you for entering into my life of pain and for bringing me healing and peace. Help me to respond to others who are hurting and fearful.  May they feel your healing presence through my words and actions.  Amen. 


Susan Hanson

August 3, 2018

The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. Deuteronomy 23:5

If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

The main idea I am gleaning from today’s readings is that we could (and we often do) knowingly or unknowingly lose or at least temporarily misplace our faith in God, but that God will never lose his love for us. The fact that God loves us has been proved to us again and again, but we forget it or find it hard to believe and depend on that time and time again. I can only chalk that up to lapses in our memories as mortals, and our own human failings.

Looking back on the devotions that I have written, I see that a lot of them are about realizing and remembering that God loves us and forgives us. Is it a coincidence that so many of the verses in the book we use to write our devotions seem to be about how much God loves us? I actually believe in happy coincidences, but not when it comes to God — it seems to me that He puts things directly in our paths for us to see, and that we think we are discovering on our own. Or maybe it’s how I am interpreting His words, but again, I think that the compass is pointing to Him putting the thoughts into my head.

Whatever it is, I could write these words on my computer until the end of time, and still not always get the message that he is trying to tell me.

Music plays a big part in my life, and many times over the years, I’ve had a song repeating in my mind that I can’t seem to shake, only to get to church on Sunday and find it to be the hymn of the day, or that a secular song has a verse that ties in with the sermon that morning, and I’ll think: ah-ha! That’s what that meant.

A song came back to me this afternoon in the car, completely unrelated to the song playing on the radio — Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something**, from the movie The Color Purple.

Can’t sleep at night and you wonder why

Maybe God is trying to tell you something 

Crying all night long, something’s gone wrong 

Maybe God is trying to tell you something 

I had a talk recently with someone whose advice means a lot to me, and she reminded me that while I can talk about how much God loves us, I’m not always so good at accepting the message of forgiveness myself. Today, I am going to try to do better at seeing the best in myself as well as the best in others.

 Lord, I know that you are always trying to tell us something, but we fail to hear, or even listen, to your message. Help me, Lord, to better understand what you are telling me. Thank you for your guidance, even when I fail to listen or, when I hear you, but don’t take action. I want to serve you by helping others, but hold myself back in fear, rather than taking steps forward. Lord, I do believe, but help my unbelief, as the young boy’s father told your son. Forgive my fears and encourage my steps.  Amen

Lynda Tysdal

** written by Andrae Crouch, Quincy Jones, Bill Maxwell & D. Del Sesto

August 1

It may be that the Lord will work for us, nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few. I Samuel 14:6

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  Mark 11:24

Prayer, that wonderful form of communication that we are privileged to have with our saving gracious God. There are four types of prayer according to tradition: Adoration or praising God, Contrition where we ask for forgiveness, Petition where we ask God for favors, and Thanksgiving where we express our gratitude to God for all He has done. Some would add intercession – that is petition is where we pray for something for ourselves, intercession is we ask on behalf of others.

When asking for something, you can check out wikiHow – there is actually an entry on “How to pray to God for a Miracle: 6 steps (with pictures.) The list of steps includes pray passionately, positively, pray with praise, persistence, precision and patience. Actually not a bad list but somehow a formula implies that you only have to do this step and the others and voila – a miracle will happen. Praying positively is much like our verse from Mark. To summarize, when a situation makes you doubt or fear, don’t spend time focusing on that, instead trust that you have done what you can, and trust in the Lord to make things happen. “Turn to God in prayer and ask that God alleviate you from the doubt or fear.”

Patience, how often is our prayer topic something we have worried over on our own and finally talk to God about? Then we want Him to fix it right now! We often want to take over control from God. There are many examples in the Bible where repeated prayer and talking with God finally leads to some sort of result, even if it is not the one that was hoped for. There is the parable of the persistent widow that the Judge finally hears and grants what she wants. Abraham and others in the older Testament also repeatedly speak with God.  We need to remember that our prayers are heard; that God is not ignoring us, but that everything happens in God’ timeline and according to His purposes. We need to wait patiently, continue in our prayer life and devotion, and continue to lean on God and others for support.

Ever-abiding God, we give you thanks that you listen, hear and act. Forgive us for not always trusting your promises. Forgive us for praying for things we want without knowing your will for us. May our prayers lead us to hear you better. Lord, lead us to pray for what you desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Chris Gabel

July 31

O Lord of hosts, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Isaiah 37:16 

Then I saw the heaven open, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True; it is with justice that he judges and fights his battles. Revelation 19:11 GNT 

What a comfort to know that God is always there for us and is always the same. He is always just in what he does, in what he created, and in what he teaches and models as guidance for each of our lives. He is faithful and true. 

There are days when it seems that chaos reigns. Nothing goes right. It may be the result of illness, the loss of support or work, the disappointment in what those about whom we care have done or said; etc. You can fill in the blank(s) with your own life stressor(s). These situations are real and do impact our lives in significant ways. 

