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2017 Daily Devotions

Daily Devotion Tuesday, December 19, 2017

 Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today’s devotion is a gift of a friend, Rev. Ben A David Hensley. Ben travelled with several busloads of us to the State Capitol on Advocacy Day. He lobbied in favor of our transgender siblings in Christ who face discrimination almost daily. I’ve come to value his Christ-like heart and many talents as a recently ordained associate minister of a sister United Methodist congregation.

Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley, Pastoral Counselor

CCIADallas.org

Scripture

"For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."   Ephesians 6:10-17

A Word of Hope

Powers and Principalities

This passage in Ephesians, known for its images of virtues like righteousness as pieces of armor we wear in defense against evil, is one I remember learning about as a child growing up. Later in life, I never understood what "cosmic powers of this present darkness" really were, and had a hard time believing that I NEEDED any armor.

This state of mind reminds me of the cleverness of C.S. Lewis in his book, "The Screwtape Letters," where a member of “hell's upper bureaucracy” (lowerarchy) advises a demon named Wormwood on effective ways to lead a young man to hell rather than salvation. In one letter, Screwtape advises Wormwood, "... the safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

It's easy to ignore evil for what it is, especially when it is embedded in everything. Evil isn't wielding a pitchfork and horns. Evil shows up in the things we admire and enjoy. And evil can subvert how we celebrate Christmas.

In what ways have we been led to obsess over the traditions (presents, parties, obligatory charitable-giving) of Christmas in lieu of remembering that it is one of our most important stories as Christians? How are we led to forget about refugee children when Jesus himself was a refugee child? How are we led to forget about our neighbors who are in need when Jesus' family was denied their basic needs when Jesus was born? 

Prayer

Protecting God, deliver me from temptation and keep me from the time of trial. I need you in my life as a bulwark against fear. Amen.

Devotion Guest Author

Rev. Ben A. David Hensley

Daily Devotion Monday, December 18, 2017

 Monday, December, 18, 2017

Scripture

And as for shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

Ephesians 6: 15

A Word of Hope

Obadiah had a run-in with the truth.  It happened in the days when Kings ruled Israel.  King Ahab had abandoned God and was “chasing after local gods.”  (I Kings 18 in The Message)  This chase drove King Ahab to slaughter the many prophets of God.  It was dangerous time for God’s people.  But there was one prophet, Elijah, who had eluded the King.  Ahab looked everywhere for Elijah, slaughtering whoever got in the way.

Obadiah had a heart for God.  He had saved 100 of God’s prophets by hiding them from King Ahab.  One day as Obadiah was walking his path, he comes upon Elijah.  He’s thrilled and scared to see this fugitive.  “Is it really you?” he says breathlessly (and probably looking over his shoulder.)  Elijah greets Obadiah and then tells him that God has a message for King Ahab: time for King Ahab’s reckoning with God.  In order to deliver this message, Elijah wants Obadiah to go fetch the King.  Obadiah’s brief look over his shoulder becomes full blow fear.  His response in 1 Kings 18 sounds all too familiar.  He asks why me, pleads for mercy and tries to defer.  Running into Elijah was really an encounter with God’s Truth and it came with a difficult request.  This was Obadiah’s  run-in with the truth.

As we walk the Advent path looking for God’s Peace breaking into the world we may encounter God’s Truth for us along the way. It can ask things of us that are confounding and even dangerous as was Elijah’s request to Obadiah.  But God is in the Truths we meet on the Advent path.  We shouldn’t run from them or downplay what they ask of us.  Its more than a message, it is a means and method for God to break into the world and to break into us.  What Truths has God shown you this Advent?  What are they asking of you?

