Archive for May, 2011

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 1:6-9

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – Easter 7, Year A

Acts 1:6-9So when they had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the Kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

We often say that Jesus instructed his disciples to preach, teach and heal. In this scripture, we see how extensive their ministry was expected to be. We have been faithfully answering this call at the Church Health Center (www.churchhealthcenter.org) since 1987. Through our participation in local, regional and national conferences, through Church Health Reader (www.chreader.org), and of course through the individual lives we touch here daily – through so many ways, we are striving to bring our message of hope and healing “…to the ends of the earth.”

Prayer: Almighty God, we have tried to be faithful to your call in our work. Thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon this ministry. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Psalm 68:4-6a

Monday, May 30, 2011 – Easter 7, Year A

We are approaching the seventh week of Easter, and we are offered the following scriptures from the lectionary: Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11.

Psalm 68:4-6aSing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds-his name is LORD-be exultant before him. Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity…

God: parent of the parentless, shelter-giver to the shelter-less. God works in mysterious ways, but God also works through us. I think of us as God’s hands and feet on earth, caring as best we can for those least among us.

Prayer: Protector God, help us as we strive to make your world gentler for all your children. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – John 14:18-20

Friday, May 27, 2011 – Easter 6, Year A

John 14:18-20 – [Jesus is speaking] “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

Our scriptures this week have reminded us of God’s constant presence in our lives so I find these verses quoting Jesus a fitting end to this week’s reflections. I think the way we interact with people can help them sense God’s presence in their lives. Today, embrace your role as a reflector of God’s love back toward the person who is in front of you.

Prayer: Ever-present God, be with us as we interact with your children. May our actions help them see you more clearly. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – John 14:15

Thursday, May 26, 2011

John 14:15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Remember Jesus speaking in Mark chapter 12: “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…[and]…you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Consider for a moment a world in which everyone keeps just these two “greater” commandments.

Prayer: God of peace, help us in our daily struggle to be peacemakers in your kingdom. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – 1 Peter 3:13-16a

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 – Easter 6, Year A

1 Peter 3:13-16aNow who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.

I can’t imagine the difficulty of being a Christian in the first and second centuries, so this advice from Peter held significant meaning for its readers. Paraphrased this might read, ‘Be prepared to defend your beliefs, but do so with gentleness and with reverence.’ Or maybe as my Mom said to me many times when I was young, “Don’t lower yourself to their level!” This scripture reminds us that we should consider ourselves representatives of God at all times.

Prayer: Gracious God, it is easy to sense your presence during the high points in our life. Help us remember you are with us always, especially during our lower points. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 17:26-27

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – Easter 6, Year A

Acts 17:26-27From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him-though indeed he is not far from each of us.

“…and perhaps grope for him…” What a comforting line! The word grope offers a sense of both feeling for something and fumbling for something. Search for God, even when you are clumsy and awkward in your efforts. Search for God, even when it is as if you are in a dark room fumbling for the light switch.

Prayer: Wonderful God, we give thanks for your constant presence in our lives. When we can’t find you, please help us to know you are right beside us. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 17:22-25

Monday, May 23, 2011 – Easter 6, Year A

The lectionary selections for the sixth Sunday of Easter include: Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22 and John 14:15-21.

Acts 17:22-25Then Paul stood in front of the Aeropagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.”

“Butch,” my Dad exclaimed, “this is the very spot where Paul addressed the Athenians over 2,000 years ago!” (http://www.mccullagh.org/photo/1ds-12/areopagus-at-dusk) I still remember that moment standing below the Acropolis in Athens, Greece way back in 1974. Paul adopted an interesting strategy in talking to the Athenians: ’You are such a religious people, and you even have a shrine to an unknown god. I am here to tell you about this God unknown to you until today.’ The Apostle Paul – meeting people where they were 2,000 years ago.

Prayer:
Gracious God, as we pass through this day, we will come upon many people who are unknown to us. May they see a glimpse of you through our interactions with them. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – 1 Peter 2:4-5

Friday, May 20, 2011 – Easter 5, Year A

1 Peter 2:4-5Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I am moved by Peter’s metaphor of living stones. Our faith work is laid on the foundation created by those who have come before us, and we are building the foundation for the generation to come. Not unlike Paul’s body of Christ language, it emphasizes our interdependence on one another.

Prayer: Gracious God, bless our faith work as we seek to build a lasting witness to your love for us. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – John 14:1-2

Thursday, May 19, 2011 – Easter 5, Year A

John 14:1-2Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

I find it interesting that this passage is included in the lectionary readings with the stoning of Stephen when we first see Saul, later known as Paul, present at and assisting in the execution. We worship a God who can work through anyone, including those who seem least likely. Keep this in mind as you meet people today.

Prayer (adapted from another favorite choir tune from my childhood):
Loving God, open our eyes, that we may see, glimpses of truth you have for us. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 7:60

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 – Easter 5, Year A

Acts 7:60Then [Stephen] knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

I can’t imagine the pain, fear and humiliation of being stoned to death. What I also can’t fathom is Stephen’s ability to cry out during this horrible experience “Forgive these men!” Ours is a faith of loving both enemies and neighbors. Stephen forgave his executioners just as Jesus had done. Today, consider for a minute the challenge of offering such radical forgiveness.

Prayer: Gracious God, you call us to forgive not only when it is simple, but when it really costs us. Help us in our efforts to be more forgiving. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 7:58-60

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 – Easter 5, Year A

Acts 7:58-60Then they dragged [Stephen] out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Saul, sworn enemy of the early Christian church would become known as Apostle Paul, one of the leading writers, missionaries and thinkers shaping the early Christian church and Christian thought. If God can work through a person with such a heinous resume as Paul, imagine what God can do working through each of us?

Prayer: Wonderful God, we can often feel inadequate, but help us remember that through you we have the ability to be truly amazing. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Acts 7:55-57

Monday, May 16, 2011 – Easter 5, Year A

Scriptures for the fifth Sunday of Easter include Luke’s account of the stoning of Stephen, considered the first Christian martyr. The lectionary passages include: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10 and John 14:1-14.

Acts 7:55-57But filled with the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.

In the 6th chapter of Acts, a dispute about the fairness of food distribution was causing ill will between the early Christians. To oversee distribution of food and other such issues, the Apostles asked the other disciples to choose seven men of “…good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” One of those appointed was Stephen. While it is unlikely that our faith will cause us to be executed in this country, it is an almost certainty that our faith will cause us times of trial, when our faith causes us to swim against current of those at home or at work.

Prayer: Protector God, give us strength to be the disciples you would have us be. AMEN.


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