Monday, January 16, 2017

Devotion for Monday, January 16 (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

Enjoy these quotes about faith from Dr. King!

The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.
When I took up the cross I recognized it's meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Devotion for Thursday, December 12

Honor the Lord with your wealth (Proverbs 3)

Is the Lord the Lord of your bank account?

Would someone looking at your checkbook be able to surmise that you are a Christian?

When people say to me "Pastor, don't be talking about money and religion, they don't mix" I laugh and say, "Well, tell this to the Bible, because Jesus and the Hebrew scriptures talk about how you are to spend your money in righteous ways all the time?"

Look, I am not asking you to give all your money away or to give exclusively to the congregation I serve.  What I am asking you to do is recognize that how you spend your money and how much of your money you spend on others does matter to your spiritual health.  

Generosity of time and talent is important, if not more important.  But generosity of wealth is important as well, because generosity in all things shapes our lives of faith toward a spirit of self-sacrifice and love of neighbor/others.  This matters in our life as sin is often understood as the self-turned-in-on-self.  Generosity helps us live as God would have us live.

Prayerfully consider how you are using your wealth to build up others, build up the kingdom, and return to God what God has first given you.

Pastor Dave

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Devotion for Wednesday, January 11

This morning I would like to share with you a devotion by Henri Nouwen, a well-known bestselling author and Roman Catholic priest.  He writes primarily about spirituality and discipleship.  

Trust is the basis of life. Without trust, no human being can live. Trapeze artists offer a beautiful image of this. Flyers have to trust their catchers.  They can do the most spectacular doubles, triples, or quadruples, but what finally makes their performances spectacular are the cathers who are there for them at the right in the right place.

Much of our lives is flying.  It is wonderful to fly in the air free as a bird.  Let's trust the Great Catcher!

I invite you to trust that God is with you amidst your aerobatic, if also, uncertain living.  Know that God will catch you and set you free again to pursue another risk into the world.  You can do so trusting that you will be caught again and again and again.

Pastor Dave

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Devotion for Tuesday, January 10

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5)

Imitating those that we respect and value is something we learn from a young age.  I know that I would wear the jerseys of my favorite players and parrot the things those who I admire would say. 

As we grow we learn follow in the footsteps of those who we want to learn from so as to achieve our professional, personal, and spiritual hopes.  

As people of faith, we are ever-engaged in a spiritual apprenticeship, learning from those who imitate God so as to become imitators of God ourselves.  

Who are the "imitators of God" that you seek to imitate?  Who might be looking to you as an "imitator of God" for their lives?  Name them today and give thanks for them.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Devotion for Monday, January 9

Therefore since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)

Yesterday, I began my Adult Forum study of the Reformation by discussing the powerful theological change that Luther brought to Christianity.  The understanding that we are "made right" with God, not through our own works, but through our faith/trust in God was absolutely world-changing.

Of course, there is a place for our works.  They help us enact the work and purpose of the Lord in the lives and realities of the people of our world.  But in terms of what it means for you personally to have a relationship with the Lord, it is merely your faith/trust that saves not any good you may or may not do.

You can dare to love your neighbor, grant forgiveness, and serve the stranger simply because you know that it is done in the confidence of faith, that you are doing it not out of personal gain or in search of a heavenly reward.  Instead, you are acting lovingly, selflessly -- like the Lord -- because you are secure in your faith/trust of God's love for you.  This is the powerful and meaningful difference between "working to stay out of hell" and "living in the promise of heaven".

May your faith strengthen you toward selfless love and gracious living! Amen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Devotion for Wednesday, January 4

God remembered Noah (Genesis 8:1)

In my devotional reading this morning, this brief sentence reminded me of the importance of God "remembering" in the Bible.

God remembers Noah, he remembers his covenant with Israel, he remembers his promises to the people and acts to fulfill and sustain said commitments.  This tells us that God does what God says.

There is value and life-giving hope in this.  Can you trust God? This is at the heart of our faith lives. The Bible is clear about this.  God "remembers" and fulfills His promises.  God never fails to complete what He says He will do.  As evidenced in actually becoming one of us in Jesus.

May you "remember" this day that our Lord will never forget you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Devotion for Tuesday, January 3

From the Lord comes deliverance (Psalm 3:8)

I have begun the new year joining friends at Bethel in a commitment to read the entire Bible (in my case, yet again!) during 2017.  I am using the following book, the One Year Bible.

Several years ago, a study by the Willow Creek Association was done that suggested (I believe correctly) that the single most effective catalyst for spiritual growth is reading scripture regularly.  Having a discipline and plan to read through the Bible and avail yourself of the "living Word" is the fuel source for the Christian life.  

As Lutherans, we believe the Bible is inspired and authoritative for life and faith.  And the words of scripture will bring deliverance from those chains that desire to keep us bound.  The overarching message of the Bible is actually quite beautuful:  God has, is, and will always be invested fully and completely in the lives of the people of the world and God's purpose for bringing new life out of death is ever-present and the heart of God's compassion.  In a nutshell, God cares for you and is always working to bring you abundant life.  Period.

Even if reading through the Bible in a year seems a bit of a stretch for you, I invite you to read the Bible more.  Pick a book and read it through in one sitting.  Pick a section (Gospels, Prophets, Psalms,etc.) and read through over the course of a couple of months.  There are a ton of different Bible reading plans out there.  Find one that works for you and see if having scripture as a daily part of your life doesn't change your life.  I believe and know that it will.