On the Way to the Springs and Palm Trees

July 29, 2014

On the Way to the Springs and Palm Trees ~ Ron Buford

He cried out to the Lord; an the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. From Exodus 12:22-27

The trip was going badly as he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. In this moment of desperation, Moses did the three things we should all do. First: call on God – in good times and bad. Second: be open to God’s answer when we sense an answer – even when it seems…well, strange. And, finally, we should act on what God reveals through the sacred texts, prayer and impressions or hunches we get on our daily prayerful walk with God.

It’s not always easy. Would you have thrown that piece of wood in the water? I doubt that I would have. I might have been more afraid that I’d look desperate or foolish.

How does one know the will of God? Sometimes you don’t know. Sometimes you have to take the risk, the leap of faith. And after taking the risk, you will know because the bitter undrinkable water in your life will become sweet and healthy. If it doesn’t work, don’t be too proud to change course... but notice how Moses’ temporary solution eventually leads the people to an abundance of water.

So it is in life. In conflict, add a little sweetness. In time, it will lead you and those in conflict to a greater abundance of peace.

PRAYER: Gracious God, help me bring calm and peace to a troubled situation in my life, my family, my community today. Help me take the risks needed to make peace. Bless the effort and help it lead to an abundance of peace. Amen

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 224.

A Loving Challenge

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July 28, 2014

A Loving Challenge ~ Anthony B. Robinson

He came to Jesus by nigh and said, “Rabbi, we k now you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if god ere not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. From John 3:1-13 NIV

Welcome to the weird world of the Fourth Gospel, where conversations can give you the feeling of ships passing in the night. A religious leader, Nicodemus, dropped by for an after-hours conversation with Jesus. Two experts talking shop. “How do you do it, Jesus?” Perhaps Nicodemus hoped to learn Jesus’ secret and get some of that power himself?

Nicodemus did learn Jesus’ secret, and he was never the same gain. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was stunned and confused. He had wanted a little knowledge, maybe some advice – not a whole new life. Jesus said, “you must start all over again.” Jesus dared to challenge Nicodemus.

The thing about the challenges that come from Jesus is that they are rooted and wrapped in love. He challenges us because he loves us. Sometimes our love of others is empty of challenge or the invitation to grow. And often our challenges are short on love. “Those whom we would change,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., “we must first love.”

PRAYER: god, we affirm that you are still speaking. May we still listen. Amen

 Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 223.

God Shows No Partiality

July 27, 2014

God Shows No Partiality ~ Martin B. Copenhaver

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. From Acts 10:34-43

In Jesus’ day there was a great enmity between Jews and Gentiles. So perhaps it is not surprising that, in the earliest days of the church, there were many who thought that the good news of Jesus was for Jews alone. Peter was particularity fervent in his belief that in order to be a follower of Jesus one had to conform to Jewish practices. But then Peter was touched by the faith of a gentile named Cornelius and he received a vision in a dream that showed him otherwise. Peter said, to everyone’s astonishment (and perhaps his own), “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”

Given what perter had previously believed, it would have been remarkable if he had said, “I truly understand that God does not want us to hate one another.” It would have been startling if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to accept one another.” It would have been revolutionary if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to be in relationship with one another.” But Peter says more than any of those things, and more than all of that combined. Peter says, in essence, “No one is in and no one is out. We are the same in God’s sight.”

That story is such a pivotal one, not merely because it traces an important moment in the history of the church, but also because it reminds us that history continues. God is still extending a wider welcome than we would be inclined to give.

PRAYER: god, we affirm that you are still speaking. May we still listen. Amen

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 222.