Prayer

As we walk the Advent path, help us to put on whatever shoes will make us ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  May God’s Truths for us be our footsteps towards the Peace of God within the world and within us!  Amen

Devotion Author

Brad Syverson, Spiritual Director

Daily Devotion Friday, December 15, 2017

Scripture

Staying on Track

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Philippians 3.12-16 (MSG)

A Word of Hope

At some point most of us church folk consciously decide that we wish to live lives that are different and better, because we intend and desire God to be part of our lives. This may happen gradually and quietly or dramatically, but once we make a start on the Christian journey, life is rarely the same again.  

But in “reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out” for us, there are also often unanticipated consequences. Being a Christ-follower is never a passive activity, where you just coast along and all is just sweetness and light.  Being a Christ-follower can be demanding, inconvenient, and costly, and it definitely requires more than simple occasional church attendance. In fact, if you originally were considering “something less than total commitment,” you have certainly reckoned incorrectly.  As Paul says, “God will clear your blurred vision,” and get you back on track, because God has plans for you.

God is counting on those who have said “yes” to Jesus, in the same way that a parent expects a lot from a child. That’s what happens when love is involved.  For us that means active engagement in service, prayer, study (to learn more about God), worship, and giving (which is not just about money – it is a way that we share our love and do God’s work). Why must we do these things? Because through such actions we are continually transformed and grow closer to God.   

Paul knew that the Christian journey required striving, and that we all get tired. But one of the wonderful aspects about how we practice our faith is that we do so in community. When one of us falters, becomes fatigued, or frustrated, when we think this Christian journey is just too demanding…we siblings in the community are there to say, “Yes, you can!” Or “Don’t miss this, you really will benefit!” Or, “You’ll be blessed by it, I know you will!” It is our job to encourage, nudge, and celebrate with our fellow Christian journeyers. 

By God’s grace, we are on the right track. When the road gets bumpy, remember that you only have to look over your shoulder and a fellow trekker is right next to you ready and willing to lend support and blessing.

Prayer

Gracious God, we acknowledge that it is you who provides the light for our faith journeys, and we could not persevere without love that light brings forth. Give us strength to continually strive for total commitment as Christ-followers, and help us to share with one another the courage that you inspire within us. -In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion Author

Patricia Bjorling

Daily Devotion Thursday, December 14, 2017

Scripture

I will stand at my watch post, and will station myself on the rampart;

I will keep watch to see what [God] will say to me, and what the answer

            to my complaint will be.

Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision:

            Make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it….

If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come…Habakkuk 2:1-3

A Word of Hope

Remember that song “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story? “Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is but it is gonna be great…” There’s a driving rhythm and strong sense of anticipation in the song. It has you leaning in, rushing forward toward the moment when that “miracle due” comes true.  Yet in spite of the urgent expectancy Tony feels, he has a sense that he must “wait for it.”  As the days hurtle toward Christmas with a pace that sometimes seems unstoppable, we would do well to wait, to listen, and to “keep watch to see what God will say.”

Actually, West Side Story holds more resonance for us during Advent than we might imagine. The young people live in a world of violence, the divisions of race and “clan,” a world where many are crippled by low expectations. Yet Tony and Maria are dreamers. And their love, idealistic as it is, leads Tony to risk all to bring peace between the rival gangs—even at the cost of his life.

Like the prophet Habakkuk in today’s scripture, I have been waiting for a vision for our distressed country. The glimpses that are coming are rooted in the nature of Jesus’s incarnation. It was a radical act of God’s imagination, a radical act of Divine Love.  In the incarnation, God conceived a new path to intimacy with us, but in that relationship God would become achingly vulnerable. What does it mean for love to come that far, to risk that much? What response should it call forth from us?

Perhaps we must step out from behind our protective walls and climb up on the ramparts to engage in the struggles of the revolutionary love heralded by modern prophets like Rev. Dr. William Barber II.  This love “resists all policies, actions, and rhetoric that puts people in harm’s way,”  “refuses to mirror the hatred and vitriol we oppose,” and “fights for justice through the ethic of love.”  http://www.revolutionarylove.net/

Prayer

Give us courage, O God, to engage in the struggle. Amen.

Devotion Author

Dr. Pat Saxon

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