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2017 Daily Devotions

Friday, March 24, 2017

by
By Isai Thomas-Cazares

Scripture
Light brings every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Ephesians 5:9 [ICB]

Word of Hope
Stepping into the Light
“Step into the light, Carol Ann!” Zelda Rubinstein, a 4-foot-3-inch character actress was most known for her role as the invincible psychic and original ghost buster in the Poltergeist. She has since passed into her own light since 2010 at the age of 76.

Ephesians 5: 1-9 speaks to a time when the Church at Ephesus was being beleaguered with perplexing choices.  Choices that sounded like the right ones, decadence was being justified, and the new Judeo-Christian faith was being challenged once again to find it’s own true voice amidst the chaotic and extraordinary abundance of cultural variety and experiences.

The message was simple. Jesus Christ was God’s ultimate sensual and spiritual sacrifice to deter us from sin, evil, greed, destructive talk, false gods and truths, and reminded us that God’s anger will answer such actions.  The International Children’s Bible makes it so simple and clear.  If we live in the light and truth of God’s ultimate gift we are good to go!  It is, however, an active relationship and not a passive one; not a verbal one, but an action filled relationship.  

Light brings every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Ephesians 5:9 [ICB] It’s part of the reason Zelda Rubinstein’s character still resonates with me.  It wasn’t her words that made it all work out in the end.  It was the action of the person stepping into the light that brought them back to their family.   Stepping into the light of goodness, living, and truth are active testimonies that God’s gift of Jesus Christ truly is transformative and enough to save us.   

Today is World Tuberculosis Day; let us raise awareness and efforts to eliminate the disease.

Prayer
God, may each of us live out your light, truth, life, caring and compassion of others. Help us be present in love with others. Thank you for Dr. Robert Koch and his discovery in the 1880s about TB.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

by
Minister Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Member
TCU Brite Divinity Graduate

Scripture
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. God  makes me lie down in green pastures; God  leads me beside still waters; God restores my soul. God  leads me in right paths for God’s name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” NRSV Psalm 23 (Inclusified)

A Word of Hope
Psalm 23 is often used to provide comfort to those suffering from grief and loss. What if we were to read the scriptures from a different perspective, a different frame of reference, a different paradigm, etc.?
What if you read the scriptures as a way of giving life, giving hope, and giving support through this life's journey? I found on the internet a “line by line” interpretation of Psalms 23 that was very revealing to my spirit. I share it with you now and it is:

The LORD is my shepherd = RELATIONSHIP
I shall not be in want = SUPPLY
God  makes me lie down in green pastures = REST
God leads me beside quiet waters = REFRESHMENT
God restores my soul = HEALING
God guides me in paths of righteousness = GUIDANCE
For God’s  name's sake = PURPOSE
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = TESTING
I will fear no evil = PROTECTION
For you are with me = FAITHFULNESS
Your rod and your staff they comfort me = DISCIPLINE
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies = HOPE
You anoint my head with oil = CONSECRATION
My cup overflows = ABUNDANCE
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life = BLESSING
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD = SECURITY
Forever = ETERNITY

This reading starts with the good news of our relationship with God. It shares the many phases of life where God is present and shows us unconditional love in every word. Ultimately in the last line, God's promise for an eternal life beyond this earthbound existence is explicitly shared for all to internalize. My faith is strengthened every time I read Psalms 23. This version makes it even more relevant to everyone in their daily life from my perception.

Prayer
Dear God: Thank you for sharing this new way of reading Psalms 23 to give us all a hope and a vibrancy to know you more intimately through these scriptures. Amen!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

by
Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families

Scripture
 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5.23-24

A Word of Hope
I must confess, I have never Confessed. Growing up Protestant, I never experienced the Rite of Confession with a Priest, so I can’t know if a formal confession is actually good for the soul or not. The Gospel writer, Matthew, quotes Jesus in the verse above. What does this verse tell us about Jesus’ attitude toward reconciliation?

As usual, Jesus is challenging us to do something far out of most of our comfort zones. The “gift at the altar” can have a number of meanings, from a literal monetary amount in an offering plate to an offered prayer. So often, in the church of my childhood, I was told that prayer or giving were the ultimate cure for just about anything, but Jesus is telling us that everything must be done in the right spirit. How can we be reconciled with God, if we avoid facing each other?

One of my favorite spiritual writers Philip Gulley, says, “It is, I have learned, far easier to ask forgiveness of a God we can’t see than from a person we can see.” It is far less painful to convince ourselves that God will make things alright than to take up the work of God ourselves. Of course, in the social media world, it is also easier to confront and degrade someone we have never met than to even give a thought to holding conversations that could possibly lead to compromise or understanding.

Confession and reconciliation seem to be terms that are in danger of being forgotten. We are becoming a people who must always be right, always be the winners, whether or not our arguments are remotely related to the truth or not. Jesus was surrounded with people who were “always right” and he knew they were eroding their own souls in the process. Their only cure was to “Go and be reconciled.” What about us? Can we look ourselves in the face and learn to value reconciliation over judgment?

Prayer
Give us the strength to be reconciled with others by first being reconciled to ourselves.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

by
Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley
Pastoral Counselor
CCIADallas.org

Scripture
 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” 
Leviticus 20:13

A Word of Hope
“Don’t Give Up on the Bible”
Breathe. You have just picked up a copy of the Bible and decided to read Leviticus 20.  It’s the chapter that specifies the punishment/consequences of violating the “holiness code” that was laid out in Leviticus 18.  Your eyes gaze across the words of death and banishment.  If all was read literally, and apart from context of time and culture, dietary habits, adultery, women and certain behavior when they are menstruating are all to be severely dealt with.

You can read passages from the Psalms or the prophets about dashing the head of the infants of one’s enemy against rocks, and find other violent, bloody and disturbing passages throughout the scripture.  These seem to paint God as a vengeful, blood-thirsty and war mongering tyrant.

Then along comes Jesus.  Jesus is both divine and human.  He offers divine grace (mercy/love) when no one else is willing to consider it.  He righteously expresses anger when the act of offering expressions of love to God is turned into a mercantile exchange that gouges those who can least afford it. Still, there is forgiveness, redemption, mercy and unconditional love.

The Bible is many things.  It is story, history, parable, metaphor, prophecy, poetry, and gospel.  It is not a cookbook that carefully lists every ingredient and step to prepare something exactly right.  It was not intended to be a weapon for harm (don’t get me started on the “sword” metaphor), a sledgehammer, or a mystical talisman that could magically slay Nazis and cruel tyrants.

The Bible can be inspiring, insightful, redemptive, comforting, confrontational and corrective. Ultimately, it is a library of books and letters, prose and poetry with an intriguing recurring message.  That message points toward God’s transformational, radical, sacrificial, unmerited and unconditional love and our opportunity to make our life and the world a better place by living in connection with God and with each other.   

I love the Bible.  I take it seriously.  Because of God’s love and my faith I do not take everything about the Bible literally.

It is my hope that you will give yourself the opportunity to fall in love with the Bible.  Join a study group or seek the aid of competent commentaries that can make cryptic or difficult passages come to life with meaning.  The Bible has changed my life for the better, and continues to be a means of grace for us all.

Prayer
Divine Spirit, speak to me through the passages I read and the life of Jesus and help me, today, to discern what you might be saying to the Church—and to everyone who’ll listen.
Amen.

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