How one reacts is the only thing any one person can control. When one’s discouragement makes one turn to God, who is the ultimate example for each of us, the difficulties one experiences cannot rule. God, living and working through each one of us, brings victory and fills us with strength of spirit. This strength of spirit gives each of us the opportunity to share God’s peace with others. 

Dear Lord and Savior, 

Thank you for reigning over heaven and earth. Your Spirit pours out on each one of us to give us renewal and revival. Thank you for making us the benefactors of this precious gift. Help each of us to be an example of victorious living, and then, help us to provide encouragement to another needing your strength. Amen.

Florence Smallfield

July 30

Turn my heart to your decrees and not to selfish gain.  Psalm 119:36

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.   1Timothy 6,10-11.

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life”.  Reverend Billy Graham. 

“Most people fail to realize that money is both a test and a trust from God”.  Pastor Rick Warren

Of all subjects presented to us in the scriptures, this is the one that I would least choose to write about.  Why that is, I don’t know. But these are the verses for today, and today is my day to write, so here goes—– 

It goes without saying that money is necessary in our society and world.  We must have money in order to have shelter, food, clothing.  What’s more, we need transportation, education, even a vacation once in a while.  But does the Christian view of money include enough money to satisfy all our wants and desires?

James A. Fowler, in an article entitled “Money and the Christian”, talks about money as both tangible and intangible. We use money as a medium of exchange, hence it is a tangible object.  But money has power and as such is an intangible object.

Jesus says in Luke, chapter 16, “you cannot serve God and mammon”.  (Mammon is an Aramaic term for money, wealth or material possessions.)  Jesus is warning us very clearly about the power of money.  If our love of the things which money can buy or attract such as political, economic or social power, there will be little thought of holy living.  The selfish will to acquire will cancel out Christian giving and godliness.  People can actually become owned by the things that they themselves own.  They have forgotten that they belong to God.

Mark Allan Powell, in his book, Loving Jesus, says that some church members have it all wrong about offerings and fund raising in church. “Giving money is an act of worship.  We are to give our money not because the church needs it, (although that is true), but because we need to do it .”  He says that giving away your money is “a sure recipe for spiritual growth.” (P.141)

Dear Jesus,

We still have much to learn about loving you.  Forgive us and teach us as we strive to live godly lives.  Thank you for the gift of money which enables us to live comfortably.  Help us not to forget about those who do not have enough. You have promised us that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. Amen

Joan Perlich

July 27

Before I was humbled, I went astray, but now I keep your word.  Psalm 119:67 

Those who love me will keep my word. John 14:23 

You might enjoy reading Psalm 119 before you read this devotion, and what I have written here may seem more cohesive.

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart—

Psalm 119 1-2

I have to admit, when I read the words of these verses, the thought that came to my mind was, what about those of us whose ways are not always blameless, who try to walk according to the law of the Lord, but don’t always succeed?

There is a small group that I sing with, the Blue Moon Singers – you may have heard us sing at a Sunday service at Christ the King in the summer a few times – and I am grateful to sing with them.  When I was first invited to join them, I was a bit taken aback to hear that they practice on Saturday mornings beginning at 7:30 (AM!).  I told my friend Ande, who invited me on behalf of the group, that I only recognize one 7:30 on Saturdays, and AM is not it, but she urged me to give it a try, and now I can’t imagine not singing with them.  These women have become dear friends of mine, and I am honored to call them my sisters. Without exception, they are women of deep and abiding faith, and I have learned a lot from them – about music, friendship, faith, and many other things.

I tell all this to say that one of my (many) favorite songs that we sing is a medley that includes the song With All My Heart, by Joann Rosario.  The refrain from this song goes as follows:

With all my heart I want to love You Lord
And live my life each day to know You more
All that is in me is Yours completely
I’ll serve You only with all my heart

My love for God makes me want to do better in my life, to be a better Christian, to be a better human being, and to hold Christ’s light up for others to see.  At the same time that I want this for myself, I know in my heart that I can never be as good a person as I could be, because as mortals, none of us can be that perfect.  There are times when I feel angry or frustrated, and think to myself, if I don’t let this out right now, I’ll just explode.  Small note to myself, and anybody else who needs it, I have not exploded yet, and in the future, I need to remember that fact before I speak my mind.

The fact is, God knows everything about us, inside and out, good and bad, our thoughts and actions, our deepest, darkest fears, and He still loves us anyway, despite ourselves.  I know I have written something like that in several of my devotions now, but it is a message that I need to repeat to myself again and again. 

My relief comes at the end of this Psalm.

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalm 119: 176

Thank you, Lord, for your patience with me when I wander off the path like a lost sheep. I will do my best to do what you ask of me, but I ask that you stay close to guide me in the right way. Make me bold in sharing your words of love and forgiveness, and if I boast, let me boast only of you.  Make me humble and grateful for all that you have done for me, and let me serve you always with all my heart.  Amen.

