Advent Devotional: Dec. 18, 2019

Making Choices

by Sean Beckwith
December 18, 2019

Read Psalm 119:33-40
Psalm 119:33-34 (ESV)
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes;
 and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.

C.S. Lewis

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, “If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.” I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, 
a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, 
to follow and enjoy You, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

-Ambrose of Milan, 4th century

Lenten Devotional: Friday, Feb. 16

by Charles Bressler

Psalm 63:1:
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have been taught and sermonized that
You are a God
Who cares
Who loves
Who knows the future.
That I am to
Hold your hand
Trust your Word
Believe I am your Beloved child
And all will be well.

But You are a disorientating God.
For you act in ways that
Baffle my logic
Abandon my desires
Disrupt my sense of fairness
Shatter my pride
Greet my words with silence
Confuse my plans
Ignore my tears.

My learned ways of response to You shout that
I have
Not trusted enough
Petitioned enough
Read Your word enough
Believed enough
Hymned enough
Claimed enough.

But You are a Gethsemane Savior:
One who
Sweat blood
Confronted and
Wept in the presence of Your disorientating God.
Through confusion, torment, and pain
Through disorientation, isolation, and shattered desires,
You chose obedience to the Divine
An obedience that led to more disorientation
More suffering
More confusion
More abandonment,
But then sudden and dazzling re-orientation
Through resurrection
With wholeness
With all-encompassing joy
With God.

Disorientating God,
Disorient me,
Usurp my logic,
Disrupt my dreams,
Confound my goals
Anguish my soul
Until like the Lord Jesus Christ
I too receive, experience, and embrace
Yet another divine epiphany:  Your Presence.

Prayer:  Almighty God, you are indeed a disorientating God.  Our souls thirst for you, and our hearts and bodies long for you.  We have prayed, we have worshipped, and we have served your children.  But at times, Sovereign God, it feels as if we are in an abandoned place, and we thirst with nothing to drink.  During this Lenten season, we seek your face, we seek your direction, and we will sit in silence waiting to hear from you.  Do what you will to each of us:  you are the potter, and we are the clay.  Disorient us from the expected, disrupt our dreams, and do whatever it takes in and through us so that we can listen and hear you words and direction for our lives.

Lenten Devotional: Thursday, March 17

Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I was putting on chapstick last week, thinking about a conversation the day before, and I realized I had the wrong product.  What I really needed was something stronger, something that would prevent not just damage to my lips but from my lips.  I needed LipLock.  LipLock is a great product – it keeps your lips shut tight until your brain is fully engaged. And it’s temperature sensitive – if your temper is too hot or your heart too cold, your lips will not open.  Think how much damage LipLock could prevent!

There are times when I really wish I could take back my words.  Or that I could change the tone. Maybe you’ve felt this way, too. The conversation that was on my mind bothered me because I said some unkind things about someone who had been difficult to work with many years ago. I was surprised at the depth of my emotion after so much time. During this season of Lent we have been encouraged to examine our hearts. In doing so, I realized that my words reflected what was inside. I had not forgiven when I should have; instead I had superglued this grudge to my heart. A song based on Psalm 51:10 came to mind and I prayed it – Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me…  Dredging up the past can be hard, but God gave me a new, more objective perspective. It is amazing how healing it can be to forgive and to let go of past hurts.  Thanks be to God.

A prayer based on Psalm 19:14 and Psalm 51:10
Dear Lord,
Today as I prepare to start my day, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing in your sight. I pray that you will create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Help me to be forgiving, loving and kind. Thank you that each day is a new beginning.

Lenten Devotional: Saturday, March 5

by Lisa Caine

Psalm 8: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth. You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. 

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you take care for them. Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands, you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the seas. O Lord our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

God is the great Creator. Genesis tells us that God hovered over the formless void and the darkness that covered the face of the deep. And then God began creating, separating light from dark, heavens from earth, water from dry land, creating stars and heavens, the birds and fish, the animals, and finally humankind, whom God invited to be co-creators, tending all that had been made and making sure it grew and thrived.  Psalm 8 celebrates this special responsibility of human beings to care for all that God has created. What part of God’s creation calls to the creative spirit within you? What makes you think “God” when you see the “work of [God’s] fingers”? Do you ever think of God in the darkness? That’s where creation began.

