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2017 Daily Devotions

Daily Devotion Monday, September 18, 2017

by
Jan Nunn

Scripture
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your neighbor’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Matthew 7.3

A Word of Hope
I have never helped someone get something out of their eye! Most people will take care of that themselves. But I do understand the meaning Jesus was trying to convey in this parable. A Facebook friend gave me a perfect modern-day example recently. For no particular reason, she posted "Don't forget to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others."

We recently observed in our church how our own pastors and staff of our church were helping us through the grief for someone very dear to them and to us! I kept asking my precious pastor what he was doing to take care of himself. He didn't have very good answers!

You see, we expect pastors and other care givers to take care of our spiritual needs, but we seldom think of their own suffering. We take Sunday off (or days off work) when we need time to heal or grieve. But we would never expect to show up on Sunday morning and find a whole substitute staff conducting our Sunday worship! But shouldn't we?

I know that in helping us grieve, they also began their own process as well. They did a great job of having counselors help all of us with the process. But I think next time something like this happens, I will grab my oxygen mask and instead of asking how they are doing, I will try to be more proactive!

Prayer
Dear God of all healing; We thank you for those who are your agents on this earth to help us heal. Help us be aware of times when they need our help. Make us aware of all those in our lives who need us to help them in their times of need.

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Daily Devotion Friday, September 22, 2017

by
Tricia Anders
CoH Member and Volunteer

Scripture
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day…
Exodus 16:1-21

A Word of Hope
The children of Israel who were recently released from the slavery under Pharoah believed they had only themselves on which to rely. No longer did they have a master who determined what they could eat, when they could sleep or do anything at all. They were accustomed to having their every need provided for as meager as it was. After wandering around in the wilderness, their supplies fell short, and they began to doubt Moses. As they whined and complained to Moses, Yahweh heard their cries. In the mornings, God rained down manna (bread like substance) to feed them, and in the evenings God sent quail to fulfill their need for meat. The Children of Isreal then marveled at the wonder and glory of Yahweh.

Recently, Hurrican Harvey descended upon Houston, Texas leaving thousands without homes, cars or even jobs to return. Thousands of evacuees were stranded and prayed that help would come not knowing how, when, or where it would arrive. And like manna from heaven, the spirit of Yahweh’s love that unites us all arrived from every walk of life awesomely. People with boats, big trucks, the National Guard, Police officers from other cities and even our neighbor Mexico stepped in to help. Unconditional love, patience, and genuine help rained down for the evacuees like manna from heaven rescuing thousands upon thousands of stranded people in the Houston area and surrounding cities and towns without a second thought.

In our darkest moments, whenever we feel that we are at the end, remember Yahweh always steps in. God never forsakes us and always makes a way out of no way; God’s help comes in unusual and unexpected ways. Who would have thought that a convoy of people with their boats and trucks would run toward the storm to the rescue? Only Yahweh’s love.

Prayer
Creator of All, please help us to remember that it does not matter where we’ve come from, what we have or don’t have, or what the color of our skin might be, in our hour of need You always hear our cries and Your love for us always answer. All we need to have is faith and patience. Amen.

Daily Devotion Thursday, September 21, 2017

by
Dr. Pat Saxon

Reading
Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life, or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.

Brenee Brown

A Word of Hope

I’d already begun to gather material for today’s devotion which falls on International Gratitude Day. Already drafted the experience of praying with a guest at BACH last week—a man who has no job, no income, and “nowhere to lay his head,” but whose full-hearted witness to God’s grace in his life is inspiring.

And then a massive branch from my beautiful red oak moaned a huge crack and fell on the house. After a brief gush of catastrophic thinking, my better angels said: “Well, time to practice what you preach.” With our neighbors in south Texas and Florida suffering such calamitous loads, mine certainly is small by comparison. And ironically, when the tree limb caught on the edge of the roof, it saved my car which would have been damaged had it taken a direct blow. Add the expert and concerned arborist with whom I work and his emergency service. Yes, I am grateful.

Practice, though, is important. While some people are “naturally” grateful, most of us are not according to cognitive and affective research. When Brenee Brown began examining the relationship between gratitude and joy, she thought that joyful people would just be more grateful, but she discovered that it is the practice of gratitude which brings more joy to our lives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_LmEOwNtA  

I learned gratitude in a time of unimaginable loss—while grieving the death of my dearest partner. But even in the midst of pain, my eyes began to see more and more the grace of faithful friends and spiritual mentors, the beauty of nature and healing power of music, the comfort of dogs and the steadfast presence of God leading me on to new life.

So too with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg whose husband Dave died unexpectedly while they were on vacation. In numerous interviews and in her book Option B, she explores her experience with grief and renewal, asserting that “finding gratitude and appreciation is the key to resilience.” http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/sheryl-sandberg-dealt-grief-husbands-death-47022695 

Today is the day to begin again to give thanks with a grateful heart. To start our gratitude journal or sharing gratitude at meals or speaking thanks into the world. To practice gratitude with the same intentionality we would prayer or generosity.

Prayer

Tune our hearts to sing your praise, O God. We are grateful, grateful. Amen.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

by
Mary Warejcka

Scripture
The next morning Jesus was walking with his followers. They saw the fig tree that he spoke to the day before. The tree was dry and dead, even the roots. Peter remembered the tree and said to Jesus, “Teacher, look! Yesterday, you told that fig tree to die. Now it is dry and dead!”
Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. The truth is, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, mountain, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, then God will do it for you. So I tell you to ask for what you want in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours. When you are praying and you remember that you are angry with another person about something, forgive that person. Forgive them so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.”
Mark 11:20-25

A Word of Hope
I took some classes about dreaming several years ago, and the instructor talked about working with indigenous peoples of Ecuador, who would explain that we dream the world into existence. And the indigenous healers would say look around at war, famine and ecological destruction, and then they would ask: Why would people dream this world into existence? These indigenous people have never forgotten that the world could not be exactly where it is if we did not dream it (pray it) into existence. This is exactly the world we have asked for collectively. And as Jesus promised, if you ask, you are going to get it. He asked that the fig tree be cursed and it died. But, I hear you; we personally only ask for good things, we only dream for positive things, right? Sometimes I wonder if maybe we don’t realize what we ask for.
What does it mean, for example, when we ask to prosper in our own families? We all do it, right? What if that prospering means we buy clothes created by women in a far-away place where there are no worker protections, where wages are low and children sew our clothes? The justification is always they are happy to have the work and it helps them prosper, right? But is it the right thing to pray for prosperity when this is the result? Or maybe it means that we can afford big SUVs and a lot of things made of resources that deplete the earth and exacerbate climate change. Is it right to pray to prosper? Is it a good dream? The questions are not about shaming us … but to start an honest conversation about what we pray for, maybe in ways we’ve been taught from youth but maybe this sort of praying is not the way that’s right for today as we face so many challenges.
What if we started to pray a different way or continue to pray this way if you’re ahead of the rest of us? What if we pray to see how we can fit into the whole, to cause the least damage to the earth and all that exists on it? -A prayer for a low carbon footprint in modern language. What if we dreamed this? What would that world look like? How would that dreaming transform the whole planet? How would it transform our lives? If you ask me, it’s kind of an exciting … and a very scary … dream. Because as Jesus said, “So I tell you to ask for what you want in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours.” Just ask. Believe. Dream a new world.

 Dream Prayer
Help me see.

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