Lynda Tysdal

July 26

“The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.  Thou openest Thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.:  Psalm 145:15-16

“And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”  Matthew 15:37

I remember a story I read awhile back … a Fisher Poets Gathering of poems, essays and songs … somewhere in Oregon.  There was one I had especially liked, and I found it again.  Harrison “Smitty” Smith, at 79 the oldest participant, recited: 

 “According to a fisherman whose name was Devine:

“The world’s a cafeteria.  You get one trip through the line.’”

For some the trip is a smorgasbord with many choices and opportunities.  What do I want to be?  Where will I go to school?  Where should we live?  Where should we go on vacation?  What’s for supper?  For others … shall we eat rice – or rice?

The table is not set just for me.  It’s a LINE, with others.  Some budge in to get the best – the most – while others are shoved back.  These must hope there is something choice left for them.  But some are not welcomed inside the door at all.  They too – ALL – are getting one trip through “the line”.

I see a good message in “Smitty’s” lunch line philosophy. 

  • A cafeteria – Choices… Some/we have the freedom and the means to sample new and different things.  Some will choose poorly.  Others will have little if anything to choose from.  Remember your life’s “marketplace”, and give thanks.
  • One trip – Not one minute can be repeated.  We should make wise choices, and use our time well in a way we can be proud of.
  • The “line” – It’s meant to include all.  Ask them their stories while waiting together and befriend them … And….
  • Leave something good for those in line behind you.

Lord, May your Spirit remind me you are in “the line” beside me, all the way.  Help me notice all the goodness you have provided, see all the opportunities to share and to serve, make good choices, and to leave some of your bounty for the next in line.  Amen

Verla Olson

July 25

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Psalm 103.1

The whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen. Luke 19:37

Bless – what does it mean to be blessed or to bless someone? When applied to God, the word “bless” means to praise – from a sense of gratitude and affection. With people, we often wish for a blessing, sort of a like a wish to be happy and have the stuff we want. After the exciting Lynx game last night I stayed to hear a rookie (at least in the USA) player talk about her experiences. One thing she said over and over was how blessed she was. She was grateful for the opportunity to play the US league after a career in Europe. No talk of how great she was, although that is why she has the opportunity, just ow blessed she was to be able to play a game she loves and do it with other great players.

Our verses today remind us that we are to praise God and bless Him for all that He has done for us. What might be some of these blessing that we have received and are grateful for? Attributed to King David, Psalm 103 has a list that follows verse 1: forgiveness of sins, healing of disease, redemption from the pit, a crowning of love and compassion. Plus God “satisfies our desires with good things”, and renews our youth. Wow, that is quite a list of wonderful things and that is just what He has done and keeps doing for us as individuals.

The rest of Psalm 103 continues on with a list of all the things that have been done for the people as a whole. Including things like justice for the oppressed, and compassion for all people and love as a father for his children. Certainly this is worthy of praise. God did not just create the world and all that is within it and then retire from the scene. Rather He is actively involved, both as a personal God and Savior for us as individuals, and for people as a whole. The Psalm tells us to praise God with all that is within us, all of our heart and mind, our affections and our emotions. Much like the great commandment of Jesus to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and mind and soul and strength, our entire self is to be involved.  

Luke recounts the praises that are heard from the disciples, a whole multitude of disciples, as Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. There Jesus is, riding on a donkey which was obtained by a couple of His disciples. This would look like an ordinary person, not someone you would think was so worthy of praise. But multitudes are there, putting palm branches and cloaks on the road, and praising God. There is so much joy that it would be impossible not to be praising God loudly. Just like a crowd happily cheering on their team, this would seem to be what we are supposed to do. Praise loudly and cheer on our Lord and Savior.

Lord, every part of every day is a new occasion to praise you with thanksgiving for your endless gifts. To the One worthy of all praise and adoration, help us to join with the disciples and all the saints, singing and shouting joyously to your glory! Amen

Chris Gabel

July 24

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark. Psalm 8:2

Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Mark 10:14

Bulwark, ancient word. It means defensive wall, fortification, stockade. I had to look it up to make sure I knew what I was writing about.

So does that mean that babies and toddlers and children in general are the strong walls that help build the kingdom of God. I think so. 

Jesus was telling us that children are to be cherished, love and taken care of. Until they are old enough to fly on their own. Even then, some come back and live in the basement.

Children are the shapers and leaders of tomorrow. We have to help them develop their talent and energy. Help them harness their vast stores of energy, their enthusiasm and intellect. Guide them, nurture them, and love them.

Maybe that’s what Jesus was saying, that the children were strong, talented, and full of energy. Strong enough to build walls. Walls of the kingdom of God.

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow black and white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus love the little children of the world

H. Woolston

Father of us all, I thank you for your everlasting arms that welcome children in a special way. Kida are the very center of life in the kingdom. May I too be young at heart and trust like a child. I want to see you through a child’s eyes and experience you through a child’s simple faith. Forgive my adult fears and doubts. Amen.


Susan Hanson

P.S. The story of Clarence Herbert Woolston is an interesting one. Look him up on your computer and discover an interesting, and faithful man.