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies;
Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony, linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

Lenten Devotional: Thursday, Feb. 11

by Sylvia Hutchinson

Psalm 103: 1-5 (from The Message):
Oh my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
Don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your disesases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.
God makes everything come out right;
He puts victims back on their feet.

When I was a middle school child, I came to my Mother and complained about something that had happened to me.   I deemed the treatment that I had received as unfair.  Feeling unjustly victimized, I said with great authority that “life was not fair.”

My Mother replied that I was correct. She reiterated as she put her arms around me, “Life is Not Fair and that is why you, nor anyone else is ever punished for all our mistakes.”

It took a minute or two for her words to sink in, but how true it is and how grateful we all are that we don’t get punished every time we stretch the truth, speak unkind words about someone, run a red light, speed, or a hundred other infractions which I am sure I commit regularly.

Thanks be to an understanding and loving God.

Lenten Devotional: Wednesday, March 18

by Joe Dennis
March 18, 2015

Psalm 55:1-4: Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger.

It was April 8, 1994 when it happened. Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, the media-proclaimed voice of my generation, killed himself. A part of me died that day, too.

A high school senior at an all-boys, Catholic high school, I definitely did not fit in. I wasn’t athletic enough to be a jock. I wasn’t smart enough to be a nerd. I didn’t dress well enough to be a prep. In a racially-diverse school with simmering racial tensions, I wasn’t white enough or brown enough to fit in with any race.

I was simply a loser. And so was Kurt Cobain. His lyrics of pain, loneliness and anger resonated with me throughout my high school years.

I’m so happy because today I’ve found my friends. They’re in my head. 
I’m so ugly, but that’s OK cause so are you. We’ve broken our mirrors. 
-“Lithium,” Nirvana

So when he ended his life that April morning, I was devastated. Making matters worse was the next day at school, when the hallways were filled with Kurt Cobain jokes and insults … even by teachers. It’s no wonder I contemplated the same fate as Cobain.

Thank God my attempt failed. Something happened over the next few months. I began to pray. But not the way I was taught to pray: say one “Our Father,” three “Hail Marys” and an Act of Contrition. I talked to God. I poured out my heart. I asked God to help me. I shifted my focus from my present to my future. I tightened my circle of “friends” to include only those who were supportive. I met Carla. And I finally got the professional help I needed to control my illness: depression.

God will not ignore our pleas for help. But we must open our hearts and minds to God, ask for the help, and commit to the change. I learned that talking to God is not just going through the repetitious moments of prayer and church, but rather having a conversation.

Prayer: God. We know you are here for us, always. Please help us commit to the change required to have our prayers fulfilled. Amen.

Lenten Devotional: Saturday, Feb. 21

by Beth Gavrilles
Feb. 21, 2015

Psalm 25:4-5
Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

I love this particular line from Psalm 25. When I read it, I hear it set to music by the great English Renaissance composer William Byrd. We used to sing it in the choir at my former church, Stratford Street United Church in Boston (which is very much like Oconee Street, and not only because they’re both named after streets; it’s also a small church with a big, welcoming heart.)

In Byrd’s stately composition, the plea to God is repeated in a sort of musical plaiting of voices that weave in and out before resolving in the declaration “for thou art the God of my salvation.”

When I read these verses this week, however, I noticed something about the words. The psalmist does not ask God to “show me your way” or “teach me your path”—the words are plural. There is more than one way; there is more than one path.

I find this both a relief and somewhat alarming. How much easier would it be for us if there were only one path? It would be hard to stick to it, for sure, but we would know what to do. We would have a set script to follow, tried and tested by others before us.

When there are many paths, how do we know which one to follow? How do we know which paths are real and which lead to dead ends? What if we pick one and it takes us in the wrong direction?

And yet, how wonderful that there is not one set path for everyone to follow. How wonderful that there are different ways to approach God. And how wonderful that we can ask for help, for guidance, for instruction; and that God’s help and guidance and instruction can look different to all of us. It brings me back to William Byrd’s musical setting, and the way the different voices are woven together, crossing paths so that they are sometimes in the same place and sometimes on their own, but always part of the same piece of music, always seeking for God.

Loving God, like the Psalmist, I need your guidance. I need to be reminded that there is more than one way to you. I can too easily judge others who appear to me to be following the wrong way, or no way at all; and I can too easily be distracted and confused by all the paths that open at my feet. Lead me, lead all of us, so that we can each follow you in the infinite ways you have made for us, with our whole being. Amen.

