Joy In the Midst of Life’s Curves

Weekly Devotional – Wednesday,January 15, 2020

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” [James 1:2]

I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not consider it joy when life throws me a curve. I didn’t consider it a joy when I received a diagnosis of breast cancer three years ago. I didn’t consider it a joy when my dad’s heart, lungs and kidneys failed or when my mom was bitten by a mosquito which morphed into West Nile Encephalitis. I am sure you have a list of curves, too. So, what is James trying to say to us?  I suggest that as a professor of mine once said, “The hand prints of God in our lives are most visible when we look back.” When facing a trial, it is not the trial that brings joy, but the deep knowing that God will see us through the trial that brings the possibility of joy. Joy is possible even in the midst of life’s most grueling challenges, if we remember the good news that we are God’s precious children. We are God’s beloved sons and daughters whether we live or whether we die. We belong to God and this is the source of our joy in the face of trials.

 Prayer

Loving God, whom I know most fully through Jesus Christ, I give thanks that I am your beloved. As Isaiah reminds me, you have created me, redeemed me, and called me by name. I am yours, precious, honored and loved. This alone is the source of the my joy. Amen.

The Heart of Jesus

Weekly Wednesday Devotional

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” [Matthew 9:35-37]

Does this passage give you any insights into the heart of Jesus? Jesus was certainly busy going from town to village and from village to city as he touched the lives of those in need of wholeness. He not only proclaimed the good news, but Jesus enacted the good news by “curing every disease and every sickness.” When Jesus paused and looked out at the crowd surrounding him, what he saw was people adrift, people “confused and aimless” according to Eugene Peterson’s translation. This seeing caused Jesus’ heart to be moved with compassion. What seeing moves your heart with compassion? What seeing causes you to enact your compassion? I recently learned of a Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Jake Kim, who had an unexpected medical emergency that led to his death at the tender age of 48, just two months into his new call. His wife and two young sons, age 8 and 5, were bereft. Compassion overwhelmed me for this family and on our behalf I sent a card to the family through the Church of the Valley.  O Lord, in your mercy, surround this family at this unspeakable time of grief.  What moves you to enact your compassion? 

Prayer

Compassionate and loving God, I give thanks that your heart is moved to action in response to the human condition.  You did not stay aloof and apart. You chose to become human through Jesus and walk among

Arise and Shine!

Epiphany Devotional – Monday, January 6, 2020

“Arise, shine; for your light has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” [Isaiah 60:1-3]

Arise and shine! This was one of my dad’s phrases in my early years.  “Arise and shine,” was his way of motivating my brother, sister and I to get up and seize the day, especially when we were camping new adventure awaited us daily! What inspires you to arise and shine; to seize the opportunity Continue reading Arise and Shine!

Refusal To Exploit

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Sunday, January 5, 2020

“Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” [Philippians 2:6-7]

As I read this passage over and over again, what spoke most deeply was Jesus’ refusal to exploit the powers available to him. Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be used for personal gain. Instead, Jesus chose to empty himself. This behavior in our culture would be considered radical and certainly perceived by many as ludicrous. With power we have the means to bend systems Continue reading Refusal To Exploit

Mind of Christ

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Saturday, January 4, 2020

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 2:5]

How would you describe the mind of Christ?  What stories from Scripture would inform your description? The first word that came to mind for me was “resolve.” Jesus was clear about his mission. You might remember his opening words recorded in Luke, for he turned to the scroll of Isaiah and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Continue reading Mind of Christ

Sober Judgment

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Friday, January 3, 2020

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” [Romans 12:3]

How do you think of yourself? Do you think more highly of yourself than you ought?  Or do you struggle with wondering if you are enough? Psychologically we can err at the extremes of this spectrum – thinking too highly or feeling worthless. Yet, this passage isn’t actually talking about comparing ourselves to each other. Apostle Paul urges us to use sober judgment Continue reading Sober Judgment

Moments of Transformation

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Thursday, January 2, 2020

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” [Romans 12:2]

Can you recall a transformational moment in your life, when something seismically shifted within you? My earliest transformational moment happened when a junior high friend talked to me about her personal relationship with the mystery I call God.  I remember looking at her with bewilderment. I remember thinking about all I knew about God, but Continue reading Moments of Transformation

Be Transformed

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” [Romans 12:2]

A New Year has dawned on our calendars, as 2019 has birthed 2020. As this year unfolds will your daily patterns follow in the footsteps of Jesus or conform to the ways of this world? Will your patterns be informed by compassion and kindness or self-interest and impatience? Every Wednesday morning at Kingsbury I am thankful for the reminder given by the School Principal to the students, for he says, “Your words matter. Be kind with your words.” I believe this is excellent counsel for the year Continue reading Be Transformed

God Who Works

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Tuesday, December 31, 2019

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” [Philippians 2:13b-14]

There is that word again, “fear.” Work out your salvation with “fear” and trembling. Paul is not saying that our salvation depends on our works, rather he is saying that our salvation results in a lived faith that remembers that God is God and we are not. Remembering whose we are helps us to align our will and actions with the purposes of God. Remembering whose we are Continue reading God Who Works

Self-Emptying

12 Days of Christmas Devotional – Monday, December 30, 2019

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” [Philippians 2:3-4]

It is not the parts of the Bible that we don’t understand, but the parts that we do understand that cause us the greatest discomfort.  Apostle Paul’s words to the church at Philippi are clear and concise: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” Yet, it seems we are all wired for self-interest. Self is first and foremost. We want what we want Continue reading Self-Emptying