Jesus is With Us

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

As we live our lives, our problems and temptations are immediate.  We need to recognize that just as we undergo temptation and tribulations, so did Jesus.  No matter how dire our situation may be, Jesus has gone before us and is now the source of grace and mercy that is always there for us.  We need only ask for His help and it will be there.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, please help me to remember that You are always there for me whenever I am in need of grace and mercy. Amen.

David Clegg

Trust in the Lord

Isaiah 30: 15-18

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you.” Isaiah 30:18

Who are we if we think we can change what God has planned for us? We must become better listeners during and after we pray.

We must trust in the Lord in His decisions for our earthly life ….He is a just Lord, a forgiving Lord and He has life eternal plans for us. We have to have to be patient in our life’s journey-our commitment to Christ must be a sincere personal covenant to obey all of His commandments with an open heart and mind.

When we live the Christian life our plan can be easy and meaningful when scripture says “Blessed are all who wait for Him.” By doing so we will have an eternal place with the Lord in heaven.

Prayer: Graceful Lord, give us the patience and open minds to allow us to follow your path in our lives so we may be pleasing in Your eyes and share heavenly eternity beside You. Amen.

Herb Lee

Walk in the Light

John 8:12-20

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life.” John 8:12

We know what it means to “walk in darkness”.  Maybe that “walk” happened in the depth of night in an unlit house.  Maybe that “walk” happened in a confusing and troubling time when you didn’t know which way to turn or what decision to make.

In this Scripture Jesus invites us to “follow”.  “Following” is an act of faith.  “Following” is about asking and seeking God’s will and way in prayer.  “Following” is about loving and serving as we think Jesus would. “Following” is about relying and trusting on the Holy Spirit for courage and strength.

Jesus says when we “follow” we will see a bit more clearly “whose we are” and “who we are”.  We will glimpse a bit more fully what God’s grace does in and through our lives.  We will be walking in the “Light of Life” because Jesus is the “Light of the World”.

Prayer:  Lord, as I go through today help me to focus on “following”.  Help me to realize that in following You I would find your Light which would brighten my path.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Paul Gould

Is Complaining Wrong?

1 Corinthians 10:6-13

10 Do not ·complain [grumble] as some of them did; they were killed by the angel that destroys. 11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us … 1 Corinthians 10: 10-11

The above passage refers to the Israelites complaining in the wilderness after Moses led them out of Egypt.

There are many times that I have complained about where I am in my life journey. I had some pretty hard times in Atlanta, as I had six surgeries in seven years – all necessary – all physically and financially draining. I certainly did my share of complaining in prayer and to others. I did not stop and think that what I was doing was wrong.

Christ tells his disciples not to grumble and complain in the New Testament (John 6:43; John 6:61), and Paul also tells the new Christians in Philippi not to grumble (Phil 2:12; 2:14).

In Romans 5:3-4, Paul also writes, “… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.” I did not stop until recently to think that instead of building perseverance, character and hope, I was complaining of the building blocks of blessings. I now see that my experiences help me to love, understand and serve others better.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for all your blessings, and forgive me for my many complaints. Help me remember that You want to work all things together for my good, as I love and serve You, called according to Your purpose.  Amen.

Sharon Clark

Doug and Wendy Whiner Leave Egypt

Exodus 15:22-27

And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Exodus 15:24-25

Saturday Night Live gave us some of the funniest characters, among them were the Whiners. They were funny because we could watch but not have to deal with them. God, on the other hand, had to deal with thousands of them for forty years. If these recently released slaves weren’t whining about bitter water then it was the lack of bread. They whined about the good old days when they were enslaved in Egypt, “where we had plenty of bread to eat.” God heard their cries and sent them manna. Their next whine was, “we need meat!” upon which God sent quail. They could not comprehend that this mighty God cared for them so much that he would nurture them through their journey to the land he set aside just for them.

We, too, sometimes forget that we can rely upon him to provide our daily needs. As Christ said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). And this same mighty God cared so much for us that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take care of our greatest need, salvation.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you bend your ear to hear our prayers in our time of need. Thank you for you sending your Son to show us the way of salvation. Let us never forget that we have a mighty God on whom we can trust. Amen.

Pat Christley

Life or Death?

Ephesians 1:7-14

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.  Ephesians 1: 7

The Old Testament cleansing of sin by sacrificing a lamb is certainly a model for a way of thinking about what Christ did for us on the cross.  Sacrificing his life, spilling his blood, seems to be a direct transfer of an important understanding of what God required.  What if there is another understanding of Christ’s sacrifice that embraces not only his death and the spilling of blood, but his life as well?

