WALKING ON THE WATER
"As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go in ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea, when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come ahead."
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the water churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshipped Jesus, saying,"This is it! You are God's Son for sure!"
On return they beached the boat at Gennesaret. When the people got wind he was back, they sent out word through the neighborhood and rounded up all the sick, who asked for permission to touch the edge of his coat. And whoever touched him was healed. Matthew 14:22-33 (Message)
Prayer: O God our defended, storms rage around and within us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us in the faith of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and lord. Amen
"Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts." Psalms 85:8 (RSV)
Where does God speak to us? Where can we find Him? When He speaks, do we listen?
It's hard to listen and hear God speak because we can't physically hear or see God but nonetheless God speaks to us. We find him speaking to us through the Scriptures. He is present to us in the sacraments. God is speaking to us in our daily actions, a shared meal with a housebound friend, a service day at a community food pantry, a note of encouragement to a widowed neighbor, a smile for people walking in the mall or hearing a praise song on the radio.
God speaks to us when good things are done to us. "I'm coming over to help you plant your flowers", a card saying thank you for driving me to the clinic, a hug unexpected from a stranger, a cleaned child's room without asking or a sermon that hits home.
We shouldn't be afraid of God's words. Sometimes God tells it like it is and we shy away from hearing what is said because of fear of condemnation or being judged. God is a loving God and has poured out His love for us through God's word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
When we listen and hear God speak, it brings joy to trouble hearts, love to the world and peace to God's people.
Prayer: Lord, you are all powerful and understanding. Thank you for speaking to us daily and listening to our prayers. Keep us always in faith through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen
"Cast away from all the transgressions which you have committed against me and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit." Ezekiel 18:31 (RSV)
In this age of new technology and fast pace, I still am learning. My computer and smart phone are sometimes smarter than I am and we are in conflict. At these times, I can spend hours growling, searching around for the deleted files, mad at myself for some tiny error I made or the program made. Finally, I shut the thing down and walk away.
Starting over after a screw-up is hard. However, I have God's support. I can talk to him and let Him know my frustrations, my errors, and my needing support. Over and over again the Bible states that God knows we are not perfect, and he is ready to help whenever we need Him. No matter what we have done we can, through God, cast away our transgressions, and receive "a new heart and a new spirit." We can start over with a new spirit. God's wonderful gift.
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for new beginnings, no matter how small. Bring out the best in us so that we can serve you in all that we do. In Jesus' name. Amen
GOD'S WORD--MY WORDS
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight." Psalms19:14 (RSV)
Have you ever thought of how many words you have spoken in a day? Were they kind words? Were they loving? Had they reassured someone or comforted someone? Or had the words been too harsh or biting?
God's word has a lot to say about our words, and how we should use the spoken word. "Let him who has my Word speak my Word faithfully." (Jer. 23:28b) "Moreover he said to me, 'Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears.'" (Ezekiel 3:10) "What joy it is to find just the right words for the right occasion." (Proverbs 15:23) "So then encourage one another with these words." (1 Thes 4:18) "For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:37)
So look at God's references daily. Think of these references every time you speak. When you speak the spoken word, it should count for something in God's kingdom. Through prayer you can effectively change your own spoken speech pattern.
Prayer: Most gracious and loving Father may the words of my mouth be acceptable to you daily. Oh Lord, you are my rock and my redeemer. Amen
"For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do." Hebrews 6: 10 (RSV)
This morning, I found myself grumbling about all the little things I do that no one appreciates around the house. The picked up papers, the made beds, the clean bathrooms, the bills paid, cards sent out, etc. Sure, I get complimented on the delicious meals or the beautiful garden, but never on the mundane everyday chores. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Later on in the day I had an opportunity to go to our church, and I noticed someone working at a task so ordinary it normally drew no comment from anyone, including me. I thought, "How many people in this congregation realize what goes on behind the everyday operation of the church? How many volunteers put to use their time, treasures and talents doing mundane things around the church and grounds? I just had to say something so I stopped by and said, "Thank you. May God bless you for all the little things you do around here. God knows what you do even if others don't. Thanks again."
Prayer: Lord, help me to be more sensitive to all the quiet, silent ministries that others do and help me in my own grumbling. In Jesus' name. Amen
A TREE OF LIFE IN GODâ€™S CREATION
"For there is hope for a tree" Job 14:7a (RSV)
Our breath of life is from God.
We start as a seed or a sapling.
We are planted on this earth.
We grow and mature
In good soil or rocky soil, (blooming where we're planted),
But grow we do, with God's love.
As rays of sunshine (sunny days) and showers (rainy days) of blessings.
Through good times and bad,
Storms and sunny days.
We blossom and produce fruit (fruits of the spirit and love of others)
We may suffer broken limbs, scrapes and bruises (our illnesses and aliments),
Inflictions of blights and infestations of bugs (our conflicts and problems).
We are fertilized and feed
By fellowship with others
And the study of God's word.
We produce off spring with love and nurture God's creation.
God's creation, Lives on!
Prayer: Lord, Your trees are useful in so many ways as are all God's children. Trees can provide homes, fuel, fruit, furniture, beauty, shade, oxygen, nuts, toys, medicine, paper, clothing, etc. Yet, with your help we, too, can be like trees that grow beside a stream that bears fruit at the right time (Ps 1:3), and the fruit of the righteous is the tree of life. Thank you for the privilege of knowing you and for your generosity. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen
OUT OF GAS
"Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you." Psalms 55:22 (RSV)
Have you ever run out of gas? I don't mean literally but figuratively, running out of gas or burnt out with God. Sometimes Christians lose interest and energy that we had for the Lord's work. Or get so busy with outside matters, we forget all about God. We're so concentrated on the work of life itself that we forget to "fill up" with God.
Every Christian needs a "fill up" sooner or later where we can refuel. Christian's homes, and friends, churches and schools are great refueling stations. Here we receive forgiveness and remind one another of God's love for us through worship, Bible study, communion, baptism and fellowship with other Christians.
In Colossians 3:16-17 Paul reminds us to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Prayer: Lord, keep us mindful of you grace. Refuel us when we need a refueling and guide us in your word. Amen