Sermon: Wonder Vision

Wonder Vision
Sermon by The Rev. Lisa Caine
July 27, 2014
Psalms 77:11-14, Matthew 13:31-33

This past week has been busy here at church. Vacation Bible School was a great success, thanks to all those who worked so hard to make the Workshop of Wonders the place to be. From decorating, to stories, to crafts, to experiments, to games, to singing, to snacks – it was all happening right here. And I have to say, it was wonderful to be doing it here at home.

One of my favorite sayings over the years has been “Little is much when God is in it.” Our little church is having significant influence in the lives of these children through our ministry to them in Sunday School every Sunday, in Vacation Bible School each summer, and in the way each of you has taken on the responsibility you accepted in the baptismal vow you pledged at the baptisms of so many of these little ones. Do you remember what you said? “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

Truly, little is much when God is in it, and this is borne out in our gospel reading this morning and in the lessons learned this week during VBS. The parable of the mustard seed tells us, among many other things, that sometimes something seemingly insignificant, something that is small, or is considered a weed or a pest, can actually become beautiful and useful in the kingdom of God when understood in the right way. Or as Sandy Paper put it on the very first day: “When we imagine with God, we don’t just see things for how they look. We see what they can be. Even the ordinary can be extraordinary!”

And this was immediately proven during the assembly time by the appearance of Rivet, whom you can see resting over there by the piano. You might think that Rivet is an insignificant little ant, maybe even a pest, an invader at our picnics, but with the power of Wonder Goggles, he became visible as a smart, daring, and endearing three-segmented side kick for Sandy. He is catching up now with a little nap before he sets off on more adventures. He’s such a busy little ant—he has places to go, people to meet, and things to see.

I loved the theme for this week, because with all that has gone on over the last couple of weeks, we are badly in need of Wonder Goggles. There have been three plane crashes, the most prominent and deadly being the Malaysian 17 plane shot down over Ukraine; then there is the increasing and horrifying violence between the Israelis   and Palestinians in Gaza. And on the southern border of our country, children, some of them unaccompanied are entering Texas with a very mixed welcome – there are officials, who round them up, some angry, fearful US citizens who scream at them to go home, and some other kind and compassionate citizens who offer encouragement and welcome, along with food, clothing, or hygiene items. Add to these situations, a Congress that will probably go home, some with the audacity to run for public office again, without having done anything towards resolving the immigration crisis or undertaking ways and means to improve the intolerable conditions in the VA Health system for our Veterans, who were good enough to die or be injured for our country apparently, but not good enough to spend government money on to help them heal and return to productive life.   As you can hear – I am more than ready for the Wonder Vision provided when we see the world through our Wonder goggles.

Wonder Googles help us to see the world as God sees it. They help us to examine carefully the great variety and diversity of God’s world, to see the things that God values that are undervalued or ignored and invisible in our everyday world, to recognize the tasks that God would like to partner with us in, and to find the paths that allow us to walk with God confidently in a world that seems to have lost its way.

In this parable of the mustard seed, you can see that Jesus has a sense of humor. He says the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed that is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is the greatest of shrubs!” A shrub is not a towering redwood tree, not a big oak, just a squatty, small bush. His listeners would have known that Ezekiel had described God’s kingdom as a great cedar, about the biggest tree known of in those parts of the ancient Middle East and whose branches would give a home to every winged creature.   But a shrub?   People had to be chuckling when they heard it the outlandish comparison.

But in his humor, Jesus is reminding us of what God’s way looks like and how it acts. In our world today, as in the ancient world – power and spectacle, flying banners, beating drums, clanging armor, shouting and yelling are the actions that garner our attention. But God’s way is the mustard seed and the small bush it produces, which is low to the ground, and also highly invasive, persistent, and hard to get rid of. Some have compared the mustard bush to kudzu, which as you know can take over vast areas in very little time. Without Wonder vision, it would be easy to question as Jesus’ first listeners did, what possible good could come from a mustard seed.

