Tuesday, October 2
Luke 5:12-26 Seeing their faith Jesus said, “My friend your sins are forgiven you.” (v.20)
At all worship services in our congregation, we pray aloud a list of people who’ve asked us to pray for healing for themselves, or someone else. The list is quite long. (Some people complain it takes “too much time”.)
The people who ask for our prayers often have minimal connection with our congregation, but they know we’ll pray for anyone who asks, for as long as the request remains. I often think about how this practice expands the size of our faith community. People we don’t personally know, from places we’ve never heard of, become friends. Periodically, we get a report back about healing and grace-filled events in the life of one of our distant friends. What blessings!
In the Scripture verse above, Jesus validates that the faith of others can be a powerful force in the healing of a person who needs that healing.
In the midst of these public healing prayers, my mind often sees an image of the paralyzed man’s friends lowering him through the roof to the healing Lord. Let’s join them!
Hosea 4:1-10; Psalms 97, 99, 100; Acts 21:1-14
Wednesday, October 3
Luke 5:27-39 Jesus said to them in reply, “It is not those that are well who need the doctor, but the sick.” (v.31)
In the busy life of the church, I often find that in the midst of programs, planning groups, and worship services, it’s often difficult to remember that we’re a group of people on a mission. My denomination enshrines that mission in this statement: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” I wonder what would happen if we actually made this mission the first priority in our congregation? What if we actually spent the majority of our resources of time, energy, and money on undertaking that mission?
Many of us first came to Jesus Christ and his Body, the Church, seeking to be healed, forgiven, and given a new start in life. We all encounter people who are seeking to find something that can transform and give meaning to their lives. We have a personal witness to bear to them about the love and transforming power of God, in and through Jesus Christ. Our mission is to share that witness!
Hosea 4:11-19; Psalms 101, 109; Acts 21:15-26
Thursday, October 4
Psalm 105:1-22 Seek Yahweh and his strength, tirelessly seek his presence! (v.4)
Recently, a friend of mine complained, “As the pace of my life speeds up, and the huge amount of information that comes my way each day increases, I often find myself feeling spiritually overwhelmed and emotionally drained. There are days I’m just too numb the think about God, or to pray.”
There are days I feel that way too! This leads me to some reflection about the matter. When I feel overwhelmed and drained, I find that I’m viewing my relationship with God and prayer as something to be engaged in when I have the time and energy. Yet, when I actually take the time for prayer and devotion in a hectic and information overloaded day, I don’t feel overwhelmed and drained, even though the pace of the day and the barrage of information are the same. Hmm!
Jesus promised us that when we are overburdened, overwhelmed or drained, we can come to him and be refreshed. He truly means it!
Hosea 5:8—6:6; Acts 21:27-36; Luke 6:1-11
Friday, October 5
Psalm 102 He will turn to hear the prayer of the destitute, and will not treat their prayer with scorn. (v.17)
For several years, I’ve joined other members of our congregation participating in a United Way Resource Day for homeless people in the Seattle area. Our ministry has been the washing of homeless people’s feet. This includes caring for their wounded feet (due to spending many days without being able to remove their wet shoes and socks). It is a profound experience!
In the intimate exchange of holding and washing their feet, they open up to us about their experience of homelessness. They often talk about longing for a different future for themselves. In that sharing, which is truly prayer, I’ve come to realize I have more in common with them than I could have ever realized. I’ve also come to know these people are very special to God, in ways I could never have imagined.
Most of all, I’ve learned that it’s actually the Risen Christ who is ministering to them through me, loving and not despising them! They have given me much more than I’ve given them.
Hosea 10:1-15; Acts 21:37—22:16; Luke 6:12-26
Saturday, October 6
Luke 6:27-38 “Instead, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” (v.35)
I admit that I have some difficulty not viewing people with whom I disagree as “enemies”. As I overhear conversations, watch TV, read magazines and newspapers, I’m becoming more and more aware other people are having the same difficulty.
What bothers me most about this is I was a Marine in Vietnam, willing to kill and harm people I did not know. I’ve thought a great deal about this recently. What I’ve realized is I was willing to do this violence to others because I’d depersonalized the people I considered enemies. It troubles me that I see and hear myself and others doing that same depersonalizing here and now.
Jesus gives us a vision of reunion and reconciliation of all people. He asks us to live out that vision in everyday life. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everyone, or even to like them and their behavior. It does mean mean we are called to be kind and loving toward all people, not to depersonalize them into enemies. Tough stuff!
Hosea 11:1-9; Psalms 107:33-43, 108; Acts 22:17-29
Sunday, October 7
1 Corinthians 2:6-16 However, as it is written: “No eye had seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (v.9 NIV)
I was talking with a friend who is having severe marital struggles. There is a lot of emotional pain and the idea of hanging on to work on the marriage is almost daunting. Being apart doesn’t hurt as much as being together. Yes, they are seeking counseling.
Ultimately issues in our relationships with people reflect our relationship with God. The emotional struggles these two precious people have stem from hurts that only God can heal. And I believe He can heal them.
Throughout our conversation, the above verse kept running through my head, so I shared the words the Holy Spirit gave me. Don’t make any big moves but wait on the Lord and submit to Him. I know you don’t have the strength or courage or resolve right now. You are in pain and the idea of more pain is overwhelming. So, by the Lords’ strength do the hard work, and let Him heal both of you. You can’t imagine the plans God has for your marriage if you trust Him.
Hosea 13:4-14; Psalm 118; Matthew 14:1-12
Monday, October 8
Luke 6:39-49 “But the one who has heard, and not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” (v.49 NASB)
In the last couple of weeks (as I am writing this), the Americas have experienced 3 hurricanes and 2 earthquakes. The destruction has been unimaginable—homes leveled, lives taken, epic flooding, and so much despair. Furthermore, in some places power may not be restored for months and rescue workers can’t get to these areas to distribute badly needed supplies like food and medicine. The wake of the destruction is great. My heart breaks for those people who have lost everything and there isn’t a way forward yet.
This Scripture (while in no way referring to those suffering as a result of the natural disasters) is a powerful visualization about building your life and relationships on a solid foundation with the Lord. I’ve seen the natural disasters of life attack many people and those who have the strong deep foundation of their faith survive them. How is your flood insurance?
Hosea 14:1-9; Psalm 106:1-18; Acts 22:30—23:11
Tuesday, October 9
Psalm 122 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (v.1)
I like going to church. I feel at peace there and it’s one of the places the Lord speaks to me. Also, the group worship can be so powerful. If I have missed a week, I start to thirst for it.
My teenagers don’t always feel the same. It’s not necessarily for a particular reason. They would just rather do other things like sleep. I am sure there are those reading this who can relate. I am aware of the argument that it’s my house and my children need to adhere to my rules. I don’t like the idea that going to church is a rule though.
This arose recently on a Sunday morning, and we did attend church as family. My prayer that day was that my son would feel God’s love for him while he was there. I want my children to not feel that church is something they have to do. I want them to feel connected to the Lord there. I want them to worship and learn there. I want them to eventually thirst for it.
Micah 1:1-9; Psalms 120, 121, 123; Acts 23:12-24; Luke 7:1-17