Wednesday, May 31
Luke 10:17-24 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (v.19)
I remember how I resisted giving up alcohol. I could not imagine a life without beer with pizza or pasta without red wine. Then I went to my first AA meeting and there were only two things that I remember from it. At the beginning I heard someone read the promises from the AA Big Book. I knew at once that it was what I had been looking for all my life. I had tried everything to fine peace, joy, and meaning and purpose in life. The promises offered them to me.
The second thing I remember was that someone came up to me afterward and asked me to come back. I remember saying to him, “I don’t think I can give up drinking for the rest of my life.” He said to me, “You don’t have to. Can you just give it up for today?” I realized at that moment that I only had to give it up one day at a time and I knew I could do without it for that day. That was quite a few thousand days ago. Truly, Jesus has given us authority and power to overcome all the power of the enemy.
Ezekiel 11:14-25; Psalms 101, 109:1-30; Hebrews 7:1-17
Thursday, June 1
Hebrews 7:18-28 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. (v.22 NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I like the new covenant given by Jesus a lot better than the Old Testament covenant. Growing up in a church that preached following the Ten Commandments and “being good” was too heavy for me. After years of rebellion, trying to fill that big empty hole in my heart, breaking many of the Ten Commandments on a regular basis, I finally gave up and committed my life to Christ. At that time, I did not understand that I would be given power through the Holy Spirit to live a life of love-for God, for self, and for others. Letting Jesus live his resurrected life through me is a lot easier that trying hard, in my own strength, to “be good.”
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32; Psalm 105:1-22; Luke 10:25-37
Friday, June 2
Luke 10:38-42 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. (v.40a)
I don’t know if you can relate, but I am easily distracted from keeping the eye of my heart focused on Jesus. I am a lot like Martha. I am easily distracted with worldly endeavors. I like to travel, play and watch sports, TV, movies, and love life in general. I spend a lot of time thinking and acting on the things I like. I love Jesus, but I spend more time in worldly pursuits than I do alone with him in Bible reading and study, in prayer, or in grateful praise.
I hear Jesus saying to me, “My child, my child, you are so easily distracted about many things, but only one thing is needed. Spend more time with me and it will not be taken away from you.”
Ezekiel 34:17-31; Psalm 102; Hebrews 8:1-13
Saturday, June 3
Hebrews 9:1-14 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (vv.1, 7)
Sometimes I feel like I am still emotionally tied down to the first covenant. As a product of the Episcopal Church, I became comfortable with the structure of their Sunday worship service. However, over the last few years, I have been feeling the urge to praise God on a different level. I find myself praying before a Sunday service that the Holy Spirit would help me to worship God like King David did when he returned the ark to the City of David: “David, danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).
Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has given me direct access to God. No need for a high priest to sprinkle blood on the alter in behalf of my sins. I am covered with the blood of Christ and have forgiveness of sin and redemption with our Heavenly Father. While I love the Anglican traditions, I believe there is more to worship for me and I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me to break loose and worship Jesus as he directs my heart. I believe the time will come when you may see me dancing in the isle because of my gratitude and joy in the Lord.
Ezekiel 43:1-12; Psalms 107:33-43, 108; Luke 11:14-23
Sunday, June 4
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (vv.22-23 NKJV)
I proudly display the American flag in front of my home-a symbol of pride and unity; a reminder of freedom.
For many years a gold cross adorned my neck-a reminder Jesus is always with me. Now, I enhance my Sunday outfit with one of my decorative crosses.
My neighbor displays two seven-inch solar powered crosses on his lawn. They shine bright in the darkness. One day he called to me, asking if I would like his extra cross. I hesitated before saying yes and allowing him to place it in my flowerbed. Now, I must ask myself why I hesitated. The cross, a symbol of my salvation-am I ashamed to let the world know I’m a Christian? I didn’t hesitate to show the world I’m an American when I hung the flag. Perhaps I’m not unlike Peter who denied Jesus three times despite following and loving him.
Now, I watch the flag flying throughout the day and admire the cross shining at night. One day, God will reject those who reject Jesus.
Isaiah 11:1-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-13; John 14:21-29
Monday, June 5
Psalm 41 The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; you will sustain him on his sickbed. (vv.2-3)
I labeled the Mason jar “Showers of Blessings” and cut strips of colored paper to write the blessings I received each day. This was the second year of going through surgeries and painful recoveries and I needed to remind myself how the godly suffer as well as receive God’s blessings. No matter how small the blessing-a phone call, card, or flower blooming in the yard-I wrote it down. They were signs of God’s goodness. The jar quickly became colorful with blessings.
Others write in journals or on calendars to count their blessings. My mom kept a daily logbook of each event. I can look at her book so many years later and see exactly how many times in a month I phoned and visited. Despite the era being before the convenience of today’s technology, I should have done better.
Perhaps I should not only count the blessings I receive, but blessings I bestow on others. Each blessing given and received is from God: “And he will be blessed on the earth” (v.2).
Deuteronomy 11:13-19; Psalm 52; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2; Luke 17:1-10
Tuesday, June 6
Deuteronomy 12:1-12 “These are the statutes and judgment which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.” (v.1)
Both sides of my paternal ancestors sailed the vast seas from Great Britain to the New World of America in the 1600’s. When curiosity lead me to know my family, I prepared myself for the bad along with the good. I found them settled in Yorktown, Virginia and Wethersfield, Connecticut. Although wealthy, respected business, land, and slave owners, the family fortunes would be lost to the Revolutionary War. However, their first homes remain standing to this day.
I can’t help wondering if my ancestors felt like the Israelites who crossed the Jordan in order to enter the Promised Land. Surely they felt the same anxieties of the unknown, fear of conquering inhabitants, and questions about the establishment of a new culture. Although the Israelites and the early settlers of America came from strong religious backgrounds, all would need to be reminded of God’s mighty acts, His covenant, and His commands.
God demands the same from us today. We must demonstrate our love and faith by obedience of His laws. In return, God promises abundant blessings if we live responsibly.
Psalm 45; 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1; Luke 17:11-19