But God’s way is like that – quiet, small, persistent, unrelenting, enduring, never giving up, coming back again and again, just when it seems it has been rooted up and cast out. We saw that in some of the Bible stories this week. The one I participated in was the story of Zerubabel, who helped to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple after its complete destruction by the Persians. It was a story about persistence and endurance, and of thinking beyond the individual stones that had to be hauled into place, cut, and shaped, to envision the Temple of which each stone would be an integral part. Despite delays, despite opposition, Zerubabel and his workmen were patient as the Temple was slowly rebuilt stone by stone to its former glory. It was an inspiring story, made even better by the actual rebuilding of our very own place of worship outside while we were meeting inside. All the children got to go outside on the “observation deck” to see concrete being poured and workmen building the foundations of our church, which also is being built stone by stone, little bit by little bit, but with patience and perseverance, we can envision now that next year Vacation Bible School will be able to use that building as well as this one.

This kind of slow, humble, unglamorous diligence is not particularly appealing in our world today where money talks, might makes right, and nice guys finish last; where humility means weakness, mercy means being taken advantage of, and self-sacrifice means being a doormat. Our kids learned this week that we have to gear up, get ready, open our eyes and minds to find God at work. Discipleship doesn’t come overnight; it doesn’t come without work and conscious effort, dedication, and commitment. It doesn’t come without making choices, and being courageous when the times require it.

What is most important is being able to imagine God’s kingdom, and look for its presence all around us. It can be as close as our own back yard, as close as the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives; it can be found in the smile of a child, the honesty of a friend, the beauty of music, the sound of rain, the activities of Vacation Bible School.

The Kingdom of heaven is all around us, right here, right now, in all the ordinary people and places and activities of our lives. And it can be revealed to us by using those wonder words that we started our worship service with: Imagining with God – being mindful and aware, not taking things for granted, not putting our brains on automatic pilot so that we’re unaware of what is before us.

Build with God and work with God – more often than not God requires partners for God’s work on earth to be done. Of course, what we want is for God to do all the work for us so that we can just sit back and watch! We wonder why things have to be the way they are and what is taking God so long! Why isn’t God acting to bring about peace, justice, and equality. Well, God could ask the same things of us; what are we doing to bring God’s kingdom just a bit closer to being on earth as it is in heaven? And the things God wants us to do together are not most often huge, earth shattering things; they are the small, unnoticed, unobserved things that make life worth living; the small, unremembered acts of kindness and of love, that have been called the best portion of our lives. It’s the mustard seed moments that can make all the difference.

And final words to remember are grow with God and walk with God. The life of discipleship isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And it isn’t for weekend warriors. It’s an everyday affair; not just taking Jesus off the shelf on Sunday to say a few nice words about him before putting him away – out of sight and out of mind on Monday. It is making his example the center of everything we do and the model for our lives every moment of every day. As long as we live we are called to grow with God and walk with God.

In speaking of God’s kingdom, the prophet Isaiah said that a little child would lead the way. So it has been this week, as our children have reminded us that with vision, we can see things as God sees them, and work to make them visible to the world. Thanks be to God for our children who have once again shown us the way. Amen.

Lenten Devotional: Monday, April 14

by Rebecca Simpson-Litke

Psalm 130 Musical Setting: words by Christopher Idle (1975), music a Scottish traditional melody (MacPherson’s Farewell); harmony by David Iliff (1990); arrangement and voices by Rebecca Simpson-Litke (2014); recording/editing by David Litke (2014)

April 14, 2014

This time of year, I often experience a real sense of longing – longing for the end of a stressful school year, longing for the warm weather and freshness of spring after a hard winter, longing for the good news of Easter – and as a result, I usually find myself reflecting on one of my favorite Bible passages, Psalm 130. Whenever I read this Psalm, I can’t help but hear the beautiful Scottish melody that I grew up singing in church and that I would like to share with you now.

As a music theorist, I am fascinated by the structure of music and the powerful effect it has on us as listeners. When you listen to the recording that is included with this Lenten reflection, you will notice that the psalm is divided by the musical setting into three verses with a repeated refrain. In the first verse, a single voice calls out to God, expressing grief and trouble:

Up from the depths I cry to God: O listen, Lord, to me;
O hear my voice in this distress, this mire of misery.

More voices are added in the second and third verses, as both individuals and the community as a whole confess their sins and are reassured of God’s great capacity to forgive and to redeem:

If you, my God, should measure guilt, who then could ever stand?
But those who fear your name will find forgiveness from your hand.
O Israel, set your hope on God whose mercy is supreme:
the nation mourning for its sin God surely will redeem.

I particularly love the way in which the shape of this melody illustrates the message of the text, rising up in pitch as we try to lift our voices, our anxieties, our hopes, our fears up to a place where God can hear them, and then dropping down in pitch as we admit our failures and shortcomings.