I have often imagined that without his teachings, and his refusal to comprise his message and his relationship to God his father, there would never have been his death.  So what did God really require, his life or his death?  In order to give us not only his vision for life, but the life that was alive in him, Jesus ruffled many feathers, made many enemies, thwarted many plans for personal aggrandizement.  So, it seems, his life and death were two sides of the same coin – a divine persistence that we might have eternal life.  Encountering human opposition, he lived and died and lives for all of us, so that we too can live life on a high level, on the level with God his father.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your persistent love for us.  In the face of all obstacles, you have gone the distance to give us your kind of life – eternal life.  Help us to truly understand its significance and live into its potential.  In Jesus name, Amen.

John Tarver

God’s Cheerleader

Ephesians 1:3-6

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

When I first read this scripture, it seemed to be the usual greeting that Paul wrote in all of his letters. No substance, I thought and wondered how I could create a devotional around these words. So each day for a week I re-read the scripture, trying to discover the message hidden in Paul’s words.

Finally, I came to realize that Paul was God’s cheerleader! He continues to remind us to praise God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and we should praise the Lord on a daily basis, because each of us has received an adoption through Jesus Christ to receive his glorious grace! What a message! What a cheerleader was Paul! I will pick up my pom-poms and praise his name! So join me as we praise God each day for his many, many blessings!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we praise your name and thank you for your glorious grace! Amen.

Barbara Zoeller

A House of Prayer

Mark 11: 15-19

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:18

Jesus is in Jerusalem with the disciples. He has just driven the moneychangers and merchants from the temple. Then he begins to teach, saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.’” Who was there to hear the word? Mark tells us there was a crowd. We know the priests and teachers of the law were there. Surely some of the buyers and sellers lingered nearby, plus disciples and whoever happened to be in the immediate vicinity.

What was the reaction? Mark tells us the crowd was amazed. I imagine that some, perhaps, were unmoved. Some may merely have been entertained by the spectacle. The priests and teachers felt threatened by the crowd’s response.

How would I have reacted? Would I be ashamed because I treated the temple like a marketplace? Would I focus on Jesus the teacher and become a follower? Would I be threatened by a man who wanted to change the status quo? Would I strive to create a house of prayer for all nations? What a radical notion!

Prayer:  Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to change us and to change the world. Help us to accept each other, and to welcome our brothers and sisters from all nations. Amen.

Terri Chepregi

Once and for All

Hebrews 9:23-28

“He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26b

It is said; never judge another person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.  I try to think about these early Christians that had come from thousands of years of Jewish traditions. How hard it must have been to believe in Christ and try to continue honoring God with the traditions of their faith.  All they had ever known was the blood sacrifice for the atonement of sins, which was a tradition that must be carried out annually.

The writer of Hebrews explains that through the blood of Christ our sins and the sins for all time have been atoned. Maybe we are not that different. I think the ideals that make up the totality of Christ’s sacrifice for us is just as hard for us to understand.

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you for your self-sacrificing love.  Help me to live into the joy of your atoning love.  Help me to extend your sacrificial love to all I come in contact with. Amen.

Bert K. Johnson

The Foundation of the Church

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

“No one can lay any other foundation besides the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 3:11

As I read this passage, the words of one of the beautiful hymns of the church came to mind:

“The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;

She is His new creation by water and the Word;

From heav’n He came and sought her, to be His holy Bride;

With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.”

Paul has built the Corinthian church on the foundation of Jesus Christ, but things are not going well.  The church is troubled by jealousy and fighting. Members are acting like people without the spirit, promoting their own agendas, following leaders who rate themselves and others by worldly standards. Two thousand years later, many pastors wrestle with the same problems.

We will always have disagreements about what we ought to do and be, but the work of discernment must take place on the foundation of Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. The church is meant to be a place where God’s grace works within our human relationships. God cares about the unity of the church and about how we relate to each other. We defile the church, Jesus’ creation, when we act like people without the spirit.

As Christians we are called and sent for the sake of the world. To be God’s holy people means not living by the world’s criteria for fame or wisdom or power, but by showing God’s love to all people.

Prayer: Loving God, building your church demands the best of us. Show us the wisdom of the spirit, that all may know we are Christians by our love. Amen.

Elizabeth Kilgore