However, there is one place where the melody doesn’t seem to match what the text is communicating. If you listen carefully, you will notice that the melodic line climbs up in pitch during “the nation mourning for its sin” and then falls down in pitch during “God surely will redeem.” What are we as listeners to make of this unexpected reversal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to sink down into our shameful mourning, and then be raised up by God’s redemption?

Rather than interpret this change in the melody-text correspondence as a flaw in the musical setting, I have come to understand it as a reminder that God has the power to turn our lives upside down, to change darkness into light and death into life, if only we are willing to listen to the message.

As I think about the journey of the week ahead, I am tempted to want to skip right from the exuberance of Palm Sunday to the good news of the Resurrection, but I know that it is through the trials of Good Friday and the darkness of Holy Saturday that Easter Sunday gains its awesome power. In this way, the refrain of Psalm 130 helps me to feel, to express, and to participate in the hopeful longing and waiting of Holy Week:

I wait for God with all my heart, my hope is in God’s word;
and more than watchers for the dawn I’m longing for you, God.

Lenten Devotional: Saturday, March 15

Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.

by Maxine Easom
March 15, 2014

In 1997 I wrote a devotional for our church’s Advent devotional booklet.  I have adapted that devotional for this lent, as it seems particularly appropriate for our theme of developing Holy Habits.  This devotional focuses on the importance of searching and knowing scripture to help us and others in our everyday lives. 

Scripture:  Psalm 91  (See below)

As a child many people encouraged me to memorize Bible verses – my mother, other family members, my Sunday School teachers, close Christian friends who influenced my faith journey from an early age.  Being the “achiever” that I am, I committed many verses to memory.  At school we had a program taught by a revered Christian woman, Ms. Agnes Mackey, where we could earn rewards for verses learned.  (No separation of church and state at that time.  Back in the “dark ages.”)  I still have the verse motto certificates, the New Testament, and the Bible that I was awarded for my memorization of verses.  I also spent several weeks at a Christian camp free as a reward for learning verses.

I have to be honest and say that at that time I was just working to learn three hundred verses, because there were 300 verses to learn.  I was certainly a child who was reared in the church, with solid Christian instruction, but I had not processed the total extent of why committing the scriptures to memory was important.  But during the summer of 1997, I had an experience which unlocked for me the importance of learning – no – memorizing God’s word.

Mid-June of that summer, my sister, Marian, was in a terrible bicycle accident.  During the initial hours following her accident, the horrors of the possibilities associated with her injuries hung over us.  On the evening of her accident, while waiting with my family in the ICU waiting room, we were visited by very close Christian friends from Athens, members of their church.  The love and concern of those friends buoyed our strength, and their love surrounded us in a way that was surely sent from God.

After they had spent time with us and as they were getting ready to leave the ICU waiting room to return to Athens, we bowed to pray together for Marian and for ourselves.  One of our friends prepared to lead us.  Then he stopped and asked his wife if she would recite the 91st Psalm for us before we prayed.  His wife had not pre-thought doing that, and she had nothing with her to provide assistance in case of memory failure.  However, God’s grace and presence filled her, and she began –

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
 10 no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.                                     Psalm 91

After she finished, we prayed and our friends left.  However, I could not stop thinking about Gail’s scripture sharing, how appropriate it was, how much it comforted us.  How could she have recited that lengthy passage from memory?  How much Scripture did she have committed to memory?  How many other people had she comforted in this way?  How had this discipline comfort her in her own life?

I could not remember the specific psalm, so when I returned home, I searched it out.  Since that time, it has been of great comfort to me in times of need – deaths of parents, bouts with cancer and health problems, the normal stresses of life.

This Psalm has many points which could “preach” (as Lisa and I talk about), but I have adapted this devotional for this Lenten season because I think the spiritual discipline exhibited by our friend – that of learning and relying on God’s Word, bears witness to why we are focusing on Holy Habits during Lent.  I am sure that Gail does not know that her actions that evening in that waiting room have marked my life.  But they deeply witnessed to me about the importance of reading and learning God’s word, speaking clearly about why this “habit” can deepen our faith and allow us to minister to others in times of need.  I continue to pray for the discipline to develop this Holy Habit.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for your Word.  Increase our awareness of it’s importance in our lives.  Help us to clear times for studying your word, and opportunities to use your word to help others.   Amen.